Tag Archives: yashiro

Aru tokoro no uta’awase – Shōtai 4-nen 15-ya

Shinpen kokka taikan no.
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.12
Romanised TitleAru tokoro no uta’awase
Translated TitlePoetry Contest held in a Certain Place
Alternative Title(s)
DateNight, 15/8 Shōtai 4 [30.9.901]
Extant Poems2
Identifiable Participants

Only the date of this contest remains, along with two of its poems. Given the season, it would clearly have been an autumn-themed event and, as the 15th day of the Eighth Month was when conventionally the moon was at its brightest, it is not surprising that it seems to have been held at night, and contained at least some poems where the moon was a theme.

Of the two surviving poems, one was included in Fubokushō (XIV: 5840), while the other is only recorded here.


Furu no yasiro ni
haFu kuzu mo
aki ni shi nareba
iro kaFarikeri
In Isonokami
At the ancient shrine of Furu
Even the creeping kudzu vine
When the autumn comes
Does change its hues.




yama no Fa mo
momidite tirinu
tukikage no
kakururu tokoro
Along the mountains’ edge
Scarlet leaves have scattered
In the moonlight
A place concealed
Is there none, at all.


Love IX: 19


itsuka hirubeki
kawa yashiro
shirushi mo nami ni
itodo shiorete
My clothes of love,
When might they dry?
A river shrine
Has had no effect – the waves
Dampen them all the more…


Right (Win)

ikade nao
yowa no koromo o
kasaneshi hodo no
yume o dani min
What to do? Again
My night time garb
Inside out I turn –
As many layers
As dreams, if only I would see…


The Right state: there are a number of different theories about the source poem ‘stems of bamboo wave freely the clothes I’d dry’ (shino ni orihae hosu koromo), so how should the allusion here be correctly understood? In response: this refers to a summer performance of sacred music and dance. In this, sprigs of sakaki are placed in clear water, and bamboo stems are hung from the shelf as offerings. This is the river shrine (kawa yashiro). It appears in the records about sacred music in summer. Standard sacred music is performed to pray to the gods. Thus, if one is made to bear the weight of something one has not done, the feeling is close to the conception of damp clothes, is it not? And this is associated with the clothes of lovers that will not dry. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement:  the Left’s poem seems to be more about a ‘river shrine’ than ‘lovers’ clothing’ (koigoromo). While it is not entirely clear, the Left and Right’s criticism and response, are certainly unusual. There are two poems which are possible as sources for this, both of which appear in Tsurayuki’s Collection. These are: ‘At a river shrine / Stems of bamboo wave freely / The clothes I’d dry / How should I do so? / Seven days still damp…’  and:


yuku mizu no
ue ni iwaeru
kawa yashiro
kawa nami takaku
asobunaru kana
The waters run, and
Above them in celebration is
A river shrine;
The river’s waves rise high,
Taking pleasure in their play!

This latter is a poem from a folding screen with pictures of each of the moons of the year, painted in the Tenryaku Era. Moreover, in a work by Lord Toshiyori, he says, ‘There is no one today who knows what a “river shrine” is. All we can do now is guess. So people say that it was a shrine on top of the water, where sacred music was performed in summer. The latter poem certainly does not seem to have this meaning. The former makes no mention of sacred music, and simply talks of clothing one has wanted to dry for a long time not drying.’ In addition, I have questioned a member of a household familiar with sacred music about this matter, and been told, ‘Where summer sacred music is concerned, there is a particular way of it. It is definitely absent from the records.’ Furthermore, Toshiyori played the double-reed flute. He would clearly have known all about sacred music, and around this time wrote, ‘first of all, there is no one who knows of this,’ and yet the Left’s response simply states, ‘it appears in the records about sacred music.’ This is something which requires greater proof. If the gentleman of the Left is able to provide some now, this would be a fine thing for the Way of Music! These, in brief, are my thoughts on this matter and, of course, the Left’s response.

First, it is a mistake to say that the river shrine is necessarily connected with summer sacred music. Summer sacred music is just what it sounds like: in summer, sacred music is performed, but not in any fixed way. However, here summer sacred music is done before a river shrine. Kawa yashiro shino ni is an old term for widely or ordinarily. It appears to have been used this way in the Collection of a Myriad Leaves. Orihaete has the same meaning. In the phrase ‘drying a robe / seven days undrying’ (hosu koromo / nanoka hizu) seven, or eight, days is simply a poetic convention for conveying that something was not dry after a long time. The ‘robe’ is not really a piece of clothing, but something which resembles it, and which is not dry. Ise said of the so-called Ryūmon Waterfall, ‘So why should the mountain’s princess rinse her cloth’ (nani yama hime no nuno sarasuramu) and also there are expressions such as ‘Nunohiki Falls’. Thus we have the Left’s argument for the summer sacred music platform, and then Lord Toshiyori’s writings; further, on the term shino ‘bamboo hung from the shelf as an offering to the gods’ and ‘clothing has the conception of damp clothing’. This is a remarkable way of interpreting the poem, indeed! The only way to settle the matter would be with the presentation of definite proof. So, this is certainly something which His Grace should request for review. In short, the Left’s poem, beginning with the idea that lovers’ clothing is to pray at a river shrine, and then saying ‘it has no effect’ (shirushi mo nami ni) seems like everlasting bitterness. The Right’s poem says ‘my night time garb inside out I turn’ (yowa no koromo o kaeshitemo), which is quite ordinary. In the absence of definite proof for the Left’s contentions, the Right must win.

SZS XV: 909

When Major Captain of the Left Asamitsu had sent her pledges of his love, and she was urged to respond, she sent him this.


kamo no yasiro no
kami mo kike
kimi wasurezu Fa
ware mo wasurezi
Kamo Shrine’s
Deity, hear me!
If my love forsakes me not,
Then never will I forsake him!

Uma no Naishi

GSS XVI: 1131

On taking the ceremonial wine cup in the Imperial Presence on the day of the extraordinary Kamo Festival, during the Engi period.


kakute nomi
yamubeki mono ka
kamo no yasiro no
yoroduyo wo mimu
With this simply
Should it end?
Kamo Shrine
Will see ten thousand ages pass!

The Sanjō Minister of the Right
(Fujiwara no Sadakata 藤原定方 (873-932))