@Belthazar’s poem research club for the betterment of everyone’s education: reading マンガ✖くり返しでスイスイ覚えられる百人一首

I didn’t propose the format, just the book. On the other hand, I notice noone’s done poem three yet… :stuck_out_tongue:

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It‘s only Wednesday… :eyes:
I swear we‘re getting to it


I was trying to imply that @Belerith might like to do it. :stuck_out_tongue:


Myria and I were both busy until yesterday, so we decided to work on the poem today. :muscle:


I’d be down for that too. Think that might be a good idea.
I just felt like it might be beneficial to keep the main thread relatively admin only, just so it’s easier to navigate depending on what you’re looking for. So yeah, I’m happy to have 5 threads for 20 poems each… should we maybe have a poll to see what people are thinking?


This is a joint effort by @Myria and yours truly :slight_smile:

We also almost accidentally established a structure :upside_down_face: Please adopt if you like it

3番歌: あしびきの山鳥の尾のしだり尾の ながながし夜をひとりかも寝む (柿本人麻呂)


“Must I sleep alone through the long autumn nights, long like the dragging tail of the mountain pheasant separated from his dove?” - translated by Joshua S. Mostow, in Pictures of the Heart (1996)


Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (柿本 人麻呂; c. 660 – 720), was a Japanese poet of the Nara period who featured prominently in the oldest extant Japanese poetry anthology, 万葉集まんようしゅう (Collection of Myriad Leaves). More than 90 万葉集 poems are said to be by him.
He was a middle-ranking courtier in Yamato (today’s Nara prefecture) and served as court poet to at least three sovereigns: Emperor Temmu (r. 673-686), Empress Jitō (690-697) and Emperor Mommu (697-707).

Hitomaro was Japan’s first great literary figure. He lived and wrote poetry at a time when Japan was emerging from a pre-literate society into a literate and civilized one. He combined the qualities of primitive song with new rhetoric and structural techniques (some of which may have been adapted from Chinese poetry), and wrote about sophisticated new subjects and concerns with an attitude of seriousness and importance.

Later, he was included in Fujiwara no Kintō’s anthology 三十六歌仙さんじゅうろっかせん which characterised 36 outstanding Japanese poets of the Asuka, Nara, and Heian periods. Those poets are referred to as the “36 Immortals of Poetry”. The anthology contains 10 poems of each author. For Hitomaro’s included poems, see also Trivia below.

Hitomaro is considered one of Japan’s greatest and most appealing poets, whose work still has a resonance for us today.


The 山鳥やまどり(copper pheasant) mentioned in the poem is a bird that lives in hills and mountains.
It has a long, hanging tail (しだり尾=垂れ下がっている尾), and in the poem here it is used to symbolize the length of the night. But Hitomaro didn’t just pick a random bird with a long tail; it is said that the female and male bird separate from each other at night and sleep in different places.

Almost all of the 句 in the first part of the poem end in の, which invokes an echoing effect in the text, just like an echo in the mountains.

短歌 often use a rhetorical device called 枕詞まくらことば. In this poem, the “あしびきの” is such a 枕詞, and it is basically decided that after あしびきの, something related to mountains will follow, as seen in this poem (here it is followed by 山鳥). Another example for a 枕詞 is the 白妙の used in poems 2 and 4, which is usually followed by snow (雪) or cloth (衣), and invokes a mental image of pure whiteness.
However, these 枕詞 were used less and less in the later Heian period, which is why they’re found more often in older poems from 百人一首.

The poem features another technique called 序詞じょことば. While 枕詞 are usually 5 morae long, 序詞 are not limited in length and are less strict with how you use them and what they refer to. One type of 序詞 is the metaphor. In this poem, the first half (talking about the tail of the 山鳥) is used as a metaphor for the word that follows: ながながし夜.
The の at the end of the third 句 can thus be read as のように, as seen in the 現代語 interpretation as well.


We found a source which claims that this poem wasn’t actually written by Hitomaro. Apparently it was originally listed in the 11th volume of the 万葉集 with the author unknown, but was later falsely attributed to him, in part due to Fujiwara no Kintō and his selection of poems by the 三十六歌仙さんじゅうろっかせん. See here for further info.




I polled poem 1 though. :eyes: I know there’s been some discussion on it already, but I’m sure there’s more to be found!

If nothing else I can make a post compiling it all in one place for easier reading.


Very thorough and worth the wait.

Isn’t it strange they call poetic devices “pillow words”? Kind of intimate sounding.


Thank you :slight_smile:

Yes, I thought so too at first! But then I realized that 枕 also means “bolster” so it probably has more the meaning of “buffer” or “cushioning” and not the meaning of a bed’s pillow.

checks Wikipedia

They put it this way: “The set phrase can be thought of as a “pillow” for the noun or verb it describes” which I think is much more poetic than my approach :joy_cat: and indeed a little bit intimate, describing the close relationship between the 枕詞 and the word following it.


Well they do say that etymology is unknown. Btw, the first thing I though when I saw the term was - Sei Shōnagon`s The Pillow Book.


I forgot to reply before, but

I agree too and it’s mostly useless info at this point.

I’m also fine with that, but is do you (and the rest) agree to get the first five weeks in this thread? We have already done one, and we can’t move it somewhere else without moderation power. And having just one week separate from the rest is making me twitch.

I’m going to wait ~24h before I post the new weekly poll, just in case there’s overwhelming opinion in favor of moving immediately.


I don’t care either way. I see you already cleaned up the OP too. :eyes:


I was thinking that way as well. makes my ocd act up :joy:
Didn’t say anything because I thought I might be way too pedantic :joy:


Alright, we stay in this thread for a little bit, then.

