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. 7




  Ama no hara
  Kasuga naru
Mikasa no yama ni
Ideshi tsuki kamo.

WHILE gazing up into the sky,
  My thoughts have wandered far;
Methinks I see the rising moon
  Above Mount Mikasa
  At far-off Kasuga.

The poet, when sixteen years of age, was sent with two others to China, to discover the secret of the Chinese calendar, and on the night before sailing for home his friends gave him a farewell banquet. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and after dinner he composed this verse. Another account, however, says that the Emperor of China, becoming suspicious, caused him to be invited to a dinner at the top of a high pagoda, and then had the stairs removed, in order that he might be left to die of hunger. Nakamaro is said to have bitten his hand and written this verse with his blood, after which he appears to have escaped and fled to Annam. Kasuga, pronounced Kasunga, is a famous temple at the foot of Mount Mikasa, near Nara, the poet's home; the verse was written in the year 726, and the author died in 780.

Next: 8. The Priest Kizen: Kizen Hōshi