Fujiwara no Toshinari (藤原俊成)

FUJIWARA no Toshinari (born 1114, died December 29, 1204) was a poet who lived from the latter part of the Heian period through the early Kamakura period.
His yusoku-yomi (expression of respect) was read as 'Shunzei.'
Initially he was adopted by the Hamuro family and took the name Akihiro HAMURO; however, he subsequently returned to his parents' Mikohidari family home and changed his name. His name as a Buddhist priest was Shakua. Is known as the compiler of the "Senzai wakashu" (Millennium Anthology of Waka Poetry).

He started his activities as a poet from an early age and studied under FUJIWARA no Mototoshi. Influenced by the poet Saigyo becoming a priest, FUJIWARA no Toshinari himself held similar aspirations for a time, but, reflecting the fluid nature of the late Heian period, he straddled two schools of contemporary poetry: the rich lyrical poetic styles established in the traditions of the Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) and Kokin Wakashu (First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry), and avant-garde literary fashions of the day given prominence amongst Rokujo-school literati. As a key member of a Waka poetry group, Emperor Goshirakawa independently decreed the compilation of "Senzai Wakashu."

Books of poetry produced include "Korai Futeisho" (Poetic Styles from the Past) a tome presented to Imperial Princess Noriko (one of Retired Emperor Goshirakawa's ladies) as well as "Shunzei Kyo Waji Sojo" (Japanese Poetry of Shunzei) and "Kokin Mondo" (Ancient and Modern Questions and Answers). A selection of his poetry appears in "Shunzei Thirty-Six Poetry Immortals." Collections of his poetic works are: "Choushu Eiso" (Choushu Palace Anthology) and "Shunzei Kashu" (Shunzei Poetry Anthology). The "Choushu Eiso" is six collections of poetry counted as one. Yoshitsune KUJO of the Kujo family acted as a judge of the Six Hundred Round Poetry Contest.

As leader of the group he had a reputation and, besides directing the Kujo family in poetry matters, he produced a number of outstanding poets: commencing with his son Teika, his students included Jakuren and FUJIWARA no Ietaka etc. In "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike) he even paints a word picture of an episode involving one of his students, TAIRA no Tadanori, in: 'Tadanori miyako ochi' (Tadanori's Flight from the Capital). (Details mentioned later) Also, he was also famous for the curious habit of holding onto a brazier made of Paulownia wood when composing poems.

Even in the Northern House, the most senior court rank of Gon Dainagon (a provisional councilor of state) was held by the collateral family line FUJIWARA no Nagaie school, and his father died early, which greatly delayed his promotion, but for those times he lived an extraordinary long life and advanced as far as Kotaigo gu no daibu (Master of the Empress Dowager's Household) with a court rank of Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank). In his son FUJIWARA no Teika's "Ogura Hyakunin Isshu" (Ogura's Sequence of One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets), Toshinari is engaged as Kotaigo gu no daibu, but with him there was an intensification of political/economic contradictions in society, a shift to the middle ages where the warrior families took back political control; the period was marked by upheaval and the Mikohidari family cemented its name as poets.

Toshinari and TAIRA no Tadanori
The first episode involving Toshinari that comes to mind occurred during the Genpei-gassen (Battle of the Minamoto and Taira clans), also known as the Jisho Juei no ran (Jisho/Juei era War), when Toshinari and TAIRA no Tadanori reunited. There is a record in folio 7 "Tadanori miyako ochi" (Tadanori's Flight from the Capital) of the "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike).

Whilst his martial prowess was outstanding, even as a poet he looked up to Toshinari; in July 1183, when the entire Taira clan fled Kyoto, TAIRA no Tadanori (the outstanding genius Kiyomori's youngest brother) handed over the capital and visited Toshinari's estate. Careful not to upset his already agitated family members, Tadanori met with Toshinari and requested that if an Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poems was compiled that he wanted on of his poems included. If that was to be the case, Toshinari also asked to be taken good care of in his life. Presently Tadanori died in the Battle of Ichinotani, but Toshinari had insights from the Imperial Court and had the "Senzai shu" (Millennium) Anthology author noted as anonymous. Whether it was divine intervention or not, Toshinari went on to live to around 70: a further 20 years.

Furthermore, 4 months before he passed away, political power was grasped and shifted to the Taira clan; the Genji clan, who had built the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and the previous Shogun MINAMOTO no Yoriie lost their lives in power struggles with gokenin (an immediate vassal of the shogun in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods) and, seeing this, the autocratic monarch Retired Emperor Gotoba took back the reigns of government from the Imperial Court. Since early on, Toshinari had aspirations to join the Buddhist priesthood, but it is possible he considered the shifting uncertainties of the world at large.

Dates: Lunar calendar
With the death of his father Toshitada in 1123, becomes the adopted son of FUJIWARA no Akiyori and takes the name Akihiro.

On March 10, 1127: conferred the court rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and is appointed Mimasaka no kami (Governor of Mimasaka Province).

On May 27, 1132: took up the post of Kaga no kami (Governor of Kaga Province).

On February 4, 1138, took up the post of Totomi no kami (Governor of Totomi Province).

On February 27, 1142: reappointed Totomi no kami.

On January 14, 1146: promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) and retained his position as Totomi no kami. On February 19, 1146: took up the post of Mikawa no kami (Governor of Mikawa Province).

On May 34, 1149: took up the post of Tango no kami (Governor of Tango Province).

On February 12, 1150: promoted to the court rank of Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and retained his position as Tango no kami.

On February 1, 1151: promoted to the court rank of Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and retained his position as Tango no kami.

On February 2, 1153: transferred to role of Sakyo no gon no daibu (Provisional Master of the Eastern Capital Offices).

On November 26, 1155: promoted to the court rank of Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade) and retained his position as Sakyo no gon no daibu.

On December 2, 1157: promoted to court rank of Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and retained his position as Sakyo no gon no daibu.

On October 19, 1161 takes up the position of Sakyo no daibu (Master of the Eastern Capital Offices).

On February 21, 1166: resigns as Sakyo no daibu. On September 30, 1166: promoted to court rank of Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank).

On February 26, 1167: promoted to court rank of Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank). On February 11, 1168: his real name was altered to Toshinari.

On January 1, 1169: appointed Ukyo no daibu (Master of the Western Capital Offices).

On September 15, 1170: concurrently holds the role of Kogogu daibu (Master of the Empress's Household) (Goshirakawa's Empress FUJIWARA no Kinshi).

On March 3, 1171: concurrently holds the role of Bizen gon no kami (provisional governor of Bizen Province).

On March 13, 1172: because the Empress became Dowager Empress, his position changed from Kogogu daibu to Kotaigo gu no daibu.

On January 28, 1176: ceased being Ukyo no daibu.

On November 8, 1176: became a Buddhist priest. Buddhist priest name: "Shakua."

Dies on December 29, 1204. Age at death: 91.

[Original Japanese]