Kanna ninen dairi Utaawase (Utaawase held at the Imperial Palace in the Kanna period) (寛和二年内裏歌合)

"Kanna ninen dairi Utaawase is an utaawase" (poetry contest) held by Emperor Kazan on July 24, 986.


Emperor Kazan was deeply interested in waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) and held another utaawase on September 2, 985. Hanja (referee) was FUJIWARA no Yoshichika, a maternal relative of the Emperor and Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state), and FUJIWARA no Kinto who was 21 years old at that time was elected to be koji (presenter of a poem) of the left side. Kinto was a son of FUJIWARA no Yoritada, the then Kanpaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) whose talent was recognized from his childhood, and participated in the utaawase of the previous year. Koji of the right side was FUJIWARA no Nagato.

Other kajin (waka poet) who are known to have participated include ONAKATOMI no Yoshinobu, FUJIWARA no Koreshige, FUJIWARA no Sanekata, SONE no Yoshitada, FUJIWARA no Atsunobu, FUJIWARA no Akimasa, FUJIWARA no Michitsuna, FUJIWARA no Michinaga, and FUJIWARA no Tadanobu. In addition to famous kajin such as Yoshinobu and Yoshitada, it is remarkable that Michinaga and Tadanobu, young nobles of almost the same generation as the Emperor took part.

Participants were required to make twenty poems for twenty Kadai (subject of waka Japanese poem), including eighteen subjects related to natural features of four seasons and two subjects about human affairs, 'celebration' and 'love affairs' respectively. This is the oldest record of utaawase at which seasonal and human affairs subjects were presented at the same time.

The poems are included in a 10 volumes version and a 20 volumes version of Ruiju Utaawase (Poetry Match on Related Themes). Statement about the outcome of the match is not clear in some parts, and there are some poems about which there are various opinions about the author.

Only thirteen days after this utaawase, Emperor Kazan suddenly abdicated the throne to become a priest, followed by Yoshichika and Koreshige. Emperor Ichijo who was seven years old at that time ascended the throne, and political power shifted from the Onomiya line to the Kujo line. It was a big milestone of the sekkan (regents and advisers) government.

[Original Japanese]