Moon at the Yamaki Mansion (Yamaki yakata no tsuki)

Kato Kagekado was a retainer of Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199 AD). In this episode from the Heike monogatari Yoritomo has sent Kagekado to the mansion of Taira no Kanetaka at Yamaki, with the mission to assassinate him. Kagedo tricks Kanetaka into striking at his helmet, and then kills him. (printed March 1886)

Koto Vortex I : Hiroshi Yoshimura

The koto (Japanese: 箏) is a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument derived from the Chinese zheng, and similar to the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum, and the Vietnamese đàn tranh. The koto is the national instrument of Japan. Koto are about 180 centimetres (71 in) length, and made from kiri wood (Paulownia tomentosa). They have 13…

spring water

I drink—listening to the sound of the water rising from the spring by Shoson Art by Tsutsui Toshimine, “Spring Water”

Cassia-tree moon (Tsuki no katsura)

Wu Gang (Gobetsu in japanese) of the Han Dynasty studied Taoist magical practices, but abused his power. As a punishment, he was forced eternally to cut the cassia trees on the moon. As soon as he cut them, they grew back again. Stevenson* shows a print in which Wu Gang wears a green, rather than…


deep within the dale wrapped in veils of evening mist sings the nightingale. —Shuoshi Art by Tsuchiya Koitsu, “Plum Nightingale” nightingale song:

Gravemarker moon (Sotoba no tsuki)

Ono no Komachi, a famous beauty and poetess of the 9th century, is seated on a fallen stupa (a gravemarker dedicated to Buddha). This may be the scene from the Noh play Sotoba Komachi (Stupa Komachi) in which two priests ask themselves: “Is this Komachi that once was a bright flower – Komachi the beautiful,…

the balmy spring day

Soothed by the serene Balminess of spring, I fell asleep on the green. —Toyojo Art by Hiroshige

雅楽 Gagaku

Gagaku (雅楽 gagaku?, ancient imperial court music and dances, lit. “elegant music”) is a type of Japanese classical music that has been performed at the Imperial Court in Kyoto for several centuries. This kind of music was first imported into Japan from China, however artistically it differs from the music of the corresponding Chinese form…