Category Archives: Teishi-in uta’awase

Teishi-in uta’awase

Shinpen kokka taikan no.10
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.20
Romanised TitleTeishi-in uta’awase
Translated TitleFormer Emperor Uda’s Poetry Contest
Alternative Title(s)
Date13/3 Engi 13 [22.4.913]
Extant Poems70
SponsorEmperor Uda 宇多天皇
Identifiable ParticipantsIse 伊勢; (Sakanoue no) Korenori 是則; (Ōshikōchi no) Mitsune 躬恒; (Ki no) Tsurayuki 貫之; Suekata 季方[1]; Uda 宇多; (Ōnakatomi no) Yorimoto 頼基 (886-958); (Fujiwara no) Okikaze 興風; Prince Kaneyuki 兼行王[2]; Masakata 雅固[3]
Topicsmid-spring; late spring; early summer; love

This is one of the most historicially significant poetry competitions because it is the first example we have of an uta’awase as a formal event, where a range of rituals and procedures took place, and poems were judges. We possess this information about it thanks to an extended preamble to the contest text, believed to have been written by Ise, describing who participated in it and how the contest was conducted.

As can be seen from the list of participants above, the majority of poems for the contest were composed by well-known and respected poets of the time. However, these poets did not, in fact, actually present their own work when the contest took place. This was done by a number of more senior nobles, as follows:

(Leader) Imperial Princess Kaishi 誨子内親王 (?-953)
Imperial Prince Atsuyoshi 敦慶親王 (888-930)
Imperial Prince Atsukata 敦固親王 (?-927)
Middle Counsellor (chūnagon 中納言) Fujiwara no Sadakata 藤原定方 (871-931)
Captain of the Outer Palace Guards, Left Division (saemon no kami 左衛門督) Fujiwara no Arizane 藤原有実 (847-914)
Minamoto no Muneyuki 源宗于 (?-939)
Taira no Yoshikaze 平好風 (dates unknown)[4]
(Leader) Imperial Princess Ishi (Yoriko) 依子内親王 (895-936)
Imperial Prince Atsumi 敦実親王 (893-967)
Imperial Prince Sadakazu 貞数親王 (875-916)
Prince Kanemi 兼覧王
Middle Counsellor (chūnagon 中納言) Minamoto no Noboru 源昇 (848-918)
Captain of the Outer Palace Guards, Right Division (uemon no kami 右衛門督) Fujiwara no Kiyotsura 藤原清貫[5]
Kiyomichi きよみち[6]

The judgements on the poems were provided by Uda himself, after Fujiwara no Tadafusa 藤原忠房 (?-929), who had been asked to perform the role, failed to attend.

The contest was originally intended to have ten rounds on each of its topics for a total of eighty poems, but as a result of the performance taking longer than expected, the second two topics on Summer and Love were curtailed to five rounds each.

[1]The identity of this poet is unclear. Hagitani (1963, 174) suggests he could have been the son of any one of a number of nobles: Prince Koga 興我王 (dates unknown); Fujiwara no Toshiyuki 藤原敏行 (?-901/07); Fujiwara no Sugane 藤原菅根 (856-908); or the younger brother of Taira no Atsuyuki 平篤行 (?-910).

[2]No such prince is known to have existed. Hagitani (1963, 174) suggests this is a miscopying of Prince Kanemi 兼覧王 (?-931) who is known as a poet at the time, and actually particpates in the contest.

[3]A son of Minamoto no Sada’ari 源定有 (dates unknown), one of the sons of Emperor Montoku (827-858; r. 850-858).

[4]The source text is not entirely clear here, so this may refer to Fujiwara no Yoshikaze 藤原好風 (dates unknown) instead.

[5]Hagitani (1963, 173) suggests that this may be a miscopying for Fujiwara no Kiyotsune 藤原清経 (846-915) as Kiyotsura held the position of Supernumerary Middle Counsellor (gonchūnagon 権中納言) and it would be odd for him not to be referred to with this title.

[6]The identity of this individual remains unknown.