Warrior (tsuwamono)

. Minamoto no Yoshitsune 源の義経 (1159 - 1189) .
Musashibo Benkei, see below

Brave Warrior (tsuwamono)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Please read the general discussion about SAMURAI here

Samurai, a Haiku Topic

強者 tsuwamono, a person, who is trained in the use of weapons and makes use of them. A brave and strong warrior.
yuukan na hito, 勇敢な人 (used in the Heian period)
strong warrior, mosa 猛者(もさ)

One of the most famous tsuwamono (Hercules) is maybe super-strong Benkei 弁慶, the monk-soldier who accompanied Yoshitsune during his whole life. See below.

The word SAMURAI the way we use it nowadays as also meaning a whole class of society became more popular in the Edo period.

Yoshitsune crossing a river by means of a bamboo
Toyohara Chikanobu 豊原周延 (1838-1912)

. Minamoto no Yoshitsune 源の義経 (1159 - 1189) .
- Introduction -
Shanaoo, Shanaō 遮那王 Shanao (his boyhood name at Kurama)
牛若丸 Ushiwakamaru
Hoogan 判官 Hogan (his court title)


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .
- - - Station 23 - Hiraizumi 平泉  - Oku no Hosomichi

natsukusa ya tsuwamono-domo ga yume no ato

source : itoyo/basho

This famous haiku gave rise to many discussions.

Here are some aspects, compiled by Larry Bole
Happy Haiku Forum

Basho uses a striking word for warriors:

"Tsuwamono (兵) - An old term for a soldier popularized by Matsuo Basho in his famous haiku. Literally meaning a strong person."

Here is something from online (written by Ad G. Blankestijn) comparing different translations of this haiku
(from Basho's Hosomichi "The Narrow Road...") :

Comparison - Five: Warrior's Dreams
Next we will look at one of the most famous haiku in the Narrow Road, written in Hiraizumi at the site where the destroyed capital of the Northern Fujiwara once stood. Nothing is left of all that splendor, but Basho may have been even more moved by the fact that this is where his favorite hero Yoshitsune was treacherously killed by the last Fujiwara lord. So the "warrior's dream" can both refer to the Fujiwara and Yoshitsune.

natsukusa ya tsuwamano-domo ga yume no ato

summer grass
of warrior's dreams
the aftermath

"ATO" in the last line is difficult to translate: it means "ruin," "trace" or "aftermath."

Yuasa again uses too many words:
"A thicket of summer grass / Is all that remains / Of the dreams and ambitions / Of ancient warriors."

Britton rhymes again:
"A mound of summer grass: / Are warrior's heroic deeds / Only dreams that pass?"

Keene has
"The summer grasses- / Of brave soldier's dreams / The aftermath," and

Sato translates
"Summer grass: where the warriors used to dream." McCullough is a bit weak here: "A dream of warriors, / and after dreaming is done, / the summer grasses."

Hamill has:
"Summer grasses: / all that remains of great soldier's / imperial dreams."
The "imperial" is not in the original and unjustified.

Important in the above is the connection between the dream and the grass, and the fact who is the dreamer. I think Sato is correct: the grass is the spot where the warrior's once used to dream ("used to" is also a nice solution for the awkward "aftermath").

Yuasa dramatizes too much by making the grass "all that remains" of the warrior's dreams, as does Hamill, and Britton is pure fantasy by making the heroic deeds, which are not in the original, into dreams.
Also McCullough writes about "a dream of warriors," and even repeats the dream in "after dreaming is done," which is not very beautiful.
source : daikoku/hyoron/shoseki

summer grasses--
traces of dreams
of ancient warriors

Tr. Shirane

He uses the line, "traces of dreams," as the title of his book on Basho.
He writes extensively about this haiku, of which I will only quote a little:

"The four successive heavy "o" syllables in 'tsuwamonodomo' (plural for warriors) suggest the ponderous march of warriors or the thunder of battle. As with most of Basho's noted poems, this hokku depends on polysemous key words: 'ato', which can mean "site," "aftermath," "trace," or "track," and 'yume', which can mean "dream," "ambition," or "glory." ...

