「朝まだき嵐の山の寒ければ紅葉の錦着ぬ人ぞなき」
Recited by 藤原公任 Fujiwara no Kinō

 

“While it is still early in the morning, the wind storm blowing from the direction of Arashiyama was chilly. There aren’t anyone who is not wearing red fallen leaves as their scattered kimono brocade. Everyone’s bodies came to be covered by the fallen leaves.”

I briefly translated the modern Japanese interpretation provided in my source to describe the poem’s meanings.

The above poem that appeared in the Autumn part of the Shūi wakashū poem collection 拾遺和歌集・秋 is one of the most well-cited poetic reference of the Arashiyama meishō. The reason this poem was so well-cited is mainly due to the legacy of kōyō (紅葉) association it had left for its poetic successors, turning Arashiyama into a literary location well-known for the beauty of the autumn foliage. Even today, the mountain continues to serve its legacy as a meishō attracting thousands of tourists to visit its foliage in the fall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Historically, stemming from the Heian period through to the Muromachi period, Arashiyama, along with greater Kyoto was encompassed within the ancient Yamashiro province (山城国). The province not only housed the Heian imperial court during its prime years, it would also serve as the bakufu capital during the Asuka shogunate rule in the Muromachi period.

440px-Provinces_of_Japan-Yamashiro.svg
Map of Yamashiro Province in medieval Japan

In the modern context, Arashiyama lies in what is now known as West Kyoto (Nishikyo-ku of Kyoto city).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The literal meaning in the modern kanji of Arashiyama is read as “storm mountain” and this literal name also originated from a poem recorded in the Autumn shūi wakashū.

「問ふ人も今は嵐の山風に人待つ虫の声ぞ悲しき」
(拾遺集・秋・205・reciter unknown)

Besides fall foliage, the location has also been literarily associated with  月- the moon, 氷 – ice, and 郭公, the cuckoo bird.

After the medieval period, due to the following poem, Arashiyama also came to be associated with sakura and flowers. As indicated in the poem, since the time some of Yoshino mountain’s sakura trees were transplanted to Emperor Go-Saga’s (1242-1246) imperial villa, Kameyamadono 亀山殿 (modern Tenryūji 天竜寺), Arashiyama also came to be associated with sakura.

「亀山の仙洞に吉野山の桜をあまた侍りしが花の咲きけるを見て」
(春下・100・Emperor Go-Saga)

FH020008
Looming over the Katsura river – I was lucky to have been able to travel to Arashiyama when the sakura was in full bloom right on the riverbank a few blocks away from the ancient 亀山殿

In modern times, Arashiyama is continued to be used as a reference to flowers and fall foliages in poetic works such as haiku.

 

Works Cited

Hiroki, Kazuhito 廣木一人.  Utamakura jiten 歌枕辞典. Tōkyō: Tōkyōdō Shuppan, 2013. Print.

Katagiri, Yōichi. 片桐洋一.  Utamakura utakotoba jiten 歌枕歌ことば辞典. Tōkyō: Kasama Shoin, 1999. Print.

Kubota, Jun 久保田淳, and Akiko Baba馬場あきこ.  Utakotoba utamakura daijiten 歌ことば歌枕大辞典. Tōkyō: Kadokawa Shoten, 1999. Print.

Nemoto, Fumiko根本文子. “Rokugatsu ya mineni kumo oku arashiyama六月や峰に雲置くあらし山” [A Cloud covers the Arashiyama Mountaintop in June] Last modified, 2016. http://www.basho.jp/senjin/s0706-1/index.html (accessed March 04, 2016)

Feature Image: http://www.bitt-n.com/2013/07/31/autumn-in-kyoto-and-osaka/