Kokin poems frequently rely on specific images or other sense-derived objects (particularly smells and sounds), some of which only exist in the poetic realm, many of which have a reference in the phenomenal world, especially in "nature". Though many images can be found on the www using search engines by typing, for example, うめ or 梅 for plum blossoms, care needs to be taken because the Kokin era concept may not be exactly the same thing, or, very often, what is conventionally to be imaged when a particular image is evoked is relatively constrained. Thus, for example, in the case of plum, 梅、むめ, it is the white plum, not the red one that is normally what the Kokin poet means to evoke. Or, autumn leaves, 紅葉、もみぢ, which in Kokin times came to mean red autumn leaves refer to yellow autumn leaves in the Manyoshu. I've tried to select graphics and links to sites with the Kokin mentality (as best we understand it) in mind, but please remember not to import exactly what you see back to the Kokin period, assuming an equivalence. These links and such are just a place to start with your poetic imagination.

NOTE: All かな on this page uses 旧仮名遣い、きゅうかなづかい.


**** For the Japanese of all poems go to the Online Japanese Kokin , at the University of Virginia site.

To look for all types of dictionaries and databases (in Japanese) a good link page to start with is Large list of online dictionaries and other databases .

For birds Bird DB Uta (Jse) includes video clips for many, and is easy to navigate. Bird DB Hiraizumi's Birding Page (Jse) is OK, too, has many links, but is a bit old. Go in through the 野鳥図鑑 button, then search first by size. There are also many English language sites, some of which include birds around the world. Bird DB Naturesongs and Greg Kunkel's birdsongs are examples.

For other animals a good starting point is Animal Sounds DB Animal Sounds on the Net .

A so-so online database for plants is the Kyoto Shinbun Digital Shokubutsu En . Don't try searching by month, go in through the 植物検索 button.


SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 2 "sode hidite ..."


SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 3 "harugasumi ..."


SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 4 "yuki no uchi ni ..."


Japanese bush warbler (uguisu)

SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 5 "mume ga e ni ..."


SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 6 "haru tateba ..."


SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 9 "kasumi tachi ..."


(original pic here)

SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 18 "kasugano no ..."


(original page here)

(original page here -- includes pics of other seasonal "wild" edibles, listed by month)

SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 26 "aoyagi no ..."


Early spring willow (yagi, yanagi)

Riverside willow (yagi, yanagi), its typical growing environment

SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 29 "ochikochi no ..."


Lesser cuckoo (hototogisu) in its typically wooded environment
(original page here --
photographer expresses some doubt as to whether this is indeed a hototogisui but it is)

Common cuckoo (kakko), photo ゥ by Mike Danzenbaker (original page here)

SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 31 "harugasumi ..."


White-fronted geese, migrating (original page here)

SPRING BOOK ONE, nos. 49 - 68

  • Poems about cherry blossoms 桜、さくら・桜花、さくらばな・花、はな begin here and continue to the end of Book One. As mentioned in class, imagine the mountain cherry 山桜、やまざくら in nearly all cases for these poems. 山桜 leaf out at the same time that they bloom, so the effect is somewhat different. They grow assymetrically and mixed with other trees. Below is a closeup. There are pictures of the trees blooming in the hills under SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 60.

(link to website of sixty types of sakura--thanks for Vivian for this link)

SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 56 "miwataseba ..."


  • The idea behind this poem is to refresh the poetic metaphor of brocade 錦、にしき that had long been associated with autumn by turning the mind to the complex mix of colors that can be seen in spring as well. The poet describes the panorama of blooming cherry trees and freshly green willows. Below is a rather poor picture of an Edo period springtime brocaded kimono. The color set is wrong (since Edo colors are a world away from Heian color schemes), but the idea of complex patterns somewhat randomly mixing to good effect is the image you should have in mind. A number of other brocade examples, of obi, are here: nishiki_pic02.

Edo period brocade of spring
(link to original page)

SPRING BOOK ONE, no. 60 "mi-yoshino no ..."


  • As mentioned elsewhere, here is a so-so picture that shows the mix of mountain cherry trees and other forest trees for which Yoshino is still famous. The photo that had been added to this website under the Genji pages is a little better. Go here.