Year-end Presentations of Waka Poems

2011, The Twenty-third Year of Heisei

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

On seeing the images of the tsunami of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Swelling and spreading
Body of blackish water
With a heavy heart
I watch it making its way
Across the Sendai Plain.
On visiting the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Enduring the pain
Of this, their great misfortune
Survivors live on
Touched and deeply moved am I
By the words of those people.
On visiting the city of Soma after the Great East Japan Earthquake
On tsunami alert
Out sailed the brave boats to sea
So glad am I
To see them moored to their posts
The boats that returned from sea.
On celebrating kiju, the 77th birthday, together
More than fifty years
Standing by me in support
My beloved, too,
Has reached seventy-seven,
A celebratory age.
Thinking of the people in temporary housing
'Tis cold once again
In the afflicted regions
My heart goes out to
The people facing winter
In temporary housing.
(Notes to His Majesty's Waka) :

Note to poem 1 :
In this poem His Majesty the Emperor describes how, concerned for the damage, He watched the disaster unfold on television at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.

Note to poem 2 :
In this poem His Majesty describes how He felt when Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress visited the afflicted areas and evacuation centres to console the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Note to poem 3 :
At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, in Soma city in Fukushima Prefecture, they evacuated the boats out to sea immediately after the quake, enabling many boats to return to port safely. In this poem His Majesty describes how He felt when he heard about this and saw the boats on Their Majesties' visit to Soma city on May 11th.

Note to poem 4 :
On October 20th Her Majesty the Empress celebrated Her 77th birthday, making both Their Majesties seventy-seven years old. In this poem His Majesty describes His feeling on reflecting on the many years spent with Her Majesty after their wedding.

Note to poem 5 :
In this poem His Majesty describes how, as the cold winter approaches again the regions afflicted by the earthquake, He is concerned for the well-being of the people living in temporary housing and other less than adequate conditions.

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

A letter
"I hope you're alive,
Mama, are you well?"
Writing thus far
The child has fallen asleep
Her face against the letter.
The sea
All still and quiet
As if nothing has happened
Lies the sea today
What and wherefore I wonder
Was that huge wave that day.
This spring
White, cross-shaped flowers
Blooming amid the dense grass
Signaling the end
Of spring when we mourn the loss
The death of the guiltless.
(Notes to Her Majesty's Waka) :

Note to poem 1 :
A four-year-old girl, whose parents and younger sister were swept away in the tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, was writing a letter to her mother and fell asleep, lying face down on the letter. Her Majesty was touched to see that photograph in the newspaper and composed this poem. The original letter was written all in hiragana and says, "To Mama. I hope you're alive. Are you well?"

Note to poem 2 :
On Their Majesties' visit to the afflicted areas to console the victims, Her Majesty saw the sea, now so calm as if nothing has happened. In this poem, She describes Her feeling of wonder about the tsunami which took the lives of so many people, destroying vast fields and towns.

Note to poem 3 :
In the garden of the Imperial Residence, white cross-shaped flowers of dokudami, Houttuynia cordata, bloom from late spring to early summer. In this poem Her Majesty describes how, on seeing the flowers, She reflected on this year's spring when many lives were lost to disaster.