Category Archives: Prose Works

Kojiki 90

A song the Kojiki attributes to Prince Kinashi no Karu, immediately before his joint suicide with his lover and sister, Princess Sotôshi. It seems more likely, however, that the song was originally a lament.

隱り國の 泊瀨の河の 上つ瀨に 齋杙を打ち 下つ瀨に 眞杙を打ち 齋杙には 鏡を懸け 眞杙には 眞玉を懸け 眞玉如す 吾が思ふ妹 鏡如す 吾が思ふ妻 ありと言はばこそに 家にも行かめ 國をも偲はめ

kömöriku nö
patuse nö kapa nö
kami tu se ni
ikupi wo uti
simo tu se ni
ma kupi wo uti
i kupi ni pa
kagami wo kakë
makupi ni pa
matama wo kakë
matama nasu
a ga möpu imo
kagami nasu
a ga möpu tuma
ari tö ipaba kösö ni
ipe ni mö yukamë
kuni wo mö sinopamë
In a hidden land
Flows the River Hatsuse:
In the upper shallows
Was driven in a sacred stake;
And in the lower shallows,
Was driven in a true stake.
On the sacred stake
Hangs a mirror;
And on the true stake
Hangs a pure jewel.
As a jewel
Was my beloved;
As a mirror
Was my wife:
Were she only there,
I would return to my house,
I would return to my home.

Kojiki 44

This song, also attributed to Emperor Ōjin, is generally interpreted as referring to the missed opportunities of love, with the water shield being a metaphor for a maiden.

水溜る 依網の池の 堰杙打ちが 插しける知らに 蓴繰り 延へく知らに 我が心しぞ いや愚にして 今ぞ悔しき

midu tamaru
yosami no ike no
wigupi uti ga
sasikeru sira ni
nunapa kuri
papeku sira ni
wa ga kokoro si zo
iya wokonisite
ima zo kuyasiki
Water flows and rises
At Yosami Pond:
Driving in the dam piles,
Slipping in the stakes, I saw it not.
A water shield
Spread out its leaves, I saw it not.
My heart, indeed,
Was foolish
And now fills with regret.

Kojiki 43

いさ子ども 野蒜摘みに 蒜摘みに 我が行く道の 香ぐはし 花橘は 上枝は 鳥居枯(が)らし 下枝は 人取り枯らし 三つ栗の 中つ枝の ほつもり 赤ら孃子を いざささば 良らしな

iza kodomo
no biru tumi ni
piru tumi ni
wa ga yuku miti no
kagupasi
pana tatibana
potue pa
tori wigarasi
sidue pa
pito torigarasi
mitu guri no
naka tu e no
potumori
akara wotome wo
izasasaba
yorasi na
Hey, now, boys!
I went picking onions in the fields:
Going picking onions,
Along the road I travelled
Was sweet smelling
Orange blossom:
The upper branches,
Plucked bare by birds;
The bottom branches
Stripped by men;
But, as three chestnut trees,
Among centre branches
Fruit remained:
A ruddy maiden!
If I asked her along,
Wonderful!

Kojiki 42

A pair of light-hearted wooing songs: these are attributed to the Emperor Ōjin (r. 270-310), although it seems unlikely he composed them.

この蟹や 何處の蟹 百傳ふ 角鹿の蟹 橫去らふ 何處に到る 伊知遲嶋 美嶋に著き 鳰鳥の 潛き息づき しなだゆふ 佐佐那美路を すくすくと 我が行ませばや 木幡の道に 遇はしし孃子 後姿は 小だてろかも 齒竝みは 椎菱如す 櫟井の 丸邇坂の土を 初土は 膚赤らげみ 底土は 舟黑き故 三つ栗の その中つ土を かぶつく 眞火(ひ)には當てず 眉畫き 濃に畫き垂れ 遇はしし女人 かもがと 我が見し子ら かくもがと 我が見し子に うたたけだに 對(むか)ひ居るかも い添ひ居るかも

