Tag Archives: mulberry cloth

San’i minamoto no hirotsune ason uta’awase 7

A profusion of deutzia flowers in full bloom



shirotae ni
u no hana sakeru
kakine o ba
tsumorishi yuki to
omoikeru kana
A spread of white mulberry cloth,
The deutzias have bloomed
Along my brushwood fence
Drifting snow is piled, or
So it seems!

Minamoto no Narikata



takane no nobe no
mina shirotae ni
sakinikeru kana
When I gaze across
The high-peak meadows
A field of deutzia,
All as white as mulberry cloth,
Have bloomed there.

Ōe no Fumi’ichi

Autumn III: 13



nasake nomi ka wa
sogagiku no
iro motehayasu
shirotae no sode
To tell between them
Does not need soft thoughts alone ?
Yellow chrysanthemumsf
Hues combined with
Sleeves of white mulberry cloth.





nagatsuki no
kyō kokonoka
to ii kao ni
oriete miyuru
shiragiku no hana
‘Of the Longest Month
Today is the Ninth day,’
So seem to say,
Plucked and in my sight,
These white chrysanthemums.

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right say that the meaning of sogagiku is unclear. The Left respond, ‘They are yellow chrysanthemums. Emperor Ninmyō [Soga] was known to be fond of the colour yellow and so this is a term for yellow chrysanthemums.’ The Right then continue, ‘The Man’yōshū uses the term sogai (“rear”), in poems with the conception of “pursuing after” [oisugai no kokoro nari]. So are these not, therefore, chrysanthemums which are later in blooming on riverbanks, perhaps?’

The Left content themselves with saying that the Right’s poem shows no particular brilliance of construction, nor significant faults.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘Does not need soft thoughts alone’ (nasake nomi ka wa) is by no means bad in the context of this poem [kono uta ni torite wa ashikarazarubeshi]. The explanation about yellow chrysanthemums is, indeed, one that has had some circulation recently. Lord Toshiyori apparently declared sogagiku to be ‘a single stem of yellow chrysanthemums’. The Right’s other query on the relationship with the Man’yō term sogai, does not seem to be without merit [muri ni arazaru]. It has been said that the Right’s poem lacks faults, but I cannot appreciate ‘so seem to say’ (ii kao ni) as proper diction [shokisebekarazaru kono kotoba haberubeki]. In the absence of definite proof from the reign of Emperor Ninmyō about the sense of sogagiku, I make this round a tie.

Summer I: 18



kumo no ue o
izuru tsukai no
mukau hikage ni
kazasu kyō kana
From above the clouds
The messengers emerge;
Bearing branches, hollyhock decked,
Bent towards the sun-bright power
In adornment on this day.

Lord Sada’ie.


Right (Win).


kakete zo tanomu
aoi ureshiki
miare to omoeba
With mulberry-cloth
Garlanded, wishing for
A jewelled belt of
Hollyhocks, on this joyful
Festive day…

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right have no particular remarks to make about the Left’s poem. The Left, however, comment, ‘“Festival” (matsuri)and “festive” (miare) are somewhat different. They do not refer to events held on the same day.’

Shunzei responds, ‘While the Left’s “Bent towards the sun-bright power” (mukau hikage) certainly provides no evidence of a lack of feeling, in overall form the Right’s poem seems more elegantly flowing [migi utazama, iinagasaretaru yō]. While it is true that the festive days begin two days prior to the festival itself, the term can also apply to the evening of the festival day, and so the two can be seen as synonymous. The Right would seem to win.’

Love 79



kokoro kara
hana no ka ni
nao mono’omou
haru no akebono
My heart
From the very first did love
The blossoms’ scent, which
Still, brings me to thoughts of you
This spring dawning…


Right (Win).


shirotae no
sode no wakare ni
tsuyu ochite
mi ni shimu iro no
aki kaze zo fuku
White mulberry-cloth
Sleeves parting:
Dew dropped,
The colours stain my soul,
Yearning carried on the autumn wind.


Autumn 31



shirotae no
koromo shide utsu
hibiki yori
okimayou shimo no
iro ni izuramu
White mulberry cloth
Garb fulled hard:
Do the echoes
Fretful frostfall’s
Hues bring forth?


Right (Win)


aki to dani
wasuremu to omou
tsukikage o
samo ayaniku ni
utsu koromo kana
My autumn longings, at least,
Thought I to forget, amongst
The moonlight,
Yet, alas, how
Sad the sound of fulling cloth…