White bush clover and White lily

There was an enthusiastic teacher who taught how to compose tanka(Japanese 31 syllables verse) and its spirit, and there were diligent pupils who learnt with him. Among the pupils the two ladies were quite talented and understood well what the teacher wanted to teach them.

The pupils' names were Akiko(鳳 晶子1878~1942) and Tomiko(山川登美子1879~1909), each of the two was called by her nickname "Shra-hagi"( white bush clover) and "shira-yuri"( white lily)by the teacher , because both of them

responded to expectations by composing excellent tanka poems and by their zeal minds.

The teacher is Tekkan Yosano(与謝野鉄幹1873~1935), who tried to change the stream of traditional Japanese poetry.

Tekkan and his two pupils became more and more intimate, as their ideas and style of their poems became popular.

As the consequence of their situation,Tomiko stepped aside from them involuntarily and Tekkan ended up to remarry with Akiko to start together as leaders of the poetry group.

In a lecture I've heard of that a folklorist and poet, Shinobu Origuchi(折口信夫1887~1953), preferred Tomiko's poets rather than Akiko's over appealing ones.
As Origuchi was interested in the original nuances of Japanese language, he dug deep into them, then it is supposed that his study influenced on his idea for Tomiko's tanka which tended to be introspective about herself and words.

Getting back to their nicknames, I wonder why Akiko, sensational and advanced person on her belief, got such a name of flower which is not so outstanding,
besides Tomiko's name was from fragrant and relatively showy flower.

In their era there might have been more such flowers in the fields, white lilies in spring and bush clovers in autumn.

Regarding to lilies of ecesis, nowadays it is difficult to find them except in some special gardens.
Probably "showy" is my impression on the lilies I can buy at a shop.

On the other hand we can find bush clovers everywhere, in the fields, at the street corner, and on some temple ground and so on, although white ones are much less than reddish purple ones.

Recently two books about Tomiko were published, and her tanka and her life are introduced by some contemporary tanka poets in them.

Her husband passed away suffering from tuberculous just after one year later of their getting married, and she herself suffered from the same disease after she restarted to create tanka poems trying to console herself.

Tomiko's room where she struggled with illness in Obama City

To know about Akiko and her tanka poems is not difficult, for many books about it including translations in English, and Wikipedia in English(here).

In a nutshell, she fascinated many people as a flag-bearer of main stream of Romanticism, while in private life she came to have twelve children and many offspring consequently.

Today I walked in a field of ruin of Nara that used to be the capital of Japan more than 1300 yeas ago.

The story of the two ladies and Tekkan was unfolded about 100 yeas ago.
It seems an old story, but when I think of them walking in this field it appeared to a story of only one hundred years old.
the main building "Daigokuden" was rebuilt recently


My shiny black hair

fallen into disarray,

a thousand tangles,

like a thousand tangles thoughts

about my love for you.

Akiko Yosano

(translated by Sam Hamill and Keiko Matsui Gibson)

It makes me feel easier

to get to know that

a fur seal falls into a slumber

soundly and tranquilly

on its icy bed

Tomiko Yamakawa

18 件のコメント:

Jen さんのコメント...

This is a fascinating post--I love reading the history of these poets and your perspective on their lives, poetry, and names. It's such a coincidence, because last night I was thinking about going back to re-read some biographies of poets that I read many years ago. I am going to look for River of Stars.

Dave King さんのコメント...

All lovely, but thanks especially for the info' on Akiko. I shall look out for the book.

Red Rose. さんのコメント...

こんばんわ、Haricot さん。

Yosano Tekkan, Akiko,Tomikoの詩人の歴史を興味深く読ませて頂きました。1300年の奈良の歴史を思うと、確かに100年前に活躍されてた3人の時代は身近に感じますね。
a thousand tangles,like a thousand tangles と二度も繰り返し歌われてるところに、Akiko の深い愛を感じます。


snowwhite さんのコメント...

2つの歌に表わされる Akiko, Tomikoの情熱は本当に火と水ですね。
折口信夫の「死者の書」で雫が垂れる音を したした とあらわしていたのを思い出しました。

Celeste さんのコメント...

Salut Haricot,
très belles photos pour illustrer, la belle histoire d'amour entre les grand poètes Tomiko et Yosanno.
J'aime vos textes qui me font rêver.....

Rurousha さんのコメント...

Thank you so much for this post! I knew about Akiko Yosano (that tangled black hair poem is very famous, isn't it?), but I'd never heard of Tomiko Yamakawa. When I was searching for new information, I discovered that a movie was made about this love triangle. It's called 華の乱. I've just watched a trailer on YouTube (link here), and now I want to see the full movie!

PS: I hope I'll get a chance to visit some bush clover temples in Kamakura next week. (There isn't much in Tokyo itself.) The flower should be in full bloom. I love their quiet understated beauty.

stardust さんのコメント...

直立せずに先端がややしだれ、風の中で自由にそよぐと風情のある萩。 清楚な白百合は凛としたイメージがあります。鉄幹さんはそういうイメージをとらえられてたのでしょうか。


☆sapphire さんのコメント...

とてもすばらしい記事です! 白萩と白百合の写真もステキ!山川登美子の歌は、喪ったものへの哀惜、そして限りある生を覚悟した果てに抱く希求が、静かな透明感の中に凛として息づいていますね。ここで取り上げられた歌もすごくいいですね! 私の好きなのは、

地にわが影 空に愁の雲のかげ 鳩よいづこへ 秋の日往ぬる 

奈良の写真もいいですね。さりげなく野草にただよう秋の気配。 こちらは全然、秋が来なくて困っています。 

sarah さんのコメント...


haricot さんのコメント...

Thank you for your intimate reading.
It's nice coincidence, Jen! Now it is good season for reading, in refreshing air and good temperature for concentration.

Thank you!
I hope you'll enjoy the poems by Akiko.

Red Rose





Merci pour votre visit.
Vos mots sont tres gentils et ca me fait plaisir de lire.
Bon weekend a vous!


Thank you for your information about the movie. I did not know it, and the You Tube made me invite to see... maybe I will be able to know more about their background.

Have a good time at your favorite temple.







cosmos さんのコメント...


haricot さんのコメント...



In My Wild Eden さんのコメント...

Such a sad story and so beautifully told. I like the poems very much. Thank you for sharing them.

haricot さんのコメント...


Thank you for your tender comment.
Yes, it's a sad story from Tomiko's side, but it's great that her poems are appreciated still now.

demie さんのコメント...

This is indeed so fascinating!
Unfortuantely I know very little about Japan.
Visiting you gives me a glimt of history and trandition of afar away beautiful country

Thank you : )

haricot さんのコメント...


Thank you very much.
I'm happy to have written this story even though my English skill is not good enough.

Have a good week!

Ekaterina Trayt さんのコメント...

I read some poems by Tekkan and Akiko Yosano in a book of Japanese poetry translated to Russian. Then I found a whole book of Akiko Yosano's poems in Russian and bought it. I like it very much.

haricot さんのコメント...


I'm glad to hear that you love Akiko's tanka poems. Tekkan and she challenged themselves to change the stream of Japanese poetry. It must have been a tough work.