@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’m always getting my 岡 cities mixed up. 静岡, 福岡, what’s the difference?


This is easy for me because I love Kyushu dialects. 福岡 speaks the Funner dialect!

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Very much a type, will go and fix it now :joy:

In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have chosen it either, personally. But as I said, it was actually quite interesting to research. Also, I haven’t read Genji either, but from what I understand, it was mainly the author’s life, more so than the poem itself that seems to have supposedly been inspiration for Genji.

And I really like the sentiment that the print pattern is also reflected in the form and structure used here.

Yeah, I was thinking more about how personality might be reflected in the poem.

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11 わたの原 八十島かけて 漕ぎ出でぬと 人には告げよ 海人の釣舟 (参議篁)

Translation and Illustration

“Over the wide sea
Towards its many distant isles
My ship sets sail.
Will the fishing boats thronged here
Proclaim my journey to the world?” - by University of Virginia Library Japanese Text Initiative

Another translation with a bit more liberty and background information:

“Fishing boats upon this sea!
Tell whoever asks
I am being rowed away to exile
out past the many islets
to the vast ocean beyond.” - by McMillan, 2010

The poem even inspired Japan’s famous painter Hokusai Katsushika to this painting:


小野 篁おの の たかむら was an early Heian period scholar and poet. He lived from 802 – February 3, 853 (other sources claim he died in 852).

In 834, he was appointed 遣唐使けんとうし, i.e. he was assigned to a mission to China, but after a quarrel with the envoy, Fujiwara no Tsunetsugu, he gave up his professional duties pretending to be ill. This attracted the ire of retired Emperor Saga, who (in 838) banished him to the far off, north facing Oki Islands in the Japan Sea.

Within two years he regained the graces of the court and returned to the capital where he was promoted to Sangi (an associate counselor in the Imperial court of Japan, i.e. a government position) which made him also known as 参議篁さんぎ の たかむら.


This poem was composed while 小野 篁おの の たかむら was on his journey to his exile in the Oki Islands and sent off to his home, perhaps as a condolence message to his kinsfolk.


小野 篁おの の たかむら’s great wit was illustrated by a story in the Ujishuui Monogatari:

One day in the palace of Saga Tennou, someone erected a scroll with the writing “無悪善”. No one in the palace was able to decipher its meaning. The emperor then ordered Takamura to read it, and he responded:

“It will be good if there is no evil (悪無くば善からん, saga nakuba yokaran ),”

reading the character for evil (悪, aku ) as “Saga” to indicate Saga Tennou. The emperor was incensed at his audacity and proclaimed that because only Takamura was able to read the scroll, he must have been the one who put it up in the first place. However, Takamura pleaded his innocence, saying that he was simply deciphering the meaning of the scroll. The emperor said, “Oh, so you can decipher any writing, can you?” and asked Takamura to read a row of twelve characters for child (子):


Takamura immediately responded:

neko no ko koneko, shishi no ko kojishi (猫の子子猫、獅子の子子獅子),

using the variant readings ne , ko, shi, ji for the character (子). This translates to

“the young of cat (猫, neko ), kitten (子猫, koneko ), and the young of lion (獅子, shishi ), cub (子獅子, kojishi ).”

The emperor was amused by Takamura’s wit and removed the accusation.


Painting: http://hanga-museum.jp/ecollectionimage/list005
Detailed analysis (Japanese): https://honda-n2.com/honkoku-ogura-hyakunin-isshu-11


We are finishing the first part of the book this week! There’s an easy quiz at the end… that made me realize I only remember the name of 蝉丸 (because it was funny) :sweat_smile: I guess I also remembered the “小町” half of 小野小町, but I’m mixing up my emperors/empresses :sweat_smile: Anyway

Week 4: I would like to research…

  • 16 たち別れ いなばの山の 峰に生ふる まつとし聞かば 今帰り来む (中納言行平)
  • 17 ちはやぶる 神代も聞かず 竜田川 からくれなゐに 水くくるとは (在原業平朝臣)
  • 18 住の江の 岸による波 よるさへや 夢の通ひ路 人めよくらむ (藤原敏行朝臣)
  • 19 難波潟 みじかき芦の ふしの間も 逢はでこの世を 過ぐしてよとや (伊勢)
  • 20 わびぬれば 今はた同じ 難波なる みをつくしても 逢はむとぞ思ふ (元良親王)
  • I’m only here for the discussion, I’m not researching anything.
  • I’m only here.

