Tag Archives: tomoshibi

SZS XIX: 1211

Composed when he was on a pilgrimage to worship Kannon at thirty-three places, and saw oil emerging at Tanigumi, in Mino.[1]


yo wo terasu
Fotoke no sirusi
mada tomosibi mo
kienu narikeri
Shining light upon the world,
This Buddha, a sign
Does give:
As yet, the lanterns
Never have gone out!

Former Archbishop Kakuchū

[1] This poem was composed at the Kegonji 華厳寺 temple on Mount Tagumi (Tagumisan 谷汲山) in the middle of what is now Gifu 岐阜 prefecture.

Koresada shinnō-ke uta’awase 2


aki to shinareba
asagiri ni
kata madowashite
nakanu hi zo naki
The plovers on the beach:
When the autumn comes,
In the morning mists
Do lose their way;
No day dawns without their cries…



aki kureba
miyamazato koso
yoru wa hotaru o
tomoshibi ni shite
When the autumn comes
My hut deep in the mountains
Is lonelier by far;
At night with fireflies
For my lantern.


[1] This poem also appears as Fubokushō 5545 where is it is listed as by Ōe no Chisato

Winter II: 28



amata tabi
take no tomoshibi
kakagete zo
miyo no hotoke no
na oba tonaeru
Many times
The torches of bamboo
Are flourished, and
The three worlds’ Buddhas’
Names proclaimed.

Lord Suetsune.




yo no ma no yuki wa
tsumoru tomo
kōreru tsumi ya
sora ni kiyuran
There’s no light
Within this night of snowfall
Drifting, yet
My frozen sins
Do vanish into the skies…



The Gentlemen of the Right state: we must say that the Left’s poem has no faults. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the expression ‘frozen sins’ (kōreru tsumi).

Shunzei’s judgement: saying ‘torches of bamboo’ (take no tomoshibi) in order to refer to the ‘three worlds’ Buddhas’, is a somewhat unusual expression. The Right’s ‘my frozen sins do vanish into the skies’ (kōreru tsumi ya sora ni kiyuran) seems elegant [yū ni miehaberu], but refers only to the sins vanishing, and the conception of the Buddhas’ names seems somewhat lacking. Comparing the two poems, they must tie.

Autumn I: 11

Left (Win).


hoshiai no
sora no hikari to
naru mono wa
kumoi no niwa ni
terasu tomoshibi
The stars meeting in
The sky is lit
The Palace gardens’
Shining torches.

A Servant Girl.




tanabata wa
kumo no ue yori
kumo no ue ni
kokoro o wakete
At Tanabata
Above the heavens’ clouds, and
Above the clouds on earth
Between them is the heart divided
In joy, no doubt!



The Right state that the Left’s poem has no faults. The Left, on the other hand, say, ‘The Right’s poem seems to have very little of celebration about it. In addition, the expression “Above the heavens’ clouds, and above the clouds on earth” (kumo no ue yori kumo no ue ni) seems to have reversed the proper sense.’ (‘Above the clouds’ was a standard euphemism for the palace, and by association, the Emperor. Putting him in a secondary position here was perceived as a fault.)

Shunzei’s judgement: ‘“Above the heavens’ clouds, and above the clouds on earth” can be criticised, I think, for repeating the same phrase twice. And, what might one make of it having “reversed the proper sense”? The Left’s poem is faultless. The Right’s does, indeed, lack a conception of celebration, so the Left, again, win this round.’

Autumn I: 10

Left (Win).


akigoto ni
taenu hoshiai no
sayo fukete
hikari naraburu
niwa no tomoshibi
Each and every autumn,
For the eternal meeting of the stars
Night falls, and
Lights align with
The palace garden lanterns.

Lord Sada’ie.




tsuyu fukai
niwa no tomoshibi
kazu kienu
yo ya fukenuran
hoshiai no sora
Deep dewfall
Upon the garden lanterns
Extinguished a number;
Has night fallen, I wonder,
Upon the sky wherein stars meet?



The Right have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, while the Left simply say the Right’s poem has ‘major faults’. (Criticising the use of the completive marker nu twice in quick succession: kienu, fukenuran.)

Shunzei ignores this point, simply saying, ‘The expression “Has night fallen, I wonder, upon the sky wherein stars meet?” (yo ya fukenuran hoshiai no sora) is splendid, but there is no reason for beginning the poem with “deep dewfall” (tsuyu fukaki). The Lefts’ poem has no faults – thus, it must win.’