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Hototogisu (Yamada)


This is a piece of genre Sokyoku in the style of Uta mono from the Yamada Ryû - 山田 School. Also Known As : Mountain Cuckoo. This piece was composed for Koto by the person Yamada Kengyo.

History (Tsuge Gen'ichi):

The hototogisu is one of several pieces of Japanese cuckoo. Since the song of the hototogisu traditionally signaled
the arrival of summer in Japan, it was eagerly awaited. The text of this piece likens the long-awaited first notes of the bird to the arrival of one's lover.

Yamada Kengyo's major compositions are mainly narrative in style and dramatic in character. However, he also wrote numerous light, lyrical pieces which touched the deepest sentiments of the people of his time. Hototogisu is the best
known of these.

The instrumental interlude (ainote), employs the first section (dan) of Rokudan no shirabe in the second koto part. This compositional device was later borrowed by several composers of the Yamada School.

Poem (translated by Tsuge Gen'ichi)

A summer night
Ends quickly -
Barely time
To see the face
Of the moon.
I regret parting with it.
Unable to sleep
In his silent absence
I repress my longing
By whispering words of patience
To my pillow.
If this man
Continues to bring me suffering
I will one day confess my resentment
But for now I will wait.
He is far above the clouds
On Mount Matsuchi (1).
How impatient I am now,
Like a gusty wind blowing in Sekiya (1).

Even on boat trip
Down the Ayase River (1),
Through pitch-black night
I listen for his call
Under rain-laden skies
Of the Fifth Month.

You cannot know
The anxiety of waiting.
In emulation of
Those ancient men
Of refined taste,
I wait through the night
In the dewy grasses
Of Shirahige Forest (1)
Hoping, always hoping
For a single song from you,

(1) Mt. Matsuchi, Sekiya Village, Ayase River and Shirahige Forest are all located in the basin of Sumida River. Mt. Matsuchi, in particular, was famous for its abundance of hototogisu.

Natsu no yo no
akuru ma hayami
karisome ni
miru hodo mo naki
tsukikage wo
oshimu to suredo
inegate no
makura ni kakotsu
hodo wo sae
taete shinobe to
uchiya tsurasa no
hito naraba
urami mo haten
ikumoi ni tooki
kokoro sekiya no
sato fuku kaze ni

Ame motsu sora no
yami wa ayase no
kawafune ni
ukine shitsutsu mo


matsu towa nare mo
shirahige no
mori no shitatsuyu
kusa-gasu ni
yo no miyabi-o no
kimi inatsu yowa ni
kawaranu wa
tada hitokoe no

Hototogisu (Yamada) appears on the following albums


Kou Aoki Reibo II

Sokyoku Jiuta Taikei 49
Nakanoshima Kin'ichi

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018