Yōzei-in uta’awase (Engi jūni-nen natsu)

Shinpen kokka taikan no.11
Heian-chō uta’awase taisei no.21
Romanised TitleYōzei-in uta’awase
Translated TitleFormer Emperor Yōzei’s Poetry Contest
Alternative Title(s)
DateSummer, Engi 12-13 [912-913]
Extant Poems20
SponsorEmperor Yōzei 陽成天皇 (869-949; r. 876-884)
Identifiable Participants
JudgementsRound 1 only
TopicsLove and summer insects (natsumushi no koi 夏虫の恋)

This is a small-scale contest sponsored by Yōzei some years after he had left the throne. Other than the first round, where a ‘Tie’ is noted, there are no judgements, nor have the poets’ names been recorded. The competition’s most significant feature, therefore, is that it is the sole extant contest on the topic of ‘Love and Summer Insects’ and as such established many of the images and vocabulary usages which subsequent poets used when composing related poetry (Hagitani 1963, 183).

A man and a women dressed in kimono kneel on the verandas of separate traditional Japanese houses looking out on the gardens in late evening. Countless fireflies dance in the space between them forming a link between the two figures.
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