KYOTO--Once a pleasurable outdoor pastime of the noble class a millennium ago, a poetry reading session was revived for a day at a shrine in this ancient capital.
Poets, clad in the flamboyant attire of Heian Period (794-1185) aristocrats, recited "waka" 31-syllable poems that follow the meter of 5-7-5-7-7 moras on April 8 at Kamigamojinja shrine in Kyoto's Kita Ward.
About 1,000 spectators attended the Kamo Kyokusui no En (Kamo banquet by a meandering stream) ceremony. Along with the poetry reading, incense filled the air and music was played on traditional instruments.
"This spot was a world away from everywhere else," said Kanoko Uemura, 17, of Kyoto, who attended the event with seven family members. "I was totally enchanted."
The ancient event was being held for the 19th time since its revival. The reading was canceled last year amid the mood of restraint following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
This year, six poets including Takashi Okai and Kazuhiro Nagata, who served on the selection board for the imperial court's "Utakai Hajime" new year poetry reading ceremony, assembled in the shrine's Shokeien garden and recited waka poems, all themed on the "Japanese apricot."
The poets were obliged to compose and recite a poem before a cup floated from the upstream end of a stream arrived downstream.
Nagata recited, "Ochiudo no/ Gotoki omoi ni/ Aogu kana/ Hito naki niwa no/ Shira-ume no hana"
(I feel like a straggling soldier/ As I look up/ At the white Japanese apricot flowers/ In a garden devoid of a fellow being).
It was an elegy dedicated to the poet's wife, who had died two years ago.
- « Prev
- Next »