Tag Archives: nioi

Teishi-in ominaeshi uta’awase 01

In the year after that in which the Teishi Emperor relinquished the throne, he held a maidenflower match, making no instruction as to who should lead the teams of the Left and Right, so His Majesty and Her Majesty, the Empress, fulfilled those roles.



aki suginubeki
nioi yue ni ya
mazu mienuramu
Hidden ‘mongst the grasses
Has she spent the autumn,
This maidenflower—
Is it for her glow that
She is soon discovered?




aragane no
tsuchi no shita nite
aki heshi wa
kyō no urate o
matsu ominaeshi
As ore
Below the earth
Has she spent the autumn,
For today’s first round
Awaiting—a maidenflower.


[1] Shinsen man’yōshū 508

[2] Shinsen man’yōshū 530; Fubokushō 4229.

Shiki koi sanshu uta’awase – Spring




haru no tatsu
kasumi no koromo
ura mo naku
toshi o hete koso
hana no chirikere
Spring does sew
A robe of haze
Without an underlay,
The year passes by in
A scattering of blossom



haru no no no
yuki ma o wakete
itsushika to
kimi ga tame to zo
wakana tsumitsuru
Across the springtime meadows
Do I forge between the snows,
Eagerly, so eagerly,
For you, my Lord,
Have I gathered fresh herbs!



kasumi kometaru
yamazato wa
kōri toku tomo
kage wa mieji o
The haze of spring
Blurs all around
A mountain retreat,
Even were the ice to melt
I could see no sign of it!




ume ga e ni
ki’iru uguisu
toshigoto ni
hana no nioi o
akanu koesuru
Upon the plum tree’s branches
Has come to rest the warbler;
Every single year, that
Of the blossoms’ scent
He cannot get his fill he sings.



sakurairo ni
hana saku ame wa
furinu tomo
chishio zo somete
utsurou na sode
Blossoms flower, as the rain
Falls on, yet
Dyed a thousand times
Fade not, o, my sleeves!



aoyagi no
ito harubaru to
midori naru
yukusue made mo
omoi koso yare
The willow’s
Branches dangle lengthily
So green
Right to the very end
Will I fondly think of you.


Kanpyō no ōntoki kiku awase 11

The Gentlemen of the Right. These, too, had the sons of the Courtiers Fujiwara no Shigetoki and Hirokage, the Governor of Awa, construct an extremely large suhama upon which all the chrysanthemums were grown together; because the area was cramped when they brought it in, they made preparation to bring it in all at once, attaching wheels to sections, thinking to do it in one, but were startled by the Gentlemen of the Left bringing in their blooms one by one – when all were brought in and assembled together, they made a single charming spectacle, yet though assembled, they were separated and thus seemed incomplete. The initial poem became mixed in with all the others.


yama Fukaku
irinisi mi wo zo
itadura ni
kiku no nioFi ni
Deep within the mountains
Have I entered in;
Idly has
The chrysanthemums’ scent
Brought me to my ease.


Kanpyō no ōntoki kiku awase 1

The Chrysanthemum Match during the reign of the Kanpyō Emperor.

The Gentlemen of the Left. For the chrysanthemum in the initial round, Kotategimi, a young courtier lad, was dressed as a woman, and brought in the flower, hiding his face with it. A further nine blooms were planted in a suhama. The form of the suhama was certainly very charming. The chrysanthemums had their names written on long strips of paper, which were twined about them in places to show them to their best advantage.

Initial Round: a chrysanthemum from Minase in Yamazaki


uchituke ni
minase Fa nioFi
wori Fito kara ka
Fana no tune kamo
Minase, with scent
Superb is filled –
Is it from a lady there, or
Are the blooms ever so?


Love V: 21

Left (Win).

kasanezu to
omou bakari zo
nioi wa sode ni
utsurinuru kana
No piled robes, but
All I do is long for her:
Her night-robe’s
Scent upon my sleeves
Does dwell….

