[The Story of the Hyakunin Isshu] No. 14: “Shinobu Mojizuri of Mutsu was so disturbed that no one could help him” (Minister of the Left Kawahara)

No. 14: ``Shinobu Mojizuri of Mutsu is so disturbed that no one can help him.'' (Minister of the Left Kawahara)

Minamoto no Toru was a prince of Emperor Saga, and although he was demoted to the status of a vassal, he rose to the rank of Juichii (Minister of the Left). He is probably best known for his ``Kawara-in,'' a luxurious mansion in Rokujo that has a garden with mountains and a pond that imitates the scenery of Mutsu Shiogama, and he even went out of his way to bring in seawater from Nambaura and grill it with salt. That's surprising. For this reason, Toru is considered to be the most likely model for Hikaru Genji. In the classical world, it is natural to think of Kawara-in as Rokujo-in, which was built during the height of the Genji era. However, there are countless former members of the imperial family who were lowered to the status of subjects and called themselves Genji, and above all, Toru was weak in the important aspect of poetry, and only four poems were included in the imperial collection. Still, is it right to compare him to you who shines?

I don't think I'm wrong. His only four songs are truly typical of a nobleman. For example, Spring Song*1, if you can do something like this easily, even if you are not a woman, you will want to surrender to it. From among these gems, Sadaie pulled out a poem ``Mutsu no''. Similar to the thirteenth song ``Tsukuba-rei,'' which compares the turbulence of the heart caused by love to ``Shinobu Mojizuri,'' it has a scent of unresolved exotic fantasy. What I hate is the ending, ``If it weren't for me,'' and only a nobleman would have the privilege of saying such a blunt line.

The song ``Mutsu no'' became the dream of unsophisticated men. Not only has it given birth to many honkatori, but it is also famous for the first stage of The Tales of Ise*2, and Basho is also gratefully invited to visit*3.

It is a travesty to say that if there was a tragedy for this nobleman who had mastered the elegance, it was that he was unable to return to the imperial family and become Judai Retired Emperor. It would not have been possible to preserve the elegance of the poems of grass in the imperial collection.

*1 “The scent of cherry blossoms makes me wet, until the wind comes” (Minamoto Toru)
*2 "Kasugano's Wakamurasaki is unknown as long as Shinobu's robes are in disarray" (Mukatsuo)
*3 “Sanae Toru Handa and Old Shinobu Printing” (Basho)

(Written by: Engaku Uchida)

List of “Hyakunin Isshu Stories”

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