"... The emphemerality, the dream-like nature of such "ambitions" (yume), is foreshadowed in the opening phrase of the prose passage ("in the space of a dream," 'issui no yume'), a reference to the Noh play 'Kantan', about a man (Rosei) who napped and dreamed a lifetime of glory and defeat while waiting for dinner. ..."
source and more : books.google.co.jp

Fuji no yuki Rosei ga yume o tsukasetari
. WKD : The Dream of Rosei 廬生 in Kantan 邯鄲.

Shirane then goes on to say that Basho "transfigured Hiraizumi into a warrior landscape, which other haikai poets such as Toorin and Gikuu (1663-1733) followed.

gunsen no chikara mo miezu tobu hotaru

the power of armies
no longer visible--
fireflies in the air


eiyuu no ato uenokose yuusanae

leave behind
the traces of the heroes!
planting rice seedlings at dusk


* * *

summer grass:
all that remains
of warriors' dreams

Tr. Barnhill

Here is how he translates the poem by Du Fu, from which Basho quotes the first two lines in "The Narrow Road," immediately preceding the haiku:

A Spring View

The nation broken, mountains and rivers remain;
spring at the old castle, the grasses are deep.
Lamenting the times, flowers bring forth tears;
resenting separation, birds startle the heart.

* * *

summer grass
old soldiers'
dream ruins

Tr. Nakamura Sakuo

I like your translation. It is one of the better ones I've read. It is similar to the translation by Cid Corman & Kamaike Susumu, (in your use of the word 'ruins') which goes:

summer grass
dreams' ruins

Sakuo san, your use of the phrase "old soldiers" reminds me of the ending of Douglas MacArthur's farewell speech he gave to the United States Congress when he retired:

"The world has turned over many times since I took the oath at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have all since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die;
they just fade away. And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good bye."

Compiled by Larry Bole.
natsugusa ya natsu-gusa ya

summer grasses
where stalwart soldiers
once dreamed a dream

Tr. Makoto Ueda

- - - - -

natsukusa なつくさ【夏草】 summer grass
- - - - -yahoo dictionary


Basho and His Translators by John Carley

natsugusa | ya || tsuwamonodomo | ga || yume | no | ato

A thicket of summer grass
Is all that remains
Of the dreams and ambitions
Of ancient warriors
Tr. - Yuasa 1966

To their eternal shame some commentators have sought to vilify Yuasa simply for using a quatrain to translate Basho's hokku. As we have already noted, the source text is written as a single undifferentiated column, and the assumption that the 5/7/5 metrical structure of the original must necessarily equate to three lines in English is questionable at best. Unless one is colossally ignorant, in which case it is self-evident.

Perhaps more reasonable is the objection that the quatrain tends to a more extended treatment, and that this might induce some padding of the text. In this case one might question whence that thicket of grass, or whether yume needs two words to convey it. And are those warriors really ancient?

In the case of thicket we know from the prose context (the Narrow Road ‘travelogue') that the poem is not set in some huge area of grassland. There are after all few steppes in Japan. However the word itself is not in the source text. As for yume: most translations do indeed use the single word dream, but it can also hold secondary associations of ambition or aspiration. And, while no direct word for ancient appears in the original, the word tsuwamonodomo is a high register and rather archaic term that implies a historic setting - a factor confirmed by the prose context.

So has Yuasa given us pure embellishment? Are his choices distortions? Or do they simply allow the English-language reader to experience something similar to the harmony and dignity of the source text?

A mound of summer grass:
Are warrior's heroic deeds
Only dreams that pass?
Tr. - Britton 1974

Let's all laugh at Lady Bouchier (aka Dorothy Britton) for her blatant versification. It is after all far more rational to render highly structured poetry as free verse. Isn't it?

Unlike Yuasa, Britton phrases her translation as a question, albeit rhetorical. This duality is possible because of the nature of the word ya which may convey both surprise and doubt - it indicates a response to a circumstance which ‘gives one pause'. Here we are in the presence of a fabled ‘cutting word' - a kireji, and Britton duly end-stops line one in order to generate outright juxtaposition between two phrases which, were it not for the colon, would be unrelated.

The thicket has now become a mound - although any such word is still absent from the source text - and it would seem that those ambitions have been realised, for we now have deeds. While this latter transformation may be a little problematic, the seemingly extraneous heroic is in fact rather better grounded: the possessive particle ga which applies to the departed protagonists is a literary usage which functions as an honorific. These were men worthy of respect.

summer grasses
where stalwart soldiers
once dreamed a dream
Tr. - Ueda 1992

Ueda's text looks like a haiku is supposed to: three lines; no indents; no capitalisation; no punctuation. In short - no frills.

Surprisingly, given the conventions which had begun to concretise around this time, there is no em dash or similar at the end of line one. Like Yuasa before him, Ueda chooses to voice his translation as a single phrase and the cutting word, which sets off one phrase from the other in the source text, is not directly emulated. Here Ueda supplies the conjunction where although it might be objected that this would more readily suggest that Basho had used the post-positional particle ni rather than the exclamatory ya.

The warriors have become mere soldiers, though fortified by a reasonable, if not directly attributable, adjective. Stalwart they might be, but this alone does little to explain why they should be involved in that most unprepossessing of contemporary activities - dreaming the dream. There is no verb in the source text: past, present or future.

a trace of the dreams
of warriors past
ah, the summer grass
Tr. - Carley 2010

Carley give us warriors past to convey the compound effect of the archaic tsuwamonodomo and the honorific ga.

As with all the translations we have seen so far there is a strong sense of an epoch almost forgotten. In the source text this derives in part from the word ato - an elusive noun which combines elements of mark, remainder, and location-of-past-occurrence. Carley uses the word trace and places it in a chain of dependencies which directly mirrors that of the original. Mirrors and inverts. For while the source text delivers summer-grass/warrior/dream/trace, the translation offers us trace/dream/warrior/summer-grass.

This translation presents us with a ‘soft' juxtaposition pivoting on the utterance ah which, along with the comma, seeks to emulate the location, form and effect of the cutting word ya. As with Britton, the translation offers an element of rhyme, albeit, in this case, partial.

* * * *

For all their variety of approach one thing which unites these four English texts is that they all give the word natsugusa as summer grass. This is a reasonable, but partial, translation. In fact kusa (here gusa, which forms the latter part of the compound with natsu (summer), describes grasses and wildflowers that flourish together. One might imagine the English word meadow stripped of its connotations of pasture.

Similarly, while three of the translations content themselves with dream, and the other adds ambition, the word yume carries strong connotations of illusion - a factor that surely adds to the bittersweet tone of the original poem, and which, perhaps, the English texts cannot quite so readily regenerate by word choice alone. The question is: how tightly does the English word dream connote illusion? Or rather: are these connotations identical in nature and degree to those intended by the poet?

In the case of angels and pin heads one might sooner join the angels than live long enough to count them. So with translations: it is easier to learn the language and read the poem in the original than it is to advance a watertight argument for the unassailability of a particular approach. The general reader must simply accept that a poem in translation is a second-hand coat: it has been worn before. But the poet forgets at his peril that it may have been substantially altered in order to fit its new owner. Or to suit prevailing fashion.

Let us return briefly to the fabulous kireji. Almost all contemporary definitions of the haiku form in English refer to a bipartite structure which pivots or turns on a syntactic disjuncture at the end of line one or two, frequently reinforced by an em dash, or similar. Oddly though, as we have seen above, though Basho duly uses the classic cutting word ya in the expected place, only two of the translations seek to emulate it directly. And while Britton locates it at the end of line one, in the form of a colon, Carley gives it at the head of line three thanks to an exclamation and comma.
source : John Carley


This hokku was written in memory of the famous poem by Du Fu (Tu Fu)
“Gazing at Spring” (Chun wang),

The state is smashed; rivers and hills remain.
The city turns to spring; grass and trees grow thick.
Moved by the times, flowers shed tears.
Resenting parting, birds stir the heart.
Beacon fires have stretched on for three months,
And a letter from home is worth ten thousand in gold.
I have made my hair even sparser from scratching -
Until it won't even support a hatpin.

As Bashō sees the inevitable working of time and the seasons on these old glories, covering them over with a carpet of summer grass, he is haunted by a couplet by the Chinese poet Du Fu. What has always intrigued me by this passage is the use Bashō makes of him. This is a spectacularly famous moment in a famous piece, in which the greatest of Japanese poets quotes the greatest of Chinese poets. Bashō’s remembrance of Du Fu’s lines here has guaranteed them a special place in the Japanese consciousness. Du Fu’s poem was already well-known, but it became even better known after this, until every Japanese high school student knows it: it has become one of the oldest clichés of the East Asian tradition.

With more about Basho and Du Fu

A Dream of Ruined Walls
source : Paul Rouzer

- - - - -

natsukusa ya tsuwamono-domo ga yume no ato
The cut marker YA is at the end of line 1.

