January 20, 2021

With Plum Blossoms Scent | The Sun is Peeking Out | On This Mountain Trail

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うめが()に のっと()()る 山路(やまじ)かな

With fragrant plum blossoms | the sun is peeking out | on this mountain trail

Key Haiku Terms

季語 kigo seasonal words - Within the poem, at least one word or phrase should symbolize one of the four seasons. 

切れ字 kireji cutting words - These are small words that often function as a placeholder so the verse has the right number of moras.  They also function to give a certain emotional or sentimental flavor to the poem.

うめがに のっとる 山路やまじかな

With Fragrant plum blossoms | the sun is peeking out | on this mountain trail


  • うめが() scent of plum flowers [うめ (Japanese apricot); が (archaic and literary for の (‘s)); () (fragrance; scent; smell) is literary for (かお)り]
  • に for; by; with (the scent of plum flowers)
  • のっと [onomatopoeia which is describing the way the sun is suddenly peeking itself out; not used commonly. にょっきり(と) would be the word for it in today’s Japanese, which sounds very casual; the use of のっと is very whimsical here; it’s possible Bashou is also thinking of 「祝詞(のりと)」 which is also pronounced のっと. 祝詞(のりと) is a Shinto ritual prayer. If so, it is a mixture of the whimsical and the sublime.]
  • ()()る (a mountain trail where) the sun is peeking out / coming out
  • 山路(やまじ) a mountain trail [(やま) (mountain); () (path; road)]
  • かな [archaic copula that adds emphasis and also ends the poem with a nuance of "wonder" or "awe". Often comes at the end, after a noun; can be used for self-speech (I wonder …)]


While walking on a mountain trail, as if being enticed by the scent of plum flowers, the sun came out above the mountain all of the sudden.


  • 朝早(あさはや)く early in the morning [(あさ) (morning); (はや)く adverbial form of (はや)い (early)]
  • 山道(やまみち) mountain trail; mountain path
  • (ある)いていると while (I) was walking; when (I) was walking [歩いて te-form of (ある)く (to walk); いる here indicates continuing action: “~ing”; と (when; while; if ~; upon ~) which always follows a verb in the dictionary form]
  • (うめ)(かお)り fragrance of plum flower [(うめ) (plum); (かお)り (fragrance; scent; aroma; smell)]
  • (さそ)われた was enticed; was lured [に (by); (さそ)われた from (さそ)われる (to be invited; to be enticed; to be seduced; to be lured), which is passive of (さそ)う (to invite; to induce; to invoke)]
  • かのように as if ~ [か indicates “uncertainty” or “vagueness” about the preceding phrase; ~ のよう (like ~; similar to ~; as if ~); に here serves just like “-ly” suffix in English.; note: the original meaning of よう is “way” or “condition”, but it means “like-ness” or “similar-ness” which acts like na-adjective]
  • (やま)()こうから over the mountain; beyond the mountain [(やま) (mountain); (の)()こう (beyond ~; the other side (of) ~); から (from)]
  • (きゅう)に all of the sudden; suddenly; unexpectedly
  • 朝日(あさひ) morning sun
  • (あらわ)れました appeared [from (あらわ)れる (to appear; to become visible)]

This verse was written at the end of Bashou’s life. It is early spring (the blossoming ume is the season word) while it is still quite cold. But the promise of the ume flowers and the sudden appearance of the sun gives us hope the (mountain) path will be welcoming.

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