School of Tanka 

Jane Reichhold  



Lesson Two
Japanese Uses of Tanka

One of the reasons tanka has survived is that the form has been so useful in so many ways. As we saw in the Kojiki, and the Nihon Shoki songs in the tanka form were added to the stories and legends of the history of Japan. First with these myths and then with the stories imagined and real – from the beginning the tanka form was combined with prose.
The Japanese became great diary writers and here too tanka were used to sum up a day or an experience. The shortness of the form, its ambiguity, as well as reverence for the beauty of poems of the past assured it a place in any educated person’s diary. From the diarists habit of writing tanka about the lovely places they visited, came the idea that one should make a pilgrimage to these places to inspire one’s own tanka poems.

In Old Japan the tanka was used as a scale to measure one's education, spiritual
development, degree of culture, sensitivity to feelings and nature. Tanka were used as communication between friends and lovers, especially among the educated and members of the imperial court.

Already in the 10th century it was the tanka form that was used in the Utakai Hijime – First Poetry Party of the Year. One of the customs of the court was to hold a poetry recital to begin a new year. Since the members of the court and the Imperial Family were all taught how to write a waka and continually practiced the art, it seemed natural that they should gather to share their poems.

However, this simple gathering developed into a formal state occasion in which the people reported on the state of nation to their gods. This custom continues to this day. Now, in addition to the poems of the Imperial Family, a contest is conducted that invites waka from all the Japanese on a chosen topic. From this outpouring ten poems are chosen and their authors are invited to the Utakai Hijime at the palace. Professional men are hired to read the poems in a sing-song chant reminiscent of Gregorian chants of the Catholic Church. The highpoint is when the poem of the Empress is chanted two times and the Emperor’s poem is chanted three times. The solemnity of the event gives one the impression that the old gods are present and listening.

With the arrival of plays in the 16th century, tanka was used in addition to the dialogue to indicate prayers or supplications or messages to the gods.
The fact that the emperor was not only a protector of the form but was also expected to be proficient in tanka writing continues in an unbroken line down to the present Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who, before they were crowned, had collected together a book of their tanka titled, Tomoshibi. This book was translated into English as Light by Marie Philomène and Masako Saito (Weatherhill: 1991).

Each year, on New Year's Day, all the members of the royal family write a tanka on the subject the emperor has specified. In an elaborate and ritualistic ceremony the poems are chanted before a selected group of government officials and guests. Commoners can also partake in this ceremony if their tanka have been picked as one of the ten selected from the several million entries by court-appointed judges. On this special day it will be intoned by a professional reader. It is customary that each judge shows his worth, and school of poetry, by having one of his poems chanted.

Last year (1993) the subject was sora [sky]. The crown prince's poem was:

I gaze with delight
As the flock of cranes take flight
Into the blue skies
The dream cherished in my heart
Since my boyhood has come true.

Weeks later Prince Naruhito's engagement to the now Princess Masako was officially announced but palace-watchers already knew from his tanka the prince was in love and that the lady had said yes.

From tanka's long history  the most famous use of the poetry form was as secret messages between lovers.
Arriving home in the morning, after having dallied with a lover all night, it became the custom of well-mannered persons of the Imperial Court to write an immediate thank-you note for the pleasures of the hospitality. Stylized into a convenient five lines of 5-7-5-7-7 "on" [sound units much shorter than syllables in English], the little poem expressing one's feelings were sent either in a special paper container, written on a fan, or knotted to a branch or stem of a single blossom. This was delivered to the lover by personal messenger who then was given something to drink along with his chance to flirt with the household staff. During this interval a responding tanka was to be written in reply which he would return to his master.

It was not an easy task for the writer, who had probably been either awake or engaged in strenuous activities all night, to write a verse that related, in some manner, to the previous note, that expressed (carefully) one's feelings, and which titillated enough to cause the sender to want to return again that evening. Added to this dilemma was the need to get the giggling servants back to work and the personal messenger on his way with a note so written that he wouldn't know exactly what was what but with the references and illusory comments the beloved would understand and appreciate.

In a society that accepted the fact that marriage vows were financial and social leaving affairs to trigger adrenalin and the arts, the chore of writing those morning-after notes was raised to an exercise in poetic genius. A woman who, after being wakened from a well-deserved sleep, could cope with brush, solid ink, and words, was assured of more lovers (and hence, more financial support) than the contortionist on the mattress.

