Sacred Texts  Japan  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book on Kindle

A Hundred Verses from Old Japan (The Hyakunin-isshu), tr. by William N. Porter, [1909], at

p. 51




  Kaku to dani
Eyawa Ibuki no
Sashimo shiraji na
Moyuru omoi wo.

THOUGH love, like blisters made from leaves
  Grown on Mount Ibuki,
Torments me more than I can say,
  My lady shall not see,
  How she is paining me.

The writer lived some time at the close of the tenth century. The artemisia plant (or mugwort) is used in Japan for cauterizing; a conical wad of the leaves or blossoms is placed on the spot, lit at the top, and allowed to burn down to the skin; this produces a blister, and is extremely painful. Ibuki is a hill, between the Provinces of Omi and Mino, famous for its artemisia, but ibuki can also stand for iu beki, which, in conjunction with e ya wa, would mean, 'Ah! how could I tell her!' But eyawa as one word means 'indescribable!' Notice also sashimo in the third and fourth lines sashi-mogusa means 'the artemisia plant', but sashi mo means 'even though it is smarting'; sashimo, in one word, can also mean 'in such a way'. This verse is a very good example of the way the Japanese love to play upon words. The picture seems to show Mount Ibuki with the mugwort growing on it.

Next: 52. The Minister Michi-nobu Fujiwara: Fujiwara no Michi-nobu Ason