Taiki: Kōji 2 {1143} 10.22 Entry

Translated by Yumi Kodama and Tanya Kostochka

Kōji 2 10.22 Entry

Twenty-second Day. Kinotono mi. 1 Sunny. Around the Hour of the Snake 2 , I visited the lodging 3 of {Minamoto no Shishi,} the primary wife 4 {of Fujiwara no Tadazane.} Tonsured Former Regent 5 {Fujiwara no Tadazane 6 } and Dharma Prince 7 {Kakuhō 8 } were already there. The treasures had been brought out, and they were examining them. There were some rare items.

Then, Minamoto no Shishi visited the Six Prayers Hall 9 . I accompanied her. During this visit, I stopped by the refectory 10 to have a look. 〈There were no Buddha images, due to the restorations.〉

Next, < I accompanied> Minamoto no Shishi to the lecture hall 11 and then the pagoda 12 . She subsequently went to the Temple of Prince Shōtoku’s Spirit 13 . On the way there, I separated from the party and stopped by the Temple of Ten Thousand Towers 14 . Minamoto no Shishi went ahead to the Picture Hall 15 . {Later, I went back and joined her party. }

The tonsured former regent and the dharma prince were on cobblestones beneath the eaves.〈Lord Novice {Tadazane 16 } remained in his palanquin.The prince’s seat was placed on the cobblestone, and he waited on {Minamoto no Shishi} there.〉A certain provisional head supervisor 17 from this temple expounded on the meaning {of The Pictorial Biography of Prince Shōtoku 18 } by gesturing to the painting with a wooden pointer 19 . {Minamoto no Shishi} invited me to go sit inside the hall and question the supervisor when something was unclear. She remained in her carriage and listened to the lecture. After a while it ended, and Provisional Governor of Kai {Taira no} Nobunori bestowed a reward upon the supervisor {on behalf of the host. } 20

Then, Minamoto no Shishi visited the Hall of Prince Shōtoku’s Spirit. 21 〈She remained in her carriage. When {she and the Lord Novice} go to visit various halls, her carriage is pulled by male retainers. {When they stop} she remains in her carriage, and the Lord Novice rides in his palanquin. This is because both of them have difficulty walking.〉 I went inside the hall and paid obeisance to Prince Shōtoku twice 〈I followed the convention of paying obeisance to Prince and therefore did not do it a third time {as one would to a Buddha}.〉 22 I said a petitionary prayer: “If I am to be regent of the land, I wish to govern in accordance with the Seventeen Article Constitution. 23 I have not changed my mind with respect to this resolution. I would dispel the chaos in the land and return it to its proper order. 24

Minamoto no Shishi stopped her carriage at the Western Gate 25 < Perhaps to say the nembutsu.> 26 > At that time, I rode a horse out to the western shore and saw the ocean. 〈Today, I saw it for the first time. 27 > Without delay, I returned and went to the Turtle Well 28 and drank . With a mind full of compassion 29 , I drank it. I went to the Tonsured Former Regent’s lodgings. In that time, it got dark. I went to Minamoto no Shishi’s lodgings and then returned to my quarters.

This morning, when {Minamoto no Shishi, Lord Novice Tadazane, and Prince Kakuhō} were looking at the things in the treasury, there was a silk-padded night robe that had belonged to Prince Shōtoku. signaled some female attendants to rip a little piece off. The Tonsured Former Regent and the Dharma Prince commanded me, saying: “You should tear off some of this robe and take it as a protective charm.” I refused, saying: “Stealing from a temple, even for a protective charm, is a violation of precepts with respect to Buddhist law and a crime with respect to the royal law. 30 I cannot take it.”

  1. Forty-second day of the sexegenery cycle.

  1. 9-11 AM.

  1. This entry describes part of a trip that Yorinaga, his father Fujiwara no Tadazane, Tadazane’s primary wife Minamoto no Shishi took to Shitennōji, a major monastic complex in present-day Ōsaka. The lodgings refer to visitor quarters inside of the monastic complex.

  1. Throughout this entry, Yorinaga refers to Minamoto no Shishi as kita no mandokoro 北政所 which means the primary wife of a high ranked official. In this case, it refers specifically to Fujiwara no Tadazane’s primary wife.

  1. Zenkō 禅閤 is the polite form of address for a regent who has taken the tonsure but did not leave their home, that is, did not go to stay at a temple.

