Winter II: 30



hito tose no
hakanaki yume wa
miyo no hotoke no
kane no hibiki ni
A year is but
A fleeting dream
I feel, while
The three worlds’ Buddhas’
Bells yet sound…

A Servant Girl.




hotoke no mina wa
asahi nite
yagate kieyuku
hito tose no tsuyu
The proclaimed
Buddhas’ Honoured names are
As the morning sun,
Finally dispelling
The year’s dewfall.



The Gentlemen of both Left and Right state: we find no faults with the other team’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: the Left’s poem, saying, ‘A fleeting dream I feel’ (hakanaki yume wa oboenuran) leading to ‘The three worlds’ Buddhas’ bells yet sound’ (miyo no hotoke no kane no hibiki) is particularly fine in configuration and conception [sugatakotoba kotoni yoroshiku koso]. The Right’s poem, too, starting ‘Buddhas’ Honoured names are as the morning sun’ (hotoke no mina wa asahi nite) and then having ‘Finally dispelling the year’s dewfall’ (yagate kieyuku hito tose no tsuyu) is reminiscent of the passage from the Samantabhadra Contemplation Sutra ‘many sins are like frost or dew – one can avoid and extinguish them with the sun of the Buddha’s blessings’; both poems move the heart and so I cannot say which is better or worse. Thus, the round ties.

Winter II: 29

Left (Win).


kore ya kono
miyo no hotoke mo
morobito mo
na o arawashite
akuru shinonome
Is it now that with
The three worlds’ Buddhas’ and
The many folks’
Names announced
Dawn touches the eastern sky?

Lord Kanemune.




fuyu fukaki
ariake no tsuki no
akekata ni
nanorite izuru
kumo no uebito
In the depths of winter
When the moon to dawn
Brings brightness
They give their names and depart –
Those folk above the clouds…

Lord Takanobu.


The Gentlemen of the Right state: we find no faults in the Left’s poem. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Buddhas’ names are recited at other times than the Ceremony of Reciting the Buddhas’ Names. In response: recitation of the names at around the twentieth day of the Twelfth Month is the Buddhas’ Names ceremony.

Shunzei’s judgement: that the Left’s poem has no faults, the Right have already said. Is the courtiers giving their names and leaving with the dawn reminiscent of the Buddhas’ names ceremony? It seems to be drawing on that old song, ‘when the dawntime moon brings brightness, announcing his name on leaving, is the cuckoo!’ The faultless poem wins.

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.

Winter II: 27



morobito no
na sae kikitsuru
koyoi kana
kore mo kon yo no
hotoke narazu ya
Many folks’
Names have I heard
This night;
In the world to come
Won’t they become Buddhas too?

Lord Ari’ie.




miyo no hotoke mo
kiku ya tote
ōmiyabito wa
The proclaimed
Three worlds’ Buddhas, too,
May be listening, so
The courtiers
Announce themselves!

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem is extremely august. The Gentlemen of the Left state: with regard to the Right’s poem – the reason one gives ones name at the ceremony is not for the sake of the Buddhas, is it?

Shunzei’s judgement: the final section of the Left’s poem recollects the strict spiritual practice of Siddhārtha. The Right have raised some questions over the purpose or announcing one’s name, but I do not find the reference problematic here. In addition, while the Left’s ‘Names have I heard’ (na sae kikitsuru) lacks profundity [koto asakeredo], the final section is in accordance with correct understanding. There is no winner or loser this round.

Winter II: 26

Left (Win).


kawatake no
nabiku hakaze mo
toshi kurete
miyo no hotoke no
mina o kiku kana
Bamboo by the river,
Leaves streaming in the breeze, and
The ending of the year, with
The three worlds’ Buddhas
Honoured names – I hear them both…

Lord Sada’ie.




ureshiku mo
tsumi wa yo no ma ni
kienu nari
kureyuku toshi ya
mi ni tsumoruramu
How pleasant that
One’s sins in the space of a night
Do disappear, and
The year fading into dusk
Seems to lie upon me!



The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem is pedestrian [tsune no koto nari].

Shunzei’s judgement: the sound of ‘Bamboo by the river, leaves streaming’ (kawatake no nabiku), leading to ‘the three worlds’ Buddhas’ (miyo no hotoke) is not a particularly good expression. In the Right’s poem, if it was changed to ‘the disappearance of one’s sins is pleasant, but’ (tsumi no kiyuru koto wa ureshiki o), this would be more in line with the conception of the final section of the poem. By beginning ‘how pleasant that’ (ureshiku mo) it sounds as if the poet is pleased to bear another year, too. I wonder, is ‘bamboo by the river’ a recollection of the Palace Gardens? The Left should win.

