Nenjugyoji Utaawase (年中行事歌合)

Nenjugyoji Utaawase means Gojuban Utaawase hosted by Yoshimoto NIJO, Kanpaku (a chief adviser to the Emperor) of the Northern court (Japan), on February 7, 1350. It is also called Kujigojuban Utaawase or Kuji Hyakushu.


According to the records of utaawase (waka poetry contest) hosted by sekkanke (the families which produced the regent and the chief adviser to the emperor), it was the first utaawase since Sekkanke Tsukijusshu Utaawase was held by Sanetsune ICHIJO in 1275. It is also known as the first-ever utaawase in which ceremonies, customs and historical events at the Imperial Court were used as subject matter. As Japan was in the state of civil war during the Northern and Southern period (Japan), kuji (political operations of the Imperial Court) and chogi (ceremonies at the Imperial Court) were inert at that time and the art of waka poetry was also affected. Under such circumstances, Yoshimoto, an expert of yusoku-kojitsu (ancient courtly traditions and etiquette) who strived for the promotion of renga (linked verse), organized this event with the aim of promoting both of the above.

Tamehide REIZEI served as a judge and Yoshimoto NIJO took charge of writing hanshi (judgments in poetry contest). Other than these two persons, twenty-three participated in the event including Yoshimoto's son Moroyoshi NIJO and Morotsugu NIJO, his adopted son Yoshinari YOTSUTSUJI, his uncle Yoshifuyu IMAKOJI, Tamekuni GOJO, Tadatsugu MATSUDONO, Sadayo IMAGAWA, Kanehiro YOSHIDA, Tamekuni REIZEI (Tamehide's son), Nagatsuna HIGASHIBOJO and his son Hidenaga HIGASHIBOJO, Sokyu, Tona and his son Keiken, Munetoki ABE, Munenobu HABUCHI, Tsuunaga TANBA, Morinaga TANBA, Tadayori TAKATSUKASA, Ietada TSUKINOWA, Tonjo (Toshiaki NAKAMIKADO) and Onken (Tamenori MUTO). All of them were either family, household superintendents or close aides of Yoshimoto, or samurai and monks who were acquainted with Yoshimoto through waka poetry/renga, and many of them belonged to the Nijo or Kyogoku schools.

As this waka event used unprecedented subject matter, it was organized in the form of utaawase and Yoshinari YOTSUTSUJI and Tadatsugu MATSUDONO served as liaison between Yoshimoto and participants. It is said that a subject was allotted to each participant in advance and their waka poems were delivered to Yoshimoto two days before the day of utaawase and announced on the day.

Seventy waka poems from Number one to Number thirty-five were those of seasonal events, seventeen waka poems from Number thirty-six to the left of Number forty-three were those of 'love' that related to the palace building, and thirteen waka poems from the right of Number fourty-three to Number fifty were those of 'zatsu,' which used various things related to the Imperial Court such as senmyo (Imperial edict), gyoko (Imperial visit) and gissha (ox-drawn carriage) as subject matter.

These waka poems, and the subject matter selected by Yoshimoto as well as his hanshi were regarded as the important yusoku-kojitsusho (a book of courtly traditions and etiquette) during the medieval and pre-modern times and many manuscripts, at least 80 of them are known at present, were created and circulated. In the meantime, Tameaki ANDO and Makoto SAITO asserted that "Kuji kongen" written by Yoshimoto's grandson Kaneyoshi ICHIJO was the commentary of Nenjugyoji Utaawase. While some descriptions seem to have been cited from "Nenjugyoji Utaawase" are seen in "Kuji kongen," there also exist descriptions whose authority are considered to be "Koke Shidai" and "Kenmu Nenjugyoji." In view of the above, it is considered that "Nenjugyoji Utaawase" was one of principal reference materials of "Kuji Kongen."

[Original Japanese]