Persimmons – part 4

. At this point I should like to turn to the subject of how persimmon was treated in literature. Persimmon seeds have been dug up from some archaeological sites of the Jomon period. So I believe that persimmon trees must have existed in Japan long before the Man’yo period, yet the Man’yoshu has no poems about persimmons. Judging from his name, the poet Kakinomoto Hitomaro (柿本人麻呂, fl. ca. 680 during the reign of Emperor Tenmu), lived in a house standing beneath a persimmon tree. But he is silent about his persimmon tree. In the Kamakura period, Fujiwara no Tame’ie (藤原為家, 1198~1275) wrote the following poem:
……………………………… Autumn has arrived.
……………………………… I wonder about the leaves
……………………………… On higher mountains.
……………………………… Our garden persimmon trees
……………………………… Display deeply coloured leaves
. I like this poem because the poet expresses his concern for the leaves in the high mountains. He is wondering whether they have taken on their autumn hues like the persimmon trees in his garden, or whether they have already been scattered by the wind. Probably the latter was the case, and if so, he may have been equally concerned about the persimmon trees in his garden. In the Edo period, Ozawa Roan (1723~1801), who stood for tadagoto-uta (honest poetry), wrote the following poem about persimmons:
……………………………… Chestnuts are smiling.
……………………………… Persimmons are getting red.
……………………………… It is indeed time
……………………………… For short-haired children to be
……………………………… Proud, and enjoy the season.
. This poem is so cheerful that I cannot help laughing with the poet.

(To be continued…)

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3 Responses to “Persimmons – part 4”

  1. Ursula Maierl Says:

    Mulling on persimmons seeds and colours of leaves and fruit,
    I recall samue, traditionally Japanese work clothes of monks – pants and jacket fastened with ties at the side – dyed with persimmon seeds. This set was of silk and the colour an earthy russet / umber.

  2. Ursula Maierl Says:

    aaaaiiii. Of course that should read ‘persimmon seeds…’

  3. It’s a really interesting point. I didn’t know that Kakinomoto Hitomaro hadn’t written about persimmons. Interesting…
    I don’t know the latter one’s original though (I’m Japanese), it makes me smile, yes, but also make me a little bit sentimental. He wrote as if grownups couldn’t enjoy. He expressed ‘short-haired children,’ not ‘children,’ didn’t he? Even ‘long-haired children’ might had been lost in deep thought at the time…
    Anyway, I shouldn’t forget a sense of fun all the time. Thank you very much for sharing.

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