Ohanami, Ohisashiburi

For the first time in 3 years, since before the pandemic started, we visited my alma mater and saw the cherry blossom trees there! The Japanese phrase ohisashiburi (お久しぶり) is a stock phrase you often hear in Japanese meaning “long time no see!”, and that was the feeling we had when we visited the trees.Continue reading “Ohanami, Ohisashiburi”

Footsteps in the Snow: A Poem By Lady Izumi

For my birthday, I picked up a great book on poetry by the 12th century lady-in-waiting, Lady Izumi, called izumi shikibu (和泉式部) in Japanese. Her life has been an interest of mine, and I was happy to find good quality translation of her works.1 The book has a collection of her poems spanning various topics,Continue reading “Footsteps in the Snow: A Poem By Lady Izumi”

The Tragedy of Lady Izumi

The twilight years of the Heian Period of Japan (8th century to late 12th century) mark the high-point of the refined Imperial Court, its aristocracy and their literary culture. Poetry at this time, epitomized by the Hyakunin Isshu, was a popular past-time and frequent means of corresponding between men and women (often on the sly).Continue reading “The Tragedy of Lady Izumi”

Moonlight: A Buddhist Poem

The founder of the Jodo-Shu sect of Buddhism, a 12th-century Buddhist monk named Honen, once composed a poem titled tsugikagé (“Moonlight” 月かげ). What follows is a rough translation on my part: Japanese Romanization Translation 月かげの Tsuki-kagé-no There is no village いたらぬ里は itaranu sato wa that the light of moon なけれども nakeredomo does not shine, 眺むる人のContinue reading “Moonlight: A Buddhist Poem”

Happy Summer 2021

One of my favorite poems of the Hyakunin Isshu anthology is also one of the first: Japanese Romanization Translation 春過ぎて Haru sugite Spring has passed, and 夏来にけらし natsu ki ni kerashi summer has arrived, it seems 白妙の shiro tae no Heavenly Mount Kagu 衣ほすてふ koromo hosu chō where, it is said, they dry robes 天の香具山Continue reading “Happy Summer 2021”

The Hyakunin Isshu: 100 poems by 100 poets

Typically, when people think of poetry in Japan, they think of haiku (俳句), but there is another, more venerable style of poetry that I enjoy even more: waka (和歌) poetry. Waka poetry has been a part of Japanese culture, especially the aristocracy of the Heian Period, but can be dated as far back as theContinue reading “The Hyakunin Isshu: 100 poems by 100 poets”