  1. Fujiwara no Tadazane 藤原忠実 (1078-1162) was Yorinaga’s father

  1. Hosshinnō 法親王 is a dharma prince, someone who was registered as part of the royal house only after he took the tonsure.

  1. Kakuhō 覚法 was the son of Monarch Shirakawa and Minamoto no Shishi.

  1. Rokujidō 六時堂 is literally “Six Times Hall” because prayers were held there six times a day.

  1. Jikidō 食堂 refers to a building in the monastic complex that serves as a dining hall for the monks but also typically has Buddhist images inside.

  1. Kōdō 講堂 is the building where sutras would be read and sermons given.

  1. Here, 塔 refers to the five-story pagoda at Shitennōji, which is said to contain six grains of the Buddha’s ashes and six hairs from the head of Prince Shōtoku. The number six symbolizes the six realms of rebirth in Buddhism and Prince Shōtoku’s wish for the spiritual attainment of beings in all these realms (shitennoji.or.jp).

  1. The name Shōryōin 聖霊院 literally means Temple of the Sacred Spirit. In this case, the “sacred spirit” refers specifically to Prince Shōtoku and the temple is often referred to simply as taishiden 太子殿, which means Prince Hall.

  1. Here, Yorinaga writes Mantōin 万塔院 which literally means the Hall of Ten Thousand Towers. This is a homonym of the name of the hall 万灯院 (mantōin) which literally means the Hall of Ten Thousand Lanterns. It is quite likely that Yorinaga meant the latter even though he wrote the former.

  1. Edō 画堂 is the picture hall at Shitennōji that displays paintings of scenes from the life of Prince Shōtoku on its walls.

  1. “Lord” here points to Tadazane’s social station and “Novice” to his status as someone who has taken the tonsure.

  1. This priest was in charge of temple business as well as taking care of clerics and noble guests (Ikumi Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda and Etoki Storytelling in Japan (Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2006), 25).

  1. A painting depicting numerous scenes from the life of Prince Shōtoku. Paintings like this appeared in many forms, including pictures painted on walls/sliding doors, hanging pictures, or picture scrolls. (日本国語大辞典). Kaminishi suggests that this version was painted on the walls/sliding doors of the Shitennōji Picture Hall (Ikumi Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda and Etoki Storytelling in Japan (Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2006), 24).

  1. The various scenes from Prince Shōtoku’s life were not arranged in a linear fashion in these paintings and so, a wooden stick was used to tap whatever scene the monk was describing. This tip of this pointer was sometimes covered in cotton to mitigate wear and tear on the painting (Ikumi Kaminishi, Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda and Etoki Storytelling in Japan (Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2006), 25).

  1. This was either Minamoto no Shishi or Fujiwara no Tadazane.

  1. Along with the Picture Hall, this hall is a part of the Temple of Prince Shōtoku’s Spirit.

  1. It is customary to pay obeisance to Buddha three times, but because Prince Shōtoku is not a Buddha, Yorinaga did not do it a third time.

  1. According to the Nihon Shoki, this constitution was authored by Prince Shōtoku and adopted by Suiko, the reigning monarch of the time. Rather than a list of laws, it is more focused on the virtues of a good ruler. So, in this prayer, Yorinaga wishes to be able to embody these virtues as a ruler.

  1. Here, Yorinaga uses a compound phrase hatsuranhansei 撥乱反正 which appears in the Commentary of Gongyang (One of the three commentaries on The Spring and Autumn Annals). It means “dispel the chaos of the world and return it to its proper order.”

  1. The Western Gate of Shitennōji is sometimes called the Pure Land Gate because it is said to be the Eastern Gate of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land—a paradise where your needs are all fulfilled and it is much easier to achieve enlightenment than in our world.

  1. Nembutsu is a term referring to the call to Amida Buddha, namu amida butsu 南無阿弥陀仏. Before he became a Buddha, Amida made a vow that anyone who calls on him would be reborn in his Pure Land. Only a few decades after this entry takes place, Hōnen would go on to argue that the nembutsu ought to be the only practice of Pure Land Buddhism but in Yorinaga’s time, it was simply one of many practices.

  1. It is not clear whether he’s seeing the ocean for the first time ever or if he is seeing the ocean coming from Shitennōji for the first time. Because Kyoto is relatively far from the ocean, it is possible that he had never seen the ocean but this is not made explicit here.