One can  understand the development of a poetry form used to implore the favor of gods to the pleas of a lover. The reason for the need for an exchange of written messages between persons getting to know one another can be further explained by the very first uta/waka/tanka as in the sidebar of Lesson One.

In addition to the study of the poetics of this poem, one can see how important it was for a man to enclose a woman,! Enough to break out into poem writing!
Perhaps a snippet from The Tale of Genji written by Murasaki Shikibu in the beginning of the first millennium. This is taken from A String of Flowers Untied: Love Poems from The Tale of Genji in which Hatsue Kawamura and I translated the poems.

8 - 1
In spring the Cherry Blossom Festival was held for the court. Again Genji danced and again Fujitsubo was touched by seeing his performance. She thought about her relationship with him as she whispered to herself:

ōkata ni
hana no sugata wo
mi mashika ba
tsuyu mo kokoro no
oka re mashi yawa

if one could see flowers
as just an image
there would be less dew
or tears to cloud the heart

8 - 2
After the Cherry Festival ended and everyone had left or gone to bed, Genji was still looking for someone with whom to spend the night. While checking to see if the person he once had visited had left her door ajar, he hears a young woman's voice reciting a bit of a poem from an anthology, "What can compare with a misty moon of spring?" Genji approaches her in the dark and recites his poem to reassure her.

fukaki yo no
aware wo shiru mo
iru tsuki no
oboroge nara nu
chigiri tozo omou

deep in the night
it's a joy to see the moon
enter the mists
I think nothing is misty
about the plight we share

Oborage = a misty moon + vague or not clear.

8 - 3
After spending the night with the unknown girl, he asks her name. She responds in a soft, unsure voice.

uki mi yo ni
yagate kie naba
tazune temo
kusa no hara oba
towa ji toya omou

useless worldly self
which will vanish soon enough
if you look for it
within the fields of grass
or think to ask for me?


8 - 4
Genji tries again to find out to whom he should address his customary 'morning after' note by pointing out to her what can happen if she doesn't tell him.

izure zo to
tsuyu no yadori wo
waka mu ma ni
kozasa ga hara ni
kaze mokoso fuke


I wish to know
whose dewy lodge it is
before harsh winds
blow across the fields of
the tiny bamboo grasses

The implication of 'harsh winds' is that gossip or rumors about their affair would at once inform him of the woman's identity and probably then, cause the relationship to wither away.

8 - 5
The lady gives him her fan with a picture on it of a misty moon reflected on water. Later while Genji looks at it closely and muses on it owner he writes his own poem on the corner of the fan.

yo ni shira nu
kokochi koso sure
ariake no
tsuki no yukue wo
sora ni magae te

to have a feeling that shows
in the sky at dawn
yet I'm unable to find the
whereabouts of the wan moon


At times, it feels as if the stories were invented as excuses to show the exchanges of tanka between the talented cast of characters. However, it would be wrong to think of tanka only in this (perhaps more exciting) aspect.

So treasured became tanka - and so eager were men and women to improve their own works - that contests were regularly held for the purpose of writing, judging, and reading tanka. So necessary was a body of esteemed works to which one could refer, and be inspired, and borrow from when all else failed, that this was another reason the emperors decreed the collection of anthologies beginning around 700 AD.

Though tanka revels in the affairs of the heart, the form has also been used as well by Zen priests as witness to their satori experiences. Another custom has been the writing of a death poem either as haiku or tanka. To be able to write a poem in the last moments on earth that express one's whole philosophy was greatly admired and emulated.

People also turned to writing tanka when they were deeply touched by other emotions. This gamut of feelings could extend from seeing the leaves turn colors in autumn to the deep grief from the tragic loss of a loved one.

Buddhism also added to the tanka literature with the poems of aloneness and religious experiences written by monks and priests. Many talented persons, lacking a pension plan, became monks or nuns in order to live a life where they would be taken care of and would have time for contemplation and writing as well as to prepare themselves for death.

In Japan, today, there are over 1,000 active tanka clubs. Most of them have a periodical publishing their members' work and recruiting new persons to their method and style of writing as exemplified by their teacher-leader. Many of these leaders can trace their lineage back to famous tanka masters represented in the imperial anthologies.

