@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

You’re right. I was just being lazy and figured people would know what I mean.

I have found their selection for other languages lacking, but that might be because I am just not as versed in those other languages I’ve tried using it for lol.

Thanks for both of those recommendations guys!


24 このたびは ぬさもとりあへず 手向山 紅葉の錦 神のまにまに (菅家)


菅家 is pronounced かんけ for this chap, whose (I guess proper/clan) name is Sugawara no Michizane. I found it very neat that he just went by the Onyomi reading of his clan name. It looks like this became more of a practice a little bit later, more into the second millennium. I’d never seen this practice before so I just found it neat.

As the book says, he was a pre-eminent scholar of Chinese classics and politician who, after the death of Emperor Uda (who, btw he was going on an excursion with when this poem was written), was exiled and died shortly thereafter.

The book mentions his role in the abolishment of envoys to Tang China, citing reasons of danger and unrest in Tang itself. A funny detail I found on Wikipedia was that before coming out against the position he was actually appointed the position, and there is a theory that because his spoken Chinese was horrible, he got rid of the role altogether to save face.

Honestly, I feel that. I’m way more versed in written Japanese than the spoken language. So if your struggling with one aspect of the language, take heart! So did this god of scholarship! His written Chinese was at least good enough for diplomatic and poetry exchanges.

He had a thing for ume trees, perhaps because of his immersion in the Chinese classics in which they are a tree much celebrated by poetry. Another of his most famous poems (its on Wikipedia with translation) is about a ume tree that he was going to dearly miss when he left Kyoto for exile. Legend has it that the tree in turn missed him so much that it up and flew to Dazaifu Tenmangu, the shrine built over his grave and dedicated to him, gaining the name 飛梅 (alternatively, his friend transplanted its seedlings).

The book mentions that Kanke is deified as a god of scholarship, known as Tenjin (天神). The way this came about is interesting. After his death there was a series of disasters: storms, fires, strange deaths. They were attributed to him, and so to placate his vengeful spirit he was first posthumously promoted back to a high position, and then, when this didn’t work, deified, with a shrine built for him. For the first few centuries of deification he was actually more often considered a kami of natural disasters, before his status as a god of scholarship eclipsed this, I guess as memory of the disasters directly related to him faded. And as Tenjin he still seems to be quite a popularly prayed to kanji by parents and students alike! Maybe if any of you live in Japan you’ve heard of him or come into contact with him already?

Personal Reaction to Contents

We’ve talked a lot about kakekotoba so I’m not going to dive into it much beyond saying たび can be read as 旅 or 度 and that the leaves of the trees are being likened to the nusa’s brocade, which I guess looks similar to leaves. Here is a picture of the thing he forgot which I found helpful:

What a funny irony it is for us to read a poem about offerings (or forgetting offerings, I guess) to the gods by a man who would later be worshiped as a god.

This is probably me speaking as a Christian, but I find the idea of offering the gods own back to the gods heightens the beauty of the scene he is painting with words so much more than anything else could do.

At first I thought his forgetting the nusa to be rather irresponsible, and his offering of the autumn leaves cheeky. Thus, I thought this and 22 were both exceptionally playful/light hearted poems, though having reread the poem several times now writing this I’ve come to appreciate more its concerns with a very deep beauty. Still, I think it is lighter than many of the other Hyakunin Isshu poems, so concerned with sorrow or romance. This might be one of my favourites so far. I’m really enjoying that now a quarter of the way through I’m feeling like I have a sense of the anthology’s character (we will of course see how will this sense is as I have the vast majority of the poems still to read).




Or if you’ve read Noragami, in which he’s a major recurring character. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I did my PhD in Todai and 湯島天満宮 is basically across the street. So I went to pray there just before my defense and just after to say thanks. So yes :rofl:


7th week, reaching 30%. We have another 中納言 this week and I’m unreasonably happy to be able to read that word.