Lord Suetsune


kozue bakari o
nasake nite
aruji wa tōki
yado no mume ga e
The scent drifting
From the treetops is my only
Consolation, for
Their master is as far away
As his dwelling’s plum blossom branches…


The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks any faults to indicate. The Left state: is the Right’s poem not composed upon the plum blossom of the house next door?

In judgement: for the topic of ‘Nearby Love’, poems composed where the lovers are in the same room are most likely winners. Even so, how close do their dwellings need to be? The Left’s latter section, ‘Her night-robe’s scent upon my sleeves’ (sayogoromo nioi wa sode ni) is certainly elegant. The Right’s poem has ‘Their master is as far away’ (aruji wa tōki). Simply because of this, it is certainly not composed on plum blossom. Still, the Left’s ‘night-robe’ (sayogoromo) seems a little superior to ‘The scent drifting from the treetops is my only consolation’ (nioikuru kozue bakari o nasake nite).


Winter I: 12



shiragiku no
chiranu wa nokoru
irogao ni
haru wa kaze o mo
uramikeru kana
The white chrysanthemums
Will not scatter: they have about them
That look
Towards the springtime wind
Of spite!

Lord Sada’ie.


Right (Win).


hana mo naku
yuki no mase made
miru kiku no
nioi wa sode ni
mata nokosanan
Until flowers are there none
And snow piles against my fence,
Gazing at the chrysanthemums,
I wish the scent upon my sleeves
Would linger yet…



The Right state that the Left’s poem has nothing to do with lingering chrysanthemums in its initial part, and the concluding section is incomprehensible [kokoroegatashi]. The Left merely remark that the Right’s ‘snow piles against my fence’ (yuki no mase) sounds poor [kikiyokarazu].

Shunzei’s judgement: The gentleman of the Right states that ‘the Left’s poem has nothing to do with lingering chrysanthemums’ – this really isn’t the case, is it? Even superficially, this is not true [omote naki ni wa arazu].However, I am unable to accept ‘look’ (irogao) as appropriate diction. In the Right’s poem, ‘snow piles against my fence’ (yuki no mase), again, charmingly and especially reflects the conception of lingering chrysanthemums [zangiku no kokoro mo koto ni miete okashiku koso mie]. In general, hearing both sides complaining that the other’s poems ‘sound poor’ or ‘grate upon the ear’ is itself unpleasant to hear. The Right wins.

Winter I: 10

Left (Win).


aki no katami to
kiku sae iro o
kaetekeru kana
Night has fallen on
Autumn’s keepsake –
Or so I thought –
Even the chrysanthemums’ hues
Have changed…

Lord Kanemune.




hito eda mo
oritsuru sode wa
shiragiku no
nioi made koso
A single stem
I plucked and to my sleeves
The white chrysanthemums’
Scent, even,
Has shifted…



The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left state that there does not seem to be the conception of ‘lingering’ in the Right’s poem. In response, the Right say, ‘By the use of “even” (made) one can understand that the chrysanthemums’ hues have shifted as well. The use of “shift” (utsurou) expresses the conception of lingering [nokori no kokoro nari].

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘Even the chrysanthemums’ hues’ (kiku sae iro o) seems most fine [yoroshiku koso haberumere]. The Right, too, with its ‘chrysanthemums’ scent’ (kiku no nioi) is particularly splendid [fukaku yū ni wa haberubeshi]. On the matter of the conception of lingering chrysanthemums [nokori no kiku no kokoro], the Right have said that ‘using “even the scent” expresses the conception of lingering’, which is true enough, but is it not that the scent has shifted to the poet’s sleeves, even though the flowers are chrysanthemums? Thus, the conception of a shift of hue must be somewhat weak [utsurou kokoro wa nao sukunakarubeku]. In any case, the Left’s conception of lingering is certainly stronger. The Left wins.