I almost forgot to tell you about the card game Hyakunin Isshu. One hundred of the best tanka in 1235 were picked by Sadaiye Fujiwara. These were made into a card game that is traditionally played on New Year's Day. One half of each tanka is printed on a card. On the second card is the lower half of the tanka and the poet's name. These cards are spread out and people compete to see who can recognize and find the secong half of the poem. The game can be played alone or with one other person or even two teams. As you can see, there is an illustration of the poet, so one can match the cards as in old maid, but this is much more instructive because the better one knows these 100 poems the better the chance of getting the proper match.


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Utakai Hijime
First Poetry Party of the Year.

Wednesday January 14, 1998
Naturally I could not sleep late this morning, so I got up to wash my hair as an attempt to calm myself. While my hair dried, I wrote up yesterday's notes. I was too excited to eat breakfast, so Werner went down alone while I made a cup of tea for myself in the room. Afraid that during the ceremony I would forget to invoke the spirits of my grandparents, parents, aunts, children and friends, I wrote down all the names on a sheet of paper to put into my purse. In went the handkerchief with lace handmade by my Aunt Naola beside the invitation. We knew it would take longer for us to get dressed in these new strange clothes, but I had not counted on having to pin up my hair so many times! My hands were shaking so much the familiar movements simply did not come. Suddenly I wished I had had the foresight to hire a hair stylist and make-up artist (they were available in the hotel as this was a recognized place for weddings with chapels for Christian and Buddhist ceremonies, clothes rental -- the whole nine yards). We had allowed ourselves plenty of time, so I simply kept redoing my hair until my arms got tired and I gave up and accepted whatever. Everything fit perfectly. When we finished dressing, we stared at each other and laughed out loud with glee. Werner gathered up his white gloves, I grabbed up my peacock fan and velvet clutch bag as we swished out the door. Then we checked once more that we had our invitations with us. Down in the lobby Shukuya-san and the driver of the limousine were waiting for us. As photos of us were taken in the lobby -- I thought, "Well, if I die of excitement, at least this will be the last photo!"Shukuya-san had typed up translations of the 'rules' of the ceremony so we would know when to stand and when to sit and how to behave.

We went over these once more. Then we got into the big, black car (with the name "Royal Saloon") and were soon at the street that went along the moat around the Palace. When we went through the first checkpoint, the driver had Shukuya-san's poster card taped in the window, but the guard looked inside and saw that there were two more of us. We had to get out our big cards for the car and stick them to the window also. We drove across the plaza to the next check point where a tab was torn off our tickets. After a short drive among small pine trees, the car smoothly slid up under a portico before the broad entrance steps. As we went in the door we passed through rows of uniformed guards. Again one of our tickets was taken. We were directed to a table where my coat and Werner's hat was given up. We were so early we got the tags #8 and #9. Then we were led up more wide stairs. At the top we were directed by a row of men to enter the waiting room and to take a seat.

The room was about 50 feet wide and 100 feet long. The last 30 feet were curtained off with Chinese-styled screens. Behind them one could see tables covered with white cloths. In the waiting area were chairs in the French court style with golden brocade upholstery set all along the walls. Every ten - fifteen feet was a small table covered with a turquoise silk cloth on which stood a silver ashtray, a silver chest of Imperial cigarettes and silver lighter. Because none of us smoked, Shukuya-san encouraged us to take cigarettes as souvenirs. At first I was too shy to do so, because there were only about 10 of us in this one corner of the room. But as the other people arrived and I saw how the natives scarfed up the cigarettes, I got the courage to take a couple for us.

Many of the women wore kimono, tabi and geta (white socks like mittens split between the first and second toes and thongs on wooden platforms) with their hair styled in unfamiliar old patterns. The other women wore full-length dresses in pastel colors tailored like suits. The only really fancy long ball gown dress was worn by the author from Korea, but it looked to be a native, traditional garment. There was a famous Buddhist nun dressed in a beautiful orange brocade jacket and a famous priest in his best regalia. All the other men wore tuxedos and looked very distinguished. I was the only woman in black and in velvet. And the only one with a peacock fan...

We were introduced to several persons who spoke English, so the waiting time went very fast. Soon, a microphone was set up across the room and a man spoke some words and many people began to walk toward him. Shukuya-san translated, "Anyone who wanted to use the toilet could now go."My case was not urgent but I was eager to get up to walk around a bit, so I followed everyone through the sliding door on the opposite side of the room from where we had entered. This led to a glassed in corridor that ran the perimeter of the inner courtyard. Here there was unmarked deep snow. In one corner, on a small hill, was a plum tree, already in bloom. I walked very slowly down the hallway so I could just enjoy the plum tree and the serenity of the courtyard. I was one of the last women down the stairs and suddenly was unsure which door to use and where I should be going. Farther down the hallway were two small signs. One with a black top hat on it and farther down, one with a pink bow.

