Sakimori-no-uta (Poetry of the Sakimori Guards) (防人歌)

Sakimori-no-uta is a group of poems written by the Sakimori guards who were deployed on the coast of Kyushu after Taika no Kaishin (The Great Reformation of the Taika Era).

Situations that the poetries were made

The duties of the Sakimori guards were harsh: They had to travel long distances from eastern Japan to Kyushu by themselves, and they had to procure their own food and arms while they were performing duties. There was no exemption from tax for them, so they lived in extremely poor conditions. Sakimori-no-uta was written in such a harsh situation.

Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves)

Sakimori-no-uta is included in Manyoshu. Some of the poems are in volumes 13 and 14, but the largest number of poems from Sakimori-no-uta is included in volume 20.


Waga tsuma ha Itaku koirashi Nomu mizuni Kagesae miete Yoni wasurarezu
(Translation) My wife must be missing me so much. I can see her shadow on the water I want to drink, so I can never forget her.

Karakoromu Suso ni toritsuki Naku kora wo Okiteso kinuya Hahanashi ni shite
(Translation) I left behind my children who were holding onto my robe and crying (because he was about to set out for Sakimori duty), although their mother was not even there for them.

[Original Japanese]