Here is my long awaited research of poem #8:
This time I did the research alone so please correct me if I messed up ^^
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)
Loosely: People say that I am a secluded hermit living in Ujiyama, but my hermitage is just to the southeast of the capital! - on 喜撰’s Wikipedia page
Our poem is one of only two poems that can be confidently attributed to 喜撰, according to Wikipedia.
The main lyric feature of the poem is the use of
In this poem this instrument is used twice: In the first part, the word しか can be translated as “然 - like this” and as “鹿 - deer”, thus on the one hand describing that his chosen place to live is just southeast of the capital, and on the other hand adding another rumour that it’s in the countryside (where the deer live).
In the second part, the word うじ can be interpreted as the name of the mountain (宇治山) or as
喜撰 lived in the early Heian period which saw a boom in Japanese literature. Hiragana were invented, which also allowed women to write poetry and literature, as it was not considered befitting for women to learn Chinese characters (which was the only method of writing Japanese until then). But at that time, literacy was only common among the court and Buddhist clergy.
Poetry, in particular, was a staple of court life. Nobles and ladies-in-waiting were expected to be well versed in the art of writing poetry as a mark of their status. A well-written poem could easily make or break one’s reputation, and often was a key part of social interaction.
Is this mountain really just around the corner from the capital?
In the Heian period, the emperor’s palace was moved to Kyoto. So I looked around for a mountain called 宇治山 that is southeast of Kyoto. While I found a city called 宇治市, the only mountain place I came across was Ujiyama Gonokuchi which didn’t look really convincing to me. Further googling brought me to this weblio article which claims that the place formerly known as 宇治山 is now called 喜撰山 - so they even renamed the place after our poet, which I think is quite impressive.
Google Maps claims that the walking distance to the top of the mountain, starting at the Emperor’s Palace, is 21.4 km, so this distance can indeed be covered in a day.
Back in the day, the scenery must have been quite different, though, as the lake near the mountain peak was created by a dam that was built in 1966-1970.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heian_period ( https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heian-Zeit )