As I walked into the marble-covered stall, I couldn't believe what I was seeing as toilet. For the first time since being in Cyprus was I confronted with one of these porcelain troughs flat in the floor over which one is expected to stand and squat. Maybe in a kimono wearing no underwear one could manage, but not in a long straight skirt, pantyhose and heels. I gave up on the idea of relief and washed my hands and dabbed cool water on my forehead. At each of the mirrors was a silver hand mirror, silver brush and comb, tissues in a gold ruffled box and atomizers of perfume. It looked as if the Empress herself was expected here. All of the other ladies hurried out so quickly I did not let myself linger to enjoy the sights any longer. But in the hallway, I did slow down for the plum tree again.

Back in the waiting room, the intensity had increased along with the second-hand smoke. I was thankful to have and be able to use my fan. Soon another man came to the microphone and spoke for some minutes. Shukuya-san said he was giving the instructions which he had translated and printed out for us. Everyone was perched on the edges of their chairs glancing at watches.At precisely 10:10 another man came to the microphone and began to read off names. The persons were summoned according to their ages. Werner was #36, I was #71 and Shukuya-san was #82 - one of the last and youngest of the guests. We had to rise, bow to the rest of the guests and then walk across the room and out the sliding door that opened on the corridor around the courtyard.

The hallway was alive with footmen and palace watchers. In one group I recognized Mr. Nakajima, and his sweet smile gave me courage to stand up straighter and take smaller steps. The lines of men directed me to a door and there someone who knew my number (how I do not know) lead me in to my chair. It was like a wedding. Some guests were seated on one side, the others separated to the other side. I was in the last row on the right-hand side next to a Japanese woman I had met in the waiting room.

Here we spoke not a word but just sat perfectly still. I wondered where Werner was sitting and could not recognize any of the black suited backs before me. People filled up the row beside me. Several of the women held closed up fans in their gloved hands and wore small hats with veils that matched their dresses. I wondered how they knew to dress so properly.Across the way, to my left, the winners of the contest were led in a row with the oldest person first and the youngest, a girl dressed in her school uniform with white knee-socks and pigtails.

Then came the male chanters to their seats and beside them - the judges. They all sat down together.Suddenly there was an unknown whirring noise like a miracle taking place. Looking to my left I saw that a man had slid shut one of the 30 foot high paper doors. Then the other one was pulled shut. In the wall I was facing I could see banks of bright lights shining in my eyes. Below them was a glassed-in room where one could barely make out the lights on TV cameras and movements of photographers.

A man walked to a door just 10 feet to my right and knocked twice. And he walked away. Seconds later we could hear a similar clear tapping on the other side of the door. Everyone rose as the door swung open wide and the Emperor entered, followed by the Empress, then the Crown Prince and the rest of the Imperial Family. The last man and last woman to enter were carrying long narrow boxes covered with purple cloths held at the level of their foreheads.When everyone was in place the Emperor sat down, the rest of us followed his example, except for these two persons. They made a wide circle around behind the chairs to go back behind the huge embroidered purple screen which shielded the Emperor and Empress from the wall. Here I could see the lady remove the purple cloth from her box. She again raised it to the level of her forehead and in slow ceremonial steps, matching those of the man, they proceeded to march before the brocade-draped tables in front of the Emperor and Empress.After bowing they set the identical wooden boxes on the tables each next to a large tray. They bowed again and The Majesties nodded solemnly to them as they backed away, bowing again before they took their seats.

I was delighted that I had been given a seat that gave me such a clear view of the Emperor and Empress. The Emperor had a small smile on his face as if he was rather enjoying himself. The Empress was wearing a beautiful willow green brocade dress with a fitted top and straight skirt, except at the waist in the back it flowed out into a small train. I was touched that she let her hair be gray and dark without trying to dye it. Her face looked soft and gentle but with a touch of sadness that made one want to be very gentle with her.

All of the Princesses and Ladies-in-Waiting wore little hats matching the pastel colors of their slim, full-length dresses. In their white-gloved hands were folded fans which they held exactly alike -- the right hand on top and the left hand cupped underneath. Once they sat down, with every spine straight and six inches from the back of the chair, small smiles on each face, and they stayed that way without moving for the next hour and ten minutes.

