Henjo (遍昭)

Henjo (born 816, died February 12, 890) was an early Heian period poet and one of the Six Poets and also one of the Thirty-six Immortal Poets. His original name was YOSHIMINE no Munesada.

He was the eighth son of Dainagon YOSHIMINE no Yasuyo, son of the Emperor Kanmu. There are theories suggesting that his mother was the Emperor Koko's wet nurse. He had a son called Sosei Hoshi. Henjo was Kurodo (keeper of imperial archives) for the Emperor Ninmyo, who favored him, and reached the position of Jugoinojo Kurodo no to (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade, head of Kurodo) in 849, but upon the death of the Emperor Ninmyo, he became a priest and was a disciple of Ennin and Enchin. He established Gankei-ji Temple in Kazan and became Betto (head priest) of Urin-in Temple in Murasakino in 869. He became Sojo (high Buddhist priest) in 885 and was called Kazan-sojo. According to the 'Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku' (literally, "the authentic records of three Japanese reigns"), Henjo's seventieth birthday celebration hosted by the Emperor Koko was held in court at the Jinjuden on December 18 (old Lunar calendar), suggesting a teacher-student relationship with the Emperor Koko regarding waka.

The kana introduction in 'Kokin Waka-shu' (the first anthology of poems commissioned by the Emperor) says 'his poems have good taste and style but lack real emotion.
It is like feeling attracted to a picture of a woman.'
About 35 poems have been selected to be included in Imperial-commissioned poem anthologies, beginning with the 'Kokin Waka-shu.'
There is a collection of his poetical works, called 'Henjo-shu,' but it does not have any uniqueness because it is only a collection of poems by Henjo taken from Imperial-commissioned poem anthologies.

The dew drop on the tip of a leaf and the dew that has dropped on the roots, must be an example of life's transience where some people die later and some die earlier. Heavenly wind, stop the clouds from climbing, so I can keep the beautiful maidens in sight for a little longer.

Henjo was well-suited to be the character of many stories because in spite of being noble-born as a grandchild of the Emperor Kanmu, he climbed to the position of Sojo after becoming a priest of the Tendai sect and was also one of the first priest-poets.
Stories of his amorous exploits before becoming a priest and stories about him not telling his wife when he became a priest are found in 'Yamato Monogatari,' 'Konjaku Monogatari-shu,' 'Hobutsu-shu,' 'Jukkin-sho' and stories about his miracle-working after he became a priest are found in 'Konjaku Monogatari-shu' and 'Zokuhoncho-ojoden.'
He appears under the name of YOSHIMINE no Yasuyo in the Kabuki Dance 'Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Sekinoto' (Love and Deep Snow at the Mountain Barrier), which was produced in the Edo period.

[Original Japanese]