Week 2: I would like to research…

  • 6 かささぎの 渡せる橋に おく霜の 白きをみれば 夜ぞふけにける (中納言家持)

  • 7 天の原 ふりさけ見れば 春日なる 三笠の山に 出でし月かも (安倍仲麿)

  • 8 わが庵は 都のたつみ しかぞすむ 世をうぢ山と 人はいふなり (喜撰法師)

  • 9 花の色は うつりにけりな いたづらに わが身世にふる ながめせしまに (小野小町)

  • 10 これやこの 行くも帰るも 別れては 知るも知らぬも 逢坂の関 (蝉丸)

  • I’m only here for the discussion, I’m not researching anything.

  • I’m only here.

0 voters

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Got a little bit more on my poem before the week ends.

More Info on Empress Jitou

Many sources I’ve been reading make a big point about her being a particularly devoted wife. I think that’s a super sweet and cute thing to be remembered for. Many of her policies seemed to be picking up from where her husband left off after his death. He had a lot of wives/concubines but she was the main one with whom he was comfortable talking about politics, so they shared a lot of ambition together.

In short she was very important for Japan’s centralization and becoming recognizably Japan. She created a government bureaucracy (Taika Reforms EDIT: the Taika Reforms predated her by decades but this website https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/jito-645-702 attributes them to her reign. I think it’s me not double checking sources thoroughly enough) and switched from a tribal society to one centered around a single sovereign. She had the imperial palace stop moving every time a new Emperor came into power. She built the first planned city in Japan, which while it wasn’t occupied for too long it probably inspired the city that was the capital for most of the Nara period. There was also tax and monetary reforms and a census. Aaaaalso she started compiling the Taiho Code, an important legal reform.

Potential Interpretive Significance for 白妙

Japanese mourning clothes are white! I wouldn’t have thought about it if I hadn’t read it while researching this poem. This website suggests the poem is mourning her the death of her support Prince Takechi. http://asuka-japan-heritage.jp/global/en/jitou/life/p5.html

I’m not sure where they get the connection to Takechi specifically though. Next I’m going to see if my Japanese and Google abilities are strong enough to find when specifically the poem was written (though I fear that I won’t be able to, it would certainly make a lot of this interpretation easier).

I thought the drying clothes might be important with the change in seasons after 梅雨 which got me very excited but it seems to be more of a summer thing so at least I learned more about how the seasons in Japan work.

Edit for a mess up in research.


So turns out I’m really liking learning about these poems (even though I pretty much already forgot everything about last week cuz my memory is awful), so I’ve already gone through this week’s. Obviously add, remove, correct :wink:

7 - 天の原 ふりさけ見れば 春日なる みかさの山に 出でし月かも (安倍仲麻呂)


安倍仲麻呂(c. 698 – c. 770)(Chinese name: Chao Heng 衡, pronounced チョウコウ in Japanese), was a Japanese scholar and waka poet of the Nara period. He lived during a time in which Japan appointed official envoys to T’ang China as cultural and political representatives and to bring back new inventions and ideas from T’ang China. 安倍仲麻呂 was one of those envoys and left Japan as just a 16 year old. As stated in the book, due to the dangerous journey, and later on a rebellion, he never once returned to Japan, instead worked closely under the reigning Emperor, later went on to become the governor of Annam (modern Vietnam), and eventually passed away in T’ang China instead. Therefore, his poem is the only one of the 百人一首 written abroad. This specific poem is the one he is most famous for, and it is also included in the Kokin Wakashuu, among a few others in the 百人一首.


Due to his continued absence from his home country, this poem tells of how much he misses Nara and, in extension, Japan.
It is said that the night before 安倍仲麻呂 was meant to return to Japan, he was thrown a feast by his friends. On that night, he witnessed the moon that would inspire this poem, by remembering the time that he prayed for his safe return to Japan at Mt. Mikasa.
The other, more exciting version, sees the Chinese Emperor being suspicious of 安倍仲麻呂 and him being imprisoned in a high pagoda without stairs so he would starve to death. The poet then bit his hand in order to write the poem with his own blood.
Interestingly here, depending on which version of events you go with, the undercurrent of the poem takes on a slightly different meaning. It’s either nostalgia or yearning for physical and mental safety.


To celebrate 安倍仲麻呂, Nara went as far as creating a promotional short film, you can watch it here if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlA6JLSF6tY
He is also featured in ‘Kukai’, a mystery & fantasy movie created by joint effort of Japan and China.








I kinda used the structure @NicoleRauch and @Myria used last week, hope that’s okay.
I’m also personally not a fan of translations, so I’ve left that out, but if everyone else includes them and it’s useful, I’m happy to add them from now on.

Also a quick question:
When looking at these poems and writing up the research, are we to assume everyone is reading the book, so we don’t include information that’s provided there? Or do we write that up as well?
I’m personally reading everything for every poem, so I haven’t included much of what’s in there, unless it feeds into the other research I’ve done.


I’ve also been reading everything and don’t see a reason to include the book’s contents.

However, if we have any lurkers who don’t own the book and wanted to know what they’re missing I wouldn’t mind adding that.


That’s how I would will do as well (when I have the time to properly research anything)


It is definitely okay to reuse the format :slight_smile:

That’s my general understanding as well. When we wrote up our research for the other poem, there were some points that were mentioned in passing in the book, and they fit well with our text so we repeated and slightly elaborated on them, I think (because it felt ok for the text, not because we were forcefully trying to put them in there). But I would not try to repeat everything that’s in the book.


Yeah same here.

I tried to only include things from the book when they needed more explaining or comment.

The book is, of course, only there to provide you with enough context to play Karuta it seems.

I also won’t be translating unless asked to because my translation work is atrocious rather than being because I don’t like them. :sweat_smile: