Monthly Archives: August 2016

Ten 蓮月 Rengetsu Waka

Peach blossoms pale

Courtesy of the Robyn Buntin Gallery, we have the pleasure to bring you ten more of Rengetsu’s waka. They have been translated by none other than Sensei John Stevens, Rengetsu expert. Please visit their beautiful website for Rengetsu and other Asian art at   

http://www.robynbuntin.com/

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も々の花  Peach Blossoms for Hinasama Dolls

このとのに けふ咲く花は

いく春のも々悦の

はじめ なるん

As an offering today

To this lord and lady

Freshly opened peach blossoms.

The joy of countless springs

Is once again ours.

かかし(kakashi)  Scarecrow

oyamada no

kiri no nakamichi

fumi wakete

hito ku to mi shi wa

kakashi narikeri

Making my way

To Oyamada

Through the foggy fields

The only person I saw

Turned out to be a scarecrow.

かわかぜ (kawakaze)  River Wind 

kawakaze ni

chiru ka to mireba

katsu kie to

me ni mo tamara nu

mizu no awayuki

As a river wind blows

I see flakes fall

But they disappear

From view in an instant

As frothy snow in the water.

ほたる (hotaru)  Fireflies

kagaribi no

kage no kudakuru

kokochi shite

ukawa no sue ni

tobu hotaru kana

Flitting all around

In the shadows cast by

Bonfires hanging from

The cormorant fishing boats

Fireflies want to be part of the spectacle.

あきのひかず (aki no hikazu)  Counting the Days of Autumn 

yamazato no

noki no hitoki no

hatsushio ni

aki no hikazu zo

kazoe rare keru

In this mountain village

A single maple tree by my eaves—

From the first blush of the leaves

I can count the remaining

Days of autumn.

春の末 (haru no sue) Last of Spring 

おく山の花のしら雪ながれ来て春の末汲かわづらのさと

okuyama no

hana no shirayuki

nagare kite

haru no suekumu

kawazura no sato

From deep in the mountains

Petals like white snow

Fall on the surface of the river

Flowing through the village,

Carrying away the last of spring.

かね の おと (kane no oto)  Temple Bell of Kitashiragawa Village

Yoshida yama

matsu no kozue ni

tsuki ochite

Kitashiragawa no

kane no oto kana

On Mount Yoshida

Beyond the tips of pines

The moon has fallen—

In Kitashiragawa

A temple bell sounds.

岡さきのさと (Okazaki no sato)  Okazaki Village  

山畑の 大根のくき二 霜さえて 

朝戸出寒し 岡さきのさと

In the mountain fields

Frost settles down to

The daikon stalks

This freezing morning as I walk

To Okazaki Village.

つき の さす (Tsuki no sasu)  Halo of the Moon

Tsuki no sasu

Kasa no shizuka ya

Ochitsuramu

Yoruyuki sode ni

Kakaru shira tsuyu

Wearing the halo

Of the moon as my hat;

Moonbeams drip down

As white dew gradually

Soaks the sleeves of my robe.

ちょう の ゆめ (chou no yume)   Butterfly’s Dream

Umaishite

chou no yume min

nanohana no

mukura ni kaoru

haru no yamazato

I take a nap and

Dream of being a butterfly,

As the fragrance of nanohana perfume my pillow–

Late spring now in this mountain village.

BlackRobeCoverButterfly

ちょう (Butterfly) by Rengetsu

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Ukesuteme, Mother of the West, aka Xi Wangmu

Keishu_Takeuchi-No_Series-Seiobo_Queen_of_the_West-00036379-050916-F12

Ukesuteme in Hotsuma Tsutae

Hotsuma Tsutae relates that at the time of Toyoke-sama, there lived a woman named Ukesuteme. She was a descendant of Ka-no-Kunisatsuchi who went from Hinomoto and settled in the land of Akakata in what is now China. These excerpts tell how she became known as Mother of the West. Her Chinese name is better known these days: Xi Wangmu or Hsi Wang Mu, Mother of the West.

Aya 15  Studying Michi with Toyoke

Ukesuteme was a descendant of Ka and of Toyokunnu of Akakata who lived by the Ama no Michi, the Way. When the Way declined in that land, around 3,000 years ago, Ukesuteme wanted to restore it. She knew that Toyoke of Hitakami had taught the Way. So she traveled from Akakata in China to Toyoke’s Yamate Palace in Hitakami, near today’s Sendai. She studied under Toyoke (Tamakine) with Kokori-hime (now known as the kami Shirayama-hime). This is described in aya 15.

Ukesuteme / nenokuni ni kite

Tamakine ni / yokutsuka fure wa

Mini kotae / Kokori no imoto

Musu hase te / yama no michinoku

Satsukemasu / yorokohi kaeru

Ukesuteme / Korohin kimi to

Chinami ai / Kurosono tsumoru

Miko umi te / Nishi no haha kami

Ukesuteme came to Ne-no-kuni

She studied well with Tamakine

She became sister to Kokori-hime

As they together mastered

The innermost secrets of To-no-Woshite.

Ukesuteme married the kimi of Korohin

And had a son of Kuroson

She is the kami, Nishi-no-haha.

In this aya verse, “yama” refers to important matters, while “michinoku” are the most secret teachings. Toyouke taught the Way of To-no-Woshite, the secret teachings of To-no-Kunisatsuchi. “Korohin” is the Hotsuma name of Konron or Kurosono.

Mother of the West, Nishi-no-haha

Ukesuteme, in Woshite analysis, means a strong, accomplishing, active woman. After Ukesuteme went west, back to China, she married the king of Korohin (Kurosono-kuni, Konron), and had a son. She is known by her Japanese name as the kami, Nishi-no-haha, or Seiobo, Mother of the West. Her name in Chinese is Xi Wangmu (Hsi Wang Mu) and she appears in a Chinese document around 500 years after the Hotsuma Tsutae was written.

In a history written by the Chinese writer Shibasen (Japanese name) there was a land called Akagata. Akagata/Konron is likely around the Choukou (Yangtze) river area, which became a place for Taoist hermits. Konron or Kuroso-no-kuni is a land connected with the sacred and hence it’s associated with the mythical Kunlun mountains as is Xi Wangmu.

Aya 24  Michimi Peach

From aya 24 of Hotsuma Tsutae:

Michimi no momo o / tamaure wa / hanami no momo wa / marenari to / kunitsuto ni nasu

The michimi peach / she received / rarer than the flowering peach / she took with her as souvenier.

Ukesuteme visited Hotsuma three times. The third time, Amakami Ninikine was ruling Hotsuma when she visited him. He presented Ukesuteme with the Michimi peach tree which she took home to China. Michimi means bearing 3,000 peaches.” Apparently she had only seen flowering peach trees in China, so an abundantly bearing peach was a delight. In art depicting Xi Wangmu, she is often shown holding peaches of immortality or standing under a flowering peach tree.

References

Julian Way  http://julian.way-nifty.com/woshite/2010/03/post-ccb2.html

Hotsuma Tsutae by JTC: http://www.hotsuma.gr.jp/aya/aya24-e.html, http://www.hotsuma.gr.jp/aya/aya15-2-e.html

Print of Seiobo Queen Mother of the West by Takeuchi Keishu, 1907, from ukiyo-e.org.

 

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