Then the chanters rose from their seats, bowed to The Majesties and took their places at a table in the exact center of the room. A name was called out, a man stood. The reciter took a paper from a tray, laid it down and read the poem. One could tell the end of each 'line' because, not only was the syllable count correct, but he held the last vowel for as long as he physically could.

When he had recited the complete poem, the chanters then sang it together very much in the style of a Gregorian chant or the chanting of sutras. I got the feeling that the poem was read in one style for the humans gathered here and then chanted for the gods.

feeling the poetry
deepening in the voices
men chanting
The Pine Tree Room reaches out
to the god in every one

In autumn a call goes out through Japan for people to write their tanka on the given subject. This year the topic was "Michi" (the way, the path, the road, all the connotations these words have in English). From the 30,000 poems sent in, ten are chosen to be recited at this the Imperial New Year's Poetry Party. This ceremony was begun back at the turn of the millennium when the capitol was in Kyoto. After the Meiji Restoration of the Imperial Family in 1868, the custom was revived and since the end of the Second World War, has been held every year.

Slowly but surely the people of Japan are being included. At first, only members of the court were allowed to submit poems, but now any Japanese may enter. In 1936 the Poetry Party was broadcast on radio and since 1967 it has been televised.The youngest winner this year, the school girl was so charming as she stood there listening to her poem being read. She was so proud, so strong and sure in herself. Her face glistened with joy.

the purity of snow
in the Japanese Pine Tree Room
poems chanted
rise on the incense-scented air
lifted by a nation of hearts

As poem after poem was recited and then chanted, my feelings deepened that this was truly a ceremony led by the Emperor for the gods to officially let them know the hearts and wills of the people of Japan. Reverence and thankfulness rose up within me for the Japanese and their Imperial Household which was so instilled with the traditions that these oldest rites were preserved and followed yet today. That I could witness, in these days, a continuation of such basic needs being met by poetry, made me think seriously about the ways poetry is treated in the world. Have we forgotten the highest 'use' of poetry? Should poetry, and especially tanka, be dedicated to our 'highest' moments of being? Yet, are these not the situations in which our hearts are moved? But who is to say that an emotion is not worthy of being laid before our highest authority?

gates flung open
chanted into the scented air
heart words
in ancient patterned vessels
the peoples' messages of today

Then a name was read and the eldest of the Imperial Family rose, bowed to the Emperor, and stood unmoving as her poem was recited and chanted. She was so serene and majestic in her bearing, I felt myself sitting up straighter in my chair that was beginning to dig into my back.I begin to think of tanka's long association with the Imperial Court of Japan and wondered, since this association so strongly continues, if tanka, should be, even in a foreign language, slightly regal, decorous, elevated in diction and tone? Yet a hundred years ago, led by Shiki, there was started a 'revolution' to bring tanka 'down' closer to the speech and feelings of the average person on the street. But was this right? Do some aspects of our lives need to stop, stay the same, even if they become old-fashioned, in order to retain a special intent?

gods of poetry
protected and celebrated
by the hearts of state
once in a lifetime
I get to hear the elegance

I couldn't see the Crown Prince and I heard later that the Crown Princess did not attend because she was meeting with people for the preparations for the Winter Olympic Games. But I did have a clear view of the next part of the ceremony.One man stood from the table of chanters and proceeded to the table before the Empress. After bowing, his gloved hand lifted her folded poem (on the royal orange paper) from the long, thin box which the Lady-in-Waiting had placed on the table and transferred it to the large square tray. Lifting this to his forehead, he bowed and backed away to return to the table. The room was so quiet you could hear the crackling of the paper as he unfolded it. Her poem was, I could see, handwritten on a quarto of paper. He smoothed it and laid silver bars to hold it flat. The Empress rose, turned and bowed to the Emperor, and then faced straight ahead to the standing audience as her poem was recited and then chanted once in a melody and then repeated in a different melody. As the ringing of the men's voices completed their circling of the room and silence came back, the Empress turned to bow to the Emperor, her husband, and he looked at her briefly with a big smile on his face. It seemed as if his eyes were saying, "Great poem. I am so proud of you!" as he nodded to her.

from far away lands
comes the call to celebrate
a marriage --
the poets to their muses
The Japanese Imperial Family