In normal Japanese, this would read as one sentence:

natsukusa ga tsuwamano-domo no yume no ato

summer grass -
that's all that remains of
brave warriors' dreams

Tr. Gabi Greve

(I leave the particle OF dangling at the end of line 2, with respect to the Japanese GA,
natsukusa ya tsuwamano-domo ga
yume no ato

but use an inversion of the words in lines 2 and 3, since they belong together and it seems more natural in English:

natsukusa ya
tsuwamano-domo no yume no ato)

Going through all the translations and paraphrasing of this hokku by Basho,
I can only conclude that there is no right or wrong.
Each translator has his/her own vision about the hokku.

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


Yoshitsune and Benkei viewing Cherry Blossoms
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Yoshitsune and Shizuka Gozen at Yoshino
. Futari Shizuka 二人静 .

- - - - -

. Ushiwakamaru and Joruri Gozen 浄瑠璃御前 .
Yoruri Hime 浄瑠璃姫 Princess Joruri in Aichi

. Ushiwakamaru and Minatsuru-hime 皆鶴姫 .
at the temple 観音寺 Kannon-Ji in Kesennuma, Miyagi


Hiraizumi was the setting in which, centuries earlier, one of the great heroic tragedies of Japanese history had its bitter end. Centuries before the battle at Sekigahara, a prior, equally brutal civil war was fought between the forces led by the Taira and the Minamoto clans.

The stories of this time were collected in the epic "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike), and include many of Japan's most famous samurai legends. And among the great warriors on both sides, Minamoto Yoshitsune源の義経 was regarded as one of the most brilliant and brave.

At the height of the battle of Ichi-no-Tani Yoshitsune and his cavalry charged like a storm straight down a previously-thought impassable cliff and broke the enemy; at the battle of Yashima, Yoshitsune led his men in a daring headlong assault across a sea-channel at low tide to drive his enemy literally into the ocean; and at the final sea battle at Dan no Ura, Yoshitsune crushed the Taira utterly, the last lords of the Taira throwing themselves into the sea to avoid capture. Yoshitsune's bravery and skill won the civil war for the Minamoto. Yoshitsune's reward was betrayal.

Yoshitsune's lord and brother, Yoritomo, had become increasingly paranoid that Yoshitsune's prowess constituted a threat to Yoritomo's own rule. Yoshitsune protested his loyalty to the Minamoto family and to Yoritomo himself in the famous "Koshigoe Letter". But treason and slander won the day, and the brave Yoshitsune was forced to flee for his life. Pursued and hounded, Yoshitsune was finally cornered.

Even Yoshitsune's death was legendary: Yoshitsune calmly committed seppuku (samurai ritual suicide) in an interior room while his oldest friend, the giant warrior-monk Benkei (Japan's "Little John") single-handedly held the door against vastly outnumbering enemy troops. The place where Benkei and Yoshitsune made their final stand was Hiraizumi, and it was in this context that Basho composed a number of haiku, including the one above.

Basho is believed to have chosen the Japanese word 'natsukusa', in reference to the muggy, slimy, rank muck that summer's oppressive humidity and heat turn the grasses of spring into, an appropriate vision, perhaps, of the chaos and treachery of war.

By the time Basho visited Hiraizumi centuries later, those dank overgrown weeds were all that remained of the fortress in which Yoshitsune made his final stand. As Basho himself comments in the "Oku no Hosomichi:

"The select band of loyal retainers who entrenched themselves here in this High Fort and fought so desperately - their glorious deeds lasted but a moment, and now this spot is overgrown with grass...
We sat down upon our straw hats and wept, oblivious of the passing time."

The sentiments Basho expresses in the Haiku have deep meaning, even (especially!) today. But for me, there is a deeper truth contained in the haiku and the greater story it is a part of. Yoshitsune's betrayal was only made possible by the cowardice, greed, or perfidy of many petty lords and scheming officals who turned on Yoshitsune in order to benefit or protect their own positions. They are all forgotten.

But even as the poets and storytellers --like Basho-- mourned Yoshitsune's death, in doing so they kept his memory alive, such that today almost all Japanese know Benkei and Yoshitsune as Europeans know Leonidas at Thermopylae; and in that sense, Benkei and Yoshitsune have become immortal. The dreams of the brave live on.

© Jeff


Takadachi Gikei-Do Hall 高館・義経堂 in honor of Yoshitsune

source : www.motsuji.or.jp/gikeido

Worldwide use


Recken, maybe Helden.

Things found on the way

Benkei no chikaramochi 弁慶の力餅

Mochi rice cakes in memory of Benkei
Benkei gani 弁慶蟹(べんけいがに)"Benkei" crabs

A person sitting in the kotatsu all winter is called*
Kotatsu Benkei 炬燵弁慶, a kotatsu warrior


- ebay -


kigo for mid-summer

Yoshitsune ki 義経忌 Yoshitsune Memorial Day
(1159 – June 15, 1189)

kigo for early autumn

Benkeisoo 弁慶草 べんけいそう "Benkei plant", frosty morn
Sedum erythrostictum. Japanische Fetthenne
tsukikusa つきくさ、ikikusa いきくさ
chidomesoo 血止草(ちどめそう)"styptic plant"
nenashigusa 根無草(ねなしぐさ)"groundless rumour plant"
hachimansoo はちまん草(はちまんそう)
fukuresoo ふくれ草(ふくれそう). hamarenge はまれんげ
Fam. Crassulaceae
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


. Legends about Musashibo Benkei .
Benkeigoshi 弁慶格子 Benkei Grid Pattern
Musashiboo Benkei 武蔵坊弁慶 (? - 1189)

© Photo www.1059do.com/sa-4-105.html

Click HERE for some more photos !

tookei ya tsuwamonodomo no yume wa ima

this cockfight -
the dreams of ancient warriors
still alive

Gabi Greve, Autumn 2010

. Benkei Festival (Benkei matsuri )  
at Shrine Tokei Jinja, the Cockfight Shrine, in Tanabe, Kumano.

. otogibanashi dorei おとぎ話の土鈴
clay bells with motives of legends .


Some information compiled by Larry Bole:

"Haiku Painting," by Leon M. Zolbrod (Kodansha, 1982).

On the cover is part of a haiga by Buson of Benkai and Yoshitsune ['Benkei and Young Bull' ('Ushiwaka Benkei jigasan')], which is reproduced inside on a full page, a 12" by 7 1/2" reproduction.

The original is 48.7 cm by 25.9 cm, and is in the Itsuoo Art Museum, in Ikeda.

On the haiga is Buson's haiku:

setsu-gekka tsui-ni sanze-no chigiri kana

Snow, moon, and blossoms--
And then a pledge for three lives,
Faith and loyalty.

[Signed] By Mr. Purple-Fox Hut [two seals]

According to the notes in the book:
"In particular, it recalls the Noh play 'Benkei at the Bridge' ('Hashi Benkei'), which tells the story of how Yoshitsune, the future Minamoto military leader who was to be brilliant but ill-fated, met and defeated the warrior-monk Benkei in a hand-to-hand fight resembling that between Robin Hood and Little John, and this when Yoshitsune was only a boy of twelve or thirteen. The encounter forged a bond between the two, and Benkei went on loyally to serve Yoshitsune in good times and bad, till the moment of death in battle.

"Buson's Benkei has a grotesquely funny face, vaguely like that of the Beshimi mask in Noh, which on rare occasions may be used by an actor playing Benkei. He wears armor, carries a halberd, and moves in a lumbering gait. Slight and boyish and in a plain robe, Young Bull (Ushiwaka, Yoshitsune's boyhood name) walks in front.

Benkei's head is like a melon, Young Bull's like a pea. Benkei carries a paper lantern and a pair of wooden clogs tied to the staff of his halberd, as if spoofing military preparedness. The sheath of Young Bull's sword sticks out behind him like a fox's tail [actually furry in the painting], as though this mischievous animal had transformed itself into the form of the hero.

"The verse is partly derived from the Noh play and partly from a line of Chinese poetry by Po Chuu-i (772-846), 'In the season of snow, moon, and blossoms I think mostly of you. ..."

Oi mo tachi mo satsuki ni kazare kami-nobori
Altar [too] sword [too] May in decorate-[with] paper- streamers

Altar of Benkei,
Yoshitsune's sword! ... Oh, fly
the carp in May!

Tr. Henderson

This appears in "The Narrow Road ..." a little bit before "summer grass."

It's funny, but the rhyme has made this haiku of Basho's stick in my memory in a way that the other, more prosaic translations haven't.

David Barnhill translates this haiku as:

satchel and sword, too,
displayed for Fifth Month:
carp streamers

As Barnhill says about his "Translation Style and Philosophy" in his Introduction to "Basho's Haiku,"
"...my style of translation tends toward the literal. This is not because I am striving for a correct scholarly translation, although accuracy in this sense is certainly a virtue. Rather, I believe the distinctive power of the original poem is usually captured most fully by staying close to what the original poem says and how it says it."

As a reader, especially when encountering this haiku outside of "The Narrow Road...," I prefer Henderson's translating style of including the names of the two warriors, although they are not found in the original, rather than depending totally on a footnote, although a footnote, or some sort of explanation, is clearly required anyway.

One more translation, this one by Cid Corman & Kamaike Susumu:

chest too and sword
in May hoist high as
paper standards

They go on to offer a definition for 'oi': "wickerwork chest for Buddhist gear."

This translation suggests hoisting the chest and sword high as if they were equivalent to the carp streamers hoisted on poles to celebrate the Boys' Festival. In my opinion, an interesting idea not hinted at in the other translations I've read. Is it justifed by the original?

Happy Haiku Forum - Compiled by Larry Bole

The actual chest and sword are not hoisted, but flags with images of Benkei and his equipment.

© Akanezumiya
Boy's Day banner of Yoshitsune and Benkei, c. 1880

........................................ Quote from Akanezumiya

Ushiwaka-maru and Benkei

Many of the myths about Yoshitsune concern the battle of Ushiwaka-maru (the childhood name of Yoshitsune) and Saito Musashibo Benkei at the Gojo Bridge. This is one of the most popular tales in all Japanese history and figured largely in the oral history that sprung up after the Minamoto/ Taira conflict.

It was the subject of some of the earliest of the 14th century Noh performances and is still a popular Noh theme. Karakuri-ningyô, a form of mechanical puppet first introduced from China in the 7th century, were used in a Benkei and Ushiwaka-maru play before the Emperor Go-Hanazono in 1436. According to the Kanmon Gyoki the emperor was so impressed that he ordered public performances to entertain the people.

In 1620 the first of the Daishi karakuri chariots were developed and included a rendition of Ushiwaka-maru and Benkei at the Gojo Bridge. In the Boy's Day decorations, Ushiwaka-maru and Benkei made their appearance early. A pictorial book about Tango no Sekku celebrations in 1688 shows a kazari kabuto depicting the battle at Gojo Bridge.

The story is simple but its simplicity and the almost mythical stature of its two protagonists, Ushiwaka-maru (the child ox) and Benkei (a warrior-monk of gargantuan stature and ferocity), allowed for many adaptations and subtle shifts of focus which ensured its popularity and freshness for generations. Legend has it that it had been prophesied that if Benkei, a masterless fighter, captured 1,000 swords in combat, he would find his ultimate master; alternative readings say that he was collecting swords from which he would forge a blade of his own.

Having stationed himself on the Gojo Bridge on the outskirts of Kyoto, Benkei terrorized travellers on the bridge at night and was fast on his way to garnering 1,000 swords. One moonlit night, Ushiwaka-maru, then serving as a page at nearby Kurama Temple, crossed the bridge, apparently unconcerned by the looming threat of Benkei. A fight ensued in which the young and nimble Ushiwakamaru easily out-maneuvered the hulking Benkei with his arsenal of weapons strapped to his back and his swinging halberd. With only a fan and cloak, Ushiwaka-maru defeated the mighty Benkei who swore fealty to Ushiwaka-maru for the remainder of his days. Thus began the adventures of Benkei and Yoshitsune which led them through the heart of the Minamoto/Taira conflicts to Yoshitsune's suicide.

Boy's Day dolls often captured this scene at its climax; Ushiwaka-maru, fan in hand, springs from a bridge stanchion, deftly dodging the deadly halberd of Benkei. Young and lithe, Ushiwaka-maru is usually depicted with the tombo or "dragon-fly" hairstyle of court and temple pages. He has two false eyebrows marking his nobility. His robes are fine and under his coat can be seen the corselet Shikitae given to him by the abbot of Kurama Temple. At his hip he sports his un-drawn sword. Benkei, by contrast, is usually darker, reflecting his common birth. His features are exaggerated and fierce as he labors to corner the fleet-footed youth. Heavy black armor covers his chest and legs. Halberd is poised. The fight is on!

