Ota Dokan

太田道灌(Ota Dokan) is known as famous castle planner samurai in Japanese history.

He built original Edo castle, the castle of Tokugawa.

He also built Iwatsuki castle, Iwatsuki where I participate for Samurai parade.


The statue of Ota Dokan and Hekishusai

Regarding Ota Dokan, I am very impressed two stories.

His hobby was hunting.

One day, when he was hunting, suddenly it rained.

He took shelter in one farmhouse.

And he requested 蓑(Mino, straw rain coat) to the daughter of farmhouse.

But, somehow, she handed the flower of Kerria to him.

Dokan couldn't understand this meaning and got angry and left.

Later, Dokan told this matter to a vassal.

The vassal answered

"My lord, I believe she wanted to say that she doesn't have a 蓑(Mino) politely to you."

"Why Kerra?"

"There is a poem in 後拾遺和歌集(Goshūi Wakashū, Later Collection of Gleanings of Japanese Poems, AD1086)"

七重八重 (Nanae yae)

花は咲けども(Hana wa sakedomo)

山吹の (Yamabukino)

実の一つだに(Mino hitotsudani)

なきぞ哀しき(Nakizo kanashiki)

By Prince Kaneaki(The son of the emperror Daigo, 60th emperror)


However plenty of Kerria was blooming,

I grieve that there is no seed into the flower.

蓑, mino(straw raincoat)
*The meaning of no seed is that there is no useful seed.


Kerra Japonica

Ota Dokan felt shame and shock very much.

Then, he started to study about the way of Japanese poem.

Later, Dokan sometime invited the daughter of farmer, Benizara to his castle for the party of poem reading. They became good friend each other.

After that, he left lot of beautiful poem.

Today, we know Ota dokan is one of the most poetic samurai.

This story is not fiction.

Actually, there is still the grave of Benizara in Shinjuku ward, Tokyo.

In Japan, so many citizen can read and write even since more than 1000 years ago.

There is a collection of Japanese poetry called 万葉集(Man'yōshū) which is edited on or around on AD759. Participants of this book was from Emperor to citizen.

Maybe you can imagine high literacy rate from the ancient times of Japanese.

There is another story,

Ota Dokan was assassinated.

When the assassin attacked Ota Dokan, the assassin knew that Ota Dokan is superior poet.

The assassin made and gave the first half of a poem.

This style is used for the party of poem reading in Japan.

Soon, injured Ota Dokan made and answered the last half of the poem to the assassin.

Then, he dead.

What a graceful assassination it is!

The death poem of Ota Dokan

かかる時 (kakarutoki)

さこそ命の (sakoso inochino)

惜しからめ (oshikarame)

かねてなき身と(kanete nakimito)

思い知らずば (omoi shirazuba)


I don't mourn losing my life, (First half)

Because I already had realized that the existence of me is just empty. (Last half)

When I recall these stories, I always confirm the way of Bugei is like this.

Therefore, I often give my "unskillful" poem to my buyu.