0 voters

I delayed a bit to make sure that we would get research for the previous week… but I guess it would just make things worse to delay further :confused: Should we take a “break” in moving forward to get enough time to analyze the poems we have already?
Also, I guess we could just keep going in this one thread, considering we do not have that much conversation. Do you all still think it makes more sense to make a new thread for the next part?

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Yes, I thought so too. The condensed format of “one poem one research result” makes this thread easy enough to follow. In general I’m a fan of separating “organization” and “contents” but it is fine here as-is.

Participation seems to drop of quickly, indeed :frowning: And we did not even manage to cover all poems from last week, so I was wondering whether we’d need to decrease the number of poems per week? (Already?)


I agree, we can just keep it here, it doesn’t get as much conversation as it initially seemed.

Counter suggestion: why don’t we keep the 5 poems, but after every section of 20 (since they are already divided like that in the book) we take a week to research whichever poems didn’t get any research done for? A catch up week if you will.
So next week, we’d make a poll for all the poems that haven’t been done and see if we can catch up like that.
That way, if people do feel like randomly popping in and dissecting a poem, they can. Since it’s not narrative, I feel like people are more likely to join sporadically if they see there’s still open slots. Also, chances are there’s some of us that just don’t have the time, so should they sudden do have a spare few minutes, it’ll give them a chance to join in anyway.
I really hope I’m making sense here, but I’m not quite awake yet :sweat_smile:

That being said, I’m happy to reduce the amount of poems a week too if that’s easier. Since generally everyone does one each, it won’t make much of a difference. On a purely selfish note though, I quite like doing 5 poems a week. Considering I’m not actually trying to memorise them (maybe a little bit, but not really), reading through 5 a week hit a good sweet spot for me.
But as I said, I don’t mind reducing.


It’s probably not though, as we’d need to estimate in advance how many people would like to participate, which seems impossible. Therefore I really like your suggestion of adding a “catch-up” week for the neglected poems.
Also, just like you I like the “5 poems a week” because it’s a nice rhythm, kind of. So I’m in :slight_smile:


I have to confess, I’m feeling rather detatched from this group. For instance, how is the book even involved?

Right, that was my idea too :ok_hand:

The only one I attempted to remember was the first one. Let’s see
秋の田の かりほの庵の 苫をあらみ 衣手 …つゆ, ぬれつつ

Not too bad.


Well, I’m reading it, which is my main source of info :sweat_smile: What else would you want to do? :thinking:

Edit: we had a discussion about the involvement of the book starting here


I think this is a good idea.

I’m aware that I still have some work to do for this, I haven’t forgotten. But my usually quiet Friday was unusually hectic so I’ll aim to do it today. :slight_smile:

Sorry for the delay guys and gals!

I think it’s difficult to have a discussion of the book’s contents because it’s more akin to an anthology so I understand where you’re coming from. When I’ve been looking at the poems for my posting I’ve been using the book as a jumping board for my research like @Naphthalene said. Having said that, I think because the poems are individually researched there is a focus on your own poem.

This is another reason why I think the “catch-up” week is a great idea to consolidate and return to certain ideas.


I’m actually so impressed by that xD
I can’t even think of the beginning of the second verse when I hear the first for any of the poem if I’m being honest :joy:

Me too, I read all info for all five poems every week and then base my research on that too.
And yes, it’s really hard to make it as book involved as other clubs, but it does provide a nice structure and starting point.

Don’t worry, it can be quite a bit of work, so obviously sometimes you just won’t have time. Once I start working again, I’ll be struggling as well. And even if one week you don’t get around to it at all, that’s fine too (obviously!) :slight_smile:


By the way, I thought it was obvious, but just in case, it’s also absolutely fine to be just talking about the content of the book without doing any research (that’s the kind of thing I had in mind for the “I’m only here for the discussion” option). For instance, I commented on the derpy look of the monk on deerback (しかぞ!)


18 住の江の 岸による浪 よるさへや 夢の通ひ路 人目よくらむ (藤原敏行朝臣)


Fujiwara Toshiyuki, an officer of the Imperial guard, was an active participant of poetry contests, prominent in both poetry and calligraphy, and is part of the 36 Immortals of Poetry. 28 of his poems are included in various Imperial anthologies, and this poem in question was part of a poetry contest in 953. He also has a personal poetry collection, the 敏行集.
This is a link to some (all?) of his poems for those that might be interested (I have to admit, I did not read this at all): http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~sg2h-ymst/yamatouta/sennin/tosiyuki.html

His family, the Fujiwara family, rose to power during the reign of Emperor Tenchi. For quite some time, the wives for the Emperors were chosen from this family only and to this day, a lot of nobility has their roots in the Fujiwara family.


