Tag Archives: autumn breeze

KKS XIX: 1020

A poem from the Poetry Contest held by the Empress Dowager during the reign of the Kanpyō emperor.


akikaze ni
tudurisasete teFu
kirigirisu naku
With the autumn breeze
Seem to have bloomed and twined
The asters
Bound together by the rasping
Crickets’ cries.[1]

Ariwara no Muneyana

[1] This poem is composed around a dual wordplay, which I have not been able to closely replicate in the translation. Hokorobu is simultaneously both ‘bloom fully’ and ‘thread (a needle)’ while tsuzuru is both ‘sew together’ and an onomatopoeic representation of the sound that a cricket makes.

Kanpyō no ōntoki kiku awase 8

A chrysanthemum from the beach at Fukiage in the province of Ki.

akikaze no
Fukiage ni tateru
siragiku Fa
Fana ka aranu ka
nami no yosuru ka
In the autumn breeze
Gusting at Fukiage
Are the white chrysanthemums
Blooms, or are the not, and just
The breaking waves?

The Suga Prime Minister [Sugawara no Michizane]

This poem was included in Kokinshū (V:272), where it has a somewhat longer and more explanatory headnote.

Autumn I: 24

Left (Win).


tsuki zo sumu
sato wa makoto ni
uzura no toko o
harau aki kaze
Clear shines the moon, dwelling
O’er a house truly
Gone to ruin;
The quail’s bed
Brushed by autumn breezes…

Lord Sada’ie.


Sada’ie’s poem alludes obliquely to a famous poetic exchange from the Kokinshū, initiated by Ariwara no Narihira.



shigeki no to
yado nare ya
magaki no kure ni
uzura nakunari
Overgrown are these fields, and
Is that a deserted
By the fence at evening time
The quails are crying.



Both teams concur that there are no faults at all this round.

Shunzei agrees: ‘Both poems are on the theme of now deserted dwelling places and are equally beautiful in expression, with the Right’s work reminiscent of “Fushimi at evening time”, but this implies a broad vista, and is not “the fence at evening time” too narrow? The Left’s final section is better, and wins, I think.’

Autumn I: 23

Left (Win).


hitori nuru
ashi no maruya no
shimo tsuyu ni
toko o narabete
uzura nakunari
Sleeping singly
In a reed-roofed hut,
Dripped with dew,
Beside my bed
The quails are crying.

A Servant Girl.




akikaze ni
nabiku obana no
yūzuyu ya
uzura ga neya no
ame to chiruramu
In the autumn breeze
Flutter fronds of silvergrass,
Scattering dewdrops
On the quails’ roost –
How like rain…

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right state that the Left’s poem has no faults. The Left state that, ‘“On the quails’ roost – how like rain” (uzura ga neya no ame) suggests that this is what it actually is.’

Shunzei disagrees: ‘It is not the case that uzura ga neya no ame definitely implies that it is actually rain, particularly with the scene set by dew on silvergrass. However, “beside my bed” (toko o narabete) is particularly attractive in expression. It should win.’

Autumn I: 8

Left (Win).


kuretake ni
suguru akikaze
sayo fukete
matsuru hodo ni ya
hoshiai no sora
When the black bamboo
Is brushed by autumn breeze, and
Night falls,
Is it time to celebrate?
Stars meeting in the heavens…

Lord Kanemune.




kokonoe ni
kyō matsuru oba
tanabata no
tada hito yo ni mo
ureshi to ya miru
Within the Ninefold Palace walls
This day we celebrate,
The lovers on
Just a single night:
Are they pleased, I wonder?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right state, ‘“Is it time to celebrate? Stars meeting in the heavens” (matsuru hodo ni ya hoshiai no sora) – the one does not seem to follow from the other. The Left wonder, ‘why we have an annual rite describe as “a single night” (tada hito yo), and not “but one night a year” (toshi ni hito yo)?’

Shunzei merely remarks, ‘“Is it time to celebrate? Stars meeting in the heavens” – this certainly does follow on, and there is nothing wrong with it. The point about “a single night” is well made. The Left wins.’