@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

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.


15 君がため 春の野にいでて 若菜摘む わが衣手に 雪は降りつつ

This is such a sweet little poem! It makes me quite happy.


Well, Emperor Koko seems to have at least left a good impression in the official history books ( Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku), which describe him as well educated, calm, moderate, and gracious. I wonder if that had something to do with ascending to the throne so late. He’s well known for bringing back falconry of all things, which had fallen out of fashion for around fifty years. That strikes me as a testament to a calm and leisurely character that still has great appreciation for culture.

He actually came into power because the last one was deposed by one Fujiwara no Mototsune, the first kampaku, a role invented by him (Mototsune) to retain power after Koko became emperor. It sounds like this is the beginning of the tradition of somebody else doing most of the emperor’s ruling in his stead. I bet that also contributed to Koko’s ability to enjoy more cultural pursuits (not that that wasn’t already an essential part of court life).

The story of his ascension to the throne is funny. While they were still figuring out the succession, Mototsune just started addressing him as a sovereign when he went to visit, assigned him some guards, and then he (Koko) just got on the Imperial Palanquin and became emperor. Gave me a chuckle.

Comment on Contents

At first I thought, “Oh, this is another poem about manual labor by someone who doesn’t do manual labor, like the first poem,” but it turns out (according to Tsurezuregusa, which is a 14th century source) that he did his own cooking! What a funny emperor. After a little more research, it seems that picking the greens yourself was common even for the upper class.

The address is unknown but according to Kokinshu, another anthology in which this poem appears, it “was sent together with young greens to someone when the emperor was still a prince.”


I’m just going to translate from one Japanese source because I agree and think they are nicely concise:

This is a poem that depicts heartfelt sympathy and, with words like “spring field,” “young greens,” “kimono sleeves,” and “snow” containing soft images, a refined poem. The contrast between the green of the field and young herbs and the white of the snow is very beautiful, and a pure feeling drifts from the whole. You can see a pure cultivated heart that does not know filth. Emperor Koto after his corronation seems to have entrusted politics to entrusted politics to Motohara Fujiwara. It seems that the world of politics which required scheming and wickedness was not suitable for this poem’s author.

I like to think of this as the 9th century version of “thinking of you <3”

Comparison to other poems

The Heian period was so-called because people preferred to use conniving to solve problems rather than open conflict. Reading one article about the court scene (I recommend y’all look at it in my sources), it sure sounds psychologically intense and lusty. That makes me appreciate even more the simplicity of this poem. It’s like a breath of fresh air while greeting the new year! (not that our other poems are really that stifling, this one just still stands out to me plus from what I’ve read about the historical context)

I find I’ve been spending a lot of time just reading about the individual poems rather than actual general material on the periods except where the two come into contact with each other, so I should do that more.


https://garage.vice.com/en_us/article/mbwgwa/the-love-poems-of-japans-heian-court-were-the-original-thirst-texts (THIS ONE SEEMS ESPECIALLY WORTH THE READ)

I always feel like my research is insufficient in terms of background content, but I guess that’s just part of the learning process.


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)


“To go through this life, not meeting
for even as short a time as the space
between two nodes of a reed
in Naniwa Inlet—
is that what you are telling me?” - Joshua S. Mostow, in Pictures of the Heart: The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image (English and Japanese Edition)


Lady Ise (伊勢, c. 875/877 – c. 938), also known as Ise no Go (伊勢の御 - Lady Ise) or Ise no Miyasudokoro (伊勢の御息所 - Court Lady Ise), was a Japanese poet in the Imperial court’s waka tradition.

Her father Fujiwara no Tsugukage (藤原 継蔭) was the governor of the prosperous Ise Province, her grandfather Ōnakatomi no Yoshinobu was an important poet of the waka tradition.
Although the Fujiwara family was among the most influential families in Japan at that time, her father’s branch of the Fujiwara family had declined in status, becoming mainly known for its scholarly achievements and rising no higher in the court hierarchy than the position of provincial governor.

Despite being born as a governor’s daughter, she earned a name for herself through her extensive as well as passionate and witty poetry both in her private collection (the so-called Ise Shū) and through Imperial anthologies where her poetry is both frequent and prominent.

She was selected to be one of the 三十六歌仙三十六歌仙, the Thirty Six Immortals of Poetry.


As Professor Mostow explains, the poem has two possible interpretations: one where she has been spurned by a cold lover, and the other where she cannot reveal her hidden love.


Lady Ise
Lady Ise’s real name is not known, therefore she is referred to by the position of her father, who was governor of Ise prefecture. This practice is called “Notname” and is frequently used for artists whose identity got lost.

As handmaid of Fujiwara no Onshi (also Atsuko or Yoshiko; 藤原 温子), emperor Uda’s wife, she gained access to the imperial court at the age of about 15. After a non-lasting relationship with Onshi’s brother, she became a concubine to Emperor Uda and gave birth to a son, Prince Yuki-Akari, who died in infancy.
When Onshi died, Lady Ise remained in service to her daughter, Princess Kinshi, who had gotten married to the imperial Prince Atsuyoshi (a son of Emperor Uda). Lady Ise became Atsuyoshi’s lover and had three children with him.

One of these children was the (female) waka poet Nakatsukasa (中務) who was selected alongside her mother as 三十六歌仙.
Natsukasa is also a “Notname” as it refers to her father Atsuyoshi who was minister in the central ministry (中務卿なつかさきょう).

Naniwa Inlet is the bay of what is now the famous city of Osaka, though back then it was a far smaller city, with many waterways, streams and such. Naniwa (Osaka) is often associated with reeds at the time as other poems of the time show, and is mentioned in two other poems in the Hyakunin Isshu (poem 20 and poem 88).




Wait, we have trace of all of that but don’t know her name? How does that even work? She was using that pseudonym on all official documents? (Even though it’s a while ago, I assume people kept track of the imperial family at least)

We don’t know a lot of Ye Olde people’s real names. Like Murasaki Shikibu.

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Well, she was not part of the imperial family, so that might explain it. She was just a servant / concubine. And it seems that in former times artists would not sign their works with their names, so it seems that it can easily get lost :woman_shrugging:


That’s true, but we seem to know so many other things about them… it feels just weird I guess :upside_down_face:

But she gave birth to member(s?) of the imperial family (at one official one from your trivia). How does that work? They wrote down “father: Emperor Uda, mother: some rando”? :rofl:


Alright, as discussed, we will play some catch up this week.
Here are the poems with no commentary as of now (conveniently, there are 5 of them)

Pick which ever you would like to research

  • 12 天つ風 雲の通ひ路 吹き閉ぢよ をとめの姿 しばしとどめむ (僧正遍照)
  • 13 筑波嶺の 峰より落つる 男女川 恋ぞつもりて 淵となりぬる (陽成院)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • N/A

0 voters

Additionally, I think it’s also a good time to discuss about how we should proceed.
I don’t think we need a poll for that right now, but I think we might want to discuss more the content of the book as well (based on @Belthazar’s comment). As far as I am concerned, the current format was mostly picked because people with no access to the book expressed interest. However, I think they are all gone by now :cry: so there’s no need anymore?

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I have been reading along, but I haven’t had the time to really look into anything and haven’t been able to discuss anything. Just want to say that I’m still here, following along