Poem by Kamo no Chōmei with Underpainting of Cherry Blossoms

Artist: Calligraphy by Hon'ami Kōetsu (Japanese, 1558–1637)

Artist: Underpainting attributed to Tawaraya Sōtatsu (Japanese, died ca. 1640)

Period: Momoyama period (1573–1615)

Date: dated 1606

Culture: Japan

Medium: Poem card (shikishi) mounted as a hanging scroll; ink, gold, and silver on paper

Dimensions: Overall: 7 15/16 x 7in. (20.2 x 17.8cm)
Overall with mounting: 53 x 14 3/4 in. (134.6 x 37.5 cm)
Overall with knobs: 53 x 16 1/2 in. (134.6 x 41.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.268.59


Nagamureba ni
mono omou aki ni
mata waga mi
hitotsu no mine no
matsu kaze

Gazing into the distance,
in a melancholy autumn mood,
is it for me alone that winds
howl through boughs of pines
on that solitary peak?

—Trans. John T. Carpenter

This poem page is one of the earliest verifiable works by the influential calligrapher Hon’ami Kōetsu. The poem, included in the anthology New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems (Shin kokin wakashū), is by the monk-poet Kamo no Chōmei (1153–1216), who was famous for his poems on cherry blossoms. Kōetsu and Tawaraya Sōtatsu produced many similar works on both individual sheets and handscrolls. Rarely do background motifs have any semantic or symbolic connection to the poems they accompany. Here, however, Kōetsu responded with élan to the decorated handscrolls and shikishi that Sōtatsu’s studio presented him to write upon.