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”

Plum Blossoms

Recently, the Buddhist temple Yakushi-ji in Nara, Japan posted this update on their Twitter feed: When most people think of Japan, they think of cherry blossoms, specifically sakura (桜) cherry blossoms. However, while cherry blossoms usually appear sometime between March to May depending on climate, variety, etc, another famous flowering tree blooms slightly eariler: uméContinue reading “Plum Blossoms”

Spring On Its Way

It is mid-January, deep in “small cold and big cold”, but already signs of life are returning to the yard, and the world around us. Inspired, I found this old Japanese waka poem (originally posted in my other blog) composed by a female poet named kunaikyō (宮内卿), also called wakakusa no kunaikyō (若草の宮内卿). This poem,Continue reading “Spring On Its Way”