Tag Archives: Kanemune

Spring I: 27

Left (Win).


azusa yumi
haru no kumoi ni
hibiku made
tomone ni kayou
mato no oto kana
Catalpa bows
In springtime round the cloud-borne palace
Bowstring on bracer and
Arrow on target – what a sound!

Lord Kanemune




azusa yumi
môke no ya ni ya
hate made kyô wa
atarinuru kana
Catalpa bows’
Spare arrows: will they
Be drawn, I wonder?
By this day’s end
All will have struck the target…

Lord Tsune’ie


The Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem, but the Left state that the initial section of the Right’s poem is ‘prosaic [heikai]’. Shunzei agrees, saying that the term ‘spare arrows’ is ‘unsuitable diction for poetry’ [uta kotoba ni yoroshikarazaru] and so the Left’s poem must be adjudged the winner.

Spring I: 20

Left (Tie).


nobe no kasumi o
keburi nite
kore ya wakakusa
Spreading, everywhere,
Across the plain, the haze
Seems smoke:
Is the burning the buds
Of new-grown grass…

Lord Kanemune


Right (Tie).


nobe no haru kusa
sue wakami
sora to tomo ni zo
asamidori naru
Shooting up
Across the plain, the grass’
Tips are so young
That, with the skies,
They celadon seem…

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


Both teams say there is ‘nothing remarkable’ about the other’s poem, while Shunzei says simply the purport of both is ‘generally appropriate’ and that it would be ‘difficult to determine’ a winner.

Spring I: 16

Left (Tie).


haru kaze ni
ike no kôri ya
matarenu nami no
hana o miru kana
In the breath of spring
Will the ice upon the pond
Unanticipated blossom touched
Waves come into view…

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


uguisu no
namida no tsurara
koe nagara
tayori ni sasoe
haru no yama mizu
The bush warbler’s
Tears of ice,
And song,
Issue an invitation!
To the mountain waters this springtime…



The Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, but the Left wonder whether the essence of the poem, of the warbler’s ‘tears of ice’ and song inviting the waters, might not be a bit much?

Shunzei remarks that the form and phrasing of the Left’s poem is ‘certainly charming’, and echoes their criticism of the Right’s poem, as having an ‘impossible essence’. He then goes on to say, ‘The Left is placidly charming; the Right’s essence must be excessive. They are equivalent and I judge this round a tie.’

Spring I: 8

Left (Tie).


haru kitemo
nao shimikōru
yamazato wa
kakehi no mizu no
otozure mo nashi
Though spring has come,
Yet chill seeps within
My mountain home:
Water from the pipes
Makes no sound at all…

Lord Kanemune


Right (Tie).


haru kitemo
yuki furu sora o
kasumi mo sayuru
kokochi koso sure
Though spring has come
When on the sky, full of falling snow,
I gaze,
Even the haze of spring is clearly cold
I feel.



The Right team here disapprove of the Left’s use of shimikōru, calling it, ‘grating on the ear’ – Shunzei disagrees, saying that neither component, shimi or kōru, is ‘vulgar’. Both poems, he feels, start well, and the fourth line of the Right poem, kasumi mo sayuru, is particularly fine, but, once again, the round must be adjudged a tie.

Spring I: 6

Left (Win).


sode kawasu
mihashi no kiwa ni
toshi furite
ikutabi haru o
yoso ni mukaetsu
Sleeve brushes sleeve
On the palace walkways’ edge
Year on top of year;
How many springtimes
Have I but distantly seen it in?

Lord Kanemune




itsushika to
mihashi no kiwa ni
sechi ni au
ōmiyabito ya
haru o shiruran
Soon, indeed,
On the palace walkways’ edge
The season-greeting banquet will come
Upon the palace-folk; is that how
They know it’s spring?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office


Shunzei awards victory to Kanemune’s poem for its fine use of ‘palace walkways’ (mihashi) and ‘how many springtimes’ (ikutabi haru), while finding the Right team’s poem ‘splendidly constructed, but insufficiently clear’, as it doesn’t explicitly mention ‘sechie’ – a particular palace New Year banquet – although it does contain all the relevant characters.