kono kani ya
iduku no kani
momodutapu
tunuga no kani
yoko sarapu
iduku ni itaru
itidi sima
mi sima ni toki
mipodori no
kaduki ikiduki
sinadayupu
sasanamidi wo
sukusuku to
wa ga imaseba ya
kopata no miti ni
apasisi wotome
usirode pa
wodateroka mo
pa nami pa
pipi pisi nasu
itipiwi no
wanisa no ni wo
patuni pa
pada aragemi
sipani pa
niguroki yuwe
mitu kuri no
sono naka tu ni wo
kabutuku
mapi ni pa atezu
mayogaki
ko ni kakitare
apasisi womina
kakumogato
wa ga misi ko ra
kaku mo ga to
a ga misi ko ni
utatake dani
mukapi woru kamo
isopi woru kamo
Hey, this crab!
Where’s it from?
Crab from far distant
Tsunuga.
Walking sideways
Whither is it bound?
At Ichiji Isle
And the Isle of Mi, I arrive:
A grebe,
Taking deep breaths
On the rising, falling
Road to Sasanami.
Slipping
Along
On the road to Kohata
I met a maiden.
From behind,
She was slender as a shield;
Her rows of teeth,
Like sweet acorns and water chestnuts;
From Wanisa,
In Ichihii, the clay:
The first dug clay
Is bright red;
The bottom clay
Is reddish black, so,
As three chestnut trees,
The middle clay-
(But not with a fierce
Fire baked)-
Her eyebrows painted,
Thickly painted.
The maid I met
I knew she would be that way,
The girl I saw;
I thought she would be this way,
Of the girl I saw.
What a turnaround!
She’s facing me;
She’s nestling next to me!

Kojiki 9

宇陀の 高城に  鴫罠張る 我が待つや 鴫は障らず いすくはし くぢら障る 前妻が 肴乞はさば 立柧ばの 實の無けくを こきしひゑね 後妻が 肴乞はさば いちさかき 實の多けくを こきだひゑね ええ しやごしや 此はいのごふそ ああ しやごしや 此は嘲わらふぞ

uda no
takaki ni
sigi wana paru
wa ga matu ya
sigi pa sayarazu
isukupasi
kudira sayaru
konami ga
na kopasaba
tatisoba no
mi no nakeku wo
kokisi piwene
upanari ga
na kopasaba
itisakaki
mi no opokeku wo
kokida piwene
ee
si ya gosi ya
ko pa inogopu so
aa
si ya gosi ya
ko pa azawarapu zo
At Uda
By the hilltop fort
I set a net for snipe.
Ah, though I waited
I caught not a one.
An awesome
Whale, I caught!
If my old wife
Demands a dish,
A thin slice
With little meat
I’ll cut for her.
If my young wife
Demands a dish,
A thick slice
With much meat
I’ll cut for her.
Ee
Si ya gosi ya!

This is lively!
Aa
Si ya gosi ya!

This is a hoot!

Kojiki 5

Whereupon Princess Suseri took a wine cup and sang to him:

八千矛の 神の命や 吾が大国主 汝こそは 男に坐せば 打ち廻る 嶋の埼埼 かき廻る 磯の埼落ちず 若草の 妻持たせらめ 吾はもよ 女にしあれば 汝を除て 男は無し 汝を除て 夫は無し 綾垣の ふはやが下に 苧衾 柔やが下に たく衾 さやぐが下に あわ雪の 若やる胸を たく綱の 白き腕 そだたき たたきまながり 眞玉手 玉手さし枕き 百長に 寢をし寢せ 豊御酒 奉らせ

yatipökö nö
kami nö miköto ya
a ga opokuninusi
na kösö pa
wo ni imaseba
utimiru
sima nö sakizaki
kakimïru
iso nö saki otizu
wakakusa nö
tuma mötaseramë
a pa mö yö
me ni si areba
na wo kite
wo pa nasi
na wo kite
tuma pa nasi
ayakaki nö
pupaya ga sita ni
musibusuma
nikoya ga sita ni
takubusuma
sayagu ga sita ni
awayuki nö
wakayaru mune wo
takuduno nö
siroki tadamuki
södataki
tataki managari
matamade
tamade sasimaki
momonaga ni
i wo si nase
töyö miki
tatematurase
Eight Thousand Spears,
Mighty God,
My great master of the land,
Were I
A man
Circling
The islands’ promontories,
Progressing.
On every beach
As young grass
I would have a wife.
But I,
As I am a woman,
Save you,
I have no man;
Save you,
No husband.
Beneath twill curtains
Fluttering;
Beneath warm coverlets of silk grass
Softly;
Beneath mulberry cloth coverlets
Rustling,
The melting snow
Of my youthful breast
With mulberry-cloth
White arms
Enfold.
Entwining, gazing:
Pure jewelled hand
Pillowed upon hand
Forever
Shall we sleep!
This august wine
I present to you.

