To review: Moonrise gets later as the moon progresses through its phases. The new moon rises early in the morning, the first-quarter moon just before noon, the full moon early in the evening, and the waning moon later and later at night until it finally finds itself rising early in the morning as a new moon again and Bella and Edward can be together at last.

This fact, like all moon-related phenomena visible to the naked eye, has made its way into the Japanese poetic vocabulary:

  • Tachimachizuki 立待月 = "Stand-and-wait moon" = Moon on 17th day of lunar cycle (rises about 7:00)
  • Imachizuki 居待月 = "Sit-and-wait moon" = Moon on 18th day (rises about 8:00)
  • Nemachizuki 寝待月 or Fushimachizuki 臥待月 = "Lie-down-and-wait moon" = Moon on 19th day (rises about 9:00)
  • Fukemachizuki 更待月 = "Wait-until-the-middle-of-the-night moon" = Moon on 20th day (rises about 10:00)

Note that tachimachizuki is basically the same construction as tachimachi, the adverb spelt 忽ち (thanks to the kanbun influence) and meaning "right away" or "suddenly."

Also note that this set of words is probably quite old. We can make this hypothesis because the word used for the step between "stand" (tatsu) and "lie down" (neru) is iru, a verb which originally (1000+ years ago) meant "sit, be seated" but now generally just means "be, exist [+animate]." If the word imachizuki had been invented less than maybe 800 years ago we would really expect it to be suwarimachizuki, from suwaru, which is the currently popular word for "sit" that started to take over in the late Heian period IIRC).

And indeed if we search the Man'yōshū we find it used in a chōka attributed to the mysterious WAKAMIYA no Ayumaro 若宮年魚麻呂, about whom nothing is known.

海若者 霊寸物香 淡路嶋 中尓立置而 白浪乎 伊与尓廻之 座待月 開乃門従者 暮去者 塩乎令満 明去者 塩乎令于 塩左為能 浪乎恐美 淡路嶋礒隠居而 何時鴨 此夜乃将明跡 <侍>従尓 寐乃不勝宿者 瀧上乃 淺野之雉 開去歳 立動良之 率兒等 安倍而榜出牟 尓波母之頭氣師

海神は くすしきものか 淡路島 中に立て置きて 白波を 伊予に廻らし 居待月 明石の門ゆは 夕されば 潮を満たしめ 明けされば 潮を干しむ 潮騒の 波を畏み 淡路島 礒隠り居て いつしかも この夜の明けむと さもらふに 寐の寝かてねば 滝の上の 浅野の雉 明けぬとし 立ち騒くらしいざ子ども あへて漕ぎ出む 庭も静けし

watatumi ha/ kususiki mono ka/ ahadi-sima/ naka ni tate okite/ siranami wo/ iyo ni megurasi/ wimatiduki/ akasi no toyu ha/ yuhu sareba/ siho wo mitasime / ake sareba/ siho wo hisimu/ sihosawi no/ nami wo kasikomi/ ahadi-sima/ isogakuri wite/ itusikamo/ kono yo no akemu to/ samorafu ni/ i no nekateneba/ taki no uhe no/ asano no kigisi/ akenu to si/ tati sawaku rasi/ iza kodomo/ ahete kogi demu/ niha mo sidukesi

Ocean!   Old in mystery
Wide around the Isle   of Awaji, from which
Waves roll out,   white-tipped, to Iyo
Awaited sitting, moon-  bright straits of Akashi
You raise the tide   come twilight, and come
the dawn, you bring the tide   back down again
Fearful of the wavesounds   we fell upon the wide
shores of the Isle   of Awaji, where we wondered
if that night   would never end
Until, above the falls,   a pheasant called,
and then another, in the lowgrass   announcing the arrival
of the dawn. "Come!"   I cried, "Come, boys!
"Let us make haste! The waves   are wild no more!"

(Uh, in this poem imachizuki is just a pillow-word and doesn't actually mean anything.)

Popularity factor: 8


Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu, Matt!

