Year-end Presentations of Waka Poems

2008, The Twentieth Year of Heisei

Year-end Presentation of Five Waka Poems by His Majesty the Emperor

The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace
The people of Edo
They too savored these fruit
Seedlings of fruit trees
We planted on the very ground
Where Edo Castle once stood.
On a visit to Gunma Prefecture to commemorate the Brazil-Japan Exchange Year and the Centennial of Japanese Emigration to Brazil
The people from Brazil
Working in the land of their fathers
Their ancestral land
We wish them all happiness
On a visit to Gunma Prefecture.
The Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake
Disaster has struck
With more missing as time passes
Grieved am I and pained
As We receive updates
Here in Kita-Akita.
Visiting the region affected by the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake
The village bulls
Evacuated by the quake
Have now returned
'Tis a joy to see them
Once again locking horns.
The Repair Room in the Office of the Shosoin Treasure House
Seeking to restore
The treasures from the past
What painstaking work
To study the fabrics with care
Each minute piece and speck.
(Notes to His Majesty's Waka) :

Note to poem 1 :
At His Majesty's suggestion, it was decided that fruit tree varieties of the Edo period which are no longer much cultivated should be planted on the site of the citadel of Edo Castle in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, which is open to the public, and some pear and citrus fruit saplings were planted by Their Majesties in 2008. This poem describes that occasion, how His Majesty thought of the fruit trees and the people of the past as he planted those saplings.

Note to poem 2 :
In April of 2008, which was the Brazil-Japan Exchange Year and the Centennial of Japanese Emigration to Brazil, Their Majesties visited Ota City and Oizumi-machi in Gunma Prefecture, where many Brazilian nationals of Japanese descent are working. In this poem, His Majesty expresses His wish that, just as Japanese emigrants to Brazil were accepted by the Brazilian people in the past, the Brazilians of Japanese descent now working in Japan will live their lives in happiness here.

Note to poem 3 :
In June 2008, the Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake struck on the morning of Their Majesties' departure for Akita Prefecture for the National Arbor Day Festival. The quake had also struck Akita Prefecture in the south. Receiving news that the Festival held in Kita-Akita, in northern Akita Prefecture, was to go ahead as planned, Their Majesties left Tokyo. But as Their Majesties wished those concerned to make disaster control their priority, the welcome at the airport by the Governor of Akita Prefecture, Speaker of the Prefectural Assembly, and the Chief of the Prefectural Police Headquarters was cancelled. Once in Akita, Their Majesties received reports of the disaster from time to time from the Commissioner-General of the National Police Agency who accompanied them. This poem describes His Majesty's grief as the magnitude of the disaster continued to unfold during Their Majesties' visit.

Note to poem 4 :
The Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake of 2004 devastated the Yamakoshi district of Nagaoka city, a village nestling in the mountains. The people who had evacuated have now returned and the traditional horn-locking of bulls has been resumed. Immediately after the quake in 2006, Their Majesties visited the stricken area, but Yamakoshi Village was not accessible at the time. In the autumn of 2008, Their Majesties visited Yamakoshi district and saw, among other things, the horn-locking practice of two bulls, which had been evacuated by helicopter and by land, respectively, and safely returned to the village. This poem describes His feelings on seeing the bulls practicing.

Note to poem 5 :
In the autumn of 2008, Their Majesties visited the Shosoin Treasure House in Nara, which holds mainly the belongings of Emperor Shomu from the mid-8th century, and in the Treasure House, temporarily open at the time, viewed the ongoing inspection and investigation work of the treasures. In the Repair Room, Their Majesties saw how those working there were carefully restoring the pieces of fabric so small that they were practically dust, in pursuit of the original form of the treasures retaining nothing of its original shape. This poem describes His Majesty's feelings at the time.

Year-end Presentation of Three Waka Poems by Her Majesty the Empress

The Olympic Games in Beijing
Words of victory
Did not come easily
"Totally speechless"
Was all he could say and I
Nodded-my heart went to him.
Visiting the former Yamakoshi Village
Four years after
That devastating earthquake
The bulls are now back
Here in Yamakoshi village
Obediently locking their horns.
The Shosoin Treasures
Sealed and reopened
Time and time again
'Tis such joy to behold
The treasures cared for and kept
From one generation to another.
(Notes to Her Majesty's Waka) :

Note to poem 1 :
At the Olympic Games in Beijing, Kosuke Kitajima won the men's 100-meter breaststroke final in World Record time. When asked how he felt at the interview immediately after the meet, all he could manage was, "I'm speechless." In this poem, Her Majesty expresses Her feeling on hearing those words, how She felt that indeed that must be the case and gave a big nod.

Note to poem 2 :
In September 2007, Their Majesties visited the Yamakoshi district of Nagaoka city which had been devastated by the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake four years ago to see how the reconstruction effort was progressing. Two calves which had been evacuated at the time of the earthquake had now returned to the village as young bulls and were practicing the traditional horn-locking. This poem describes the bulls locking their horns in a village now regaining its former peaceful life.

Note to poem 3 :
For many years the Imperial treasures of The Shosoin were carefully protected by the seal of the Emperor. In modern times, the seal of the Treasure House is opened for about two months every autumn for inspection and then resealed for safekeeping. In October, on the occasion of viewing the 60th Annual Exhibition of Shosoin Treasures at the Nara National Museum, Their Majesties visited the Shosoin Treasure House. In this poem, Her Majesty describes Her joy at seeing the Imperial treasures thus carefully kept-at times sealed and at times made public.