Tag Archives: yū

Winter I: 24



utsu no yama
yū koekureba
mizore furi
sode hoshikanetsu
aware kono tabi
Gloomy in the Utsu Mountains,
Crossing them at dusk
In a fall of sleet;
I cannot dry my sleeves,
On this lonely journey.





kyō mo mata
katano no mino ni
mizore shite
kawaku ma mo naki
karigoromo kana
Today once more
On the royal hunting grounds at Katano
Sleet falls;
No time at all to dry
My hunter’s garb…

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right find no faults with the Left’s poem. The Left merely say that the Right’s poem sounds old-fashioned [furumekashi].

Shunzei’s judgement: ‘The Left’s ‘I cannot dry my sleeves, on this lonely journey’ (sode hoshikanetsu aware kono tabi) has a strong sound of loneliness about it [sabite wa kikoehaberu], but there is a lack of anything connected to utsu no yama in this poem. In The Tales of Ise where it says ‘By Utsu Mount in reality‘ (utsu no yamabe no utsutsu ni mo), it does not seem that sleet was falling. If there is no reason for including utsu no yama to express the sense of sleet falling, there are many other places which could have been used to express a lonely journey. As there is no reason for including it, formally [sama de] there is a lack of connection to it. The Right’s katano no mino, too, as in the poem ‘To lend lodging to keep me dry, is there no one‘ is about hail, though hawking does take place there, so the poem does sounds slightly charming [sukoshi okashiku kikoyu]. Both Left and Right use utsu no yama and katano no mino, respectively, unnecessarily – anywhere would have done as well. Both poems are equal for this reason.’

Autumn III: 25

Left (Win).


nagatsuki no
tsuki mo ariake ni
aki kurehatsuru
yūyami no sora
When the Longest Month
Comes close
To daybreak,
Autumn is in twilight
In the darkened evening skies…

Lord Ari’ie.




sora naku aki ya
nobe no kusaba ni
tsuyu zo shigereru
There will be no return
To these skies, does the Autumn
All the plants upon the plain are
Drenched with dew…

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right wonder, ‘Why the Left has “Autumn in twilight” (aki kurehatsuru) at daybreak?’ The Left respond, ‘This is simply to convey the feeling that autumn has reached its end with the evening darkness. In the Right’s poem, “no [return] to these skies” (sora naku) does not fit with the conception [kokoro yukite kikoezu]. We also wonder at the usage of “drenched with dew” (tsuyu shigeru).’

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem is better.

Autumn II: 18

Left (Win).


yama tōki
kadota no sue wa
kiri harete
honami ni shizumu
ariake no tsuki
By the distant mountains,
At the farthest reach of fields before my gates,
The mists are clearing, and
Sinking amongst the waves of rice-ears is
The dawntime moon…

A Servant Girl.




honomeku kage mo
inaba no kaze wa
sode ni kayoite
The autumn evening moon’s
Faint light is
Moving, indeed;
The wind upon the rice-stalks
Passing o’er my sleeves…

Lord Takanobu.


The Right simply say that the Left’s poem is ‘good’. The Left have no criticisms of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘dawntime moon’ (ariake no tsuki) and the Right’s ‘early evening moon’ are both deeply moving; the Left, continuing with ‘at the farthest reach of fields before my gates, the mists are clearing’ (kadota no sue wa kiri harete) is particularly fine, I feel. ‘Sinking amongst the waves of rice-ears’ (honami ni shizumu) is certainly technically proficient, and yet lacks a certain profundity. And yet, the initial ‘By the distant mountains’ (yama tōki) show a true depth. It should win.

Autumn II: 12

Left (Win).


aki yo tada
kono sato nomi no
yūbe to omowaba
O, Autumn!
Could I escape you
I would leave
This dwelling, were it alone
Enveloped in evening..

Lord Sada’ie.




nokiba no hagi no
matsukaze ni naru
yūgure no sora
At the bush clover ‘neath my eaves,
A visitor’s step
Awaiting, carried by the pine-brushed wind,
From the evening skies…



Neither team has any criticisms of the other’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: There is no distinction to make between the diction or emotional import of either poem. There is, of course, no reason to expect the wind not to blow through the pine trees, when it brushes the bush clover. I feel that the sentiment of this poem’s ‘pine-brushed wind’ (matsukaze ni naru) resembles that of Round One Hundred and Ninety’s ‘Insects sing from the cogon grasses in my garden’ (mushi no ne ni naru niwa no asajū), but is somewhat inferior. The Left, though, truly captures the feeling.

