Category Archives: Tōgū miyasudokoro onshi kohako awase

Tōgū miyasudokoro onshi kohako awase

Shinpen kokka taikan no.
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.7
Romanised TitleTōgū miyasudokoro onshi kohako awase
Translated TitleLittle Box Match held by Yoshiko, Crown Prince Lady of the Bedchamber
Alternative Title(s)
DateSpring, Kanpyō 9 [897]
Extant Poems2
SponsorFujiwara no Yoshiko (Onshi) 藤原温子 (872-907)
Identifiable ParticipantsFujiwara no Yoshiko (Onshi) 藤原温子; Ise 伊勢
TopicsComb boxes (kushige 櫛笥)

There are no independent records of this contest, and our knowledge of it comes solely from the headnotes to two poems, one by Ise and one by the Shichijō Lady of the Bedchamber (shichijō miyasudokoro 七条御息所) which occur in three separate collections: Kokin rokujō 古今六帖, Fuboku wakashō 夫木和歌抄[1], and Ise-shū 伊勢集. These headnotes are not entirely in agreement, meaning that there is some doubt about the order in which the poems should be presented. In addition, as the Lady of the Bedchamber holding the contest is not referred to by name, there are a number of viable candidates. Hagitani (1963, 88-90) argues that Onshi (Yoshiko) is the most likely, given the content of the poems and the wider context, suggesting that Ise would have been unable to participate in the contest in person at this time as she would have just given birth to Uda’s son, Imperial Prince Yukinaka 行中親王 (897-909), and hence would have had to send her contribution to it.

Despite the dearth of materials, this contest is significant because it is the only surviving evidence that box matches were held as court entertainments. It is thus a further form of mono awase 物合, where objects were compared, and the poems served as an accompaniment to them, rather than the main focus of the event.

Hagitani (1963, 90) further suggests that another feature of the exchange between Yoshiko and Ise here, is that is is a rare moment where we see jealousy expressed, with Yoshiko resentful of the affection that Ise has been bestowed by Uda.

See the contest poems in Fubokushō.

See the contest poems in Ise-shū.

[1]Fuboku wakashō 夫木和歌抄 (‘The Sacred Tree Selection of Japanese Poetry’)(also known as Fubokushō, Fuboku wakashū 夫木和歌集, and Fubokushū 夫木集) is a personal poetry anthology compiled by Katsumata no Nagakiyo (dates unknown) in the late Kamakura period (around 1310). It contains over 17,000 post-Man’yō poems which were not selected for inclusion in imperial anthologies, by about 970 named poets.