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 (2012) : KISHI (shore)

His Majesty the Emperor
What was it like then
When the tsunami came to shore
I look down and wonder
Below me spreads the blue sea
Quiet and perfectly still.
Tsunami koshi
Toki no kishibe wa
Ikanarishi to
Miorosu umi wa
Aoku shizumaru

(Background of the poem)
On 6th May, 2011, Their Majesties visited Iwate Prefecture to console those afflicted by the Great East Japan Earthquake, flying by helicopter from Kamaishi to Miyako. In this poem His Majesty describes his impressions of seeing from above the region devastated by the tsunami.

Her Majesty the Empress
To stand there and wait
For someone to come back home
Through the four seasons
So no "shore" do we find
In the haiku compendium.
Kaerikuru wo
Tachite materu ni
Toki no naku
Kishi tou moji wo
Saijiki ni mizu

(Background of the poem)
As there is no entry for the word "kishi" in Saijiki, a compendium of seasonal words for haiku, Her Majesty has given her thought to the people who stand on the shores of different places, regardless of the season, waiting for someone's return. In this poem, Her Majesty seems to be describing her feelings not only for the families of those who went missing in the tsunami of 11th March, but also for those who repatriated from overseas after World War II, those who were detained in detention camps in Siberia, and people in various situations, either waiting for someone's return or whose return is awaited by someone, using the motif "kishi."

His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince
Before dawn as I stood on Lake Towada's shore,
I saw the peaks of Hakkoda dark in the distance.

(Background of the poem)
In this poem, His Imperial Highness recalls the time when, on a school trip to Northern Japan during his third year in Gakushuin Junior High School, he went down to the shore of Lake Towada early in the morning and gazed at the Hakkoda Mountain Range rising black in the still dark sky of dawn.

Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess
When we walked through the forest in early spring,
on the shore of Nida Numa Marsh,
myriads of meadow cabbage were in bloom.

(Background of the poem)
In late April of 1996, Their Imperial Highnesses visited the Tsuchiyu Hot Springs in Fukushima Prefecture.
When they walked along the hiking course in early spring, the forest opened to the Nida Numa Marsh where they could see thousands of beautiful meadow cabbages in full bloom. This poem recalls that scene.
Her Imperial Highness was deeply grieved by the damage due to the Great East Japan Earthquake last year, and so also had in mind the people of the affected areas and beautiful natural sites in Fukushima Prefecture while composing this poem.