In this Part 3, we present the Hinamatsuri poem in Wosite with romaji, in six charts. Before that, let’s discuss the multiplicity of meanings of key words in the story. After the charts, you’ll see a list of allographs to help you read the poem.
In the third segment of the poem below, we are told that the event marked the coming of age of Uhitini and Suhitini, the hutakami. The seijin-shiki is the modern day ceremony commemorating attainment of adulthood at age twenty. Kekkon-shiki is the wedding ceremony. In this story, both ceremonies take place on the same day.
Homonyms in the Hinamatsuri Poem
The Hinamatsuri poem is full of words with multiple meanings. For example, the word momo in the phrase, momo no hana. Is it “peach blossoms” or “hundreds of blossoms”? Both!
In a story that takes place later, Isanagi goes to the Yomi underworld in search of his wife Isanami. He encounters evil spirits, and hides behind a peach tree. He throws peaches at the evil spirits, and they retreat. So, peaches are said to protect from evil spirits.
In the ancient world, momo has great significance. It bears images of springtime, fertility, regeneration, abundance, and protection.
Thinking of momo as the peach fruit brings up the word, fruit, mi. The full impact of mi as fruit and female comes clearer from studying the word ki. So let us first take up ki. It means tree, the male, and spirit or energy. It also carries the image of vibrant energy. As ki is part of the word iki, breath, it implies life itself (see Post 5 about the vowel i ). As we know, working with ki is basic to the martial arts such as aikido. We also find it in the healing art known as reiki, the ki of universal spirit.
As the poem related, ki is the tree and the male; mi is the fruit and the female. Ki is in Isanagi’s name; mi is in Isanami’s.
The word mi has many meanings. They are: the number three, the fruit of a tree, the female, the body. And most importantly, mi is frequently seen even today as an extremely high honorific indicating great respect as for a kami.
Can you see how the middle three (fruit, female, and body) are related concepts? In a modern dictionary, mi is found to mean body or meat/flesh, and fruit; they are written with different kanji.
Mi as the numeral three is still used today in the traditional method of counting ( hi, hu, mi, yo, i, …). The number three may be connected to fruit, female, and body in an esoteric or cosmogenic way (see how Universe was created in other posts).
The use of mi as sacred and as honorific is perhaps unique to the Japanese tradition. It would be an interesting etymological research question. There may be a clue in the brief discussion of kami in Post 4.1. There it says that mi is a wind-like energy from cosmos that is balanced and sent down.
Combining mi and ki, we have on the one hand miki, sacred sake. Here, mi denotes the sacred, and ki implies importance to breath and life. Miki is also mi-ki, female-male. In the wedding ceremony, the female sips sake before the male. Remember, also, that the event took place on miki, the third night of the third month. They take three sips of sake. So there is the connection with three.
When the word order is reversed, ki-mi, the new word is kimi. This referred to Uhitini and Suhitini, the male and the female. Kimi is another name for the Amakami, where Amakami could be singular or plural. In this case, this is the first time when Amakami became considered plural as a married couple.
The poem in Wosite and romaji, in six segments
Allographs in this Verse
There are many allographs (alternate forms of ideograms) in Verse 265ff. Let us take them up in the order of appearance.
Line 265 yotugi no wo-kami
gi: ki with a slant mark means to pronounce it gi. It often means a male person.
wo: wo is written as the basic with a horizontal line, indicating the meaning of male.
Line 269 kawu-miya na
wu: This is written as basic, and is technically pronounced wu but is sometimes pronounced n depending on the context. Here, since it refers to the home of the kami, the proper pronunciation is n (for kan-miya, kami-miya).
Line 271 mitose noti
mi: Interesting that even though it means three, it is not written with the tick mark.
Line 273 momo no hana
ha: This form of ha indicates a plant (ha means leaf); here hana is blossom.
Line 273 huta-kami no na mo
hu: Written with a tick mark, this hu means the number two.
Line 274 momohinagi
mo: This looks rather like wo with m consonant overlaid, doesn’t it? It refers to a male.
gi: This appeared in line 265, and indicates a male person, which agrees with the allograph of mo.
Line 275 hito naru mae yo
hi: This allograph means hi as in person (hito).
Line 277 wo-kami ha ki
wo: Same as above, male.
Line 279 yayohi mi-ka
mi: This mi has a tick, indicating the numeral three.
Line 284 asu mi-asa
mi: Same as Chart 3).
a: This allograph has a small square instead of a dot. It is the formal version.
Line 284 samukawa ahiru
wa: This form refers to water (kawa means river).
a: Same as above.
Line 291 wo ha kamuri
wo: Same as above, male.
Line 294 yaso tutuki
ya: The tick means the number eight.
so: The tick means multiply by the number ten. Therefore yaso means eighty.
We hope that you have enjoyed learning about Hinamatsuri and the loving couple, Uhhitini and Suhitini. We have also learned the origin of some of the Japanese traditions. It is a marvel that these customs began thousands of years ago and are still practiced today.