@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

Ah, sure! I know that feeling. Anyway, thank you for always contributing. :slight_smile:

so i was thinking, before we jump head first into the next week, if there’s people around that would like to contribute but currently don’t have the time, would it maybe make sense to postpone the rest of the book until a later time when more of us have time to commit to it?

Obviously we’ve lost quite a few people already, at least it seems like that, but for the ones still around, is that an option or does it just generally take too much time?


One thing I understood the past two month is that I will never have the time to contribute, at least not until corona is over (!).
Basically, there are a bunch of stuff (mostly from work) that got (and keep getting) pushed back that I always have something more urgent to do. Plus, my free time is extremely fragmented, so doing anything (non work related) for any extended period of time is almost impossible.
(Case in point, it took me three sittings to type this).
I’m not going to be able to contribute anyway, so I’m fine just moving along. I’m also okay with removing the schedule (making it a “read at your own pace” book club).


In regards to the last sentence, I personally find weekly homework-esque deadlines very useful for keeping myself engaged.


Removing the schedule would mean that I’d read the book over the next couple of days and be done with it, so I’d say it would remove engagement for me as well :sweat_smile:


Since no one seemed to eagerly jump on the let’s take a break train, here’s my contribution to this week:

22 吹くからに 秋の草木の しをるれば むべ山風を あらしといふらむ (文屋康秀)


While it is unknown when 文屋康秀(ふんやのはすひで)was born or when he died, it is believed that he lived in the second half of the 9th century. In fact, very little is really known and proved about his life.

He was counted among the Six Immortals of Poetry, as well as the Thirty Six Immortals. Six of his poems are part of the Imperial Anthologies, five in the Kokinshuu, and one in Goshuui Wakashuu.
The preface of the Kokinshuu describes him to be “[using his words] skillfully, but [they] do not match the content. His poetry is like a merchant dressed up in elegant clothes.”

He is also said to have had a relationship with Ono no Komachi (poem 9).
His son ふんやのあさひさ wrote poem 37.


I’m going to dump this into Content, although I’m not quite sure if it wouldn’t be happier living in the Grammar/Devices section. Anyway, the central idea of the poem is that when you take the kanji for wind 風 and the Kanji for mountain 山, combined into one neat little kanji, it becomes storm 嵐. If they kanji were separate, but read vertically in the same order as they sit in 嵐 we would get 山風(やまかぜ), the word still centred around wind, aka could still be interpreted as a storm.


What I personally find most interesting in this poem is the fact that the poet talks about the kanji/radical composition of the kanji for ‘storm’ (嵐), but in the original version of the poem (which I believe sits at the bottom on the page next to the poet bio) he decided to omit said kanji in favour of its hiragana version. あらす or, in this case あらし, also means ‘to ravage’ or ‘to destroy’, ‘ravaging’ or ‘destroying’. Therefore, あらし becomes Kakekotoba, even though the poem centres around its kanji composition.


During the Six Dynasties period (220-589) kanji and word games were quite popular in China. This shifted over to Japan through the authoritative anthology of Chinese Literature, the Wenxuan (or Monzen in Japanese), which was required reading for Japanese aristocracy during the Heian period. However, it had lost its importance and appeal by the time the Hyakunin Isshu was curated. By that point, the expectation was for a poet to be serious, rather than witty and playful, which might be the reason this poem is not counted among the most popular ones.








Most popular Hyakunin Isshu poems?

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I really liked this week’s poems, especially 22. I think the playfulness of 22 is a refreshing change of pace, which I guess makes sense in light of what Kyayna said about that not really being the style at the time. I also love this little bit of dialogue in the 解釈:

Takeshi: Were these two (Yasuhide and Ono no Komachi) boyfriend and girlfriend? :smiley:
Mister Kageyama: Something like that.


Same, I immediately liked 22 precisely because of what made it so unpopular at the time.

exactly, yes. Sorry, should have specified :sweat_smile:

That being said, I don’t think I much liked the rest of this week’s selection in comparison. Not quite sure why, although it’s probably partially because I suddenly got super busy and just didn’t have the time to properly sit down with them.

Yeah that happened to me last week. This week was much better for me in getting into the “okay, I’m going to wind down now and just go through as much Heian poetry as feels good” mode and it suited me better.

In an unrelated vein for the rest of the thread, I found it a very neat observation that the majority of the haiku in the collection are about autumn. I wonder if that is the compiler’s prejudice, or typical of the era. It seems like it would be an easy thing to make a program that could get statistics to compare, using a digital kigo dictionary and digital archives of other major anthologies from Japanese history. In fact, I’d be surprised if somebody hasn’t already done so. Does anyone know what the major academic search engines in Japanese are (like EBSCO host or JSTOR are for English), or maybe have a friend who went to university in Japan whom they could ask?



But… JSTOR is a digital library, not a search engine?
As for search engines, I’ve only heard of google scholar in Japan (I’ve been in academia here for more than a decade, but I’m just one data point anyway).
As for a digital library, there’s j-stage.

There is cinii

And I think JSTOR has stuff in every language, also in Japanese

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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.