Unaware that it protects
the ricefields in the hills,
seemingly useless – the scarecrow.
This waka of Zenmeester Dogen contains two kakekotoba (double meaning words) which give the poem additional meaning. The ricefields refer to the monks, who wear rice-field square clothes, the kesa; they are protected by the practice of zazen, the scarecrow. But besides scarecrow, the word kakashi also means: the city of monks, i.e. the monastery. The monastery too protects the monks in square clothes. This same word can also be read as the “master”, so: the master protects the monks.