Category Archives: Uda-in uta’awase

Uda-in uta’awase

Shinpen kokka taikan no.7
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.15
Romanised TitleUda-in uta’awase
Translated TitleFormer Emperor Uda’s Poetry Contest
Alternative Title(s)Uda-in mono no na uta’awase 宇多院物名歌合 (‘Acrostics Poetry Contest held by Former Emperor Uda’)
DateBefore Engi 5 [905]
Extant Poems24
SponsorEmperor Uda 宇多天皇
Identifiable Participants(Ki no) Tsurayuki 貫之; (Ki no) Tomonori 友則; (Mibu no) Tadamine 忠岑; (Taira no) Sadafun 定文 (?-923); (Fujiwara no) Okikaze 興風; (Kiyowara no) Fukayabu 深養父
Topicsthe Day of the Rat (ne no hi 子日); spring blossom (haru no hana 春花); plum blossom (ume no hana 梅花); scarlet plum blossom (kōbai no hana 紅梅花); cherry blossom (sakura no hana 桜花); kaniwa cherry blossom (kaniwazakura no hana 樺桜花); kerria blossom (yamabuki no hana 款冬花); azalea blooms (tsutsuji no hana 躑躅花); kanbi blossoms (kanbi no hana 雁靡花); orchids (sakoku no hana 石解花); wisteria blossom (fuji no hana 藤花) 

There are no detailed records of this contest being conducted, other than the text of the uta’awase itself, but it is clear from this that it was, indeed, an acrostics (mono no na) match, where poets spelled out the names of the topics in the course of their poems. It seems clear that it must have taken place after the compilation of Kokinshū, as none of its poems are included in that anthology, and, given that the contest was sponsored by Uda, it is unlikely to have been ignored, had its contents been available (Hagitani 1963, 120-21). Of the named participants, Tsurayuki has the most poems with eight, followed by Tadamine and Sadafun with three each, Tomonori with two, and then Okikaze and Fukayabu with one each.

In fact, there is some doubt about the authorship of one of Tomonori’s poems (18), as it is included in Ise-shū 伊勢集 and attributed to her. Given Ise’s close relationship with Uda, it seems likely that she was involved in the organisation of this contest.