Winter II: 25



miyo no hotoke no
naka no yo ni
nazo kaenashi o
Reciting the names
Of all three world’s Buddhas;
In the midst of that night
Why is Kaenashi’s sake





miyo no hotoke no
yoso ni mata
ōmiyabito no
nanorubeshi ya wa
Reciting the names
Of all three world’s Buddhas;
On departing, once more
Do the palace folk
Announce their names?

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Gentlemen of the Left and Right state jointly: why be bothered about proffering Kaenashi sake, or courtiers giving their names?

Shunzei’s judgement: the poems of both Left and Right merely recall the order of events at the ceremony of reciting the Buddhas’ names. In conception and quality [kokoro mo uta hodo mo] they are equal.

Winter II: 24



neya no fusuma no
hedate ni mo
hibiki wa kawaru
kane no oto kana
Drawn up beneath
The covers in my bedchamber, and
With them between
The echo is somehow different
When the bells chime…

Lord Sada’ie.


Right (Win).


yuki no yo no
omou bakari mo
saenu koso
neya no fusuma no
shirushi narikere
It is a snowy night
I know, yet
There is no chill:
The covers in my bedchamber
Have that effect!



The Gentlemen of the Right state: why have the ‘bell’ (kane) here? The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults.

Shunzei’s judgement: the Left’s poem, having the poet buried beneath his bedclothes, which alter the sound of the bell recollects a composition on the ‘bell at the Temple of Bequeathed Love’. Nevertheless, the Gentlemen of the Right have asked, ‘Why have the bell here?’, and they are right to do so. The Right’s poem, on how the feeling of cold on a chill, snowy night vanishes briefly, exactly conveys the ‘bedding’s effect’ (fusuma no shirushi). Thus, it is without fault. I must make the Right the winner.

Winter II: 23

Left (Win).


uzumibi no
atari no matoi
akanu ma wa
yodoko no fusuma
yoso ni koso mire
A charcoal fire-pit,
And friendly folk gathered around:
While I would not have it end
My night time bedding
Seems of little point!

Lord Kanemune.




katashiki no
sode saewataru
fuyu no yo wa
toko ni fusuma no
kai mo naki kana
Just my single
Sleeve is so chill
On this winter’s night,
The blankets on my bed
Seem to do no good at all…

Lord Takanobu.


The Gentlemen of the Right state: we wonder about the use of ‘bedding of little point’ (fusuma yoso ni)? The Gentlemen of the Left state: we find no faults in the Right’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both poems are on ‘bedding’ (fusuma), with the Left saying that it seems of little purpose at a gathering around a charcoal fire-pit, and the Right, that it seems to be thin when the cold comes. So, we go from it doing no good, even if you do have it on, to it being pointless when you are happy and warm. What point are these poems trying to make, I wonder? The Left should win.

Winter II: 22



kiehito no
madarabusuma wa
itama yori
shimo oku yowa no
na ni koso arikere
The Kie folk’s
Motley-coloured coverlet:

From between the boards
The falling midnight frost has
Given that name to mine!

Lord Ari’ie.




sayuru yo wa
ama tsu otome mo
ika naran
kaze mo tamaranu
asade kobususma
On this chill, clear night
The maidens of the Heavens, too,
How must they feel?
Unable to avoid the wind,
With only a meagre hempen blanket!

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Gentlemen of the Right state: we don’t understand the reference to ‘Kie Folk’ (kiehito). In response, the Gentlemen of the Left state: it occurs in the Man’yōshū. We have nothing more to say than that.

Shunzei’s judgement: although various remarks have been made about ‘Kie Folk’, and it has been said that it occurs in the Man’yōshū, it is not acceptable to simply say that and then say nothing more. It does appear to be something which it is acceptable to extract from the Man’yōshū and compose with, though. The Right’s poem, too, with its conception of frost falling on a ‘meagre hempen blanket’ (asade kobususma) is in a Man’yō style [fūtei]. It is also certainly the case that it is not unreasonable for the Left to have used ‘motley-coloured coverlet’ (madarabususma). The Round should tie.

MYS IV: 524

[One of] three poems sent to Lady Ōtomo of Sakanoue by Fujiwara no Maro, the Master of the Capital Offices.


nagoya ga sita ni
imo to si ineba
pada si samusi mo
My ramie cloth bedding is
Soft, and beneath it
I lie, yet
My love, I sleep without you, so
My skin does feel the chill….

Fujiwara no Maro