  • 26 小倉山 峰のもみぢ葉 心あらば 今ひとたびの みゆき待たなむ(貞信公)
  • 27 みかの原 わきて流るる 泉川 いつ見きとてか 恋しかるらむ(中納言兼輔)
  • 28 山里は 冬ぞさびしさ まさりける 人目も草も かれぬと思へば(源宗于朝臣)
  • 29 心あてに 折らばや折らむ 初霜の 置きまどはせる 白菊の花(凡河内躬恒)
  • 30 有明の つれなく見えし 別れより あかつきばかり 憂きものはなし(壬生忠岑)
  • Just reading the book/poems

0 voters

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30 有明の つれなく見えし 別れより 暁ばかり 憂きものはなし (壬生忠岑)


Mibu no Tadamine has a few claims of fame to his name. He was one of the thirty six Immortals of poetry, is obviously featured in the Hyakunin Isshu, his son (Tadami) is the author of yet another poem of the Hyakunin Isshu (Nr. 41) and he was one of the official compilers for the Kokinshuu, which happens to include 35 of his own poems… He has a total of 82 poems total in imperial anthologies.


The poem is about ariake, the late rising moon of the last half of the lunar cycle that is still visible in the morning. It can also be interpreted as either someone waiting all night for their lover, but never being welcomed in and as such having to return home at sunrise; or as someone leaving their lover behind in the morning after spending the night.
ariake seems to have been quite an important symbol for romance back in the day.
Also apparently, at the time, akatsuki didn’t refer to dawn, but the time just before, when the sky is still dark.


Interestingly in this poem, it is incredibly straight forward. No clever puns, no word games, no Kakekotoba, no nothing.
What he has done, is created a bit of a riddle, which plays into why it’s interpreted to be about a lover waiting, rather than only the moon.
The second line (つれなく見えし) is broken down like this (quote from https://onethousandsummers.blogspot.com/2019/11/hyakunin-isshu-poem-30-mibu-no-tadamine.html
because why would I try to rephrase that):

tsurenaku is the ren’yōkei 連用形 (conjunctive form) of adjective tsurenashi [note this is classical Japanese, not modern]. […] The adjective tsurenashi serves as an adverb, being connected to a verb miyu 見ゆ, which among its meanings has to appear. Together with shi し (this is actually a form of a particle ki き), miyu becomes mieshi, and means appears/appeared.

So tsurenashi means indifferent, cold-hearted and is very much associated with a human, a person. So then the question remains, what appears indifferent or cold-hearted?
A popular answer of reaers in the medieval times seems to be the one I mentioned above; a lover waiting in vain throughout the whole night. So what appears cold hearted here is the morning after having to wait all night, envoking a sense of sadness.

A second option would be for it to be a morning-after poem, the man having spent the night with his lover and leaving in the morning. Here, the woman would seem cold-hearted or indifferent upon the man leaving, like the moon at dawn.





Not all that extensive this week, but hey :woman_shrugging:


Gasp! I just noticed that noone’s done ちはやぶる!

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)


Unheard-of even since
The time of the passionate gods.
The Tatta River,
Its waters dyed
In vivid crimson.


在原業平 is his name, 朝臣 his title. He’s the son of 阿保あぼ親王しんのう and 伊都いろ内親王ないしんのう, the former of whom was a son of 平城へいぜい天皇てんのう, while the latter was a daughter of 桓武かんむ天皇てんのう. Since Kanmu was also a son of Heizei, that makes Namihira both grandson and great-grandson of Heizei. Aren’t noble family trees fun? Anyway, he was not in the imperial line of succession, because his father had been banished before his birth for his involvement in Political Intrigues, so his family were made commoners, and given the name Ariwara.


For starters, ちはやぶる is a pillow word. A literal reading is something like “1000 swift swipes”, but from literary allusion, it has metaphorical reasons which range from “ferocious” to “impassionate” to “very old” to “Kamo Shrine”. Since it’s modifying 神 here, the “impassionate” meaning holds force.

The ~ず ending on 聞かず typically marks the ending of a poem - this poem uses inversion.

The 竜田川 is in modern-day Nara Prefecture. The waters of the river are dyed からかくれない, which is a shade of vivid crimson - you can see what that colour looks like here. As the book points out, in kanji it’s 唐紅, and the 唐 implies that the colour was imported from 唐の国 (= Tang Dynasty China). The poem never states what is dying the river, but this poem is typically read as being an autumn poem, making it momiji leaves or similar (and what else would it be, plus the Tatta River remains a popular autumn spot to this day).

