Happy Day of the Chrysanthemum 2015

Hi Guys,

September 9th is the Day of the Chrysanthemum in traditional Japanese culture, one of the 5 sekku (節句) in calendar year.

To celebrate I wanted to share a couple poems about autumn chrysanthemums from the Kokin Wakashu poetry anthology. In the second a “Autumn” section, there are a surprising number of poems about chrysanthemums. Apparently it was a popular topic for courtiers in those days.

This poem, number 270 by Ki no Tomonori, captures the spirit of the Chrysanthemum Festival:

露ながら tsuyu nagara
折りてかざさん orite kazasan
菊の花 kiku no hana
老いせぬ秋の oisenu aki no
久しかるべく hisashikarubeku

Which Professor Rodd translates as:

To wear in my hair
I plucked a chrysanthemum
which dew still clinging
to it — oh may this present
autumn’s youth last forever.

And also poem 272, by Sugawara no Michizane (who later became the God of Learning):

秋風の akikaze no
吹上に立てる fukiage ni tateru
白菊は shiragiku wa
花かあらぬか hana ka aranu ka
浪の寄するか nami no yosuru ka

Which Professor Rodd translates as:

White chrysanthemums
standing in the rushing winds
on autumn beaches
at Fukiage — are they
blossoms, or are they breaking waves?

Have a fun, youthful Day of the Chrysanthemum and consider giving some of the ones you live. 🙂


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

4 thoughts on “Happy Day of the Chrysanthemum 2015”

  1. all of your posts count as encouragement for me to achieve a tipping point in my Japanese reading ability. 2 nights ago I finished a first run through Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji. One small step, I realize.


    1. That’s great. I never did finish Heisig (got to about 1300 characters) but it did provide useful skills. However there’s no replacement for reading Japanese texts. Once you do that, a whole new world opens up. 🙂

      Best of luck!


  2. I agree completely. I just came here after putting in a couple more hours of review, still a long way to go. I plan to do the Japanese language Test 5 Grammar course next. AND then I will be looking for reading material. If you have any suggestions please offer them. Also, as I probably mentioned I am religious reading hobbyist (what the heck is that :-)? So I hope to contribute something from my earnest studies of the Holy Qur’an. I largely abandoned that when I became serious about Heisig’s book. At the rate I am going, my goal was to finish 1st review by 10/1, to try to amaze my doubting family. But now that looks iffy…Really hard to track progress because the software daily dumps a new calculated quantity of vocab for review that piles on to what I hadn’t finished.


    1. Best of luck on the JLPT by the way. 🙂 I studied the holy Qur’an when I was younger, and I liked it very much. It has a nice flow and organization that is hard to find in some other religious books, and I liked how the Prophet often encouraged people to be “thinking men” and not be stupid.


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