Sagami (poet) (相模 (歌人))

Sagami (dates of birth and death unknown, 998? - after 1061) was a female poet in the early eleventh century, and one of the medieval 36 Immortal Poets.
A poem collected in the Hyakunin Isshu (A Hundred Waka Poems) is well known as a love poem: 'The bitterness of your cold attitude makes me pain and cry; my sleeves, which are wet with tears and never dry themselves, remain without decaying as they are; but my reputation is down by superficial gossip about this romance; how frustrating!'

The identity of her real father is not known, but her mother was a daughter of YOSHISHIGE no Yasuakira, Governor of Noto Province. Her stepfather seems to have been Settsu-Genji MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu, Governor of Tajima Province.

Her name given for the first time was Otojiju. Before 1020, she married OE no Kinyori, Governor of Sagami Province, and came to be called Sagami's wife. Although she accompanied her husband to his place of work in Sagami Province, their married life broke down, and they divorced soon after returning to Kyoto in 1024. Subsequently, Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) FUJIWARA no Sadayori, who was the oldest son of Shijodainagon FUJIWARA no Kinto, often made approaches to her.

After a while, she began to serve Ippon no Miya Shushi (Empress Nagako), the eldest daughter of Emperor Ichijo. After the death of her majesty Empress Shushi in 1049, she served Empress Ushi, a princess of Emperor Gosuzaku (a grandchild of Empress Shushi's brother).

Sagami joined many uta awase (poetry matches), and was actively involved in the waka poem circles of the Gosuzaku and Goreizei dynasties. Some of the uta awase that Sagami joined were'Kayanoin Suikaku Uta Awase' in 1035 (held by Kampaku Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) FUJIWARA no Yorimichi);'Ippon no Miya Uta Awase' and 'Dainagon (chief councilor of state) MINAMOTO no Morofusa Family Uta Awase' in 1038;'Kokiden no Nyogo Uta Awase' in 1041;'Rokujosanin (Empress Baishi) Uta Awase' in 1048;Dairi Uta Awase in 1049 and 1051;'Mae Reikeiden Nyogo Enshi Uta Awase (Poetry and picture matching held by Enshi, ex-Reikeiden Nyogo)' and 'Empress Ushi Uta Awase' in 1050; and'Empress Hiroko's Spring and Autumn Uta-awase' in 1056. All uta awase were held with the support of distinguished persons, which suggests that she had a high reputation. She was a kind of leader of waka poetry in the group of six waka poets (FUJIWARA no Norinaga, TAIRA no Munenaka, FUJIWARA no Tsunehira, MINAMOTO no Yorizane, MINAMOTO no Yoriie (poet), and MINAMOTO no Kanenaga), and her personal collection of poetry shows her friendships with the Noin priest Izumi Shikibu, as well as MINAMOTO no Tsunenobu.

Approximately a hundred of the poems she composed were collected in the successive collections of poems by imperial command. The number of her poems collected in "Goshui (Collection of Poetry)," which was compiled during the era of Emperor Shirakawa, was the second highest after Izumi Shikibu. The manuscript of her personal collection of poems, "Sagami's Poetry Book" (also known as "Shijoshu"), is still in existence.

[Original Japanese]