Death Song Part 7 “I live in the flower capital of Kokonoe, but I am fleeting and hide in Mie” (Ono Komachi)

“I live in the flower capital of Kokonoe, but I will hide in Mie.” (Ono Komachi)

Ono Komachi, like the aforementioned Ariwara Narihira, is one of the six immortal poets, and is one of the poets widely known throughout the ages. However, its origins are mysterious, which is why it has given rise to so-called ``Komachi legends'' in various parts of Japan.

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One of them is the song of death. Mie, the place of ``Kakuru'' or death, is said to be ``Mie no Sato'', which is the area around present-day Omiya-cho, Kyotango City. However, according to Kamo no Chomei's ``Mumyosho,'' there is an episode in which Ariwara Narihira met Komachi's Dokuro at a place called ``Yaso Islands in Mutsu Province.'' I would like to introduce an excerpt...

On the night when I arrived in the country of Mutsu and took shelter in Yasoshima Island, I heard a voice in the field chanting a poem. In those words,
“Every time the autumn wind blows, my eyes hurt, they hurt”
There was only one dead person's head. The next morning, when I saw the sunfish, a single pampas grass sticked out from the eye hole of the skull. If you hear the sound of pampas grass waving in the wind, you will remember it suspiciously and ask the people around you about it. One person said, ``Ono no Komachi went down to this country and died in this place. This is the head of Sunahachi.''
If Narihira remembered this with such sadness, he would choke back tears and write the following haiku.
``Ono and the Japanese pampas grass grow in the field'' (I wouldn't call this the Ono Komachi Skull, there's just Japanese pampas grass growing in the field)
Tozokiru.

Legend has it that Ono Komachi was a ``beautiful woman'', and her dejected appearance, as represented by the Noh song ``Nana Komachi,'' was widely depicted, but in this episode, she died, turned into a skull, and her eyes disappeared. It depicts a very frightening picture of Japanese pampas grass growing out of the area where it used to be. Narihira pretended not to notice this, probably out of respect for his friend, who also passed through the world singing.

(Written by Uchida Engaku, a poet)

Go to the list of “Death Songs”

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