Kakinomoto no Asomi Hitomaro

(662 - 710 / Japan)

Biography of Kakinomoto no Asomi Hitomaro

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (c. 662 - 710) was a Japanese poet and aristocrat of the late Asuka period. He was the most prominent of the poets included in the Man'yōshū, and was particularly represented in volumes 1 and 2. In Japan, he is considered one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals. After the Heian period he was often called "Hito-maru"

Hitomaro is famed for his long poems, such as "In the sea of ivy clothed Iwami", "The Bay of Tsunu", and "I loved her like the leaves." 19 of his chōka (or nagauta, "long poems") were included in the Man'yōshū and 75 or so tanka (or mijikauta, "short poems") were likewise selected. Many of his poems were written on the topics of public occasions; such as his "Lament for Prince Takechi", written as part of the mourning ceremonies for Takechi. Other poems were written on occasions in his life when he was particularly moved: parting from his wife, mourning for his wife, or on seeing a corpse.

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As a mat of creepers

As a mat of creepers,
Is the sea at Iwami;
Amongst the mangled words of
Kara Point,
Upon the reefs
Grows the algae thickly;
On the rocky shoreline,
Grows the jeweled seaweed;
Soft as jeweled seaweed

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