Love IV: 1

Left (Win).

yo o fukami
shibanaku kake wa
ware gotoku
netemo sametemo
koi ya subenaki
At the close of night
The cock crows from time to time,
Just as I
Both sleeping and waking,
Won’t a thought of love console me?



aimite wa
uki orifushi mo
tori no ne ni
A meeting always
Brings a painful parting, but
The cock’s crow
Brings back memories
Of the one I love…


The Right state: we cannot comprehend a cock feeling thoughts of love when asleep. The Left state: the initial section of the Right’s poem is incomprehensible. The second section is antiquated.

In judgement: the Left’s ‘cock crows from time to time’ (shibanaku kake) and ‘Won’t a thought of love console me?’ (koi ya subenaki) are expressions the style of which I am unable to accept. Moreover, I don’t feel that cocks really have thoughts of love while they are asleep. But, I have wondered, when hearing them crow so vigorously at dawn whether, ‘just as I, both sleeping and waking, they are thinking of love’? The Right’s poem is somewhat naïve in style, and suggests that after having met, and parted from, a lover, subsequently hearing the cock crow brings back mixed feelings of love and sorrow, but the initial impression it gives is that because a meeting has brought about painful feelings, something has happened – but what this is is left unclear. The Left’s poem is certainly not out of keeping with one in this style. Thus, the Left should win.

Love III: 30


wa ga koi wa
furuno no michi no
iku akikaze ni
tsuyu koborekinu
My love is as
The path to Furuno through
The bamboo groves:
With the coming of the autumn winds
An endless fall of dewdrops.

Lord Ari’ie.


koi someshi
kokoro wa itsu zo
miyako no oku no
yūgure no sora
When did this love
First touch my soul?
The ancient
Capital’s heart, gazing
At the evening skies.


The Right wonder with it sounds appropriate for the Left’s poem to end with kinu. The Left say that the Right’s ‘Capital’s heart’ (miyako no oku) is a vague expression.

In judgement: ‘The faults of both poems this round are so minor as not to be worth criticism. The Left’s ‘path to Furuno through the bamboo groves’ (furuno no michi no osasawara) followed with ‘the coming of the autumn winds an endless fall of dewdrops’ (iku aki kaze ni tsuyu koborekinu) sounds particularly fine [yoroshiku koso kikoe]. I wonder whether the Right’s ‘ancient’ (Isonokami) followed by ‘capital’s heart’ (miyako no oku) is really that vague? People who make such criticisms must not read poetry in the same way as this old fool. What a sad situation this is! However, the round is a good tie.’

Love III: 29

Left (Win).

ima wa tada
mukashi gatari ni
koi mo wa ga mi mo
When the present
A tale of old has
Quite become;
Our love and myself both,
Would they be better gone?

Lord Kanemune.


yo no hito no
mukashi gatari ni
uki no taetaru
wa ga mi narazu wa
For everyone
A tale of old
I’ll not become, for
Enduing the pains of love –
That is not me.

Lord Tsune’ie.

The Right wonder ‘where’ the Left ‘would be better gone’ (hanaremashikaba)? The Left say the  Right’s poem expresses commonplace feelings [kikinaretaru kokochisu].

In judgement: ‘Where would they be better gone’ (asahanaretaru) means, how would they be gone. This really is an expression with which I am unfamiliar. In any case, it seems poor reasoning [yoshikaranu yoshi ni ya]. However, the Right, having ‘I’ll not become’ (narinamashi) and ‘is not’ (narazu wa) in the initial and final sections of the poem is a fault. While one still wonders ‘where’ the Left is, it must win.

Love III: 28


ika narishi
yoyo no mukui no
tsurasa nite
kono toshitsuki ni
How many are
My lives blessed with
Pain alone, that
Through these passing years and months
It shows no sign of weakening?

Lord Sada’ie


toshi henishi
tsuraki ni taete
nagarau to
kikaren sae zo
ima wa kanashiki
The years have passed
In nothing but pain
On and on;
All you would hear from me, though,
Is that, now, I am sad.

Lord Takanobu

The Right state: ‘It shows no sign of weakening’ [yowarazaruran] seems unsatisfactory in its  placement in this poem. The Left state: there are no faults to inidicate.

In judgement: the Left’s second section seems fine, but the initial section’s ‘pain alone’ (tsurasa)  sounds overly forceful. However, in the Right’s poem ‘All you would hear from me, though, is that, now, I am sad’ (kikaren sae zo ima wa kanashiki) in the final section seems both overly explicit and somewhat weak. I cannot award a win this round.

Ehime Man’yōen


Man’yō Name Sibakusa
Modern Name Chikarashiba 力芝(チカラシバ)
Ohishiba 雄日芝(オヒシバ)
English Names
  1. Yard grass, Indian goosegrass, wiregrass, crowfootgrass
  2. Chinese pennisetum, Chinese fountaingrass, dwarf fountain grass, foxtail fountain grass, swamp foxtail grass
Scientific Name F. Poaceae; Eleusine indica
F. Poaceae; Pennisetum alopecuroides
Distribution Various parts of Japan
Seasonal Association

Poems (2)

MYS VI: 1048 MYS XI: 2777


Man’yō Name Sanokata
( さのかた)
Modern Name Akebi
English Names Akebi; chocolate vine; five-leaved akebia
Scientific Name F. Lardizabalaceae
Akebia quinata
Seasonal Association

Poems (3)

MYS X: 1928 MYS X: 1929 MYS XIII: 3323