  1. The Turtle Well features a large turtle-shaped basin. Water flows into it from a spring under Shitennōji’s main hall.

  1. Although “compassion” is the most common translation for jihi 慈悲, it also has the broader meaning of “benevolence” or “good will.” This sort of compassion is an important virtue of the Bodhisattva, a being who postpones enlightenment in order to help other beings escape from suffering.

  1. The Buddhist law and secular or “royal” law are frequently brought up together to signal the totality of laws that govern proper conduct.

Original text 原文


廿二日、〈乙巳、〉晴、巳刻参北政所御所、先是禅閤及法親王坐之、取出宝蔵物御覧之、有希有之物等、次北政所参御六時堂、余同参候御供、此間余向食堂見之、〈此間修造、乃先〔仍無〕仏事〔等〕、〉次参御講堂、〈余同、〉次参御塔、〈余同、〉次参御聖霊院、余路次参万塔院、北政所先参御画坐〔堂〕、禅閤及法親王坐砌下、〈入道殿忠実乍手轝給〔御〕之、法親王敷候坐之、〉本寺権上座某持楚指画説之、余依仰昇坐〔堂〕上、有不審之時問之、北政所乍車引立聴聞之、良久説了、甲斐権守信範 [平] 取被給之、


Kundoku 訓読


廿二日、〈乙巳きのとみ。〉晴。の刻に北政所 きたのまんどころ 1 の御所に参る。是より先、禅閤 2 及び法親王 3 これにおはす。宝蔵の物を取り出しこれを御覧ず。希有の物等有り。

次いで北政所、六時堂ろくじどう 4 に参りたまう。余、同じく御供おともに参候 5 す。此の間に、余、食堂じきどうに向かいてこれを見る。〈此の間修造す。仍って仏等は無し。〉

次いで講堂に参り御う。〈余も同じ。〉次いで塔に参り御う。〈余も同じ。〉次いで聖霊院しょうりょういん 6 に参り御う。余、路の次いでに万塔院まんとういん 7 に参る。北政所は先に画堂えどう 8 に参り御う。

禅閤及び法親王は砌下せいか 9 おはす。〈入道殿 10 手輿たごし 11 ながらこれにおわし、法親王はこれに坐を敷き候ず 12 。〉本寺の権上座ごんじょうざ 13 なにがしすわえ 14 を持ってを指しこれを説く。余、仰せに依りて堂上に昇り、不審有るの時これを問う。北政所は車 15 ながら引き立てこれを聴聞ちょうもんす。やや久しくして説きおわり、甲斐権守かいのごんのかみ信範 [平] 16 かづけ 17 を取りてこれを給う。

次で、北政所きたのまんどころ聖霊堂しょうりょうどう 18 に参りたまう。〈車ながら引き立つ。およそ北政所、諸堂に参りたまうの時、侍のおのこ共これを引き、しばらく、車ながら引き立つ。入道殿にゅうどうどの手輿たごしに乗り給う。行歩こうほ叶わざるに依りてなり。〉余は堂上に昇り、聖霊 19 に礼を奉ること二度、〈太子を拝むの礼を用う。仍て三拝せず。〉祈請して云わく、若し天下を摂録せつろく 20 するの時あらば、十七条憲法に任せてこれを行わん。此の心変ることなし。天下をして撥乱反正はつらんはんせい 21 せしむ。

次で北政所、車を西門 22 に立つ。〈若しは御念仏か。〉時に余、騎馬きばし、西浜に出て、海を見ゆ。〈今日始めて見ゆ。〉少時しょうじ、亀井 23 に還り向かい、これを飲む。慈悲じひの心を起して、これを飲む。禅閤の御所に参る。此の間に昏黒こんこくに及ぶ。北政所の御所に参り、休廬きゅうろ 24 に還る。

今旦こんたん、宝蔵の物を御覧の時、太子の御衾ふすまの衣の綿 25 有り。女房等に示して少分しょうぶんこれを破る。禅閤ぜんこう法親王ほっしんのう予に命じて曰く、此のふすま少しき取るべし。まもりとなすべきのゆえなり。余辞して曰く、護身のために寺の物を盗み取るは、仏教に於いては破戒はかい王法おうぼう 26 に於いては有罪なり。これを取る能わず、と。

