Tag Archives: Ōi

Love V: 1


mukashi ware
furiwakegami o
miteshi yori
koi ni midarete
oi zo shinikeru
Long ago, I,
Your hair, bunched on either side,
Did glimpse, and ever since
In a confusion of love
Have I grown old.

Lord Suetsune.

Right (Win).

iro ni somuru
kokoro wa onaji
mukashi nite
hito no turaki ni
oi o shiru kana
Being charmed by beauty
My heart is just the same
As long ago, but
How cruel for me now,
Feeling my age…

Lord Takanobu.

The Right state: ‘Your hair, bunched on either side’ (furiwakegami) appears very abruptly. In addition, we wonder about the appropriateness of evoking youthful love. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to indicate.

In judgement: the confusion evoked by ‘your hair, bunched on either side’ seems to have lasted rather too long. The Right’s poem sounds exactly as it should be. Thus, the Right should win.

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.

Summer I: 23

Left (Tie).


nao yamakage ni
yowa no tsukikage
Upon the Ōi River,
Yet beneath the mountain’s shadow are
Cormorant boats,
Impossible to avoid,
Within the midnight moonlight.

A Servant Girl.


Right (Tie).


nanase no yodo o
kudashi mo hatede
akenu kono yo wa
Down Matsura River’s
Seven swifts and stills
The cormorant boats,
Descent unfinished,
Find dawn ending night.

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right have two criticisms of the Left’s poem: ‘First, are cormorants used on moonlit nights? Moreover, why continue on from the “mountain’s shadow” (yamakage) with a moonlit night?’ In turn, the Left query, ‘Why continue on from “seven swifts and stills” (nanase no yodo) with cormorant boats?’

Shunzei comments, ‘The defects of the Left’s poem have already been adequately identified by the gentlemen of the other team. The Right’s sequence “Seven swifts and stills the cormorant boats” certainly seems poor. Furthermore, “dawn ending night” (akenu kono yo wa) has a somewhat pretentious air. There is nothing much to distinguish between them, and the round should tie.’

Summer I: 22

Left (Win).


kagaribi no
kage dani araji
nochi no yo no
yami o mo shiranu
ukaibune kana
Not even the fishing fires’
Light will reach
The world to come
Darkness all unknowing are
The cormorant boats.

Lord Kanemune.




ikuse noboreba
arashi no yama no
Ōi River
Rapids running up are
The cormorant boats;
To the Mount of Storms
Does dawn return?



The Right state merely that, ‘The Left’s poem has nothing to apologise for,’ while the Left comment, ‘stating that “dawn” (ake) returns to a mountain to the west is illogical. Moreover, in the three lines “The cormorant boats; To the Mount of Storms Does dawn return?” (ukaibune arashi no yama no akewataruran) the meanings of each line are different and fail to follow on one from the other.’

Shunzei is in general agreement: ‘The gentlemen of the Right have already allowed that the Left’s poem has nothing to apologise for. The have also stated that it is not the case that night lightens from the west, but it is certainly the case that it is possible to see the dawn light growing upon the western mountains. However, the cormorant boats’ practice is normally to run down the rapids, and saying “rapids running up” (ikuse noboreba) suggests that this is happening after they have gone down. Dawn is then exceptionally late. In any case, the Right’s poem has a number of doubtful sections, while the Left’s is without error, as has already been stated. It must win.’

Summer I: 19

Left (Tie).


onaji se o
noboru ayuko ni
kudari zo aranu
kagaribi no kage
At the same swift waters:
Sweetfish sprats head up
The Ōi River,
Waiting, unmoving are
The lighted fishing-fires.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Tie).


kudari mo aranu
ubune kana
kono se ni nomi ya
ayuko sabashiru
Upon Katsura River,
Waiting, unmoving are
The cormorant boats;
Is it only at these swift waters, that
The sweetfish sprats do race?

Lord Tsune’ie.


Neither team sees any difficulties with the other’s poems this round.

Shunzei comments tersely, ‘Both poems use “sweetfish sprats”, and this old-fashioned term cannot help but give them a less than pleasant air. Neither is worthy of victory.’