In keeping with the moon theme, let's all sing:
"When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, hatsu-mōde..."

Your title is doing its own thang, not like the others.



Getting into my territory here a bit. While the moon's all over Japanese poetry from Nara-Kamakura (明月記 and all that), the stars tend not to be (with a very few highly romantic and stereotyped exceptions). (And even the astronomy in 明月記, which it is somewhat famous for, is cribbed from those that actually looked at the sky, as far as what I can see goes.) 斉藤国治 had in one of his books (『古天文学の道』 I think) a chapter on the one kana-nikki that mentioned the night sky much at all....

And then Edo hit and everybody was suddenly an expert about everything and misquoting Jesuits right and left. (To mischaracterize things. Damn, how do you read this stuff?)

(Actually, I wonder about those rising times, since they did fudge the start of the month both willingly and because they had to. If people were really sensitive to the moon, and Teika was from a statistical analysis of his diary--he loved him some izayoi no tsuki--then you'd think he'd be jumping all over the astronomers/astrologers when they got it wrong. Heaven knows just about everyone did. But since they were also onmyoji, I guess they could get their own back by overcharging for hanpei and exorcism rituals or the like. Or maybe, again, the official calendar wasn't as bad as Edo reformers, and Kornicki, made it out to be.)


On 居 for sit--you still find it in kanbun of the Kamakura Period, unless I'm seriously misremembering. Definitely into the 12th century, since I saw it the other day. It also had the "be in the location/be in residence" meaning by that time. But often in kanbun we're not completely sure how it was read--for all I know, they thought すわる and wrote 居 for some things. (Although now I kind of want to search for minimal pairs in kanbun nikki--is the variation personal, situational, semantic? Not that I really have time to search for such pairs. And I'd leave out Michinaga, who wrote 前 for 膳. I hate you, Michinaga.)

L.N. Hammer:

Heh. I've been working my way through the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (okay, yeah, Old Japanese is not the best way to learn modern idiom, but it keeps me entertained), and this week came across 有明 (Ariake) in #30, glossed as dawn on 16th day of the month. I'm currently skipping the glossing and rendering it as the setting full moon, assuming -- possibly over-optimistically -- that readers will know that happens at dawn.

Ah the glories of interpretation. (Did you know that it's very easy to translate Komachi as a valley girl? and that you will, if not go to hell, spend at least a few extra years on purgatory for doing this?)



I'm curious, are there also names for the moon depending on the month?

I can't recall why I was doing it, but several months ago I'd been researching the various names for the moon depending on cycle and season. There was quite an interesting mix, but only a rather Western selection.


Kotoyoro, Peter (and all). Thanks for the tip... very first word of the year misspelt, that's embarrassing.

MMS, venturing into your territory is the best way to get you to comment. Re 居-- yeah, I wasn't thinking about kanbun at all, good point. I've seen that character glossed "ざ(する)" (i.e. 座する) somewhere too, though I'm not sure whose gloss that was... (also, you saw it the other day in the 12th century? I <em>knew</em> you were a Connie Willis-style time-traveling historian.)

L.N., that is an interesting rendering. I have to confess though I didn't know much about the moon's behavior myself until I had to learn it to understand what all those Japanese poets were talking about. (And did you ever read Simon Cozens' translation of a few Pillow Book chapters into LJ-ese?)

Ali: Nothing that great comes to mind, except for the fact that a lot of the traditional Japanese month names translate to "something-moon" (as I suppose is the case in most cultures...). More later'

L.N. Hammer:

No, I hadn't seen the Pillow Blog. Hee! Works remarkably well.

As a translator, my usual philosophy is to incorporate as much glossing as possible into the result, insofar as this is compatible with a "good" artistic text in the target language. (Not that I'm anything but, at best, a semi-pro at translating.) Not that some things, such as place names and customs, pretty much will have to be glossed anyway, of course.

As for knowing about the moon, well, former astronomy minor here.



For those of us following along at home:




Comment season is closed.