Minamoto no Shitago (源順)

MINAMOTO no Shitago (911-983) was a Japanese scholar and poet of the early Heian period. He was a member of the Saga Genji, the second son of MINAMOTO no Kozoru, a great-grandchild of Emperor Saga. He was appointed to various posts, including those of the acting governor of Shimousa and the governor of Izumi, and his highest office was as the governor of Noto, junior fifth rank, lower grade.

Famed for erudition since his youth, he compiled the "Wamyo ruijusho" (Kango-Japanese Dictionary) in his twenties, which was the first categorical dictionary in Japan. In 951, though he was still a student, he became a member (yoriudo) of the Wakadokoro (Bureau of Poetry), editing the Man'youshu and selecting waka for the Gosen Wakashu as one of the "Five Gentlemen of the Pear Chamber." Not only did he show an outstanding talent for Chinese prose and poetry, but he was also such a gifted waka poet that in 960 he contributed a poem to the Tentoku Dairi Uta-awase (Imperial Palace Poetry Contest of the Tentoku era) and served as a judge at various poetry contests.

He is regarded as one of the 36 immortal poets. He was known as a man of great talent, and in his personal collection, "Minamoto no Shitago shu (The Personal Collection of Minamoto no Shitago)," there are large numbers of waka using intricate wordplay. Also, authorship of "Utsuho Monogatari (The Tale of the Hollow Tree)" has been attributed to him and "Ochikubo Monogatari (The Tale of the Lady Ochikubo)," and some scholars even regard him as the author of "Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter)."

[Original Japanese]