Tag Archives: Imperial Visits

Winter I: 30

Left (Win).


serikawa no
nami mo mukashi ni
miyuki taesenu
saga no yama’arashi
Seri River’s
Waves, too, in ancient times,
Would rise and fall;
A Progress as endless as
The storm winds on Mount Saga.

A Servant Girl.




miyuki seshi
nobe no furumichi
ato taesenu wa
serikawa no mizu
A progress passed
Across the plain’s old trails,
Well trod,
The traces will endure
As do the waters of Seri River…

Lord Takanobu.


Neither team finds any fault this round.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both poems have the conception [kokoro] of ‘Seri River’ (serikawa) and ‘endless Progress’ (miyuki taesenu), and there is not much between them in terms of winning or losing, but the Left’s ‘storm winds on Mount Saga’ (saga no yama’arashi) seems to blow a bit more strongly today!

Winter I: 29

Left (Tie).


inishie no
nagare o ukuru
mikari kana
sono serikawa no
ni makasete
In days long gone,
Flowed by here
His Majesty’s hunting party;
At the River Seri,
Traces, tell the tale…

Lord Suetsune.




inishie no
nomori no kagami
kyō mireba
miyuki o utsusu
kōri narikeri
That long ago
Falconer’s mirror
When I look on it today,
Reflecting the progress is
A sheet of ice.



The Right find no fault with the Left’s poem. The Left wonder whether ice is able to reflect anything, and what the purpose of using the term is.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both poems are elegant [yū], starting with ‘In days long gone, flowed by here’ (inishie no nagare o ukuru) and ‘That long ago falconer’s mirror: when I look on it today’ (inishie no nomori no kagami kyō mireba) respectively, but the use of ‘the’ (sono) in the Left’s ‘the River Seri’ (sono serikawa) is poor [ika ni zo kikoyu]. The Right’s ‘ice’ (kōri) really does seem somewhat unsuitable. Thus, it is impossible to pick either as the winner.

Winter I: 28



odoro no michi mo
uchichiru yuki no
nokaze samukeshi
Clad in hunting garb, and
Down a path of thorns
The scattered snowflakes make
The wind off the plain feel all the more chill…

Lord Sada’ie.




morobito no
kariba no ono ni
furu arare
kyō no miyuki ni
tama zo chirikeru
Many folk
Have Ono as their hunting ground, but
The hail falling
Today, upon this Imperial Progress
Has scattered jewels.



Neither Left nor Right have any criticisms.

Shunzei’s judgement: ‘A path of thorns’ (odoro no michi mo) recollects the gentlemen of the court when garbed for hawking, and certainly sounds accurate, but the final line does not say anything out of the ordinary. On scattered jewels of ‘hail falling on the hunting ground of Ono’ (kariba no ono ni furu arare), you have ‘many folk’ (morobito no) and then ‘today’s Imperial Progress’ (kyō no miyuki ni) which sounds as if both are indistinguishable. It is impossible to assign a winner or loser this round.

Winter I: 27



kigisu naku
sagano no hara no
miyuki ni wa
furuki ato o ya
saki tazunuran
The pheasants cry
In the fields of Sagano;
On this Imperial Progress,
The traces of times long gone
Should we visit first?

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Win).


suberagi no
kyō no miyuki wa
mikarino no
kusaha mo nabiku
mono ni zo arikeru
On His Majesty’s
Progress on this day
To His hunting grounds
The very blades of grass do bow
Before Him

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right state that pheasants do not cry out during the winter, to which the Left reply that this is seen occasionally in recent poetry. The Left then comment that mi occurs too often in the Right’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘traces of times long gone’ (furuki ato o ya) is most fine [yoroshiku haberubeshi]. On pheasants crying in winter, it goes without saying that they do not, and in this poem in particular, I wonder about the appropriateness of ‘pheasants crying’ (because it was convention to avoid anything with potentially negative associations in a poem on the topic of Imperial Visits). The Right’s poem commences with ‘His Majesty’ (suberagi no) and continues with ‘the very blades of grass do bow’ (kusaha mo nabiku) which has felicitous associations. Thus, the Right must win.

Winter I: 26

Left (Tie).


hashitaka o
furuki tameshi ni
ato aru nobe no
miyuki narikeri
A sparrowhawk
As of old
Shall I call to hand;
Traces left upon this field
Of an Imperial progress.

Lord Ari’ie.




hashitaka mo
au o ureshi to
taenishi nobe no
kyō no miyuki ni
The sparrowhawk, too,
Would be glad to greet,
I feel,
At last, the field
Where today’s Progress is…



Neither team finds any fault with the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both poems are on sparrowhawks (hashitaka), with the Left ‘as of old shall I call to hand’ (furuki tameshi ni hikisuete) the bird, while the Right’s ‘would be glad to greet, I feel’ (au o ureshi to omouran), and both sound charming [okashiku kikoyu]. The round must tie.

Winter I: 25



ōhara ya
nobe no miyuki ni
tokoro ete
soratoru kyō no
mashirō no taka
Plain for an Imperial Progress is
Most apt;
Catching prey a’wing this day
Is a white banded hawk!



Right (Win).


saga no hara
hashiru kigisu no
kata ato wa
kyō no miyuki ni
kakurenaki kana
On the field of Saga
Racing, the pheasants’
Today’s Imperial Progress
Will not come at all…



The Right state that ‘most apt’ (tokoro ete) is rarely heard in poems. The Left reply that ‘track’ (kata ato) is the same.

Shunzei’s judgement: The poem of the Left sounds grandiose, but there is something dubious about it. When starting with Ōhara (ōhara ya), one expects it to be followed by ‘Oshio Mountain’, as it suggests the field of Ōhara. Without that following Oshio Mountain, when one encounters Ōhara, on recollects both ‘misty clear waters’ and ‘waters of a pure, peaceful well’, and does not know to which the Ōhara refers. There is no precedent at all for Imperial vists to the Ōhara which lies at the foot of Mount Hiei. There are, however, for visits to Mount Oshio. In the poem on ‘waters of a pure, peaceful well’, it states that ‘though there are no birds, we visit for our pleasure’, so it would be impossible for the ‘white banded hawk’ to take prey a’wing there. I have heard ‘tracks’ before, but the poem has little sense of truly knowing ‘Saga Field’, yet there have, without doubt, been Imperial visits there, so ‘tracks’ must be the better poem.