Ono no Komachi
Biography of Ono no Komachi
Ono no Komachi (c. 825—c. 900) was a famous Japanese waka poet, one of the Rokkasen—the Six best Waka poets of the early Heian period. She was noted as a rare beauty; Komachi is a symbol of a beautiful woman in Japan. She is also numbered as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.
Komachi sometimes features in later period literature, including five Noh plays: Sotoba Komachi, Sekidera Komachi, Komachi uta Arasoi, Komachi Sōshi and Kayo Komachi. These works tend to focus on her talent for waka and her love affairs and the vanity of a life spent indulging in romantic liaisons. Komachi's old age is also frequently portrayed: when she has lost her beauty, has been abandoned by her former lovers, and now regrets her life, wandering around as a lonely beggar woman — albeit still appreciated by young admirers of her poetry. This is a fictional description influenced by Buddhist thought and there may be no factual resemblance between this portrait and the historical reality.
In honor of her, the Akita Shinkansen is nicknamed Komachi. Also a variety of rice, Akita Komachi bears her name. One of her 31-syllable poems was chosen by Fujiwara no Teika as an entry in the very popular anthology Hyakunin Isshu.
Ono no Komachi is also the subject of a modern one-woman play, Call Me Komachi, produced by Lemon Tart Productions, written by Christie Nieman, directed by Miki Oikawa and starring Kaori Hamamoto. Call Me Komachi enjoyed successful seasons at various venues in Australia from 2003 to 2006. The play compares and parallels the lives of traditional Geisha with contemporary Japanese schoolgirls in "paid dating", known as enjo kōsai.
Ono no Komachi Poems
Was I Lost
Was I lost in thoughts of love When I closed my eyes? He Appeared, and Had I known it for a dream
I Long For Him Most
I long for him most during these long moonless nights. I lie awake, hot, the growing fires of passion
The Colour Of This Flower
The colour of this flower Has already faded away, While in idle thoughts My life goes by,
Upon The Path Of Dreams
Upon the path of dreams My feet don't rest, Constantly trailing to you, yet In reality, a single glimpse:
Fisher folk live In villages; where I know not, yet Constant complaints to see the shore
Blossoms blooming Yet making no seed are The sea-god's Garlanded
As I Dozed
As I dozed The man I love Appeared, so
Without end Do I think of you and so Come to me at night. For on the path of dreams at least,
In reality You must do it, I suppose; But even in my dreams, too, Hiding from prying eyes,
When My Desire
When my desire grows too fierce I wear my bedclothes inside out,
In This World
In this world the living grow fewer, the dead increase how much longer
Visible colours (Invisible passions) Fade from This world's Human hearts
The Autumn Wind
The autumn wind (In his ennui he blew cold) Across the rice ears, (On our love) So sad; Empty of grain (My heart desolate)
How hollow Are tears upon a sleeve In gemlets; For mine cannot be dammed
Fisher folk live
In villages; where
I know not, yet
Constant complaints to see the shore
Are all he seems to say.