Nara (an old city where I live) beneath the late autumn sky


A streak of cloud

above the pagoda

of the Yakushi Temple

in the province of Yamato

on a day in late autumn

This tanka poems was composed by Nobutsuna Sasaki ( 佐佐木信綱) in1912.

I found this translation on website. According the site it's from
"Japanese Literature in the Meiji Era".
Each time I read this poem I have desire to see the cerulean blue sky above the pagoda. As a method this tanka poet use the way of focusing gradually from season, district, a temple and the top of it and a piece of cloud, although it is opposite in the translation.

Strangely enough,the more it becomes focused to the pagoda the more specious sky I feel and see.

Now the 1,300 year-old pagoda is under refit, so I could take a photo of the new pagoda beyond a pond called Oh-ike.

image of suien from website

  It is said that the "Suien" (水煙)at the top of the pagoda was called " frozen music" by Ernest Fenollosa (1853~1908), an american art historian, who visited Japan twice. 
This word is famous in Japan but I also read that  it proved baseless about his mentioning so.

 I had a chance to attend for listening to a talk by Naomi Kawase (河瀬 直美), a Japanese woman cinema directer, a few months ago. And then I came to know that International Cinema Festival was about to be held in Nara.
Ms Kawase said that a movie was shown in Jyōkōji temple as a pre festival night event.

Jyōkōji is a small temple faced to a main street in Nara. This temple is known to the place where Fenollosa gave a speech about the roles of old cities in 1888.

She also said that there were more number of temples than convenience stores in Japan, and it worth using temples for versatile view.

Unfortunately I could not see the large room where the cinema was shown in this small temple .

I've heard that a red carpet by lightning rolled out on this fifty-two steps in the evening of the festival, and the invited foreign directors and many other participants descended this stairs with Ms Kawase.

The steps lead them to by a pond called Sarusawa, one of the famous spots near Nara park.  

I walked to Nara Park looking up at the sky time to time.
There in the park I saw many deer as usual. Some of them are still young and have some white dots just like ray drops through autumn leaves on their back.

Another famous pagoda which was seen above the fifty-two steps is seen far away and beneath the cloudy sky now.

20 件のコメント:

☆sapphire さんのコメント...


Oh you've chosen for this post one of my favorite tanka poems by Sasaki Nobutsuna!! Thank you so much! "the more it becomes focused to the pagoda the more specious sky I feel and see." I think so too. As far as I know, Nobutsuna wrote this tanka when Yakushiji-temple had only one tower(the east pagoda). The tower at that time was called "frozen music". Do you think the present two towers(the east and west pagodas) deserve that elegant name? The deer look happy eating grass! What a wonderful city Nara is!


cosmos さんのコメント...


snowwhite さんのコメント...

As you said, the translation is completely opposite in order. What do you think about it??
This poem is my favorite. By using "Hiragana No - の”six times, I feel the vision is very rapidly narrowed, maybe I call it a roller coaster effect??
私は「塔の上なるひとひらの雲」のイメージがいつも、若山牧水の「白鳥は悲しからずや 空の青 海のあをにも染まず漂う」を連想します。どちらにも凛とした健気さ,孤独を感じるのです。

匿名 さんのコメント...

I've never been to Japan before. The park that you visited looks very peaceful and beautiful. I love the pagoda and temple structures as well. There is obviously much history surrounded by this place as well.

I enjoyed reading the tanka. I haven't read many tanka poems, as I'm not very familiar with them or their style.

Jen さんのコメント...

Nara is very beautiful. How wonderful that there are more pagodas than convenience stores! The director sounds very interesting. I have never been to a film festival, but would love to go to one someday.

haricot さんのコメント...


You are right. My description was not sufficient about the pagodas.
As you wrote, "frozen music" was words for the older one.
The one of the new pagoda is too young for such a chic name, I think.





This tanka is so famous that I came to be timide for trying to do some translation. Well, if I could do that I'd like to follow the original structure. But I don't think the usage of prepositions would be so effective as we can see them in the original one.


Thank you for your kind and gentile comment. Tanka poems are varied despite there is a long traditional background. I hope you'll enjoy some of them.


Not all of the temples have pagoda, though there are so many temples not only famous ones but quite small ones at the heart of mountains or rustic places.

Thank you for your warm comment as usual.

Rurousha さんのコメント...

Japan's autumn sky is the most beautiful sky in all the world in all of time.

I didn't know about Nobutsuna Sasaki. Now I have lots of further reading to do! :)

PS: I hope there will always be more temples in Japan than konbini. That's such a lovely, unexpected fact to know and remember. ^^

haricot さんのコメント...

Ru san

I had no idea about the number of temples and convini. Actually I was surprised to the amount of temples. I hope temples would be used for various events as Ms Kawase tried to do.

Dave King さんのコメント...

Sarusawa seems really magical - but not much more so than the rest of your fantastic post.

haricot さんのコメント...

Thank you very much.
My favourite season will be over soon. But thus some photos and descriptions and poems as you do can remain the passing time. It's a big pleasure.

sarah さんのコメント...


haricot さんのコメント...



stardust さんのコメント...

秋の空は特に爽やかで美しいですね。 1300年の塔とその上のひとひらの雲、「の」で連なるリズムも気持ちいいです。柔らかな秋の光の中を歩かれたようですね。

haricot さんのコメント...


snowwhite さんのコメント...


haricot さんのコメント...



Red Rose. さんのコメント...


haricot さんのコメント...

Red Rose


In My Wild Eden さんのコメント...

Such beautiful words you used for your title. I too am living beneath the late autumn sky. I hope all is well and you are having a beautiful week.

haricot さんのコメント...

I also hope you'll have nice days before the sheer winter come.

Hava a very good wekend!