Kakinomoto no Hitomaro

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Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (from Ogura Hyakunin Isshu)

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (柿本 人麻呂; c. 662 - 710) was a Japanese poet of the Nara period. He was the most prominent of the Man'yōshū poets, in particular its volumes 1 and 2.

His poems included "In the sea of ivy clothed Iwami", "The Bay of Tsunu", and "I loved her like the leaves". There is a "Portrait of Hitomaro and His Waka Poem" by Ikeda Munemasa. In Preface for Kokin Wakashu, Ki no Tsurayuki called him Uta no Hijiri, a divine poet as same as Yamabe no Akahito. In Akashi, Hyogo there is Kakinomoto Jinja, a shrine for him. The shrine holds every year an utakai, waka party to devote him. The modern waka poets like Masaoka Shiki and Saito Mokichi considered him one of greatest poets in the history of Japanese literature.

His life is uncertain despite his prominence as a poet. His name doesn't appear in Nihonshoki nor in Zokunihongi (History of Japan II), all data about him comes from Manyoshu. His earliest waka with a fixed date was made in 680 under the reign of the Emperor Tenji. He served the Empress Jito and her successor the Emperor Mommu. He made waka in occasion for emperors. When he was aged around 50 years old, he was appointed a certain provincial office in Iwami province, today the western part of Shimane prefecture and died there. In 700 he made a waka mourning Princess Asuka. It was the last waka with a fixed date and some supposed Hitomaro died some years after this year. In 708 Zokunihongi reports Kakinomoto no Saru, another Kakinomoto clan man died and the Japanese thinker Umehara Takeshi supposed Saru (柿本佐留) and Hitomaro were identical (Saru is same to 猿, monkey at sound and it is supposed as an official blame to him).

The Kakinomoto clan from which he derived was a middle class noble clan and he was referred with Ason, the third highest title among eight. In earlier the clan served the court mainly with holding religious ceremony with singing and reciting poems. It had a deep relation to the Sarume clan whose legendary founder was Ameno Uzume, the dancer goddess. It supposed Hitomaro grew up in an artistic atmosphere.

In Heian period some anonymous waka in Manyoshu was attributed to Hitomaro. The waka attributed to Hitomaro in Hyakunin Isshu cumulated by Fujiwara no Teika was one of them.ja:柿本人麻呂

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