Kojiki 4

Following Yachihoko’s successful wooing of Princess Nunakawa, his principal wife, Princess Suseri, became exceedingly jealous. On one occasion, when he was about to take his leave of her, he sang thus:

ぬばたまの 黑き御衣を まつぶさに 取り裝ひ 沖つ鳥 胸見る時 はたたぎも これは適はず 邊つ波 そに脱き棄て そに鳥の 靑き御衣を まつぶさに 取り裝ひ 沖つ鳥 胸見る時 はたたぎも 此も適はず 邊つ波 そに脱ぎ棄て 山縣に 蒔きし あたね舂き 染木が汁に 染め衣を まつぶさに 取り裝ひ 沖つ鳥 胸見る時 はたたぎも 此し宜し いとこやの 妹の命 群鳥の 我が群れ往なば 引け鳥の 我が引け往なば 泣かじとは 汝(な)は言ふとも 山處の 一本薄 項傾し 汝が泣かさまく 朝雨の 霧に立たむぞ 若草の 妻の命 事の 語言も 是をば

nubatama nö
kuroki mikesi wo
matubusa ni
töriyösöpi
oki tu töri
muna miru toki
patatagi mö
köre pa pusapazu
pe tu nami
sö ni nukiute
sonidöri nö
awoki mikesi wo
matubusani
töriyösöpi
oki tu töri
muna miru töki
patatagi mö
kö mö pusapazu
pe tu nami
sö ni nukiute
yamagata ni
makisi
atane tuki
sömëki ga siru ni
somekoromo wo
matubusani
töriyösöpi
oki tu töri
muna miru töki
patatagi mo
kö si yörösi
itoko ya nö
imo nö mikötö
muradöri nö
wa ga mureinaba
pikëtori no
wa ga pikëinaba
nakazi tö pa
na pa ipu tömö
yamatö nö
pitö mötö susuki
unagabusi
na ga nakasamaku
asa amë nö
kiri ni tatamu zo
wakakusa nö
tuma no mikoto
kötö nö
katarigötö mo
kö wo ba
Lily seed
Black, my garb:
Completely
Decked out in finery.
A bird upon the shore,
Preens the down upon its breast,
And flaps its wings:
That won’t do.
As a wave from the shore,
I pull them off and drop them.
Kingfisher
Blue, my garb:
Completely
Decked out in finery.
A bird upon the shore,
Preens the down upon its breast,
And flaps its wings:
That won’t do.
As a wave from the shore,
I pull them off and drop them.
In the mountain fields,
Scattered.
Grinding madder:
Liquid from the roots
Dyed red my garb:
Completely
Decked out in finery.
A bird upon the shore
Preens the down upon its breast
And flaps its wings.
This is fabulous!
My men,
My lady,
Are a flock of birds,
We go all together;
As a single bird
I am dragged along.
‘I’ll not cry!’
Though you say so,
In the mountains
A single stalk of pampas grass
Droops down.
Your tears now,
As morning rain
Rise through the mists.
Fresh as grass,
My wife.
The words,
The spoken words,
Are like this.

