Fujiwara no Michimasa (藤原道雅)

FUJIWARA no Michimasa (992 - August 31, 1054) was a court noble and a tanka poet of the Heian period. He was more commonly known as Michimasa Sanmi or Ara Sanmi.

He was the grandson of FUJIWARA no Michitaka of the Naka no kanpaku family (literally, "the second candidate family of Chief Advisor to the Emperor") and TAKASHINA no Kishi (a female poet), and the nephew of FUJIWARA no Teishi, the empress of Emperor Ichijiyo. His father was FUJIWARA no Korechika, who was Gido-sanshi minister, and his mother was a daughter of MINAMOTO no Shigemitsu, who served as Dainagon (chief councilor of state).

He was married to a daughter of FUJIWARA no Nobutaka, who was Yamashiro no kami (the governer of Yamashiro Province) and the husband of Murasaki Shikibu (the author of the Tale of Genji) (although it is not known whether she was her mother), and had a child, Jotomonin no chujo, who was selected as one of Chuko sanjurokkasen (36 great waka poets, who had been not been chosen as 36 Great Poets by Fujiwara no kinto, or those of later times). According to Okagami (the Great Mirror, a historical writing), he had also been married to a daughter of TAIRA no Korenaka and later divorced; then, his ex-wife served FUJIWARA no Kenshi, Emperor Sanjyo's second consort, and as a tanka poet, she called herself Yamato no senji. He had a son named Kakujo, who was a Buddhist priest.

Michimasa, who had been called Matsugimi as a child, grew up being doted on by his grandfather, Michitaka, who died in 995. In the next year, his father, Korechika, was demoted to Dazai gon no sochi (Provisional Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices) as he attempted to frighten Emperor Kazan by shooting arrows.

In 1004, he was ranked Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) when he was fourteen. Michimasa, who was designated as Togu gonnosuke (acting vice-minister who serves the imperial prince) in 1011, served Imperial Prince Atsuhira (who later became Emperor Ichijo), and in January 1016, he was appointed as Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain) when Emperor Goichijo ascended to the throne, and ranked Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) in the next month. However, Michimasa, who secretly had an affair with Imperial Princess Toshi, who had been back in Kyoto by September of this year after having served as Saigu (Ise-jingu Shrine maiden), infuriated Emperor Sanjyo, her father, and was repudiated by the Emperor.

According to "Shoyuki" (a diary of Sanesuke FUJIWARA), there was an incidence where a daughter of Emperor Kazan was murdered on a street the midnight of January 14, 1025 and found miserably bitten by homeless dogs the next morning. This case frightened court nobles in Kyoto and was investigated by kebiishi (a police and judicial chief); on August 27, 1025, Takanori, a bonze, was arrested, who confessed that he had murdered the princess as he had been ordered by Michimasa. Although the true murderer ended up undecided, Michimasa was dismissed from the post of Sakonenochujo (lieutenant general of Imperial Guards of the Left) and demoted to Ukyogonnodaibu (a post usually taken by nobles ranked Shogoinojo (Senior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade).

Michimasa, who never had a chance to be promoted throughout the rest of his life, died in July 1054 immediately after he became a priest.

According to "Shoyuki", rumors that he might have committed immoral, violent acts circulated one after another; besides the alleged murder of Emperor Kazan's princess, he might have humiliated the zoshikicho (the head of guards) of Imperial Prince Atsuakira, and made a scene at gambling houses. This earned him the name 'Ara sanmi' (literally, "violent noble ranked Sanmi") or 'Aku-sanmi' (bad noble ranked Sanmi).

On the other hand, he was good at making waka poems (31-syllable Japanese poems) and known as one of Chuko sanjurokkasen (the Medieval 36 Immortal Poets).

One of his waka poem has been selected in the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets:
Now I am trying to give up on you, and I wish I could tell it to you directly, not through rumors.

In Goshuishu (an imperial anthology of Japanese waka, compiled in 1086 at the behest of Emperor Shirakawa), an explanatory note to his waka poem says:
This waka was made when the Emperor, who came to know that a guy secretly had an affair with his daughter, the imperial princess who had served as Saigu at Ise-jingu Shrine, prevented him from seeing her again by guarding her with more of her aides.

[Original Japanese]