Imperial New Year’s Poetry Reading

On 12th January, the members of Imperial Family attended the Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime (Imperial New Year’s Poetry Reading) took place at Imperial Palace.

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

Text from Imperial Household Agency

Theme for the New Year’s Poetry Reading (2018) : GO (WORD)

His Majesty the Emperor

In the garden
Conversing with each other
On our morning walk
We come across in the woods
Blossoms of kinran* blooming.

(Background of the poem)
Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress take a stroll together in the garden of the Imperial Residence early every morning as part of Their daily routine. On Sundays, They go as far as the East Gardens and walk around the gardens of Ninomaru and Honmaru. In this poem, His Majesty recalls seeing kinran in the course of Their walk in the springtime in the grove of the Ninomaru garden.

*Kinran, or helleborine, Cephalanthera falcata, is a woodland orchid, with small yellow flowers, which blooms from mid-April to mid-May.

*Honmaru is the site of the main compound of the Edo Castle.

*Ninomaru is the site of another compound on the east side of Honmaru, where a garden was laid out, using surface soil brought from a grove in the suburbs of Tokyo. The soil contained the seeds and roots of plants, insect eggs and soil organisms, which explains the existence of kinran in the Ninomaru Grove.

Her Majesty the Empress

On Your shoulders
Pours the early spring sunlight
Softly and gently
O, such a heavy burden
You bore, saying so little.

(Background of the poem)
His Majesty the Emperor has devoted Himself over the years to pursuing His life as the symbol of the state, fulfilling His heavy responsibilities quietly as a matter of course, without saying much. In this poem, Her Majesty the Empress expresses how, beholding His Majesty standing in the warm sunlight of early spring, She reflected on the path His Majesty has followed until now.

His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince

I prayed for the happiness of the people
who had settled down in the reconstructed homes,
Listening to them talk of their lives after the disaster

(Background of the poem)
His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince, together with Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess, visited Yuriage Chuo Daiichi Danchi (the central apartment complex No.1) in the Yuriage area of Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, in November 2017. There, Their Imperial Highnesses received a briefing on the situation of the reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake, such as the progress in the construction of public housing for the disaster victims. Then they conversed with the people affected by the disaster who had moved into the new public housing.
His Imperial Highness was relieved to hear that the reconstruction work had made steady progress, and the environment for the disaster affected people to live in peace had been improving. This poem depicts His Highness’s thoughts over the hardships of the people who suffered from the disaster and his sincere prayer for the happiness of each of them in their days ahead.

Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess

How relieved was I
To hear hopeful words
Coming from the people
in their new homes in Yuriage

(Background of the poem)
Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess, together with His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince, visited the disaster affected areas in Miyagi prefecture last November. The Yuriage area in Natori City, which was severely damaged by the tsunami, was one of these places. During the visit, she felt relieved to hear words of hope from the people who had moved into new public housing where their living environment is improving, helping them to find new hope for the future.
This waka poem was composed to express her feelings at the time, recalling the hardships that many people had to endure after the great earthquake and tsunami, and wishing for further reconstruction of the area.

Photo from Nikkei and Mainichi


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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Imperial New Year’s Poetry Reading

  1. Melina Ong

    Nice poems. Be present at your own readings!

  2. Lovely and kind, thoughtful words by Their Majesties and Their Imperial Highnesses. The Emperor and Empress appear to have such a gentle love. The Crown Princely couple are deeply moved to see the reconstruction progress. ❤

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