WKD - kakitsubata Summer Iris


summer again -
friends of two colors
side by side


kigo for mid-summer

"kakitsubata" 杜若 (かきつばた)
Iris laevigata. 燕子花
The literal meaning of the Chinese characters 燕子花 is
"Child of the Swallow", because the form of the flower looks like a baby swallow starting its first flight.

shiro kakitsubata 白かきつばた(しろかきつばた)
white kakitsubata iris


Here are more iris on our roadside:

Some Iris parks feature special bridges. See below for more.
Yatsuhashi means "eight bridges." 八橋
It is named for a location on the Azuma River renowned in Japanese literature, where the water branched into eight channels, each with its own bridge. It is also thought that on crooked bridges one can avoid evil spirits that flow in straight lines.
Look at them here:

Kakitsubata on a woodblock print from Kunisada, with a fair lady.


.......................................... Yatsuhashi

Iris and the Yatsuhashi bridge are the subject of many folding screens and other works of art.
Here is one from Oogata Koorin (Ogata Korin)
The subject of this work is drawn from the Eight Plank Bridge scene or Yatsuhashi of the Tale of Ise, and yet here both figures and the famous bridge have been eliminated, leaving only a symbolic representation of the theme in the form of a simple stand of iris. This effective handling of the classic theme reveals the painter's uniquw stance as both a decorative painter,and also an artist completely familiar with the essence of Chinese style painting.
Photo see below.

The name yatsuhashi comes from an incident in the 10th c.
Ise monogatari 伊勢物語
(Tales of Ise, trans. H. McCullough)
in which the story's protagonist and his companions stop to rest at a famous iris marsh traversed by an eight-planked bridge. In Edo period gardens, especially those built by daimyo (大名庭園 ), yatsuhashi were often built over iris marshes in an obvious reference to Ise monogatari.
A good example is found at Koishikawa Kourakuen 小石川後楽園, Tokyo.

................. Yatsuhashi as a kimono pattern

Why does Yatsuhashi have such a particular meaning?
A Japanese classical masterpiece, "The tales of Ise" tells us why.
A disappointed nobleman was relegated to a country in the east. On the way to his distant journey, he composed a tanka poem in which he expressed his deep sorrow of being apart far from his beautiful wife back in Kyoto with the motif of Kakitsubata and Yatsuhashi.
He must have longingly recalled her when he saw beautiful flowers of Kakitsubata walking along on Yatsuhashi.
This sad story was much more popular than other stories in "Tales of Ise" and became the base of a Japanese Noh play entitled "Kakitsubata".
One summer night, an ascetic monk, on the way to his journey to the east, met a beautiful Kakitsubata flower fairy. The fairy performed dances for the monk all the night through. The dance was so beautiful and fantastic that he could endure his loneliness.
No matter what is your nationality or how old you are, missing home or people whom you love in a distant land is an universal sentiment, isn't it?
This is a great link about stories behind the patterns of Japanese kimono.


source : Tokyo National Museum

Yatsuhashi makie raden suzuribako 八橋蒔絵螺鈿硯箱
box for writing utensils with yatsuhashi motive in laquer


Some family crests designs of this flower as base.


Iris (ayame) is a kigo in our database.


Here is a little something special.
A card game with flowers for each month
The Iris and the Yatsuhashi bridge are also featured.
The cards are divided into the twelve months of the year, incorporating the kachoo fuugetsu (four beauties of nature: flowers, birds, wind, and moon).

Genjuro's Hanafuda


 Matsuo Basho and the Kakitsubata 

Written at the home of Chisoku in Narumi 鳴海の知足亭
貞亨2年4月4日, 1685, fourth day, fourh lunar month
(now in May)

Three more haikai friends were invited apart from Basho.
A yatsuhashi bridge had been in the park and memories of the
Ise Monogatari 伊勢物語 are all around.

source : Milano-Cat

かきつばた 我に発句の おもいあり
ware ni hokku no omoi ari (omohi ari)

blue flag iris (-)
thoughts of a hokku
in my mind 


(Well, the kakitsubata are now in full bloom!
Anyway, I will take them and write a great hokku about it.
And also allude to the Ise Monogatari.
Yea, I will write a hokku to be proud of!)

source : itoyo/basho
source : www.hamajima.co.jp

In the poem of the Ise Monogatari (see below) the poet has
"thoughts of his wife" in his mind.
(Verb-forms of omou are used in both poems.)
So I choose to translate iris in singular.
The Japanese has a cut after line one.
Line 2 in Japanese does not work as a pivot line
(as the translation from Barnhill might suggest), since lines 2 and 3 belong together.

