Urabe Kanekata (卜部兼方)

Kanekata URABE (year of birth and year of death not known) was a kanjin (government official (esp. one of low to medium rank)) in charge of matters relating to Shintoism (in other words, Shintoist), who lived in the middle and late Kamakura period. He was a jingikan (official in charge of matters relating to Shintoism) and carried out clerical work at the Hirano-jinja Shrine. He was also called Kaiken.
Japanese pronunciation is 'Yasukata.'
His father was Kanebumi URABE, who was Jingi Gon no Taifu (Provisional Senior Assistant Director of Divinities). He wrote "Shaku Nihongi" based on views inherited by the family which had been handed down from generation to generation in the Urabe family (Hirano-sha branch) including his father Kanebumi and various annotated editions of the "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) since Nara period and gave a great influence to Yoshida Shintoism.

The Urabe clan was one of saishikizoku (nobles in charge of religious rites) in the old time and had been engaged in making judgment on fortune by divining. The family inherited jingikan from generation to generation together with the Onakatomi clan. In the middle of the Heian period, the Urabe family was divided into two branches, one was the Hirano-sha branch and the other was Yoshida-jinja branch, and the Hirano-sha branch to which Kanekata belonged was originally the head family because the founder of the Urabe clan, Hiramaro URABE's fief head been owned by the Hirano-sha Shrine. However, partly because the Yoshida-jinja Shrine was the ujigami (guardian deity) of the Fujiwara clan, the power of two branches were equal and the position of uji no choja (clan head) was inherited by both branches in turns and both branches respectively studied old books such as Nihonshoki as the kagaku (study by the family).

In Muromachi period, the Yoshida-sha branch flourished partly because one of the family member's became a noble, while the Hirano-sha branch declined and ended with Kaneo URABE, who descended from Kanekata after eight generations. The Hirano-sha branch was inherited by Kanenaga YOSHIDA, who was adopted from the Yoshida-sha branch and his descendent called themselves the Fujii clan up from Ategai FUJII and became a toshoke (family admitted to imperial court).

The Urabe copies of two volumes of "Nihonshoki" for the legendary age having an okugaki (inscription usually preceding the colophone) (in 1286 transcribed by Kanekata, that shows the relation with "Shaku Nihongi" are possessed by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

[Original Japanese]