Modern Japanese 現代語訳




次に、北政所きたのまんどころ聖霊堂しょうりょうどうにお参りなさった。〈{北政所は}車にお乗りになったままであった。たいてい、北政所が諸堂にお参りなさる時には、侍の男たちが車を引き、しばらくの間、{北政所は}車にお乗りになったままでいらっしゃる。入道殿にゅうどうどの手輿たごしにお乗りになっている。{お二人とも} 歩行が難しいためである。〉私は堂上に昇って、聖霊に二度お辞儀をした。〈{聖徳}太子を、拝礼する方法を用いた。よって{仏にするように}三度はお辞儀をしなかった。〉{その際、}祈願して言った、「天下を掌握した時には、{聖徳太子が作られた}憲法十七条の精神に則り天下を治めます。この決心は変わりません。天下の乱れを直し正しい世に戻します。」と。



Taiki: Kyūan 3 {1147} 1.18 Entry

Translated by Yoshiko Kainuma

Kyūan 3 1.18 Entry

Eighteenth Day. Hinoe Uma. Provisional Middle Counsellor [Fujiwara no Kinyoshi] came for a visit. He told me that when Tsuchimikado Senior Counselor on the Council of State〈[Fujiwara no] Munesuke〉took a document-proffering staff {holding a list of participants for the Archery Matches} and went through the curtained entrance, he almost dropped the staff but caught it before it fell to the ground. His movements looked so funny that they made people smirk.

I heard a rumor that Senior Captain of the Right, Lord Fujiwara 〈Saneyoshi,〉did not participate in the Archery Matches 1 , claiming that he was ill. Nevertheless, he attended the court during the night and proceeded to decide upon {the date of} a royal visit to Kasuga Shrine. 2 If he were sick, he should have recused himself from planning the royal visit {as noble-in-charge}.

If he was not too sick and was going to plan the progress, then he should certainly have gone to the Archery Matches. Saying he is sick and not going to the Archery Matches is being greedy for promotion.

Visiting the Court to plan the royal visit to Kasuga on the same day {as the Archery Matches} is favoring the self and forgetting the official. It lacks loyalty and respect. It should not appropriate for the way of courtiers. Is not this expressed in the Book of Odes? 3

“Look at the rat; even it has limbs. But a man observes no propriety. {If a man observes no propriety, why does he not quickly die?} 4 "

This is exactly like this poem says.

  1. The archery matches are one of the annual rites at court and was held on the eighteenth of the first month.

  1. In general, three levels of organizers were appointed for planning court ceremonies: 1) nobles-in-charge (行事上卿); 2) controllers (行事弁); 3) secretaries (行事史). This entry seems to present that Saneyoshi arbitrarily proceeded to plan the date of the visit to Kasuga Shrine. It is probably because Kasuga Shrine is the tutelary deity of his clan, the Fujiwara.

  1. The following poem is in the Book of Odes, China’s oldest poetry collection.

  1. This poem emphasizes the importance of propriety for humans, stating that even a tiny rat has a body; If, however, a man does not observe propriety, he is not a human and is thus he does not deserve to live. By quoting this poem, Yorinaga severely criticizes Saneyoshi’s behavior, especially as a courtier. For more detail regarding this issue, see Yanagawa Hibiki, Fujiwara no Yorinaga -’Akusafu’ gakumon to gensetsu (Waseda Daigaku Shuppankai, 2018).

Original Text 原文


十八日、丙午、権中納言 [藤原公能] 来曰、土御門大納言〈宗輔 [藤原]、〉取四府奏入幔門之間、欲落杖、未至地取之、凡容儀足含咲焉、伝聞、右大将藤原卿 〈実能、〉称疾不参賭弓、夜中参入、定春日行幸事者、若疾病者、可辞行幸行事、若扶疾、可行耕行幸事者、必可参賭弓、称疾不参賭弓、貪一階、不改日参内定行幸事、顧私忘公、無忠無礼、於臣道不可然、詩不云乎、相鼠有体、人而無礼、此之謂乎、

Kundoku 訓読


十八日、丙午ひのえうま。権中納言 [藤原公能ふじわらのきんよし 1 2 ]来りて曰く、土御門大納言〈[藤原]宗輔ふじわらのむねすけ。〉四府奏しふそうを取り、幔門まんもん 3 [に入るの間、杖を落とさんと欲し、未だ地に至らざるにこれを取る。およ容儀ようぎえみを含むに足る。

