Sogi (宗祇)

Sogi (1421-September 1, 1502) was a renga (linked-verse) poet of the Muromachi period. His literary names were Jinensai and Shugyokuan. His family name is said to be IIO, but it is still unclear. His birthplace is said to be in Kii or Omi Province.

He entered Shokoku-ji Temple in Kyoto in his youth, and made up his mind to pursue renga around age 30. He studied renga under Sozei, Senjun and Shinkei, and received instruction in the secret traditions of the Kokinshu (Kokin Denju) by Tsuneyori TO.

After 1473, he made his residence at Shugyokuan in Kamikyo (Upper Kyoto), where court nobles, the shogun and the kanrei (shogunal deputy) lived, associating with Sanetaka SANJONISHI and other court nobles, as well as Masamoto HOSOKAWA and other high-ranking warriors of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

He also visited powerful local lords (kokujin) in the Kinai area and the daimyo of many Provinces, such as the Ouchi clan in Suo Province, the Takeda clan in Wakasa Province, and the Uesugi clan in Echigo Province. In 1488, he was appointed as the Renga Master of Kitano Shrine and became the leading figure in renga circles in both name and reality. He soon ceded this post to Kensai and compiled the "Shinsen Tsukubashu" (New Tsukuba Collection) with Kensai and others in 1495. He frequently travelled to various parts of the country throughout his life, and in 1502, he died at an inn at the Hakone hotsprings while on the way from Echigo to Mino Province with his disciples Socho and Soseki, and was buried at Jorin-ji Temple at Momozono, Suruga Province (currently Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture).

After the Onin War, there was a growing trend towards a revival of the classics, and powerful local clans, especially local lords and lords of fiefs, were interested in the culture of Kyoto and remarkably enthusiastic about renga. Sogi expressed the technical skill of the original renga tradition, and the medieval aesthetics of sublimity and truth expressed in the waka poetry anthology "Shinkokin Wakashu." With renga's popularity throughout the country, and the activities of Sogi and his disciples, this period was the golden age of renga.

Among his renga are such works as; "Minase Sangin Hyakuin" (Three poets at Minase), "Yuyama Sangin Hyakuin" (Three poets at Yuyama), and "Hamori senku"; among his collections of renga stanzas are "Wasuregusa" (The Forgetting-Plant), "Wakuraba" (Aging Leaves) and "Shitakusa" (The Grasses Beneath); his travel records include "Shirakawa kiko" (Journey to Shirakawa) and "Tsukushi michi no ki" (Record of a Journey to Tsukushi); his treatises on renga poetry include "Azuma mondo" (East Country Dialogues) and "Asaji" (Cogon grass), and there are also many commentaries on classic literature. He is another wandering poet, representative of renga poetry like Saigyo for waka and Basho MATSUO for haiku.

[Original Japanese]