Tag Archives: Kanemune

Spring II: 9

Left (Win).


haru yama no
kasumi no uchi ni
naku kigisu
omou kokoro wo
yoso ni shire to ya
In the springtime mountain
A pheasant calls,
His longing to the distance
Must he wish to make known…

Lord Kanemune




shinobi amari
hito ni shiretsutsu
naku kigisu
sono tsuma koi no
hodo yo ika ni zo
Too much to conceal, so
To all must he tell it,
A calling pheasant:
His fondness for his hen,
How great must it be?

Lord Takanobu


The Right team query why mountains are singled out in the Left’s poem, while the Left say that it is ‘unimpressive’ to conclude a poem ‘How great must it be?’ (ika ni zo) after beginning it with ‘Too much to conceal’ (shinobi amari).

Shunzei starts by addressing the Right’s question, stating that it is ‘perfectly normal’ for pheasants to call from mountains and meadows in springtime, and it is not the case that a poem on the theme of pheasants has to contain a reference to meadows. As for the final line of the poem, ‘Must he wish to make known’ (shire to ya), ‘there have, of late, been some who have a liking for this form of expression,’ but ‘it is not particularly desirable.’ The Right’s expression, ‘To all must he tell it’ (hito ni shiretsutsu) was old-fashioned, but ‘failed to sound impressive.’ In addition, the final line was ‘not satisfactory,’ whereas the initial line of the Left’s poem was ‘not bad’ (the commentators suggest Shunzei is referring to the image of a pheasant calling from the concealment of the mountain mists here), and so they must be the winner.

Spring II: 4

Left (Tie)


shiru shirazu
koto ari gao no
matoi kana
tsubana nuku no ni
kyô mo kurashitsu
Folk I know and strangers, both,
Purposefully have come
For music-making;
Gathering reed-ears from the meadow,
Today I’ll pass my day…

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie)


itsu shika to
ne no hi ni ideshi
haru no no o
sumire tsumu made
How quickly came
The Rat’s Day: I went out to
The springtime fields and,
Until violet-gathering season comes
Will I tread them down.

Lord Takanobu.


The Right say that it seems that people must have come for something more important than ‘field pleasures’ if they come ‘purposefully’, to which the Left respond that, of course, people take their field pleasures seriously, and suggest that the Right refer to the winning poem in the previous round. They then ask if reed ears don’t appear later in the season than violets, and so query whether the Right’s poem is appropriate at this stage in the contest.

Shunzei says merely that, ‘the comments by both teams are entirely appropriate’ and makes the round a tie.

Spring I: 27

Left (Win).


azusa yumi
haru no kumoi ni
hibiku made
tomone ni kayou
mato no oto kana
Catalpa bows
In springtime round the cloud-borne palace
Bowstring on bracer and
Arrow on target – what a sound!

Lord Kanemune




azusa yumi
môke no ya ni ya
hate made kyô wa
atarinuru kana
Catalpa bows’
Spare arrows: will they
Be drawn, I wonder?
By this day’s end
All will have struck the target…

Lord Tsune’ie


The Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem, but the Left state that the initial section of the Right’s poem is ‘prosaic [heikai]’. Shunzei agrees, saying that the term ‘spare arrows’ is ‘unsuitable diction for poetry’ [uta kotoba ni yoroshikarazaru] and so the Left’s poem must be adjudged the winner.

Spring I: 20

Left (Tie).


nobe no kasumi o
keburi nite
kore ya wakakusa
Spreading, everywhere,
Across the plain, the haze
Seems smoke:
Is the burning the buds
Of new-grown grass…

Lord Kanemune


Right (Tie).


nobe no haru kusa
sue wakami
sora to tomo ni zo
asamidori naru
Shooting up
Across the plain, the grass’
Tips are so young
That, with the skies,
They celadon seem…

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


Both teams say there is ‘nothing remarkable’ about the other’s poem, while Shunzei says simply the purport of both is ‘generally appropriate’ and that it would be ‘difficult to determine’ a winner.

Spring I: 16

Left (Tie).


haru kaze ni
ike no kôri ya
matarenu nami no
hana o miru kana
In the breath of spring
Will the ice upon the pond
Unanticipated blossom touched
Waves come into view…

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


uguisu no
namida no tsurara
koe nagara
tayori ni sasoe
haru no yama mizu
The bush warbler’s
Tears of ice,
And song,
Issue an invitation!
To the mountain waters this springtime…



The Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, but the Left wonder whether the essence of the poem, of the warbler’s ‘tears of ice’ and song inviting the waters, might not be a bit much?

Shunzei remarks that the form and phrasing of the Left’s poem is ‘certainly charming’, and echoes their criticism of the Right’s poem, as having an ‘impossible essence’. He then goes on to say, ‘The Left is placidly charming; the Right’s essence must be excessive. They are equivalent and I judge this round a tie.’

Spring I: 8

Left (Tie).


haru kitemo
nao shimikōru
yamazato wa
kakehi no mizu no
otozure mo nashi
Though spring has come,
Yet chill seeps within
My mountain home:
Water from the pipes
Makes no sound at all…

Lord Kanemune


Right (Tie).


haru kitemo
yuki furu sora o
kasumi mo sayuru
kokochi koso sure
Though spring has come
When on the sky, full of falling snow,
I gaze,
Even the haze of spring is clearly cold
I feel.



The Right team here disapprove of the Left’s use of shimikōru, calling it, ‘grating on the ear’ – Shunzei disagrees, saying that neither component, shimi or kōru, is ‘vulgar’. Both poems, he feels, start well, and the fourth line of the Right poem, kasumi mo sayuru, is particularly fine, but, once again, the round must be adjudged a tie.

Spring I: 6

Left (Win).


sode kawasu
mihashi no kiwa ni
toshi furite
ikutabi haru o
yoso ni mukaetsu
Sleeve brushes sleeve
On the palace walkways’ edge
Year on top of year;
How many springtimes
Have I but distantly seen it in?

Lord Kanemune




itsushika to
mihashi no kiwa ni
sechi ni au
ōmiyabito ya
haru o shiruran
Soon, indeed,
On the palace walkways’ edge
The season-greeting banquet will come
Upon the palace-folk; is that how
They know it’s spring?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office


Shunzei awards victory to Kanemune’s poem for its fine use of ‘palace walkways’ (mihashi) and ‘how many springtimes’ (ikutabi haru), while finding the Right team’s poem ‘splendidly constructed, but insufficiently clear’, as it doesn’t explicitly mention ‘sechie’ – a particular palace New Year banquet – although it does contain all the relevant characters.