Kamo no Mabuchi (賀茂真淵)

KAMO no Mabuchi (April 24, 1697-November 27, 1769) was a scholar of Japanese classical literature and culture, and also a poet in the Edo period. He was commonly called Shosuke. Mabuchi was his pseudonym, named after his birth place Fuchi County, and he also called himself 淵満.


KAMO no Mabuchi was born in 1697 as the third son of Masanobu OKABE who was a Shinto priest in Hamamatsu. The Okabe family is said to have been the descendant of the Kamo-jinja shrine in Kyoto.

At the age of 37, he moved to Kyoto and studied under KADA no Azumamaro, but in 1736 his teacher died and he moved to Edo in 1738. He taught Japanese classical literature and culture.

In 1763, Norinaga MOTOORI visited KAMO no Mabuchi who was on the trip to Ise-jingu Shrine, and became his disciple. On that night, he received such a valuable lecture only once in his life; this story is famous as "a night in Matsuzaka." After that, they are said to have continued correspondence (questions and answers on Manyoshu [Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves]).

The former site of his residence in Edo is in Chuo Ward, Tokyo (near 9 Hisamatsu-cho, Nihonbashi, Tokyo) and a guide board stands there indicating the place is the former site of KAMO no Mabuchi Agatai (his another pseudonym). His grave is at Oyama Cemetery of Tokai-ji Temple in Shinagawa (3 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo). "Kamono Mabuchi Memorial Hall" is near his birthplace in Hamamatsu (1-22-2 Iba, Naka Ward, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture).

Personal Profile

KAMO no Mabuchi studied under KADA no Azumamaro and investigated the spirit of ancient Japanese through the study of classical literature such as Manyoshu. He was one of 'the four great scholars of Japanese classical literature and culture' together with KADA no Azumamaro, Norinaga MOTOORI and Atsutane HIRATA.

His major works include "Kaiko" (Thoughts on the Meaning of Poetry), "Manyoko" (The Study of Manyoshu), "Kokuiko" (Thoughts on the Meaning of the Nation), "Noritoko" (Thoughts on Rituals), "Niimanabi" (New Studies), "Buniko" (Commentary on Literature), "Goiko" (Five Ancient Matters [Literature, Poetry, Nativism, Language and Writing]), "Kanjiko" (The Study of Poetic Epithets), "Kagurako" (Thoughts on Shinto Songs) and "Genji Monogatari Shinshaku" (New Interpretations of The Tale of Genji). They have been published in "Kamo no Mabuchi Zenshu" (The Complete Works of Kamo no Mabuchi) (six volumes) compiled by Kokugakuin, its revised edition "Zotei Kamo no Mabuchi Zenshu" (The Revised Edition of the Complete Works of Kamo no Mabuchi) (twelve volumes, published by Yoshikawa Kobunkan), "Kohon Kamo no Mabuchi Zenshu" (The Conflated Edition of the Complete Works of Kamo no Mabuchi) (on his thoughts, two volumes) and "Kamo no Mabuchi Zenshu" (The Complete Works of Kamo no Mabuchi) (twenty-eight volumes, published by Zokugun Shorui Ju Kanseikai) edited by Senichi HISAMATSU.

His Disciples

Mabuchi was also a good teacher and his disciples include Norinaga MOTOORI, Hisaoyu ARAKIDA, Chikage KATO, Harumi MURATA, Nahiko KATORI, Hokiichi HANAWA, Matatsu UCHIYAMA, Hijimaro KURITA and Shigekiko MORI; their school was called Agatai.

The following seven people are known as his prominent disciples. Among them, the three most talented women were called Kenmon no Sansaijo (the three talented women of the Agatai school) and the four most talented men were called Kenmon no Shitenno (the four talented men of the Agatai school).

Kenmon no Sansaijo

Shigeko SHINDO
Shizuko YUYA
Yonoko UDONO

Kenmon no Shitenno

Umaki KATO

Kenmon Junitaika (the twelve great scholars of the Agatai school)

Eight disciples are sometimes added to Kenmon no Shitenno and are collectively referred to as Kenmon Junitaika.

Umaki KATO
Norinaga MOTOORI
Harusato MURATA
Hijimaro KURITA
Furumichi ONO

[Original Japanese]