One of the biggest tricks to this poem is in the last line - as Ye Olde Japanese didn’t have dakuten, the verb くくる could either be くくる - to tie-die - or くぐる - to go under. That is, the latter reading is that of the river flowing under a concealing blanket of fallen leaves. This leads to an alternate interpretation (one espoused by Kana in Chihayafuru), that this poem is a love poem, and the river flowing beneath the blanket of leaves represents hidden feelings of love for a woman. And indeed, Namihara is known as a bit of a romanticist, essentially a kind of Japanese Cassanova.



And also the first Chihayafuru live-action movie


Nice! Now that you have done 1+ (future proofing this post), I feel like the whole thread has been validated.


Participation is at pretty much rock bottom, but I do enjoy reading those, so I see no reason to stop :stuck_out_tongue:
By the way, I have been copying the poems from this page, which has also so basic explanations about the poems. If anyone is trying to follow along without the book, that might be a good place to look at (full disclosure: I only looked at one or two, so I cannot judge the overall quality).

  • 31 朝ぼらけ 有明の月と 見るまでに 吉野の里に 降れる白雪(坂上是則)
  • 32 山川に 風のかけたる しがらみは 流れもあへぬ 紅葉なりけり(春道列樹)
  • 33 ひさかたの 光のどけき 春の日に 静心なく 花の散るらむ(紀友則)
  • 34 誰をかも 知る人にせむ 高砂の 松も昔の 友ならなくに|(藤原興風)
  • 35 人はいさ 心も知らず ふるさとは 花ぞ昔の 香ににほひける(紀貫之)
  • Just reading the book/poems

0 voters


I’d be down to keep going even if there was just one other person reading along. I’m late again this week >_< but I’m no longer working Wednesdays or Thursdays, which when we started were my main days for doing stuff like this, so that is good. I’ll be able to get caught up tomorrow evening.


I’m exactly the same. In fact, if there is only one or two other people, I almost feel obliged to keep going, helps me not be lazy xD

As for this week’s poem, I chose 35. Quite randomly actually, because I really enjoyed all of this week’s selections.
I really didn’t find as much information about the poem as I wanted to, the poet seems much more famous instead though. Didn’t wanna write an actual essay on the guy (because I totally could have, seems to have been quite the man back in the day), so I kept it short and sweet.

35 人はいさ 心もしらず ふるさとは 花ぞ昔の 香ににほひける (紀貫之)


Ki no Tsurayuki was a noble man at court and very famous in classical Japanese poetry. He headed the compilers of the Kokinshuu, is one of the Thirty-six Immortals of Poetry, and is rumoured to have written the anonymously published famous Tosa Diary, in which he writes from a woman’s perspective. It is written entirely in kana and speaks of a journey in 935, starting in Tosa Province and detailing the trip back to Kyoto.

His essay, which served as the preface for the Japanese version of the Kokinshuu, was the first ever critical essay on waka. It included waka history spanning from its mythological origins, all the way to, at that time, contemporary forms; waka groupings based on genres; references to certain poets; and sometimes criticism towards predecessors.

Ki no Tsurayuki is mentioned in the Tale of Genji as a waka master.
Ki no Tomonori, who composed poem 33, is his cousin.

About the poem

This poem was featured in the Kokinshuu, with a headnote explaining how it came about. It is said that Ki no Tsurayuki visited a lodging house at Hase Temple, which had often visited when he was younger. There, he was told of for his long absence.

ふるさと in the poem, does not refer to ones place of birth here, but rather to a place one has previously lived, hence why it fits with it talking about a previously frequented temple.

The poem uses the nikugire technique after the second line, a full syntactic break.


This is techinically mentioned in the book, but I found it quite neat. So generally, when poets of the time would refer to blossoms, they would mean Sakura, but in this case it refers Ume. Apparently the fact that what it’s describing is the blossom’s scent, the reference switches from Sakura to Ume. Fascinating stuff.







28 山里は 冬ぞさびしさ まさりける 人目も草も かれぬと思へば

Apologies for being doubly late.

