Ancient Japanese Rap Battling

With all the time I have to kill while in quarantine in the den, I have been cleaning up my old blog on the Hyakunin Isshu poetry anthology. It’s been great rediscovering things, including poem 60 of the anthology, a poem composed by Lady Izumi‘s daughter, Ko-Shikibu no Naishi (小式部内侍, d. 1025). Lady Izumi byContinue reading “Ancient Japanese Rap Battling”

Lonely At The Top: Minamoto no Sanetomo

I’m still keeping up with the Japanese historical drama the Thirteen Lords of Kamakura, discussed here, which is based primarily on the Azuma Kagami (吾妻鏡) a historical text about the period, and a fascinating look at how the Shogunate, or samurai military government, of the Kamakura Period rose and fell. The rise of the KamakuraContinue reading “Lonely At The Top: Minamoto no Sanetomo”

The Original Poet-Monk: Saigyo Hoshi

Long before people like Basho or Yosa Buson, in Japan there lived a man named Saigyō Hōshi (西行法師, 1118 – 1190), who lived a privileged life in the Heian period Court, but then threw it aside to become a prolific poet while living an ascetic life as a Buddhist monk. Japanese Romanization Translation しほりせで ShioriContinue reading “The Original Poet-Monk: Saigyo Hoshi”

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”