Tag Archives: The Kamo Festival

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.’

Summer I: 17

Left (Win).


kumoi yori
tatsuru tsukai ni
ikutose kaketsu
kamo no kawanami
From the palace ‘bove the clouds
The messengers descend in
How many years have
They met the ripples on Kamo River?

A Servant Girl.




toshigoto no
kyō no miare ni
kakaru kazashi wa
araji to zo omou
Every year
For the festival, today,
Apart, decorations
Are there none!

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right remark that, ‘the waves appear somewhat abruptly’ in the Left’s poem, while the Left simply say, ‘from an unusual beginning, the Right’s poem says simply “decorations are there none”, which is obvious.’

Shunzei contents himself with, ‘The Left wins by a small margin.’

Summer I: 16

Left (Tie).


kazasu kyō to zo
omoishi ni
hana o oritemo
miewataru kana
With hollyhock I’d
Deck myself today
I thought,
And found all blessed with blooms
Within my sight!

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


kamo no miare no
wataru kyō kana
To mighty
Kamo for these three days have
The hollyhocks
In ever longer lines
Processed toward this day.



The Right, ‘wonder if the Left’s poem doesn’t make the hollyhock seem like an afterthought?’, while the Left content themselves with saying, ‘the initial section of the Right’s poems seems rather dated.’

Shunzei disagrees: ‘The Left’s poem does not make the hollyhocks secondary – rather than implying they are mere decorations, it suggests the beauty of everyone beautifully adorned proceeding toward the shrine. As for the Right’s poem, the use of old-fashioned terms is normal in the context. This makes both poems are equal, and the round should tie.’

Summer I: 15



nagarete no
yo no tameshi tote
katagata no
tsukai tachikuru
kamo no kawa nami
From times of old
Has it been the custom in this world
For every
Messenger to come flowing in
Ripples on Kamo River.

Lord Ari’ie.


Right (Win).


aki no miyabito
nodoka ni wataru
kamo no kawamizu
With hollyhocks have
Her Majesty’s men
Garlanded the carriage;
Calmly crossing
The waters of Kamo River.



Neither team has any criticisms to make.

Shunzei states that, ‘Both poems are certainly effortlessly worthy of victory, but “calmly crossing the waters of Kamo River” (nodoka ni wataru kamo no kawamizu) sounds slightly more peaceful than “messenger to come flowing in ripples on Kamo River” (tsukai tachikuru kamo no kawa nami), so it should win.’

Summer I: 14

Left (Tie).


mukashi yori
kimi to kami to ni
kyō no aoi wa
futaba narikeri
Ever between
My Lord and the God
Has my loyalty been split;
Thus the hollyhocks, today,
Have leaves in pairs…



Right (Tie).


mukashi yori
itsuki no miya ni
kyō wa suzushiki
kamo no kawakaze
Long since upon
The princess of purity
Has it begun to blow;
Today, so cool is
The breeze from Kamo River…



The Right have no particular comments to make about the Left’s poem, but the Left complain that the Right’s, ‘does not seem that clearly connected with the Kamo Festival. Moreover, “princess of purity” (itsuki no miya) properly refers to the Princess at Ise; the Kamo Princess should be “lady of purity” (itsuki no in), should it not?’

Shunzei states, ‘Both Left and Right this round begin with a reference to the past (mukashi yori) and then continue with “my Lord and the God” (kimi to kami ni) and “the priestess of purity has it begun to blow” (itsuki no miya ni fukisomete) respectively; both are charming in form and spirit, but the gentlemen of the Left have criticised the failure to use “lady” (in). In poetry, though, how could we to use this word? Both the priestess at Ise and the priestess at Kamo are Imperial Princesses. Why, therefore, is it problematic to use the expression? Furthermore, Lord Sanekata composed a poem with the line, “Sleeping on my way to the princess of purity” (itsuki no miya no tabine ni wa), and at the Unrin Temple, in the Tale by the old man, Yotsugi, in praise of Princess Senshi it says, “although there were many princesses of purity in the world…”. This round must tie.’

Summer I: 13

Left (Win).


kyō matsuru
kami no megumi wa
kanete yori
uzuki no imi no
sashite shiriniki
Today we celebrate
The blessings of the god;
For days of
Seclusion the Fourth Month

Lord Suetsune.




asu wa mata
kamo no kawa nami
murasakino ni ya
iro o soubeki
Tomorrow, once more,
The waves on Kamo River
Will rise, borne on strains of song, returning
Through the violet plains
With the touch of colour.

Lord Takanobu.


The Right question, ‘Whether saying “known for days” (kanete shiriniki) implies whether the god’s blessings are only provided on the day of the festival?’ The Left reply, ‘The blessings provided on the day of the festival are different from those given at other times. Where is there a problem with this?’ Somewhat testily, they then continue, ‘The initial section of the Right’s poem is about the river, but it then continues to with the violet fields. The subject changes. Furthermore, “violet fields” (murasakino ni ya) is a displeasing expression.’

Shunzei says simply, ‘Both poems seem to be of the same quality [ryōshu no utazama wa dōka narubeshi]. However, the Right passes over the festival day to focus on the violet fields the following day, while the Left remains focussed on the day of the festival. It should win.’