Autumn II: 10

Left (Win).


soso ya shitaba mo
tsuyu wa tamoto ni
ogi no uwakaze
When the evening comes,
Rustling underleaves
Are restless;
Dewdrops on the sleeves:
Wind o’er the silver-grass.

Lord Ari’ie.




nobe mo hitotsu ni
tsuyu michite
mushi no ne ni naru
niwa no asajū
When evening falls
The plains, too, are completely
Insects sing from
The cogon grasses in my garden.



The Right remark that ‘it is not clear what the “underleaves” (shitaba) belong to until the end of the poem’. The Left have a number of criticisms: ‘In the Right’s poem, it sounds as if the “cogon grass” (asaji) becomes “insects”. In addition, the topic of this poem is not “Garden Huts”. Furthermore, the poem lacks any expression conveying the emotional overtones of the topic – particularly with “the plains, too, are completely” (nobe mo hitotsu ni).’

Shunzei’s judgement: It is standard expression to begin a poem with ‘underleaves’, when concluding with ‘silver-grass’ as in the Left’s case. However, ‘rustling’ (sosoya) seems unnecessary in this poem. It seems a rather forced interpretation to think the cogon grass is turning into insects, seeing as this is not something that happens in nature. That this is a poem more suited to the topic of ‘Garden Huts’, though, is an unavoidable fault. So, while I cannot be satisfied with the inclusion of ‘rustling’, the final section of this poem is fine. It wins.

Autumn I: 22



aware komoreru
nohara kana
kiri no magaki ni
uzura nakunari
In the early evening dusk
How melancholy is
The plain;
From beyond a fence of mist
The quails are crying.

Lord Ari’ie.




hagi ga magaki no
areyuku o
makoto no nobe to
nasu usura kana
My transplanted
Bush clover by the fence is
Disturbed and
Truly, ‘tis the plain
Again, with quails.



The Right state that ‘“Fence of mist” (kiri no magaki) is an unclear expression.’ The Left counter that they are ‘unaccustomed to the expression “bush clover by the fence” (hagi ga magaki).’

Shunzei states, ‘With regard to the respective criticisms of the gentlemen of the Left and Right, in this context “fence of mist” is a perfectly standard expression. “Bush clover by the fence”, too, needs no real explanation. In fact, the Left’s poem is straightforward, and the Right’s charming: melancholy in the mists, and the charming cries from beneath the bush clover – it is impossible to say which is the winner, and so the round must tie.

Autumn I: 16



yoi no ma no
tsuki matsu hodo no
kumoma yori
omowanu kage o
misuru inazuma
In the early evening
While waiting for the moon,
From between the clouds
All unexpected is the light
Of lightning.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


kagerō yoi no
kumoma yori
hikari o kaete
terasu inazuma
The evening moon
Misty is at dusk, when
From between the clouds
Comes a different light:
A flash of lightning!

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


Neither team finds any fault with the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei, however, says, ‘Both poems contain the line “from between the clouds” (kumoma yori), with the Left “while waiting for the moon” (tsuki matsu hodo) and the Right “The evening moon misty is at dusk” (yūzukuyo kagerō yoi). In addition to the fact that “misty” is far more charming in relation to an “evening moon”, than “waiting for the moon”, “all unexpected is the light” (omowanu kage) is not an expression I find particularly pleasing. “Comes a different light” (hikari o kaete) seem much finer. Thus, I make the right the winner.’

Autumn I: 14

Left (Tie).


inazuma no
hikari ni nomi ya
tanaka no sato no
yūyami no sora
Is it lightning’s
Light alone, that
Can console?
Dwelling among the rice-fields
Beneath the blackened evening sky.



Right (Tie).


shitsu no o ga
yamada no io no
toma o arami
moru inazuma o
tomo to koso mire
A peasant in
The mountain fields, whose hut has
A rough roof of straw:
The lightning dripping in
Seems his single friend.

Lord Tsune’ie.


As with the previous round, neither team can find fault with the other’s poem.

Shunzei, however, says, ‘The initial part of the Left’s poem is fine, indeed, but one wonders where the “dwelling among the rice fields” (tanaka no sato) is. I wonder whether nowadays poets can simply refer to a house among the rice fields. I do seem to have heard it before, but for the life of me I cannot remember where. As for the Right’s poem, this, too, has a perfectly standard beginning, but then has the expression “lightning dripping” (moru inazuma) – this seems rather new-fangled to me! Both poems are about the same.’