「東下り 小野小町」 (Azumakudari Ono no Komachi)
“Eastward – Ono no Komachi”

Regrets – there is not one person in the world who does not have them. It is human nature to long for things we cannot have, and to always wonder the “what-ifs”, especially at a fork in the road – it is impossible not to wonder about the road not taken, to wonder what waited for them at the end of the pathway they never took. More than Yoshiko’s poem, I find Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken or Nothing Gold Can Stay more apt to apply to this episode, since the two poems both encapsulate the emotions faced by the characters – Narihira and Yoshiko more than Yasuhide. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Yasuhide is an inherently optimistic person; it was evident from last episode that when everything was said and done, Yasuhide was probably a happier person than Narihira was – he may not have had the status and influence his fellow poet had, but in the end Yasuhide walked away with a sense of self-worth and assuredness Narihira lacked; this episode seems to further indicate he has a sense of contentment with his life that is absent from Yoshiko and Narihira.

Age is a frightful thing for many, since not only does it represent physical restrictions and dwindling freedom, it also dampens mental aptitude and brings about an inevitable bout of regret and melancholy. As years pass by, people grow less passionate, as obstacles youth made invisible become clearer than ever with age and experience – it’s no longer so easy to love, or to live without abandon. A wiser, more cautious perspective replaces the previously vivacious one, and without a sense of contentment, firm roots that define their life at this time, people can face an existential crisis as they question their lives. This is particularly true for people who have had to choose between two equally important, great things – people make sacrifices all the time, but some sacrifices are ultimately bigger and hence have more impact.

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Poem of the Week: Hyakunin Isshu #9 by Ono no Komachi

Color of the flower
Has already faded away,
While in idle thoughts
My life passes vainly by,
As I watch the long rains fall

(Ogura Hyakunin Isshu)

To put it simply, the poem is about beauty fading away with old age. Whether or not that is the true theme is up for debate. Flowers are often used as symbols of beauty, and it’s certainly used in a similar way here, to denote the sheer transience of its color. But they’re also used to illustrate the frailty of life when pitted against time; more often than not, a flower in bloom is used to depict life in full swing, and the its brief lifespan is used to bolster the carpe diem motto (e.g. To The Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Kerrick). What the flower stands for in this poem however, is a fair question: is it simply beauty, or standing in as a symbol for something bigger, like the concept of life and time? The poem can seem very superficial if the image of beauty is taken at face value – as a flower wilts with time, beauty is but a brief vanity that disappears with age. However, if the idea of the flower’s beauty is to be taken as a person’s identity – what defines them – instead, the poem suddenly gains more gravitas in terms of impact and importance. It really depends on how deep one wants to dig into the poem, and what they perceive the flower’s color to mean.

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Full-length images: 2, 9, 10, 12, 22, 31, 34, 36.




    1. you just voiced my biggest concern. i am going to miss Narihira if this is his really really last episode.

      while i usually like to see a more chronological timeline, i like what UtaKoi does in showing Narihira in the different phases of his life; we’ve seen Narihira as the lover (ep1), the brother (ep1), the mentor (ep2), the friend (ep4) and lastly, the heartbroken guy (ep5). ignoring whether it’s faithful and true to actual history or not, i do like this liberal retelling/story-weaving of the man who is the main inspiration for Hikaru Genji in Genji Monogatari.

  1. You know I really wanted to like this anime especially since I LOVED chihaya furu. But there’s just too much lost in translation for me. After 4 episodes, I think I’m going to drop this one.

      1. This is a rare romanization for 회이팅 since the usual is Hwaiting. Or maybe he/she fused it to another variation of this word, 파이팅 (Fighting). This is will be the first time, for me, that a Korean (if he/she really is) romanized it into that.

  2. i really liked this episode. It was nice to see that Yoshiko had moments of doubt compared to the episode when she was so determined (and in my opinion, naive as well) about going to the palace and making a name for herself. Seeing her a bit lost really helped develop her as a character and it also made her more relatable since we’ve all felt lost at one point or another. This episode did a nice job of adding some humor into it too. Just when Yoshiko is crying, Narihira attacks her and the ensuing scene is just hilarious! I also enjoyed all of the poems that were in this episode! I thought they were appropriate and fit in nicely with the context of the episode.

  3. This ep reminds me of what I said to a friend earlier today lol

    As a human being, we crave for what we cannot have constantly. When faced with a choice we choose road 1 and live with the consequences but eventually somewhere down the road we’ll start wanting road 2. No one wants to admit it but it’s called selfish desire.

    Btw at least we know back in ep one when Narihara spoke to Takaiko about poetry being a source for freedom we now know he got it from Yasuhide. lol

    1. Yeah… I think everyone faces that crisis at least once in their lifetime. It’s impossible to avoid wondering “what if”.

      What got me the most about this ep has to be Narihira and his discussion of age, though, because it’s so true on so many levels.

      Narihira/Yasuhide bromance FTW.

  4. Thanks again Bakamochi.

    The poem really resonates with me, while not exactly about ruefully regretting things at old age but reflecting dreams and wishes we had when we were younger before reality hits.

    I especially like how they portray how these poets love their art of composing poetry. I wish all those literature and poetry in other cultures would be presented like this, in anime form or similar. What do you all think?

    1. Munesada becomes Monk Henjo as depicted in his poem…

      This episode brings laughter (when Narihira sneaked upon Yoshiko), sadness (as Yoshiko dreams about the choice she might had chosen), and melancholy for the regrets as one has in life.

      Age really does has an impact in choosing the way we live… and I think Munesada couldn’t bear himself to forget the love he has for Yoshiko than he choose to be a monk (in the last episode, he wasn’t yet a monk, according to the head he had: monks are bald).

      Yoshiko and Narihira… the limited choices in life. To choose a life in which they won’t have regrets is hard during the era. I sympathize with them, but then again, we cannot neither choose the era we to born nor to turn back time.


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