The following is an excerpt from a folksong.  The original uses wordplay with one of the many, many homophones in Japanese: the word “hana.” Although the Chinese characters used to write the two meanings are different, the words “nose” and “flower” are both pronounced “hana” in Japanese. Otafuku is a character often depicted on masks, she is a woman with full, bulging cheeks and a flat nose. In Japanese a nose like her’s is referred to as “hikui” or “low.” The wordplay then comes in when Otafuku declares that both herself and Omuro cherry blossoms are beloved regardless of her “low nose” and the trees’ “low flowers.” This is executed with the single phrase “hikui hana.” The Omuro-zakura also have the nickname “Otafuku-zakura” which references the comparison in this ditty.

「わたしゃお多福 御室の桜 鼻が低ても 人が好く」俗謡

I am Otafuku

like the cherry trees of Omuro

even with modest features [a flat nose/ low flowers]

loved by many

Omuro Cherry Blossoms

Two Poems by Yosa Buson

I mentioned in an earlier post that Ninnaji’s cherry blossoms have been referenced in poems, and in the next few posts I would like to share those poems along with some photos of the currently blooming flowers with you! I have offered a translation for all of the poems, but the are amateur attempts and do not compare to the originals. I only hope that they can offer those who do not read Japanese an idea of the character of the original poem.

The Omuro grove is close to full bloom now! If you have the opportunity, come see them before the petals fall!


「ねぶたさの 春は御室の 花よりぞ」与謝蕪村

Sleepy spring

 begins with

 Omuro’s flowers

「春に来て 御室を出るや 宵月夜」与謝蕪村

Arrive in spring

leave Omuro

an evening moon