Kojiki 3

八千矛の 神の命は ぬえ草の 女にしあれば 我が心 浦渚の鳥ぞ 今こそは 我鳥にあらめ 後は 汝鳥にあらめ 命は な殺せたまひそ いしたふや 天馳使 事の 語言も 是をば 靑山に 日が隱らば ぬばたまの 夜は出でなむ 朝日の 笑み榮え來て たくづの 白き腕 沫雪の 若やる胸を そだたき たたきまながり 眞玉手 玉手さし枕き 百長に 寢は寢さむを あやに な戀ひ聞こし 八千矛の 神の命 事の 語言も 是をば

yatipokö nö
kamï nö mikötö pa
nuyekusa nö
me ni si areba
wa ga kökörö
urasu nö töri zo
ima kösö pa
wadöri ni aramë
nöti pa
nadöri ni aramu wo
inöti pa
na sisetamapi sö
isitapu ya
amepasedukapi
kötö nö
Katarigötö mö
kö wo ba
awoyama ni
pi ga kakuraba
nubatama nö
yo pa idenamu
asapi nö
wemisakayekite
takudunö
siroki tadamuki
awayuki no
wakayaru mune wo
södataki
tataki managari
ma tamade
tamade sasimaki
momonaga ni
i pa nasamu wo
aya ni
na kopïkikösi
yatipokö nö
kamï nö mikötö
kötö nö
katarigötö mö
kö wo ba
Eight Thousand Spears,
Mighty God,
A delicate
Maid am I.
My heart
Is a bird upon the seashore
Now,
It flies for me
Later,
It may fly for you.
My heart’s life
Do not end it!
Though it be a rowdy
Messenger of the skies.
The words,
The spoken words
Are like this.
In the mountains green,
When the sun lies hidden,
Lily-seed dark
Night will arise.
As the morning sun
Come smiling to me;
With mulberry-cloth
White arms
The melting snow
Of my youthful breast
Enfold.
Entwining, gazing:
Pure jewelled hand
Pillowed upon hand
Forever
Let us sleep.
And so
Put aside your longing,
Eight Thousand Spears,
Mighty God.
The words,
The spoken words,
Are like this.

Kojiki 2

A sequence of songs concerning the exploits of the deity Yachihoko, or Eight Thousand Spears, also known as Ōkuninushi, the Great Land Master. The first two songs describe his wooing of Princess Nunakawa, and her reply:

八千矛の 神の命は 八島國 妻枕きかねて 遠遠し 高志の國に 賢し女を 有りと聞かして 麗し女(め)を 有りと聞こして さ婚ひに あり立たし 婚ひ あり通はせ 大刀が緒も いまだ解かずて 襲をも いまだ解かねば 孃子の 寢すや板戸を 押そぶらひ 我が立たせれば 引こづらひ 我が立たせれば 靑山に 鵺(ぬえ)は鳴きぬ さ野つ鳥 雉はとよむ 庭つ鳥 鷄は鳴く 心痛くも 鳴くなる鳥か この鳥も 打ち止めこせね いしたふや 天馳使 事の 語言も 是をば

yatipokö nö
kamï nö mikötö pa
yasimakuni
tuma makikanete
töpotöposi
kosi nö kuni ni
sakasime wo
ari tö kikasite
kupasime wo
ari tö kikosite
sayobapi ni
aritatasi
yobapi ni
arikayopase
tati ga wo mö
imada tökazute
ösupi wo mö
imada tökaneba
wotöme nö
nasu ya itato wo
ösuburapi
wa ka tatasereba
piködurapi
wa ka tatasereba
awoyama ni
nuye pa nakinu
sa no tu töri
kigisi pa töyömu
nipa tu töri
kake pa naku
uretaku mö
nakunaru töri ka
könö töri mö
utiyamekösene
isitapu ya
amepasedukapi
kötö nö
katarigötö mö
kö wo ba
Eight Thousand Spears,
The mighty god,
In the Eightfold Island land
Could not take a wife.
Afar, afar
In the land of Koshi
A clever maiden
Lived, he heard;
A most singular maiden
Lived there, he heard.
A’courting
Did he go.
Courting
Back and forth.
His sword belt
Not undone,
His cloak, too,
Not unfastened,
At the maiden’s
Door, wherein she slept,
He hammers,
‘While I’ve stood here
Knocking over and over,
While I’ve stood here,
In the mountains green,
The ground thrush has sung;
The birds of the fields,
The pheasants are calling;
The bird of the garden,
The cockerel, crows.
Sad it might be but,
You calling birds
You birds you,
I wish you’d stop,
You rowdy
Messengers of the skies!’
The words,
The spoken words
Are like this.