Tag Archives: momiji

Winter I: 6

Left (Tie).


ko no ha no oto o
iro koso nakere
mine no matsukaze
Completely scattered
Are the leaves, but the sound
Lacking only the hue
As the wind blows through the pines on the peak.

A Servant Girl.




shigure yuku
matsu no midori wa
sora harete
arashi ni kumoru
mine no momijiba
Is drizzle falling
On the pines so green?
The skies are clear,
Clouded only by a storm
Of scarlet leaves from the peaks…



The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left state that they find the Right’s poem, ‘difficult to grasp’. In reply, the Right say, ‘It is conceived after a Chinese poem that “the wind in the pines is the sound of rain”.’

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem is excellent in both configuration and diction [sugata kotoba yoroshiku haberumere]. The Right’s ‘clouded only by a storm’ (arashi ni kumoru) sounds charming in conception [kokoro okashiku kikoyu] – even without drawing upon the Chinese model. In this round, too, there is no clear winner or loser and it must tie.

Winter I: 5



hakanashi ya
ukitaru kaze ni
izuchi ikuta no
mori no konoha zo
How fleeting!
The fickle wind
Beckons, but
Where does Ikuta’s
Sacred grove send its leaves?

Lord Suetsune.




mine no momiji ni
kokoro no iro mo
I cannot regret, that
Scarlet leaves from on the peak
Have laid a stain
Upon the hues within my heart
And scattered them all over!

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right find no fault with the Left’s poem. The Left wonder whether the use of ‘I cannot regret’ (oshimikane) implies that the poet feels nothing prior to that.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s final section is elegant [yū ni haberu], but although I have heard of many different types of wind, I have no recollection of any familiarity [kikinarete mo oboehaberane] with a ‘fickle wind’ (ukitaru kaze). While I feel the Right’s poem has no particular faults, the initial ‘I cannot regret’ (oshimikane) does not seem to fit will with what follows. The poems are alike and the round must tie.

Winter I: 3



nagame mo utsuru
niwa no iro yo
nani o kozue no
fuyu ni nokosan
A slight regret I feel, as
My gaze shifts
With the garden’s hues;
What of the treetops
Will remain in winter?

Lord Sada’ie.




momiji kakiwake
iro sae fukaki
yamaji narikeri
Fallen in drifts,
Forging through the scarlet leaves
I come, and see
The depth of colour laid
Upon the mountain paths.

Lord Takanobu.


The Right state that the Left’s poem is lacking in conception [kokoro yukazu]. The Left respond that the Right’s poem, as in the previous round, is old-fashioned in both conception and diction [kokoro kotoba onaji yō ni furumekashi].

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem does seem to have some conception about it, despite the Right’s criticism of this as lacking. Although the Right’s ‘depths of colour’ (iro sae fukaki) appears easy to grasp, again, the round should tie.

Winter I: 2



ika bakari
chiritsumoreba ka
nagare mo yaranu
momiji naruramu
How many
Have fallen altogether upon
Ōi River?
That its flow is stopped
With scarlet leaves…





kurenai ni
seki no ogawa wa
otowa no yama ni
momiji chirurashi
Has the stream by the barrier
On Otowa Mountain
The leaves must be falling…

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right state that the Left’s use of –ba ka is grating on the ear [kikinikushi], and query whether saying the ‘flow is stopped’ (nagare mo yaranu) is appropriate. The Left simply say the Right’s poem ‘seems old-fashioned’ [furumekashi].

Shunzei’s judgement: The diction used in the Left’s poem, -ba ka, is simply old-fashioned, and the Right’s criticism is misplaced [sama de arubekarazu]. In addition, I am dubious of their criticism of the latter part of the poem. A somewhat pretentious use of ‘falling leaves’, perhaps? In the Right’s poem, it is inappropriate to combine ‘Otowa Mountain’, ‘stream by the barrier’ and –rashi [because it is an archaic word]. It certainly does not resemble, for example, ‘Mountain dwellings of the gods scarlet leaves look to be falling’ (mimuro no yama ni momiji chirurashi). In addition, ‘Scarlet has the stream by the barrier become’, would mean an excessive fall of leaves, indeed! The Left’s ba ka should win.

Autumn III: 19



madaki ni shimo o
keshiki naru kana
Upon the maidenflowers
Already has frost
Fallen, so
Past their prime
They look, indeed!

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


momijiba wa
ono ga sometaru
iro zo kashi
yosoge ni okeru
kesa no shimo kana
The autumn leaves –
‘Tis you have stained
Them with your hue!
Indifferently falling
Frost-flakes in the morning…



The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem this round. The Left wonder about the appropriateness of ‘indifferently falling’ (yosoge ni okeru).

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left saying that on ‘maidenflowers frost falling’ (ominaeshi shimo o itadaki) would put them past their prime seems pointless [sada ni oyobazaru ka]. In addition the final ‘they look, indeed’ (keshiki naru kana) seems feeble [chikara naki]. The Right’s style is intriguing [fūtei kyō arite]. I must make it the winner.

