Otomo no Kuronushi (大友黒主)

OTOMO no Kuronushi (years of birth and death unknown) was a kajin (waka poet) in the Heian period. He was one of Rokkasen (six best Waka poets) and the only one whose poems were not selected for Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka-poems by One Hundred Poets) within Rokkasen.

He was originally from Otomo Village, Shiga County, Omi Province. He became the betto (head priest) for rituals of Onjo-ji Temple during the Jogan era (Japan). He was awarded by presenting fuzoku uta (poems handed down to local countries) to Daijo-sai festival (a festival to celebrate the succession of an emperor) and poems at the visit to Ishiyama-dera Temple for Emperor Uda. Three of his waka (Japanese poems) were included in 'Kokin Wakashu' (A Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry). Some of his waka were also included in 'Gosen Wakashu' (Later selected collection of Japanese poetry) and 'Shui Wakashu' (Collection of Gleanings of Japanese Poems). In "Mumyosho" (an essay on tanka poetry) written by KAMO no Chomei, there was an article that described he was enshrined at Shiga County, Omi Province after his death.

His name was sometimes written as OTOMO (大伴) no Kuronushi, but he was said to be the descendent of Prince Otomo(大友) (Emperor Kobun), not the Otomo (大伴) clan, which was one of the local ruling families in ancient times. Regarding his origin, the genealogy of 'Prince Otomo-Yota-no-okimi (family name was Otomo)-Totomumaro-Kuronushi' was described in "Honcho koin jounroku" (the Emperor's family tree, made in the Muromachi period).
However, it was incorrect to describe him as koin (descendent of emperors), and it was apparent as described in "a list of Kokin Wakashu" as 'OTOMO no Kuronushi Suguri' and in "Tendai-zasu-ki" (Archives of Tendai-zasu) Vol.1, Anne Oshofu (Genealogies of Anne Osho) as '(Shiga County) Dairyo (district head) Juhachiinojo (Junior Eighth Rank, Upper Grade) OTOMO no Suguri Kuronushi.'
The Otomo-suguri clan was Shoban (descendent of people from overseas) and it said 'he was the descendent of Kentei (the last emperor) of the Later Han Dynasty' in the Article of January, 838 of "Shoku Nihon Koki" (Later Chronicle of Japan Continued).

In Kokin Wakashu Kanajo (Japanese preface of the Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry), he is described as follows; 'The poems of OTOMO no Kuronushi are scruffy and have little character. It's like a old man, carrying firewood on his back in a mountain village, is resting under a flower tree.'

His major poems are as follows.

As for spring rainfalls, would the thoughts of people become the tears of sorrow? It is because nobody wants to see scattering of cherry blossoms (Kokin Wakashu 88). When I remember you and miss you, I come and go around your house crying like a goose flies by crying, but do you know about it? No, you don't (Kokin Wakashu 735). Let's drop by Mt.Kagami (鏡山) and look at myself in a mirror like its name (鏡 means mirror, 山 means mountain) whether I get old or not (Kokin Wakashu 899, there was a comment that said it might be Kuronushi's poem).

Mt.Kagami in Omi (present Shiga Prefecture) - there is a mirror according to its name, so a thousand years of Oigimi's (oldest sister) long life can be seen (Kokin Wakashu 1086). As a ship rowing from a rocky shore to another rocky shore which have foaming waves, you should be in love that you cannot control yourself (Gosen Wakashu 670). As a ship rowing through the deep cove of Tamatsushima, you should be in love that you experience depthless insecurity (Gosen Wakashu 768).
Why did I give my heart to miru (a trough shell) on the foreshore even though I am a fisherman who takes alga by diving in offshore? (Gosen Wakashu 1099)
Why did my heart become so shameless and attached to the flowers during spring? (Shui Wakashu 404). How meaningless it is to attach to blossomed flowers, and you have no idea that disease is breaking into your body (Shui Wakashu 405).

[Original Japanese]