(BTW, an American friend later confirmed this:
"Your translation is accurate for American English too. 'Iris' is most often expressed in the singular unless the context is, for instance, iris species or stalks of irises. As an iris judge, this is the general parlance."
Thanks, Elaine.)

Ogata Korin - Yatsuhashi

The poem from Ise Monogatari


karakoromo kitsutsu narenishi tsuma shi areba
harubaru kinuru tabi o shi zo omou

in faraway places,
I recall the old days
wearing my Chinese-style garments
and being with my beloved wife... 

Ariwara no Narihira, Ise monogatari 9.
source : www.classical-japanese.net

source : www.ikkojin.net

. . . . .

blue flag irises
stirring in my mind
a hokku

Tr. Barnhill


. kakitsubata kataru mo tabi no hitotsu kana .
(summer) Iris laevigata. to talk about. Travelling

kakitsubata / nitari ya nitari / mizu no kage

arigataki / sugata ogaman / kakitsubata

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


stamp from 1955 for 500 Yen





Anonymous said...

What gorgeous irises you have, Gabi san! Is this the Japanese Iris -- this one: http://www.deserttropicals.com/Plants/Iridaceae/Iris_ensata.html ? Antway, it is absolutely lovely! :-)

Anonymous said...

that is adorable Gabi.
love it very much


Anonymous said...

A beautiful photo, Gabi--and a good haiga. Thanks for sharing it.
Again, you make us aware of what a beautiful place you live in.
Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Gabi, this is a terrific photo...
so warm and touching -- and your
haiku is just perfect for it!

As I gazed at these blooms I caught
another glimpse:

summer parade --
the baton twirler
takes a bow


Anonymous said...

And look, one has his arm .. I mean 'petal', around the other. :-)
A lovely haiku to go with this photo Gabi.


Anonymous said...

oh Gabi your two colors ...are so beautiful...

my camera is only a few months old and seeing your photographs makes me want a new one..

and you write such wonderful haiku ...
blessings to you

Gabi Greve said...

Your poem at first reading reminded me of my youth when a good friend of mine always seem to tan first in the summer and when we would stand side-by-side at the local swimming pool... we were friends of two colors!
Thank you, dear Gabi san, for bringing a joyful memory.


Thank you, Chibi san, for sharing this nice memory with us !


Gabi Greve said...

Flower Trump Game

is now in our kigo database.



Take a look in a leisurely moment !

Anonymous said...

where piss dribbles,
dribbles down...

shooben no tara-tara dare ya kakitsubata


by Issa, 1818

Tr. David Lanoue

Anonymous said...

even the horse's
hair is done up...

uma mo kami iite tatsu nari kakitsubata


by Issa, 1819

Tr. David Lanoue

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

arigataki sugata ogaman kakitsubata (KAKI tsubata)

I am greatful to see
his figure now -
Kakitsubata iris

for Yamazaki Sokan, one of the great Haikai masters

Legend knows that when the lord of Omi once visited the poet, who lived like a pauper and picked up some Kakitsubata iris, he called him GAKI tsubata and wrote

Sookan ga sugata o mireba GAKI tsubata

when I see
the figure of Sookan,
they are "Hungry Demon Iris"

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

at the temple
Shoogo-In 聖護院門跡 
Shogo-In Monzeki - Imperial temple
Yatsuhashi refers to 八橋検校 Yatsuhashi Kengyo (1614 - 1685). The hard bisquit has the form of a koto instrument.

- quote
Yatsuhashi Kengyō 八橋 検校
(1614–1685) was a Japanese musician and composer from Kyoto. The name Kengyō is an honorary title given to highly skilled blind musicians.

Yatsuhashi, who was born and died in Japan, was originally a player of the shamisen, but later learned the koto from a musician of the Japanese court. Originally restricted to the court, Yatsuhashi is credited as the first musician to introduce and teach the koto to general audiences. He is thus known as the "Father of Modern Koto."

He changed the limited selection of six pieces to a brand new style of koto music which he called kumi uta. Yatsuhashi changed the Tsukushi goto tunings, which were based on tunings used in gagaku, and with this change a new style of koto was born. He adapted the Hirajoshi scale and the Insen scale for the koto, from the shamisen repertoire.

Yatsuhashi is also credited as the composer of the important koto solo piece Rokudan-no-shirabe (六段の調, Music of Six Steps), although he may not actually have composed it himself.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !