Fujiwara no Sanekata (藤原実方)

FUJIWARA no Sanekata (birth date is unknown and died January 7, 999) was a mid-Heian period court noble and poet. He was born into the Koichijo lineage of the Northern house of the Fujiwara clan. His grandfather was FUJIWARA no Morotada, Sadaijin (Minister of the Left), and his father was the Chamberlain, FUJIWARA no Sadatoki. His mother was the daughter of MINAMOTO no Masanobu. His father Sadatoki was the grandson of FUJIWARA no Tadahira, making Sanekata Tadahira's great-grandson. FUJIWARA no Asamoto was Sanekata's son.

Sanekata served two different emperors, Emperor Kazan and Emperor Ichijo, and reached Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade), holding the position of Middle Commander of the Left. But in 995, while in the Emperor's presence, an incident occurred in which he had an argument with FUJIWARA no Yukinari about poetry; the incensed Sanekata is said to have seized Yukinari's official court cap and hurled it to the ground. Yet Yukinari did not lose his composure, avoiding any worsening of the quarrel by having a court servant pick up his cap for him. This incident provoked the Emperor's anger at Sanekata, who was ordered to 'go think upon uta makura (conventional poetic epithets)' and was subsequently demoted to the post of Governor of Mutsu Province, and thereby was sent away from the capital. Yukinari, on the other hand, was chosen to serve as Kurodo gashira (Head of the Imperial Secretariat). Three years later, Sanekata was in Mutsu riding his horse past the guardian deity of Kasashima when the horse suddenly collapsed, crushing him underneath and killing him (his grave is located in Medeshima in the city of Natori). He was just 40 years old when he died. Makura no Soshi (The Pillow Book) tells of the legend that after his death, Sanekata's spirit came to haunt the area underneath the bridge over the Kamo-gawa river. Another legend claims that after he died he was reincarnated as a sparrow who then devoured all the uncooked rice of the Imperial palace.

Sanekata was close friends with FUJIWARA no Kinto, MINAMOTO no Shigeyuki, and FUJIWARA no Michinobu among others. The surviving accounts of his life describe him as a talented man of great refinement, and he is thought to have had a love affair with Sei Shonagon (author of The Pillow Book). He is also said to have had affairs with over twenty other ladies, leading some to suspect he was one model for the main character of "Genji Monogatari" (the Tale of Genji), the titular Hikaru Genji, the Shining Prince.

His poetry was included in the 'Shui wakashu' (Collected Gleanings (of waka)) as well as the other below-mentioned imperial waka anthologies.
His personal poetry collection is entitled the 'Asomi (court minister) Sanekata's Collection.'

His poem in the Ogura Hyakunin-Isshu (The Ogura Anthology of Japanese Waka: one poem each from a hundred poets)
Number 51: Dare I speak what burns within? Though you know it not, I crackle in the moxa flames of love for you (Love poem 612 in the 'Goshui wakashu' (Later collected gleanings))

[Original Japanese]