© Akanezumiya
Reference on Musha Ningyo Dolls

. WKD : Kurama Festivals 鞍馬山  

Benkei at the Gojo Bridge in Kyoto 京の五条の橋

. naginata 薙刀 / 長刀 / 眉尖刀 Japanese halberd .

naginata no kage oboro nari hashi no tsuki
- Masaoka Shiki


. Oniwakamaru 鬼若丸 and the carp .

Musashibo Benkei was called Oniwakamaru - "demon child, ogre child" in his youth.
His mother was pregnant for 18 months with him and when the baby was born, it has already hair and teeth.
He was so strong he could fight against 200 men and win.
Since he was such a problem, he was given to Western Part of the mountain monestery at Hieizan 比叡山西塔. At that time he was called 西塔鬼若丸 "Saito Oniwakamaru".

about 26 cm high
. Ichihara tsuchi ningyoo 市原土人形 clay dolls .
Ichihara, Gifu

. Shitakawara tsuchiningyoo 下川原土人形 Aomori.
Oniwakamaru 鬼若丸 and the carp


The Teeth and Claws of Buddhism
Warrior Monks, Benkei and others
by Mikael Adolphson
History of the Monk soldiers of Old Japan


about 30 cm high
made by 榊原庄松 Sakakibara Shoma, a disciple of the 禰宜田家 Negita family.

. Aichi 碧南大浜土人形  Ohama Clay Dolls .

Related words

***** . Hiraizumi Fujiwara Festival
平泉藤原祭 (ひらいずみふじわらまつり)

***** Samurai, a Haiku Topic

***** SETSUGEKKA, by Isamu Kurita, MOA

***** Carp Streamers (koinobori, Japan)


Benkei Namazu Dogu
弁慶なまづ道具 Benkei (as a namazu catfish)
with his seven tools (nanatsu dogu)

- source : rekihaku.ac.jp -

. Legends about Musashibo Benkei .

#benkei "yoshitsune "tsuwamono


Gabi Greve said...

BENKEI and the BELL at Temple Mii-Dera


Gabi Greve - WKD said...

natsukusa ya kanpei taisha Fuji Asama

summer grass -
the Imperial Shrine
Fuji Asama

Ozaki Meidoo 尾崎迷堂 Ozaki Meido (1891 - 1970)

Gabi Greve said...

Yoshitsune and 熊坂長範 Kumasaka Chohan -

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

oi mo tachi mo satsuki ni kazare kaminobori

The temple where Basho stayed when he wrote this poem was in possession of the famous sword of Minamoto no Yoshitsune and the satchel (bag) by Benkei.

- - - Station 14 - Sato Shoji, Satoshoji 佐藤庄司 旧跡 - - -

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Aikyoo-In 愛敬院 Aikyo-In
駒場滝不動尊 Komabataki Waterfall Fudo
滝入不動尊 / Komaba no taki 駒場の滝 Komaba Waterfall
55-5 Kamidakinishi, Marumori, Igu District, Miyagi 981-2116
Even Minamoto Yoshitsune is said to have passed here on his travels up North to Hiraizumi. His strong retainer-monk Benkei 弁慶 on a horse is said to have jumped straight over the waterfall, the hooves of his horse are still to be seen.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Ushiwakamaru and Minatsuru-hime 皆鶴姫 .
at the temple 観音寺 Kannon-Ji in Kesennuma, Miyagi

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

oshi-e 押し絵 / 押絵 raised cloth picture
押し絵 - 弁慶 Benkei

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Tono Monogatari - Iwate
遠野の義経 - 弁慶伝説 - Yoshitsune and Benkei in Tono
「義経の愛馬「小黒」の墓」Grave of Yoshitsune's beloved horse, "Little Black"

Anonymous said...

'Yume'/Dream Theme – Basho Translations
Learning Haiku by Sifting Basho Translations
Elaine Andre - © July, 2015
. . .
Here three generations of the Fujiwara clan passed as though in a dream. The great outer gates lay in ruins. Where Hidehira’s manor stood, rice fields grew. Only Mount Kinkei remained. I climbed the hill where Yoshitsune died; I saw the Kitakami, a broad stream flowing down through the Nambu Plain, the Koromo River circling Isumi Castle below the hill before joining Kitakami.
The ancient ruins of Yasuhira–––from the end of the Golden Era–––lie out beyond the Koromo Barrier, where they stood guard against the Ainu people. The faithful elite remained bound to the castle–––for all their valor, reduced to ordinary grass.
. . .