伝え聞くに、右大将藤原卿〈実能さねよし。〉、疾と称して賭弓のりゆみ 4 に参らず。 5 夜中に参入し、春日行幸のことを定む。 6 もし疾病たらば、行幸の行事を辞すべし。もし疾をたすけ、行幸のことを行うべくんば、必ず賭弓に参るべし。疾と称して賭弓に参らず、一階 7 むさぼり、日を改めずして内に参り行幸のことを定むるは、私を顧みて公を忘るるなり。忠 8 無く礼無し。臣道に於いて然るべからず。『詩{経} 9 』に云わざるや、鼠を相るに体あり、人にして礼無し。これこの謂われか。

Modern Japanese 現代語



  1. この条の登場人物:久安3年在、藤原頼長 (1120-1156) 28歳;藤原公能(1115-1161)34歳;藤原宗輔 (1077-1162)71歳;藤原実能 (1096-1157) 52歳。(新訂増補国史大系『公卿補任』第一篇参照)。この条で頼長が指弾する実能は白河、鳥羽、崇徳各天皇の外戚であり、頼長の正妻、幸子の実父である。また、宗輔は賭弓の上卿を勤めていた。

  1. 四府奏(しふそう):四府(左近衞府、右近衞府、左兵衛府、右兵衛府)の総称;奏杖 文書を挟んで貴人の御前に差し出す杖。白木または黒塗りで、長さ約1.5--2m。ふづえ、ふばさみ、ふみばさみ。(『日国』抜粋)

  1. 幔門(まんもん):庭上に幔柱を立てて張り巡らす幔と幔との間の出入口。(『日国』抜粋)

  1. 賭弓(のりゆみ):公家の年中行事の一つ。射礼の翌日、正月十八日、天皇が弓場殿に出御、左右の近衞府、兵衛府の舎人が弓を射るのをご覧になり、勝った方には賭物を賜い、負けた方には罰酒を課した。(『日国』抜粋)

  1. 『本朝世紀』の同日条(久安三年正月十八日条 )には、「右大将実能卿覧射手奏」とあり、実能は賭弓に参入していたと思われる。(新訂増補国史大系『本朝世紀』黒板勝美 編 吉川弘文館 2003年 521頁)

  1. 春日行幸:藤原氏の氏神である春日社への行幸。二月二十二日に行われる(『本朝世紀』同上 531-533頁)。

  1. 階(かい):官位、位階、階級などの等級。の差を示す。(『日国』抜粋)

  1. 忠(ちゅう):通常は忠誠心などの意味だが、頼長にとっての忠は、いわゆる朝廷に毎日出仕するなどの、勤務に対する勤勉さを意味していたことが指摘されている。(小島小五郎『公家文化の研究』国書刊行会 1981年 39-46頁)

  1. 相鼠有体、人而無礼、人而無礼、胡不遄死。『毛詩』の「相鼠」より引用。{『毛詩』は『詩経』の異称。漢の毛亨が伝えた書であるところからいう。} 鼠ですら体はあるのに、人間のくせに礼が無い。人間なのに礼が無ければ、すぐに死んだほうがまし。の意。〈柳川響『藤原頼長―「悪左府」学問と言説―』早稲田大学出版会、2018年16-17頁.石川忠久『新釈漢文体系100 詩経』明治書院、1997年146-147頁 参照).

Jitsuya Nishiyama: Taiki Character List

Taiki Character List
By Jitsuya Nishiyama
USC Kambun Workshop 2019

Fujiwara no Yorinaga (1120-1156)

One of the highest-ranking officials at the imperial court in the late Heian period. His father, Fujiwara no Tadazane, favored him over the regent and his brother Fujiwara no Tadamichi. When his father disowned his brother Tadamichi, Yorinaga became the clan head of the Fujiwara in 1150 and then he became document examiner (nairan no senji) in the following new year. This created serious tension between Yorinaga and Tadamichi. After losing the favor of Ruling Retired Monarch Toba, Yorinaga conspired with Junior Retired Monarch Sutoku, who was dissatisfied with his brother's succession of the throne, causing the Hōgen Rebellion. Yorinaga was injured by a stray arrow in battle and died in Kizu of Yamashiro province. His diary is called Taiki. He was an outstanding scholar of Chinese classics and history, but had an abrasive character. (See Kadokawa kogo daijiten). 

Fujiwara no Narisuke, dates unknown. 

