Minamoto no Toshiyori (源俊頼)

MINAMOTO no Toshiyori (1055-January 29, 1129) was a official and poet of the late Heian period. He is from the family line of the Uda-Genji (Minamoto clan). He was the son of Dainagon (chief councilor of state) MINAMOTO no Tsunenobu. In 1111, he was ranked as Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade), Moku no kami (chief of the Bureau of Carpentry).


He was a musician who attended the Emperor Horikawa first, and later played a leading role in Horikawain's poetry circle. He took part in a lot of uta-awase (poetry contests) both as a composer and as a judge, and also planned and promoted "Horikawain Hyakushu" (Horikawa Hundred-Poem Sequences). In 1124, he compiled "Kinyo wakashu" under the order of Shirakawain. He and FUJIWARA no Mototoshi were the leading figures in the waka circles of the time. He was famous for his innovative poetical style.

Approximately 200 poems of his were selected for "Kinyo wakashu" and other Chokusen wakashu (anthologies of Japanese poetry compiled by Imperial command) afterwards.

Waka poetry

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka-poems by One Hundred Poets)
I did pray to the Kannon (Deity of Mercy) at Hatsuse that the person who was hard on me would give her heart, but oh, strong wind blowing from Hatsuse, I did not pray that she would become harsher like you. ('Senzai Wakashu' (Collection of Japanese Poems of a Thousand Years), Love(2), 707)
Hyakunin Shuka (the original of Ogura Hyakunin Isshu)
Now we can see the cherry blossoms in the mountains start to bloom, and the white threads of a waterfall in the clouds. ('Kinyo wakashu', Spring, 50)
Toshiyori is the only poet who was selected for both the Hyakunin Shuka and Ogura Hyakunin Isshu with different poems.

Literary works

Personal collection: "Sanboku Kika Shu"
Book of waka poetics: "Toshiyori Zuino" (Toshiyori's Poetic Essentials)

As a calligrapher

He is known as a distinguished waka poet, but there are no records of him as a famed calligrapher. However, both his father Tsunenobu and his son Shune were good calligraphers, and there are many ancient pieces of Japanese calligraphy said to have been written by Toshiyori.
Some of his most famous writings are as follows:

"Kokinshu" (abbreviation of "Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems"), kansubon (book in scroll style)
"Kokinshu" (abbreviation of "Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems"), Genei-bon manuscript
"Sanbo-ekotoba"(Todai-ji Edition)

[Original Japanese]