Sarumaru no Taifu (猿丸大夫)


Sarumaru no Taifu, or Sarumarudayu (years of birth and death not know) was one of the thirty-six immortal poets. Sarumaru is his given name, and Taifu his official rank.

Although it is told that he was a person who lived in the era of the Emperor Genmei or the period around Gangyo era, he is a mysterious person for whom it is not known whether or not he really existed. There are views that he was Shikinomiko, a son of the Emperor Tenchi, or Yuge no Okimi, a grandson of Prince Shotoku, but the view accepted most widely is that he is simply a mythological figure. There is an opinion that he is KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro, but it is little more than a fantasy and is given no credence by academics. Although "Sarumarutayushu" is included in "Sanjurokunin-shu," it is a collection of miscellaneous old waka by a later compiler and, therefore, it is necessary to verify if the waka in it was really composed by Sarumaru no Taifu or not.

Waka which is said to have been composed by Sarumaru no Taifu

This waka is the first appearance of a combination of "maple leaf and deer."

The view that Sarumaru no Taifu was KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro

Since Takeshi UMEHARA, a philosopher, expressed his view concerning these two mysterious persons in his book, "Mizusoko no uta - a View on KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro," that they were the same person, a considerable number of researchers have supported this view.

In the view of UMEHARA, the theses of Kunio YANAGIDA that nobody who was worshiped as a god died normally, was taken into consideration. Because Hitomaro was worshipped as the god of waka poetry and the god of protection at sea, he was politically purged by the Empress Jito and FUJIWARA no Fuhito. It also pointed out that Hitomaro was called as 'Kakimoto no Taifu' in the preface written in Chinese to "Kokin wakashu" (Collected Waka from Ancient and Modern Times). Although he was called as one of the thirty-six immortal poets, there is no waka poem that we can definitely say that it was composed by Sarumaru no Taifu (many support the view that waka poem of okuyama was not composed by Sarumaru Taifu). Therefore there is a view that people were afraid of the power that killed Hitomaro and called him by a difference name, Sarumaru.

If Hitomaro was politically purged as advocated by this view, however, it is logical to consider that Hitomaro had a certain level of official rank (not lower than the Fifth Rank) that should have been recorded in the official history. The overwhelming majority of informed circles believe that the view described above is illogical, pointing out the fact that there is no record on KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro in the official history.

[Original Japanese]