Autumn III: 7

Left (Win).


funa tomenu
hito wa araji na
hahaso no mori ni
momiji shitsureba
Not pausing the boat –
No one would when
Izumi River
By the oak grove’s
Scarlet leaves is stained…

Lord Kanemune.




somuru shigure mo
aru mono o
shibashi na fuki so
kogarashi no kaze
The oak trees are being
Stained by showers
And so
For just a while blow not,
O, withering wind!

Lord Tsune’ie.


As the previous round.

Shunzei’s judgement: The style [fūtei] of both poems is such that neither has an particular points worth criticising, or praising either. However, the Right’s ‘blow not’ (na fuki so) seems insufficient. The Left wins.

Autumn III: 4

Left (Win).


iro kaenu
matsu no midori ni
hau tsuta wa
ono ga momiji o
yuzuru narikeri
The unchanging hue of
The pine tree’s green,
Entwined with ivy:
Its own scarlet leaves
It has surrendered…

Lord Kanemune.




iro kaenu
matsu no midori mo
kakareru tsuta ya
momiji shitsuran
The unchanging hue of
The pine tree’s green, too,
Has gone:
Has the festooning ivy
Turned scarlet?

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right wonder about the appropriateness of ‘green entwined’ (midori ni hau), adding that ‘entwined with ivy’ (hau tsuta) also sounds unpleasant [kikiyokarazu]. The Left simply say that the Right’s poem is plainly pedestrian [rei no tsune no koto nari], but have no other criticisms.
Shunzei’s judgement: Although both Left and Right begin with ‘unchanging hue’ (iro kaenu) and there is little to distinguish between them, the Left’s ‘its own scarlet leaves’ (ono ga momiji o) is charmingly poetic style [okashikarubeki yō no fūtei nari]. The Right’s ‘festooning ivy’ (kakareru tsuta) appears as if the poet cannot distinguish between the two plants, which is foolish [orokanarubeshi]. What is there to the criticism of ‘entwined with ivy’? Thus, the Left wins.

Autumn III: 3



shizue made
kakareru tsuta wa
nishiki o haru wa
wada no kasamatsu
The lowest branches
All festooned with ivy
Turning scarlet,
All in brocade are
The parasol pines at Wada.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


taema naku
kakareru tsuta no
momiji o kakou
kakine to zo miru
There’s not a break
In the festooning ivy,
Taking on its hue:
Enveloped with scarlet leaves
Fenced around, it seems…

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right state that the initial line in the Left’s poem, ‘the lowest branches’ (shizue made), fail to connect with the poem’s conclusion. The Left state that the Right’s poem is ‘pedestrian’ [tsune no koto], but have no other criticisms.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both poems are on ‘ivy’, with the Left referring to parasol pines covered in brocade, and the Right a fence joined with scarlet leaves. In conception, neither is unpleasant [kokoro, onoono, okashikarazaru ni arazu]. However, the final section of the Left’s poem is seems to be particularly lacking in poetic qualities [kotoni utashina naki ni nitari]. It would have been better had the Right avoided the artifice of the Left’s festooned parasols [kasahari nado wa sede] and simply mentioned ‘a fence, seemingly surrounded with scarlet leaves’ [momiji o kakouran kakine]. Nevertheless, it should win.

Autumn III: 1



tokiwa no
shigemi o somuru
tsuta no iro no
shita momiji ya wa
The evergreen
Profusion is dyed
By the ivy’s hues:
Were it not,
Would not the under-leaves turn scarlet?

Lord Ari’ie.




chiranu yori
momiji ni tadoru
yamaji kana
iwane no tsuta ya
iro kawaruramu
Not yet fallen are
The scarlet leaves – to track
Along the mountain paths,
Does the ivy at the rooted crags
Change its hue?



The Right state that by continuing with ‘Profusion is dyed’ (shigemi o somuru) it sounds as if it is the evergreens themselves which are taking on autumn colours. The Left merely remark that saying ‘track’ (tadoru) is difficult to comprehend [kokoroegatashi].

Shunzei’s judgement: Is the Left’s poem that bad [ashiku ya wa], given that ‘Profusion is dyed’ is followed by ‘the ivy’s hues’ (tsuta no iro no)? The final section, though, is lacking and seems rather vague. I, too, wonder about the use of ‘track’. The round ties.

Summer II: 25

Left (Win).


arashi fuku
kozue haruka ni
naru semi no
aki o chikashi to
sora o tsugu nari
A storm wind blows
The distant treetops, where
The cicadas sing
Of coming autumn
To the skies.

Lord Sada’ie.




aoki momiji no
shita suzumi
atsusa wa semi no
koe in yuzurinu
Lush and
Green beneath the maple leaves
‘Tis cool;
The heat by cicadas
Song is summoned.



The Right state that, ‘“Sing…to the skies” (sora o tsugu) goes against the spirit of the topic,’ while the Left wonder, ‘What we can make of “green maple leaves” (aoki momiji)?’

Shunzei states, ‘The Left’s “sing of coming autumn to the skies” (aki o chikashi to sora o tsugu nari) is superlative. The Right’s “green maple leaves” (aoki momiji) must mean that the poet, on seeing a tree which turns scarlet, rather than green, recollects the autumn colour. However, “the heat” and the diction in the concluding line are somewhat pedestrian and unpoetic. I must award the victory to the Left.’