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 (2015) : HON (book)

His Majesty the Emperor
Entering the paddy field
In the gathering dusk
I place my sickle
At the root of the rice plant
Bearing a plentiful crop.
Yūyami no
Semaru ta ni iri
Ine no nemoto ni
Kama wo ategau

(Background of the poem)
Every year His Majesty the Emperor hand-sows seed-rice in the spring, transplants 200 rice seedlings in the paddy field on several separate occasions in early summer, and similarly hand-reaps the grain in the autumn. In this poem, His Majesty describes how He harvested the rice plants in the gathering dusk of autumn in the paddy field on the Imperial Palace Grounds.

(Part of this harvest is used when His Majesty makes an offering of rice plants with roots still attached to the Ise Grand Shrine on the occasion of the Kannamesai, a thanksgiving ritual when new crops are offered to the gods.)

Her Majesty the Empress
How many times
Did I find along the way
Comfort and solace
In the sheltering shade
Of a wood by the name of books.
Koshikata ni
Hon tou fumi no
Hayashi arite
Sono shitakage ni
Ikudo ikoishi

(Background of the poem)
Remembering that many times in the past She was able to find solace in books, just as we can find rest and relaxation under the shade of a tree, Her Majesty the Empress describes the sense of warmth and appreciation She feels towards books.

His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince
Vibrant and clear was the voice reading a story at the school in the mountain glen where autumn colors were deepening.

(Background of the poem)
His Imperial Highness visited Yamagata Prefecture last October, in order to attend the 38th National Tree-Care Festival. During his stay His Highness visited Kanayama Elementary School in Kanayama Town of Mogami County in Yamagata Prefecture. At the school His Highness heard a member of the local volunteer group, named "Fox Button", reading for the children a picture book titled, "The Red Demon Who Cried." This poem depicts his impression at that time.

Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess
As I turn the pages of the book given to me by my former tutor, fond memories of my young days at university return.

(Background of the poem)
Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess received a book written by her former respected tutor who taught her when she was a post graduate student of Oxford University.
As she turned the pages of the book a few pages at a time, she recalled with fond memories the days she spent at Oxford as a student.
She composed this poem to express such feelings.