Tag Archives: The Path Across the Shiga Mountains

GSIS II: 115

Composed on fallen flowers on a mountain path.


miti mienu made
ikaga Fa subeki
siga no yamagoe
Cherry blossoms
Hide the way
So many have fallen;
What am I to do,
On the path across the Shiga Mountains?

Tachibana no Narimoto

Spring III: 12

Left (Tie).


ochikata ya
mada minu mine wa
kasumi nite
nao hana omou
shiga no yamagoe
In the distance far
As yet unseen peaks
Are shrouded in the haze;
Yet I think on blossom on
The path across the Shiga Mountains.

A Servant Girl.


Right (Tie).


haru fukami
hana no sakari ni
kumo o wakeiru
shiga no yamagoe
Spring is at its height, and
The blossoms their peak
Have reached, so
I pass between the clouds
On the path across the Shiga Mountains.

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right say that ‘shrouded in the haze’ (kasumi nite) in the Left’s poem is ‘somewhat grating on the ear’ [isasaka mimi ni tatsu], while the Left reply that the Right’s is ‘rather old-fashioned’ [furumekashiki] and ‘there would be people complaining it was similar to their own work!’

In response, Shunzei says, ‘The Left’s ‘shrouded in haze’ certainly is somewhat grating in form [mimi ni tatsubeku ya], but seeing blossom scattered on a mountain path and wondering about the situation on peaks ahead hidden in the haze, seems well in keeping with the conception of the topic [amari no kokoro ni ya haberan]. As for the Right, on first impression it is splendid [yū], and as for it seeming old-fashioned, and people complaining about it: well, I wonder if there ever was anyone who composed in such a manner [kayō no kokoro ni koso yomeru hai ni ya]? At the present time I have no recollection of anyone. Thus, I cannot decide on a winner between the two.’

Spring III: 11

Left (Win).


mukashi tare
shiga no yamaji o
hito no kokoro o
hana ni misuran
In ages past, who was it that
On the mountain paths of Shiga
First set foot, that
Men’s hearts be moved
By the sight of blossom?





furusato ni
omou hito aru
iezuto wa
hana ni zo miyuru
shiga no yamagoe
At home is
The one I love:
As a gift
These blossoms would appear
On the path across the Shiga Mountains.



The Right say that the Left’s poem is particularly good this round, while the Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s one either.

Shunzei says, ‘One has to wonder whether, following the final of the Left’s poem, there might not be men who foolishly pondered on blossom? And, in the Right’s the “gift for the one I love” (omou hito aru iezuto): how would the blossoms appear? Is it that the poet as broken off a spray? The two halves of the poem do not seem to fit appropriately together, which is a problem of mistaken emphasis. Thus, in the end, rather than the “gift”, in terms of form “in ages past who was it” must win.’

Spring III: 10



niowazu wa
fuguku sora to zo
hana chirimagau
shiga no yamagoe
Were there no fragrance,
Wind-driven skies,
One would think,
Blossoms scattered all around
The path across the Shiga Mountains.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


michi mo se ni
hana no shirayuki
fuyu ni zo kaeru
shiga no yamagoe
The path narrows to naught,
A blizzard of blossom
Falling and settling:
Winter has come once more
To the path across the Shiga Mountains.



The Right query the Left’s use of ‘wind-driven’ (fuguku), wondering whether it’s appropriate in poetry, while the Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei remarks testily that, ‘The Left appear to have regrettably little sense of how to compose on the topic of ‘the path across the Shiga Mountains’, an impression which could have been reversed if only ‘a mountain path’ (yama michi) had been mentioned. The Right’s ‘winter has come once more to the path across the Shiga Mountains’ (fuyu ni zo kaeru shiga no yamagoe), however, is charming. Thus, it must win.’

Spring III: 9

Left (Tie).


hana oba fumaji
to omou ma ni
michi koso nakare
shiga no yamagoe
Upon the fallen, piléd,
Blossoms I should not tread
I feel, and so
Pathway have I none
Across the Shiga Mountains…

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


haru wa tada
kumoji o wakuru
hana koso mienu
shiga no yamagoe
In spring, I simply
Forge a path betwixt the clouds,
I feel;
Blossoms indistinguishable
On the path across the Shiga Mountains.

Lord Takanobu.


The Right state that ‘I feel and so’ (to omou ma ni) in the Left’s poem is ‘unpleasant’, while the Left remark that ‘entering among blossoms and then saying “blossoms indistinguishable” is unclear.’ The commentators are uncertain about what the Right’s objection to ‘to omou ma ni’ is, and speculate that it may be because it contains one too many syllables for its position in the poem (six when there should be five). This seems most likely, as there are numerous other poems using the expression in other contexts.

Shunzei judgement is: ‘The Right’s emphasis on blossom resembling clouds is excessive and makes the poem eccentric. Their criticism of the Left’s “I feel, and so” (omou ma ni) is also excessive. The round would appear to be a tie.’

Spring III: 8



hana chireba
michi ya wa yokenu
shiga no yama
utate kozue o
koyuru haru kaze
The blossom will fall, so
Will you not avoid the path
Across the Shiga Mountains?
Heartlessly, the treetops,
Brushing, O, springtime breeze!

Lord Ari’ie.


Right (Win).


shiga no yamaji o
chiriyuku hana zo
shirube narikeru
Shiga Mountains’ path
To cross,
The scattering blossoms
Show the way.

Lord Tsune’ie.


On the Left’s poem, the Right team state that ‘“will you not avoid” (yokenu) sounds poor.’ The Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s work.

Shunzei agrees: ‘The terms “will you not avoid” and “heartlessly” (utate) seem quite unpleasant. Thus, the Right wins.’