The poem talks about the poet’s inability to meet his/her lover, using the beach at Suminoe as a metaphor of some description.

Secret love was very common during the Heian period, as the public scrutiny in the high society was incredibly intense, which might explain the poem’s popularity. The poet could not even be visited by his/her lover in his/her dreams.

As men were free to visit their lovers, but not vice versa (see Trivia), this poem can actually be considered to be written from a female perspective. And because it was an entry to a contest, it is possible that it was part of the brief.

Grammar & Devices

よる refers to both the verb (‘to visit’ loosely), as well as the noun (‘night’). Its first appearance is both the former, as well as part of a 序詞 leading to the second よる. The whole 序詞 here is 隅の江の岸による浪.

This is also yet another poem using 掛詞. Here he is using まつ, both to mean ‘pine tree’, as well as ‘to wait’. A fitting use of the device, as trees are literally rooted to the ground. I personally also quite like the image of a tree on a beach simply sitting (standing?) and waiting for the tide to carry the water closer to itself.

The repetition of よる, as well as the 掛詞 for まつ also quite beautifully represent the rising and falling of the tide (waves) mentioned in the poem.

(Note: I know a lot of this was in the book, but I found it really interested, so I put it here anyway)


During the Heian period, it was forbidden for aristocratic women to show their face in public. They were not allowed to leave the house, save for a pilgrimage to the Kannon temple or to go to the Kamo festival. Even then, they would be veiled or hidden in curtained carriages. Some even went as far as to refuse to have their voice heard by non-family members and would communicate either through poems or by using their many servants.

As for lovers, before marriage the soon-to-be husband would not be allowed to see the woman’s face either. And after marriage, she would remain with a member of her family and her husband would visit her instead.

Dreams held a special meaning for lovers during the Heian period, as they were meant to allow these lovers to meet, which they couldn’t do during the day. As women were living under constant insecurity whether their lover was indeed still in love with them, they often believed their dreams to be an indicator. If the man stopped appearing, that must mean he has fallen out of love. And, conversely, if one dreamt of another person often, maybe that meant they were in love with them.

隅の江is current Sumiyoshi in Southern Osaka, where the ancient Sumiyoshi shrine is. The deity of that shrine was very popular during the Heian period and also makes an appearance in The Tales of Genji.
Before it was built up, the Suminoe beach was said to be very beautiful and was famous for its pine trees (‘まつ’).







Would have loved to find more on this, but there wasn’t as much to find (granted, I never really do a super deep dive either). I’m starting to realise that I’m really into the literary devices these poems use, moreso than any other part of this exercise. Yet another point of proof that I’m a massive language nut :roll_eyes:


Last week ended differently for my irl life than I expected it to which is why I didn’t cover my poem but I will have no problem doing picking it back up (I still want to talk about that poem) and keeping up with this week.

I don’t mind the catch-up week since it’s seeming popular.

In terms of detachment from this thread, I think I can get that in so far as the conversation isn’t super lively, which is a little sad just because I really like everything we are doing, but on a personal level I am finding it super engaging just by having to do research and reading everyone else’s findings. I do find myself constantly checking the thread.


I know! I feel like I should comment more as well (especially since I don’t have time to do any research myself, again, hat tip to you and the others), but usually that would just boil down to “wow that’s cool” or “huh, interesting”, and there’s already a “like” button for that :slightly_frowning_face:


Reading the explanation of poem 17 in the book, there’s yet again an 言われている and it finally struck me. More than a thousand years later, we are still gossiping about those people.
It feels… weird in a way? How would you even know who was behind the 屏風 at the time? How did we get those gossips? Did people write them down at the time and we found them? Or is it a less reliable way, like oral transmission before it finally got written down at some point? :thinking:


I’ve been thinking a lot about this too. It seems like these poetry collections are themselves actually some of the most important primary sources available to us on these people, which is so cool! Like, they are some of the most praised poets in history, getting cool titles like the Thirty Six Immortals, and we know so little about them. I guess Homer is vaguely comparable in influence, but he seems far enough away to get a pass. But he only seems so. It’s a pretty cool testament to…idk the power of the written word and the frailty of human memory? But at the same time I’ve been awe struck by what a miracle it is that we know even as much as we do and can get to read these! Komachi especially struck me with this because she has so many rumors but also I felt like her poetry was such a strong statement. Still waiting for time to really compare the two and think about what they mean, but it’s really cool!

Definitely haven’t answered your question, lol. It’s definitely the sort of thing scholars spend a lot of time over so I’m sure we’ll be able to find an answer eventually. But I have to get caught up on my individual poem research first.