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Sojo Henjo by Kano Tan'yu, 1648 Sanjurokkasen-gaku - 8 - Kano Tan'yu - Sojo Henjo.jpg
Sōjō Henjō by Kanō Tan’yū, 1648

Sōjō Henjō (遍昭 or 遍照, 816 February 12, 890) was a Japanese waka poet and Buddhist priest. His birth name was Yoshimine no Munesada (良岑宗貞). Thanks to a reference to him in the preface of Kokin Wakashū he is listed as one of the Six best Waka poets and one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

<i>Waka</i> (poetry) type of poetry in classical Japanese literature.

Waka is a type of poetry in classical Japanese literature. Waka are composed in Japanese, and are contrasted with poetry composed by Japanese poets in Classical Chinese, which are known as kanshi. Although waka in modern Japanese is written as 和歌, in the past it was also written as 倭歌, and a variant name is yamato-uta (大和歌).

Poet person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.


Henjō was the eighth son of Dainagon Yoshimine no Yasuyo, a son of Emperor Kanmu who was relegated to civilian life. [1] Henjō began his career as a courtier. He was appointed to the position of kurodo, a sort of Chamberlain of Emperor Ninmyō. In 849 he was raised to the Head of Kurodo (Kurōdonotō). After Emperor Nimmyō died in 850, Henjō became a monk out of his grief.

Dainagon an advisory position in the Imperial court of Japan

Dainagon (大納言) was a counselor of the first rank in the Imperial court of Japan. The role dates from the 7th century.

Emperor Kanmu Emperor of Japan

Emperor Kammu was the 50th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Kammu reigned from 781 to 806.

Chamberlain (office) Person in charge of managing a household

A chamberlain is a senior royal official in charge of managing a royal household. Historically, the chamberlain superintends the arrangement of domestic affairs and was often also charged with receiving and paying out money kept in the royal chamber. The position was usually honoured upon a high-ranking member of the nobility (nobleman) or the clergy, often a royal favourite. Roman emperors appointed this officer under the title of cubicularius. The papal chamberlain of the Pope enjoys very extensive powers, having the revenues of the papal household under his charge. As a sign of their dignity, they bore a key, which in the seventeenth century was often silvered, and actually fitted the door-locks of chamber rooms, since the eighteenth century it had turned into a merely symbolic, albeit splendid, rank-insignia of gilded bronze. In many countries there are ceremonial posts associated with the household of the sovereign.

He was a priest of the Tendai school. In 877 he founded Gangyō-ji (元慶寺) in Yamashina, in the southeast part of Kyoto, but continued to be active in court politics. [2] In 869 he was given another temple Urin-in or Unrin-in (雲林院) in the north of Kyoto and managed both temples. In 885 he was ranked in Sojo and called Kazan Sōjō (花山僧正).

Tendai is a Mahayana Buddhist school established in Japan in the year 806 by a monk named Saicho also known as Dengyō Daishi. The Tendai school rose to prominence during the Heian Period of Japan, gradually eclipsing the powerful Hosso school and competing with the upcoming Shingon school to become the most influential at the Imperial court. However, political entanglements during the Genpei War led many disaffected monks to leave and in some cases to establish their own schools of Buddhism such as Jodo Shu, Nichiren Shu and Soto Zen. Destruction of the head temple Mount Hiei by warlord Oda Nobunaga further weakened Tendai's influence as well as the geographic shift of Japan's capital to Edo away from Kyoto.

Gangyō-ji is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, founded by the priest Henjō. The Emperor Kōkō endowed the temple and the emperor Kazan abdicated in this temple.

Kyoto Designated city in Kansai, Japan

Kyoto, officially Kyoto City, is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture, located in the Kansai region of Japan. It is best known in Japanese history for being the former Imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years, as well as a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area.

He was rumored to have had a love affair with the great female poet Ono no Komachi.

Ono no Komachi Japanese poet

Ono no Komachi was a Japanese waka poet, one of the Rokkasen — the six best waka poets of the early Heian period. She was renowned for her unusual beauty, and Komachi is today a synonym for feminine beauty in Japan. She also counts among the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.

Thirty-five of his waka were included in the imperial anthologies of waka including Kokin Wakashū. In the preface Ki no Tsurayuki criticized him: "he knows how to construct waka, but there is less real emotion. It is like when you see a picture of a woman and it moves your heart". Henjō was famous for the following poem from the Hyakunin Isshu:

Ki no Tsurayuki Japanese writer

Ki no Tsurayuki was a Japanese author, poet and courtier of the Heian period. He is best known as the principal compiler of the Kokin Wakashū, also writing its Japanese Preface, and as a possible author of the Tosa Diary, although this was published anonymously.