I felt that in the midst of a national celebration of poetry, one shining second of the happiness of the Imperial Couple flashed forth. I was so touched. I realized that here was the highest goal of tanka poetry - to convey by expression - our love for every thing, person and situation.

poems by the subjects
poems by the lovely Empress
chanted to the stillness
if I were a goddess listening
I would have wept shining tears

Then the same man from the Chanters went to the Emperor, bowed and placed the Emperor's poem in the tray and carried it to the table where it was opened. As the Emperor stood everyone rose and listened to his poem being read in the reciting voice and then sung in three different melodies. I knew this was the last poem I would hear chanted today and I wanted the moment to continue forever; so these sounds could remain in my ears.

a pure heart
raises a voice to the gods
the chanted tanka
of the Imperial Family
and now I've heard the elegance

Holy Mount Fuji
comes closer to hear
poems chanted at
The New Year's Poetry Party
shine with the purity of snow

a year opens
the Pine Tree Room
Imperial poetry prayers
for the hearts of the people

Now came a ceremony of the Chamberlain refolding the poems and returning them to the tables before their Majesties and laying the poems in the long, thin, boxes. Again the Lady-in-Waiting and Male Attendant came forward and picked up the boxes and carried them again behind the screen. The purple cloths were again laid on top and ritually carried as they returned to their seats.

the ancient rite
marriage of a nation
to poetry
The New Year's Poetry Party
chants the heart-made vows

poets gathered
by the First Family of the land
our allegiance to the muses
with the grace of Their living

All the other poems on the chanters' table were returned to their tray and carried aside. The chanters resumed their seats. The Imperial Family rose as did the other attendees. As if saying, "Amen." the Emperor nodded as we all bowed and the Family filed out the opposite door. The big paper-covered doors were slid open and the people in the three remaining sections filed out into the hallway brilliant with the noonday light on the snowy courtyard.

At the doorway I again saw Mr. Nakajima and his relaxed smile was as broad as my most thankful one to him for all his help in making it possible for me to attend this ceremony.In the hallway I could see the blooming plum tree was directly in front of me. With a rush I realized that from now on, the plum tree for me would personify all the holy feelings I had experienced in this ceremony.As I turned the corner, I wondered where I ever got the courage to compose a tanka in English. It surely must be akin to writing 'Hail Mary' limericks. I had just experienced the highest purpose of poetry, probably the reason for the beginning of all poetry.

Again, I vowed to use my own small skills at poetry to express the best and most noble ideas of which I was worthy. If I ever could.The woman who had sat next to me, now began to talk to me in English about her trips to America. The Korean poet accidentally dropped her scarf right in our path and we stopped while footmen picked it up and draped it back around her shoulders. We proceeded slowly down the stairs and along the hallway, coming to a bare tree in the other corner, surely a cherry tree saving itself for another occasion.

I was again among the last to re-enter the waiting room at the curtained off end where the tables were. Now they were bright with place-settings in the Royal Orange-red lacquer. A cup held warm sake. Never had I been so glad for a sip of a warm comforting drink. On the small saucer where several dried fish, complete and minnow-sized. Seven dark ripe-olive looking fruits turned out to be sweet beans. Two slices of what looked to be turnips were actually pressed fish cakes. Folded into a sheet of white paper was a small plastic bag in which we were instructed to place the rest of the food on our dish to take home to our families. As I laboriously picked up each item with the chopsticks, the man at my side simply picked up his dish and dumped the goodies into the sack.

Also, on the table was a gift-tied box containing pancake-wrapped bean cakes impressed with the royal crest of the sixteen-sided chrysanthemum; also meant to be taken home. Along side of that was the printed program tied in purple with the poems which had been read in Japanese.

There was a rush of people getting their coats as names were called out to announce the arrival of the various limousines. Too soon Shukuya-san's name was repeated and we hastened to get into the car.

After passing through the last gate, the driver stopped the car and I saw that the other cars ahead of us, too, were stopped. It was traditional that people attending the party stop here by the moat wall to have their official photos taken.

As we followed the caravan of black cars through the park, I noticed the workers who had been trimming the small Japanese pines were having their lunch. Only then did I notice how individual each tree was even though they were all the same species. They were all pine trees of the same age but each one had its very own space and way of expressing its pine tree-ness. I felt I wanted to capture each one in a photograph, but the car was speeding so quickly out of the Palace Grounds.



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