Narisuke's family did not traditionally contain Chinese scholars, but Narisuke seems to have been a frequent visiting scholar of the Regency house. As seen in Taiki, he served in close attendance to Yorinaga as his teacher and a fellow scholar. Yorinaga praised Narisuke's talent and highly regarded him. See Hashimoto Yoshihiko, Fujiwara no Yorinaga (Tokyo: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 2012), 41-42. According to an entry in Sonpi bunmyaku, Yorinaga studied under Narisuke around 1142. Later, Yorinaga assigned Narisuke as his household official (Kyūan 3 2.5 Entry, Taiki), and later strongly recommended him to become a provisional deputy commissioner of ceremonial (式部権少輔) skipping over twelve senior officials. (See Taiki and Honchō seiki).  

Ruling Retired Monarch Toba (1103-1156, r. 1107-1123) 

After Horikawa passed away, Toba succeeded the throne under the Ruling Retired Monarch Shirakawa. After the death of Shirakawa in 1129, Toba ruled for the three eras of Sutoku, Konoe, and Goshirakawa, for 28 years in total. After the early death of Konoe, Toba enthroned Go Shirakawa, and this caused Hōgen rebellion. Toba was familiar with music and the classics, and so devoted to Buddhism that he visited Kumano Grand Shrine twenty-two times. He was enthusiastic about founding temples and completed Rokushō Temple. (See Kadokawa kogo daijiten).  

Junior Retired Monarch Sutoku (1119-1164, r. 1123-1142) 

Sutoku was the 75th monarch and the first prince of Toba. After the death of Ruling Retired Monarch Toba, Sutoku fought with Goshirakawa. He lost in the Hōgen Rebellion and was sentenced to exile in Sanuki province. His mother was Taikenmon’in, or Shōshi. His name was Akihito. He was enthroned at the age of 5. Sutoku was enthusiastic about waka poetry and ordered to compile Shikashū or repeatedly called for submitting one hundred poems. Junior Retired Monarch Toba forced Sutoku to yield his throne to Konoe. After Konoe passed away, he was dissatisfied with the enthronement of Go Shirakawa, who was his younger brother. So, Sutoku conspired with Fujiwara no Yorinaga to cause the Hōgen Rebellion. But, he lost in battle and was sent exile to Matsuyama in Sanuki province and passed away in grief. (See Kadokawa kogo daijiten). 

Kita no Mandokoro (1070−1149)

Kita no Mandokoro was an office for managing domestic affairs in the family of the regent's line of the Fujiwara clan, which was located in the northern part of their residence. It also referred to the primary wife of the regent family. (See Kadokawa kogo daijiten). In Taiki, it refers to Fujiwara no Shishi, who was the wife of Yorinaga’s father Fujiwara no Tadazane. For Yorinaga, she was his mother-in-law. Her name can also be read “Moroko” and “Motoko.” (See Nihon jinmei daijiten). 

Fujiwara no Tadamichi (1097-1164) 

Tadamichi was considered to be first-class in his day at poetry, music, and calligraphy. His calligraphy was particularly well-known as a superior model for others to imitate, and his powerful calligraphy was called “The Hosshō Temple School.” This calligraphy school was highly regarded not only by aristocrats but also by warriors after the Kamakura period. He wrote a collection of Chinese poetry, Hosshōji kanpaku gyoshū; a collection of Japanese poetry, Tadamichi shū; and a diary, Hosshōji kanpakuki. (See Kokushi daijiten). In Hōgen monogatari, Yorinaga criticized Tadamichi's skills in poetry and calligraphy and stated that poetry was a pastime when one had time to kill, further saying that it was not necessary in court politics. Yorinaga may not have been good at poetry because there was an occasion that his teacher Narisuke composed a poem on his behalf. However, Yorinaga had some experience in Chinese poetry composition appropriate as a family member of the regent line. See Yanagawa Hibiki, Fujiwara no Yorinaga (Tokyo: Waseda University Press, 2018). 

Taikenmon’in (1101-1145)

The dharma name of Fujiwara no Shōshi, the wife of Toba. Her father was Fujiwara no Kinzane. In 1118, she became the wife of the monarch and gave birth to both Sutoku and Go Shirakawa. See Digital daijisen. She received her dharma name in 1124. She was devoted to Buddhism and founded Enshō Temple and Hōkonkō Temple in Ninna Monastery. She became a nun in 1142. She died in 1145 at the age of 45. (See Nihon jinmei daijiten). 