I’m really vibing with the ゆき poems in this collection, and look, this one is by the grandson of Emperor Koko, whose poem 15 I also did. Funny that.

I found two different blogs citing the same professor who said that this poem was written in answer to the question which season is lonelier, winter or fall? Muneyuki of course favoured fall, but he might have been responding to the more popular idea that it was fall. This is my own conjecture, but maybe poem 5 would be a good typical example of the treatment of fall to which Muneyuki is responding (however, Taifu’s date of birth and death being unknown, how direct this connection is could not be figured out).

Interestingly, in Teika’s time (I presume my source is referring to the HNI’s compiler), the 12th and 13th century, remote mountain villages had shifted from symbols of desolation to places for appreciating nature. I just think that makes this poem’s inclusion in the anthology a bit more interesting.




Man, I haven’t read poem 33 before, but I feel like I’ve always known it. It’s like the most stereotypical falling sakura scene ever, and I love it.

This week seems to have a lot of poems that are straight up descriptions of natural beauty, or maybe that’s just my perception because three in a row is a lot out of the way we’ve divided it. I quite appreciate the comment in the book about the consciousness of the HNI’s order, even if I’m just overreacting to 31-33.


While I don’t think it has a lot “hanging” on it the way we see others, I think in poem 34 松 is working as a bit of a kakekotoba. I recall reading (on Wikipedia but maybe corroborated by something from JSTOR?) that its homophonimity with 待つ means it almost always adds a sense of waiting around for something, perhaps here just invoking a bit of a mood. I wonder what he’s waiting for. Release or joining his friends who have passed, considering his supposed old age at the time of writing? : / This poem is heavy, but I like how well I can feel the weight in it (if I’m understanding it correctly ofc).


Okay so I’ve run into a bit of a problem.

For the next three weeks, aka all of September, I won’t have any days off. I’m working full time, plus have now got work on weekends too for at least that time span, so I won’t be able to do any research in that time :sob:

I’m literally not even sure how I’ll get through the ‘conventional’ book clubs at this point. I’ll try to still read through the poems and explanations every week, but as I see it, there’s no way I’ll be able to do any research on anything until at least October :slightly_frowning_face:

I’m actually super sorry, because I know there’s only a few people doing research still and I wanted to keep going, but I honestly just don’t have the time at the moment. :sob:


Well, the good news is that next week is the break week. You can just follow along and read 10 poems over 3 weeks (or longer if you allow yourself to be a bit behind). :slight_smile:
It’s always possible to post research in the future too, it’s not like those un-researched poems are going anywhere :joy:

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I know, but I still feel bad :joy: it’s already not very active here so I didn’t want to just up and disappear for so long… but hey, life right? :sob:

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Speaking of the new week, here it is. Some weird names this time… Although not more than usual, I guess?

  • 36 夏の夜は まだ宵ながら 明けぬるを 雲のいづこに 月宿るらむ(清原深養父)
  • 37 白露に 風の吹きしく 秋の野は つらぬきとめぬ 玉ぞ散りける(文屋朝康)
  • 38 忘らるる 身をば思はず 誓ひてし 人の命の 惜しくもあるかな(右近)
  • 39 浅茅生の 小野の篠原 しのぶれど あまりてなどか 人の恋しき(参議等)
  • 40 しのぶれど 色に出でにけり わが恋は 物や思ふと 人の問ふまで(平兼盛)
  • Just reading the book/poems

0 voters

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Aye, I was vaguely planning on doing 16 some point soon - someone volunteered to do it, but still hasn’t - but I haven’t found the time.


34 誰をかも 知る人にせむ 高砂の 松も昔の 友ならなくに

Frank Watson’s commentary on HNI confirms my suspicions about 待つ and 松. While our book only mentions dead friends, Watson mentions that the Takasago Pines actually have an associated legend about two lovers who died and their spirits entered the pines that this poem talks about, so it could be about either friends or lovers. There is also a very famous Noh play about Takasago pines, but it involves two pine trees rather than one–still, a possible connection.

Not much information on the man himself. Besides being one of the 36, he was a mid-ranking court official. He was said to be talented in kangen, which is gagaku, Japanese classical music, without dance. I’m always fond of the musician poets.