Tag Archives: Cathay

Kanpyō no ōntoki chūgū uta’awase 7


Round Seven



akiyama wa
karakurenai ni
iku shio shigure
furite someken
The autumn mountains
To Cathay scarlet
Have turned;
How many dippings with drizzle
Have fallen to dye them so?


Right (Win)


aki kinu to
me ni wa sayaka ni
kaze no oto ni zo
That autumn has come
With my eyes, clearly,
I cannot see, yet
The sound of the wind
Has startled me.

Fujiwara no Toshiyuki 14[2]

[1] Shokugosenshū VII: 429

[2] This poem was particularly highly evaluated and so is included in numerous other anthologies (Kokin rokujō I: 125), exemplary collections (Shinsen waka 2) and senka awase – contests assembled from prior poems (Shunzei sanjū roku nin uta’awase 61; Jidai fudō uta’awase 49).

Love VIII: 23

Left (Tie)

mi o sutete
omoe to iwaba
karakuni no
tora fusu tani ni
yo o mo tsukusan
‘Abandon all restraint, and
Love me!’ say that, and
In far Cathay,
In a valley where tiger’s lie
Would I end my life!



morokoshi no
tora fusu shima mo
omowanu naka no
utoki keshiki wa
In Cathay,
Isles where tigers lie
Stand in between:
A heedless love’s
Chill is such a sight!


Left and Right together: both tigers do not seem to emphasise anything in particular.

In judgement:  both poems refer to ‘tigers’ (tora), with the Left having ‘a valley where tigers lie’ (tora fusu tani) and the Right ‘isles where tigers lie’ (tora fusu shima). These seem to be an attempt to differ from the standard ‘meadow’ (nobe). Saying ‘valley’ or ‘isles’ makes both poems sound modern. They are of the same quality.

Love VIII: 22

Left (Win)

karakuni no
tora fusu nobe ni
iru yori mo
madou koiji no
sue zo ayauki
In far Cathay are
Meadows where tigers lie,
But rather than entering there,
The confusing paths of love
Are, at the end, more dangerous…

Lord Ari’ie


wa ga yado wa
hito mo kareno no
kayoishi koma no
ato mo todomezu
At my home
Is only a withered field
Of cogon grass;
The mount who once did cross it
Has left no lingering tracks…


The Gentlemen of the Right state: how can love be dangerous? The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: saying that the ‘paths of love are, at the end’ (koiji no sue) dangerous is perfectly commonplace. ‘Is only a withered field of cogon grass’ (hito mo kareno no asajiwara) seems to simply have taken the poem ‘Sedge fields lie / Around the estate of Fushimi, / All long overgrown; / He who passed across them / Has left no tracks at all…’ and swapped in ‘mount who once did cross it’ (kayoishi koma). Changing a man into a mount is discomposing, indeed. Again, the Left should win.


On the conception of the beginning of spring, composed for a hundred poem sequence for the Lay Priest and former Regent and Chancellor, when he was Minister of the Right.


kyō to ieba
morokoshi made mo
yuku haru o
miyako ni nomi to
omoikeru kana
On this day, the spring that
Even unto Cathay
Will travel is
In the capital alone
I feel!

Master of the Dowager Empress’ Household Office Shunzei

MYS XIX: 4153

Composed on the Third Day at a banquet at the estate of Yakamochi, Lord Ōtomo.


karabito mo
pune wo ukabete
asobu topu
kepu so wa ga seko
pana kadurasena
The folk of Cathay, too,
Drift in their boats
At play, ‘tis said,
Upon this day, my love,
Won’t you wear, this garland, in your hair?

Ōtomo no Yakamochi

MYS XIX: 4262

[One of] two poems composed at the farewell festivities at the house of Ōtomo no Kojihi, Captain of the Outer Palace Bodyguards, for Ōtomo no Komaro, who was going as deputy ambassador on an embassy to China.

韓国に 行き足らはして帰り来むますら健男に御酒奉る

karakuni ni
masura takewo ni
miki tatematuru
In Cathay when
All you have done
Return to us
O mighty man
To whom I proffer this esteemed draught!

Master of Hawks, Tajihi no Mahito

Love I: 18



morokoshi no
mizu shiranu yo no
hito bakari
na ni nomi kikite
yamine to ya omou
Distant Cathay:
Unseen and unknown once was to
Folk – every one;
With the report of your name, alone,
Will our love be over?

Lord Sada’ie.




ika ni shite
tsuyu o ba sode ni
mada minu sato no
hagi no uwakaze
What am I to do?
Dewfall to my sleeves
Has come, brought from
A dwelling, yet unseen,
By breeze upon the bush-clover…



The Right state that the Left’s use of ‘every one’ (bakari) connects poorly with the subsequent section [kakeawazu]. The Left state that the while the style of the Right’s poem seems elegant [sono tei yū ni niru to iedomo], ‘A dwelling, yet unseen bush-clover’ (mada minu sato no hagi) is hard to hear [kikigataku].

Shunzei’s judgement: ‘Distant Cathay unseen and unknown once’ (morokoshi no mizu shiranu yo) must be referring to the Three Histories and Eight Dynasties. This seems to be meaningful, but does not really indicate anything profound. As for ‘a dwelling, yet unseen bush-clover’, whichever way you look at it, it is modified by ‘dewfall has come’ (tsuyu o sasouran). However, the Left also has the recollection of Cathay, so the two poems are comparable.

Autumn II: 20

Left (Win).


susono no io no
sode yori shigi no
tatsu kokochisuru
Clothed in Cathay robes
In a hut at Susono
My traveller’s pillow –
My sleeve – from which the snipe
I feel are starting.

Lord Sada’ie.




tabi makura
yowa no aware mo
shigi tatsu nobe no
akatsuki no sora
Clad in traveller’s garb
All night long in lonely reverie
As beating wings time and again
Snipe start from the fields
Into the dawning sky.



The Right query whether it is possible to draw an association between ‘Cathay robes’ and snipe? The Left wonder about the usage of’lonely reverie as beating wings’.

Shunzei’s judgement: The criticisms from both teams are ones I have encountered before. As the poet has used ‘My sleeve – from which the snipe’ (sode yori shigi), and ‘a hut at Susono’ (susono no io), it requires the use of ‘Cathay robes’ (kara koromo) – there is no more to it than that. As for the Right, saying ‘Snipe start from the fields’ (shigi tatsu nobe) and ‘All night long in lonely reverie as beating wings time and again’ (yowa no aware mo momohagaki) – there is no fault to be found here, either. However, saying ‘My sleeve – from which the snipe’ is better. It must win.

Spring III: 13

Left (Tie).


sakazuki no
nagare ni tsukete
karahito no
fune norisu naru
kyō o shi zo omou
As the wine cups
Cathay folk,
Boarding boats
This day, comes to my mind.



Right (Tie).


yuku mizu ni
ukaburu hana no
sakazuki ya
nagarete no yo no
tameshi naruran
Upon the flowing waters
Floating flowers of
Wine cups!
In times gone by,
Was there ever such a thing?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


Both Left and Right say they have no criticisms to make this round.

Shunzei says, ‘The Left’s poem recalls an ancient Chinese festival, while the Right’s mentions one from our own Court. In terms style and form, neither poem has any particular problems. The round must tie.’