Lady Kii’s “Coquettish waves” (Hyakunin Isshu #72)

By Lady Kii (Yushi Naishinno-ke no Kii, 1087-1109)
I’ve heard the sound
Of Takeshi Beach’s
Coquettish waves—
And I will not venture
Lest I wet my sleeves
Original Japanese
Yushi Naishinno-ke no Kii
Oto ni kiku
Takashi no hama no
Adanami wa
Kakeji ya sode no
Nure mo koso sure
Literal Notes
Sound hear [i.e., know their fame]
Takashi ’s beach ’s
[Vain/futile/foe/enemy/coquettish-woman] wave
[Soar/fly/run/dash/wage/risk/gamble] no and sleeve
Wet this/indeed do/be
Takashi Beach is near Osaka and was famous for its waves. “Ada” means “vain/futile” but can also be “coquettish woman,” thus a wordplay symbolizing flirtation. However, the waves come and go, thus her suitor is not reliable. Sleeves are an emblem of love and wetting the sleeves is a common Japanese poetic symbol for wiping off the tears.

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