Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

May 28, 2012

Nakoso Falls - Kinto (Walking Waka tracks)

Ozawa Pond in western Kyoto was laid out by the Emperor Saga and modeled on Lake Dongting in China. The 9th century emperor also built a retirement villa at the lakeside which was later transformed into Daikakuji Temple. Although the buildings are of later date, present-day Daikakuji retains the atmosphere of a shinden-style palace with large halls connected by covered corridors and with small courtyard gardens in between. The precious screens and Buddhist statues in its Treasure House are shown twice a year to visitors. The Nakoso Falls of the poem are a non-existing waterfall at Ozawa Pond.

Ozawa Pond, Sagano, Kyoto
[Ozawa Pond near Daikakuji Temple - Photo © Ad Blankestijn]

the waterfall's sound
ages ago
was stilled
but its very name flows on
and can still be heard 
taki no oto wa | taete hisashiku | narinuredo | na koso nagarete | nao kikoe kere
This waka (No. 55 in the Hyakunin Isshu collection) was written by the admired poet and critic Fujiwara Kinto (966-1041). It uses the conceit of a small waterfall at the side of Ozawa Pond that apparently had stopped flowing long before the poet's time - if it ever did - but which is still known by name. Also today only a few stones in the grass indicate where once its supposedly tumultuous waters rushed into the pond. Thanks to the poem, the dry waterfall was named "Nakoso" Falls, "na koso" meaning "its very name", a phrase from the poem.

The poem is probably a metaphor for the poet himself: long after he has died and become dry dust, thanks to his poems his name will still flow on (into this very post).

Daikakuji:Tel. 075-871-0071 
Hrs: 9:00-16:30 
Access: 15 min walk from Saga Arashiyama St on the Keifuku and Jr lines, 25 min from Hankyu Arashiyama St; there is also a direct bus from Kyoto St or Sanjo St 
Ozawa Pond and the Nakoso Waterfall are freely accessible (without paying the entrance fee to the temple) 
The poetry stone (kahi) stands near the waterfall.