Waka Poems by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Princess

Theme for the New Year's Poetry Reading (2011) : HA (leaf)

His Majesty the Emperor
Together we planted
In the celebratory year
Of our golden jubilee
The hot summer sun now shines
On the leaves of silver birches.
Isotose no
Iwai no toshi ni
Tomoni makishi
Shirakaba no ha ni
Atsuki hi no sasu

(Background of the poem)
In 2009, the year of Their Majesties' fiftieth wedding anniversary, His Majesty took some seeds from the silver birches, Betula platyphylla var. japonica, planted near the Imperial Residence, and planted the seeds, together with Her Majesty, on the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar. In this poem His Majesty describes how the hot summer sun was shining on the leaves of the seedlings which grew from those seeds.

Her Majesty the Empress
Though most leaves remain
On the branches, withered and dry,
Lo I behold
This day a single blossom
The first witch-hazel blooming.
Ohkata no
Kareha wa eda ni
Kyo mansaku no
Hana hitotsu saku

(Background of the poem)
Witch-hazel, Hamamelis mollis, spends the winter with most dead leaves still on its branches as if to protect the flower buds which will bloom in the spring. In this poem, Her Majesty expresses Her joy at seeing the first yellow blossom bloom on the tree early in the spring.

His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince
As I stood deep in the mountains in their autumn colors, I heard the wind rustling the leaves of the trees.

(Background of the poem)
This poem recalls how several autumns ago when His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince was climbing in the mountains near Tokyo, as the sun shone radiantly through the maples in their fall colors he heard the sound of the wind stirring the leaves of the trees.

Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess
The leaves of the ginkgo dancing in the breeze shine, each suffused all over with the autumn sun.

(Background of the poem)
This poem calls to mind how, when toward the end of last November Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess visited Gakushuin Primary School which Princess Aiko attends, she was deeply moved by the beautiful sight of the golden leaves of the tall ginkgo tree in the schoolyard fluttering in the breeze as they captured the autumn sun in their fall.