天津風 雲の通ひ路 吹き閉ぢよ をとめの姿 しばしとどめむ
Amatsukaze / kumo no kayoiji / huki tojiyo / otome no sugata / shibashi todomen
Oh stormy winds, bring up the clouds
And paint the heavens grey;
Lest these fair maids of form divine
Should angel wings display,
And fly far far away.

His son, Priest Sosei was also a waka poet and monk.

Sosei Japanese poet

Sosei was a Japanese waka poet and Buddhist priest. He is listed as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals, and one of his poems was included in the famous anthology Hyakunin Isshu. His father Henjō was also a waka poet and monk.

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The Heian period is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height. The Heian period is also considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court and noted for its art, especially poetry and literature. Although the Imperial House of Japan had power on the surface, the real power was in the hands of the Fujiwara clan, a powerful aristocratic family who had intermarried with the imperial family. Many emperors actually had mothers from the Fujiwara family. Heian (平安) means "peace" in Japanese.

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Kūkai Japanese Buddhist monk

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<i>Kokin Wakashū</i> first imperial waka anthology, dating from the Heian period. Conceived by Emperor Uda (r. 887–897) and published by order of his son Emperor Daigo (r. 897–930). The compilers of the anthology were four court poets, led by Ki no Tsurayuki.

The Kokin Wakashū, commonly abbreviated as Kokinshū (古今集), is an early anthology of the waka form of Japanese poetry, dating from the Heian period. It is an Imperial anthology, conceived of by Emperor Uda and published by order of his son Emperor Daigo, in about 905. Its finished form dates to c. 920, though according to several historical accounts the last poem was added to the collection in 914. The compilers of the anthology were four court poets, led by Ki no Tsurayuki and also including Ki no Tomonori, Ōshikōchi no Mitsune, and Mibu no Tadamine.

Japanese poetry literary tradition of Japan

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The Shokukokin Wakashū is a Japanese imperial anthology of waka; it was finished in 1265 CE, six years after the Retired Emperor Go-Saga first ordered it in 1259. It was compiled by Fujiwara no Tameie with the aid of Fujiwara no Motoie, Fujiwara no Ieyoshi, Fujiwara no Yukiee, and Fujiwara no Mitsutoshi; like most Imperial anthologies, there is a Japanese and a Chinese Preface, but their authorship is obscure and essentially unknown. It consists of twenty volumes containing 1,925 poems.

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Gyōson Japanese Tendai monk and waka poet

Gyōson, also known as the Abbot of Byōdō-in, was a Japanese Tendai monk and waka poet of the late-Heian period. He became chief prelate of the Enryaku-ji temple in Kyoto, and one of his poems was included in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. Almost fifty of his poems were included in imperial anthologies, and he produced a private collection of poetry.

The kana preface to the Kokin Wakashū is one of the two prefaces to the tenth-century Japanese waka anthology, the Kokin Wakashū. It was written by the poet/editor Ki no Tsurayuki. It is also known in English as the Japanese preface, distinguishing it from Ki no Yoshimochi's Chinese preface (mana-jo). It was the first serious work of poetic criticism on the waka style, and is regarded as the predecessor of later karon works.

Ki no Yoshimochi was a Japanese poet of both waka and kanshi. He also composed the Chinese preface (mana-jo) to the tenth-century waka anthology, the Kokin Wakashū. He studied classics at the Imperial University, before serving various, mostly scholarly, positions at court.


  1. Richard Bowring The Religious Traditions of Japan 500-1600 2005 Page 164 "Henjō, being himself the grandson of Kanmu Tenno, was another frequenter of the court, famous as a waka poet; but much of his time from 876 onwards was devoted to the establishment of the Gangyō-ji 7c9! 'f[ clarification needed ] near the capital."
  2. Mikael S. Adolphson, Edward Kamens, Stacie Matsumoto Heian Japan: Centers and Peripheries 2007- p217 "not disassociate himself or his temple Gangyōji, founded in the 860s in the hills just east of Kyoto, from the court, but rather"; Page 218 "One of Kōkō's supporters was the aforementioned Tendai monk Henjō, who was given an opportunity to disrupt Fujiwara ... post (sōjō) within the Office of Monastic Affairs in 886 and allowed rare privileges and influence at the imperial court."