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Kaneuri Kichiji 金売吉次 / 吉次信高 / 橘次末春 / 金売り吉次
a a gold merchant of the Heian period, involved in trade with Ôshû Tohoku
. . . snip . . . When Ushiwaka tried to fight with the manager, the manager suddenly kneed in front of him and said ‘You are truly the lord Minamoto no Ushiwaka’. In fact, the manager named Kaneuri Kichiji was a servant of the lord Hidehira in Ôshû. He showed Ushiwaka a letter from his lord, which tells that Hidehira wanted to invite Ushiwaka to Ôshû to prepare for a war against Heike. Ushiwaka accepted the proposal and left for Ôshû, disguising himself as a mean road-horse man. Ushiwakamaru was 16 at that time.
Yumeyakata - historical tale of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan
Scene 18: Yoshitsune entering Hiraizumi
Yoshitsune was accompanied by a gold trader named Kaneuri Kichiji

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Nagoya karakuri ningyoo 名古屋 からくり人形 from Aichi
These two also appear on the festival float of the Toshogu Shrine.

as toys for children - Ushiwaka and Benkei 牛若 弁慶


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Kobayashi Issa

tsuwamono ga ashi no ato ari keshi no hana

in the footprints
of the warrior...

An anti-war poem? Certainly, Issa feels compassion for the fragile flowers trampled by the soldier. The symbolism is heavy. This haiku has the prescript, "North Wind" (haifû), which the editors of Issa zenshû describe as an allusion to an old poem; Issa zenshû (Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79) 2.141, note 6.
Shinji Ogawa believes that Issa might also be echoing Bashô's haiku in Oku no hosomichi ("Narrow Road to the Far Provinces"):
"summer grasses.../ all that remains/ of warriors' dreams."

Tr. and Comment - David Lanoue

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

comment by Chris Drake

"North Wind" may have originated as a folk song from Bei from around the 8th-7th c. BCE. Below is Legge's translation:

North Wind 北風

Cold blows the north wind ;
Thick falls the snow.
Ye who love and regard me,
Let us join hands and go together.
Is it a time for delay ?
The urgency is extreme !

The north wind whistles ;
The snow falls and drifts about.
Ye who love and regard me,
Let us join hands, and go away for ever.
Is it a time for delay ?
The urgency is extreme !

Nothing red is seen but foxes,
Nothing black but crows.
Ye who love and regard me,
Let us join hands, and go together in our carriages.
Is it a time for delay ?
The urgency is extreme !
The fifth line in each stanza literally says, "This place is full of lies and injustice," so Chinese commentators tend to interpret the poem as a slightly polished protest song sung by Bei people condemning their corrupt government.


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Benkeibashi 弁慶橋 Benkeibashi bridge
in Iwamotochō 岩本町 Iwamotocho, Edo
The bridge is rather steep and once you are on the top, there are two exits, one to the right and one to the left.
A text from 1732 mentions the difficult construction of this bridge, by the master carpenter named
Benkei Kozaemon 棟梁弁慶小左衛門.
In 赤坂見附 Akasaka Mitsuke there is the Benkeigoo 弁慶濠 Benkei Moat, also built by Kozaemon.
MORE about the bridge

Gabi Greve said...

Ushiwakamaru clay doll from Nagoya
from 野田末成 Noda Suenari

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Legend from Gunma, Ikaho
伊香保町 Ikaho town

chisen 地仙 the local saint

At the 温泉 hot spring of Ikaho there was a wood cutter, but nobody knew how old he was.
Some village elders claim he was a flag holder of Minamoto no Yoshitsune and came here on his way to The Northern Territory to fight the Ezo. To show his appreciation, Yoshitsune taught him how to use 灸 moxibustion, which Yoshitsune had learned from the Hermit Hitachibo Kaison. He used this medicine to become a long-living saint in the village.

Gabi Greve said...

Legends about Benkei
20 to explore
benkei no ashiato ベンケイの足あと footprints of Benkei
in 長岡市 Nagaoka city, Nagano

Gabi Greve said...

Legends about Benkei
collecting here