Kyogoku Tamekane (京極為兼)

Tamekane KYOGOKU (1254 - April 16, 1332) was a late Kamakura-period waka poet. His father was Tamenori KYOGOKU, third son of FUJIWARA no Tameie and founder of the KYOGOKU family. His mother was the daughter of Gako MIYOSHI. He is also sometimes known as Tamekane REIZEI or Tamekane IRIE.

When he was a boy, he learned about waka poetry from his grandfather, FUJIWARA no Tameie. In 1280, Tamekane began serving Imperial Prince Hirohito (who later became Emperor Fushimi), and the style of waka poetry in which he instructed the Imperial Prince and his close associates came to be known as the Kyogoku school. Once Emperor Fushimi ascended to the throne Tamekane also became active as a politician, but was banished to Sado Province in 1298 for his participation in the attempt, as an aristocratic supporter of the Jimyoin lineage, to manipulate the Imperial succession in favor of the Jimyoin line. In 1303 he received permission to return to the capital. He fell into conflict with Tameyo NIJO over who would be chosen as a compiler of the latest Imperial waka anthology, but received an imperial decree appointing him such, and in 1312 he set about compiling the 'Gyokuyo wakashu' (The Jeweled Leaves Collection). The following year, in 1313, he took the tonsure together with Retired Emperor Fushimi, and took the monk-name "Renkaku," and later "Shokaku." In 1315, he was once again arrested by the Rokuhara Tandai (an administrative and judicial agency in Rokuhara, Kyoto), and in 1316 was exiled to Tosa Province; this time, he never received permission to return to the capital, and ended his life in Kawachi Province. The background for why he was twice punished with exile lies in his promoting of the idea of 'benevolent rule,' in which he and Emperor Fushimi sought to restore true power to the imperial court and fell into an intensifying conflict with the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun); one explanation has it that Tamekane served as scapegoat for the Emperor, being punished in his stead.

In the poetic style of his family the evoking of true emotions was very highly prized, leading him to compose waka that expressed a delicate yet sensuous quality; this new style breathed life into the stagnated waka circles of late Kamakura-period Japan. His waka were included in the 'Gyokuyo wakashu' (Collected Jeweled Leaves (of waka)) and the 'Fuga wakashu' (Collected Elegant Waka).

[Original Japanese]