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Imperial Couple introduces their poems at annual New Year ceremony

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, along with other members of the Imperial Family, appeared at the annual New Year Poetry Reading Ceremony at the Imperial Palace on Jan. 16 to present poems they composed.

This year's theme was poems about HIKARI (light)

Background of the Emperor's poem:

Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress visited Hyogo Prefecture in 2005 to attend the Memorial Ceremony to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. On that occasion Their Majesties conversed with a girl representing the families of the deceased, who presented them with some sunflower seeds called "Haruka's Sunflowers."* That year Their Majesties planted those seeds in the garden of the Imperial Residence, and ever since then, they have continued to grow those sunflowers every year, by planting the seeds taken after the flowering season. In this poem His Majesty describes how those sunflowers are thriving.

* "Haruka's Sunflowers" are sunflowers which bloomed the summer following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake at the site of the home of Haruka Kato, a sixth grade girl who lost her life in the earthquake. The local people collected the seeds and distributed them widely as a symbol of remembrance and reconstruction.

Below is the poem composed by Emperor Akihito:

These sunflowers grown

From seeds presented to us

How tall they now are

Their leaves spreading out widely

In the early summer light

(In Japanese)


Himawari no tane wa


Ha wo hiroge-yuku

Shoka no hikari ni


Background of the Empress's poem:

Her Majesty the Empress has now reached a venerable age, which at times makes her heart feel weary. One evening she noted that the roses in the rose garden of the Imperial residence were blooming beautifully, each bloom standing out clearly and three-dimensionally in the serene light of dusk, a sight which gave her a deep sense of peace. In this poem, Her Majesty reflects upon that moment of quiet joy and serenity when she resolved, for a while longer, to live out her remaining days, treasuring each day as it comes.

Below is the poem composed by Empress Michiko:

For a while longer

I resolve to live my life

Each garden rose

So serene and beautiful

In the waning light of dusk

(In Japanese)

Ima shibashi

Ikinamu to omou

Jakkou ni

Sono no sobi no

Mina utsukushiku

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