Tag Archives: wakana

Kanpyō no ōntoki kisai no miya uta’awase 11



koma nabete
me mo haru no no ni
wakana tsumitsuru
hito wa ari ya to
Mounts all over
The springtime meadows before my eyes
Are mixed;
A’plucking of fresh herbs,
Are there folk there, I wonder?




uguisu no
tani yori izuru
koe naku wa
haru kuru koto o
tare ka tsugemashi
If the bush-warbler
From the valleys
Did not sing his song,
That spring is coming
Would anyone announce it at all?


[1] Shisen manyōshū 13; Kokin rokujō II: 1137, ‘Springtime meadows’

[2] A minor variant of this poem occurs in Kokinshū (I: 14), attributed to Ōe no Chisato: 鶯の谷よりいづる声なくは春来ることを誰かしらまし uguisu no / tani yori izuru / koe naku wa / haru kuru koto o / tare ka shiramashi ‘If the bush-warbler / From the valleys / Did not sing his song, / That spring is coming / Would anyone realise at all?’; also Shinsen man’yōshū 261.

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.


Ietaka-kyō hyakuban jika’awase 2


kyō mo nao
yuki wa furitsutsu
tateru ya izuko
wakana tsumitemu
Still yet, today
Is the snow falling;
O, spring haze
Where do you arise?
For I would go and pluck fresh herbs!

In no hyakushu, shodo, Eighth Month Shōji 2 [September 1200]


ta ga tame wakete
kono kawa no
mukae no nobe ni
wakana tsumuran
This film of morning ice:
For who’s sake do I break it?
On this river’s
Yonder side within the fields
Would I pluck fresh herbs…

Naidaijinke hyakushu, Ninth Month Kenpō 3 [October 1215]

SKKS I: 13

A spring poem, presented in a hundred poem sequence during the reign of former Emperor Sutoku.


wakana tsumu
sode to zo miyuru
kasugano no
tobu hi no nobe no
yuki no muragie
Plucking fresh herbs,
Sleeves do I seem to see
On the plain at Kasuga,
Where the sun dances in the fields
On the patchy snow…

Former Consultant Norinaga

Spring II: 1

Left (Tie).


wakana tsumu
nobe o shimireba
takatori no
okina mo mube zo
taware aikeru
Fresh greens are picked from
The field I gaze upon;
The Bamboo Cutting
Ancient, too, perhaps
Once gambolled there!



Right (Tie).


wakana tsumi
ne no hi ni izuru
tomo naku wa
ieji omowanu
tabine semashi ya
Plucking fresh greens:
If, on the Rat’s Day, travelling
Comrades had I none,
Unthinking of the homeward path,
Might I sleep the night away?



The Right team state that ‘Bamboo Cutter’ (takatori), in the Left’s poem, is usually pronounced taketori, and wonder if the Left can cite an earlier poem as proof that this reading is possible. In reply, the Left say that both takatori and taketori can be found in the Man’yōshū, and in the Hundred Poem Sequence Composed for Former Emperor Horikawa, Minamoto no Morotoki had used this reading.

The Left then wonder whether ‘unthinking of the homeward path, sleeping away’, in the Right’s poem is something which would only be done on an excursion to the fields. The Right reply that the poem was most likely composed when recalling an excursion to pick fresh greens on the Day of the Rat, and thinking of the fields.

In his judgement, Shunzei states first of all that there is no doubt that both taka and take are possible readings for the Old Bamboo Cutter. As poetic evidence that takatori is a possible reading for the Old Man in this case, in the Man’yōshū, just in a headnote, it says, ‘In ancient times, there was an old man. His name was Bamboo Cutting Ancient (takatori no okina). In the Third Month, this old man climbed a hill to gaze into the distance, whereupon he suddenly came upon nine maidens brewing fresh greens. Their beauty was beyond description, with faces fairer by far than flowers. The maidens called mockingly to the old man, “Come here, old fellow! Blow on our fire!” “Oho!” said the Old Man, and slowly made his way up to them, arriving close by in due course. After a while, the Maidens said to one another, laughing, “Who called this old man here?” The Bamboo Cutting Ancient replied quickly, “Unintentionally have I encountered divinity. In my confused heart, I had no ill intent. Let me pay for the sin of approaching too closely with a poem.” This is the poem he promptly composed.’ (MYS XVI: 3791).

After this lengthy quotation, Shunzei goes on to say that it is ‘not unreasonable’ to refer to this in a poem on the topic of ‘Field Pleasures’. However, the Left have already mentioned that both readings are given in the Man’yōshū. After this anthology was converted to modern language by Minamoto no Shitagō, kana readings were attached to the Chinese characters. However, it is now impossible to refer to this text, and it is unclear who assigned the readings take and taka. Lord Morotoki’s reasoning agrees with this. Furthermore, in the poem by the old man to the nine maidens, the character ‘bamboo’ (take) does not appear – it is only in the head-note – and so this reading may not have been given by Shitagō.

In general, on the point that both readings are possible, take would be more usual – taka is written with the character for ‘bamboo grove’, and this accords too with Chinese rhyming patterns. It is also used for the name of the poet, Ono no Takamura. Thus, normally, take could be said to be correct. Regardless of which reading is used, however, besides the fact that there is nothing exceptional in this poem’s construction, it is undesirable to include the expression ‘Ancient, too, perhaps’ (okina mo mube zo) in a poem. Although the Right’s poem appears more commonplace, it is impossible to decide on a victor between the two, and so a tie is awarded.