Tag Archives: katami

KKS I: 46

A poem from a poetry competition held by Her Majesty, the Empress, during the Kanpyō period.


mume ga ka wo
sode ni utusite
Faru Fa sugutomo
katami naramasi
If only the plums’ scent
Would shift to my sleeves and
Stay there, then
Even when spring is past and gone
A keepsake would it be…


Love VIII: 21

Left (Win)

fusu i no toko wa
nageku mo katami
nenu mo chigiri o
I do not envy
The boar lounging in his bed:
He may be at ease, yet
Grief, too, is a memento;
Lying sleepless marks our bond…

Lord Sada’ie


ika ni ware
fusu i no toko ni
mi o kaete
yume no hodo dani
chigiri musuban
Somehow I
To a boar lounging in his bed
Would change myself, and
For just a brief dream’s length
Would form a bond with you…

Lord Takanobu

The Gentlemen of the Right state: the initial line of the Left’s poem sounds poor. The sense of the ending, too, is difficult to grasp. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of changing oneself into a bed.

In judgement:  both Left and Right refer to ‘a boar lounging in his bed’ (fusu i no toko), and it has been mentioned that the initial line of the Left’s poem sounds poor, and that its ending is difficult to grasp. There really are a number of unacceptable aspects to this poem, are there not, so I cannot add any further words to what has been said. The Right’s poem is not suggesting that one change oneself into a bed. It is saying that one should briefly become a boar, that one might dream briefly of love. How can one possibly see the dream of a boar lying asleep? It certainly seems inferior to ‘not envying a lounging boar’.

Eikyū hyakushu 391



munashiki toko no
katami ni wa
furuki fusuma no
mutsumashiki kana
From a disheveled
Meagre bed
For a keepsake I have
A threadbare blanket;
How close we are!

Higo, from the Residence of the Kyōgoku Regent

MYS VII: 1276


ike no pe no
wotuki no sita no
sino na kari so ne
sore wo dani
kimi ga katami ni
mitutu sinopamu
Beside the pond,
Beneath the young zelkova tree,
Reap not the arrow bamboo!
For that, alone,
Is my keepsake of you, and
I would gaze on it and remember what is gone…

Hitomaro kashū

Love VI: 6

Left (Win).

sode no ue ni
naruru mo hito no
katami ka wa
ware to yadoseru
aki no yo no tsuki
Resting atop my sleeves
Of my love so fond
Are these keepsakes?
Remaining with me, alone
Is the moon this autumn night…

A Servant Girl.


hitori sumu
yado no keshiki to
aware to ya
ukimi to tomo ni
ariake no tsuki
Living alone,
Is the sight of my home
So pitiful?
Alike are we in desolation,
O, dawntime moon!

Lord Tsune’ie.

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults. The Left state: the Right’s poem lacks a clear conception of love.

In judgement: the Left’s poem, indeed, has no faults. It should win.

Love II: 30

Left (Win).


wasureji no
chigiri o tanomu
wakare kana
sora yuku tsuki no
sue o kazoete
Not to forget
I promised – trust that
On our parting.
The moon’s transit through the sky
Is the number of our meeting.

A Servant Girl




kaze fukaba
mine ni wakaren
kumo o dani
arishi nagori no
katami to mo miyo
If the wind should blow,
Parting from the peak,
Even the clouds
My memories
Seem to represent!



The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem is most moving. The Right’s poem, the Gentlemen of the Left state, is fine.

Shunzei’s judgement: the Left’s poem has one counting to the end of the moon’s transits through the sky, while the Right has clouds parting from a mountain peak being the poet’s thoughts given form. Both poems are elegant in configuration and diction, but the Right’s ‘even the clouds’ (kumo ni dani) does not fit with the ending. The Left maintains its connections from beginning to end. Thus, I make it the winner.

Winter I: 10

Left (Win).


aki no katami to
kiku sae iro o
kaetekeru kana
Night has fallen on
Autumn’s keepsake –
Or so I thought –
Even the chrysanthemums’ hues
Have changed…

Lord Kanemune.




hito eda mo
oritsuru sode wa
shiragiku no
nioi made koso
A single stem
I plucked and to my sleeves
The white chrysanthemums’
Scent, even,
Has shifted…



The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left state that there does not seem to be the conception of ‘lingering’ in the Right’s poem. In response, the Right say, ‘By the use of “even” (made) one can understand that the chrysanthemums’ hues have shifted as well. The use of “shift” (utsurou) expresses the conception of lingering [nokori no kokoro nari].

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘Even the chrysanthemums’ hues’ (kiku sae iro o) seems most fine [yoroshiku koso haberumere]. The Right, too, with its ‘chrysanthemums’ scent’ (kiku no nioi) is particularly splendid [fukaku yū ni wa haberubeshi]. On the matter of the conception of lingering chrysanthemums [nokori no kiku no kokoro], the Right have said that ‘using “even the scent” expresses the conception of lingering’, which is true enough, but is it not that the scent has shifted to the poet’s sleeves, even though the flowers are chrysanthemums? Thus, the conception of a shift of hue must be somewhat weak [utsurou kokoro wa nao sukunakarubeku]. In any case, the Left’s conception of lingering is certainly stronger. The Left wins.