Posts tagged Hideyoshi


I’ve been a bit busy with mysterious activities this weekend, so I thought I’d give you a quick glimpse of a new project I’ve been working on: Paralyze. It presents the translation of a text alongside the original and shows you how they relate by letting you mouse over a bit of text and highlighting the corresponding part of the other versions. For an example, here’s a translation of the Hideyoshi waka this blog is named after:

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Why Fireflies Sing

Fireflies Sing is intended for my ramblings on my research into various aspects of pre-Edo Japanese culture, poetry, language, and art. It is my hope that this will help others in the Society for Creative Anachronism who hail from these parts and also inform and entertain others with relevant interests or curiosity.

You may wonder why this blog is called Fireflies Sing. The name comes from a story told about Hosokawa Yūsai, a buke (samurai-class) poet recognized as an authority on waka (Japanese poems) during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568–1603).(WAC:119) At one point, he was participating in a renga session hosted by Jōha, called the last master of renga. (Renga is a linked verse form in which poets take turns composing stanzas.) One of the participants, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ended a stanza describing an autumn mountain scene with “naku hotaru”, which translates to “fireflies sing”. Another participant objected that fireflies make no noise, and Jōha immediately agreed. Yūsai, however, quoted from an ancient poem: “hotaru yori hoka naku mushi wa nashi” (“there are no insects singing other than fireflies”). Presented with such evidence from such a figure, Jōha had no choice but to concede the point, and the renga session continued smoothly. Yūsai later told Jōha privately that he had made up the “ancient poem”, but that keeping the gathering in a poetic mindset was more appropriate than putting truth above all else.

While I’m not going to fabricate sources to appease critics here, I do tend towards an imaginative mindset when doing research. Plus, it’s a fun story.


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