Fujiwara no Michinori (1106-1160) 

One of the highest-ranking officials at court and scholars of the late Heian period. The eldest son of Fujiwara no Sanekane. He gave up on his court career when he was a junior counselor. He took the tonsure, left government with a few words, and left home. He became cloistered when 39 years old in 1143 or 1144. (See Kokushi daijiten). He served in close attendance to Junior Retired Monarch Toba and Go Shirakawa. After he won the Hōgen Rebellion, he was an active politician. Later, when there was a conflict between Michinori and Fujiwara no Nobuyori, he was captured by Nobuyori's side in the Heiji Rebellion and was killed in 1159 at the age of 54. He was well-read with multiple skills and edited Honchō seiki and Hōsō ruirin. His dharma name was Shinzei. (See Nihon jinmei daijiten). 

Niels van der Salm: On Divination

On Divination
by Niels van der Salm
USC Kambun Workshop 2019

Life at the Heian court (794-1192) was strongly regulated by systems of knowledge that today we may be tempted to describe as superstition. From the observation of the heavens to the analysis of patterns of sticks thrown on the ground, such practices were largely thought dependent on random events in the lower spheres and regularities of those above. Such a characterisation ignores the fact, however, that at the time, these practices were considered among the state of the art. Like statecraft, mathematics, and many other aspects of the ritsuryō court, they relied on a thorough knowledge of the vast body of knowledge that had been introduced from China via the Korean peninsula to the Japanese archipelago over the course of several centuries. Although separate bodies of knowledge, both astronomy (tenmon 天文) 1 and divination (bokuzei 卜筮) required the mastery of yin-yang (onmyō 陰陽) practices, knowledge of the cardinal directions, and an understanding of the movement of celestial bodies. Ritual specialists specially trained in these subjects were appointed, and frequently consulted, by the court for both official and personal matters. In Taiki, Fujiwara no Yorinaga describes time and again how both he and the people around him make use of the services of yin-yang experts (onmyōji 陰陽師), the professor of the almanac (reki hakase 暦博士), and the professor of astronomy (tenmon hakase).

Both stick divination and the observation of the heavens relied on knowledge of the eight trigrams (hakke 八卦), symbols made up of three interrupted or uninterrupted lines that can be arranged in a total of eight different ways— e.g. open/open/closed ☳ or closed/open/closed ☲. Each trigram was assigned particular characteristics: they were associated with, for instance, the animals of the zodiac, personality traits, the five elements, body parts, and the cardinal directions. These characteristics served the interpretation of the future and of observations made in the night sky. Astronomical observation, which was concerned with observing constellations, planetary motions, and the location and duration of irregular events, could be expressed by way of the eight trigrams. The course of a person's future was determined by divining a number of trigrams and analysing what characteristics were associated with them.

The trigrams could moreover be combined into a more elaborate system consisting of sixty-four hexagrams (rokujūshike 六十四卦), which allowed for greater detail and accuracy in the predictions made by ritual specialists. It is easy to imagine how the interpretation of all these various signs, their associations, and the implications of their various combinations — set out in the Classic of Changes (Yijing 易経) and other texts — required a systematic understanding of system as a whole, and it was for this reason that the Heian court had different experts to consult on different matters.

This did not preclude, however, the possibility of non-specialists engaging in divinatory practices themselves. In the Taiki entry for 1145.6.7, we see Yorinaga requesting Fujiwara no Michinori 藤原通憲 (1106-1160, who had by then become the buddhist novice Shinzei 信西) to perform stick divination for him. Michinori refuses on the grounds that he has renounced the practice of stick divination, which is the practice of counting sticks of yarrow 2 in such a way that one can determine a number from one to eight, to then assign these numbers to the trigrams. Yorinaga then goes on to describe how they had a rather abstruse debate on whether one is to perform stick divination first, or if one should begin by divining with tortoise shells, which involved the inscription of the shells with the question at hand, then baking the shells to crack them, and then interpreting the patterns of the inscription and the cracks. Although Michinori concedes to Yorinaga's point of view, Michinori's rather technical knowledge on these matters and his willingness to interpret the trigrams of another diviner nevertheless suggest that Michinori possessed considerable theoretical knowledge of the divinatory signs, even if he was reluctant to engage in the practical side of the matter.

On the whole, however, Yorinaga mostly availed himself of the services of ritual experts. On 1145.4.2, for example, when he inaugurated his new book vault, he was accompanied by two yin-yang experts, Kamo no Norihide 賀茂憲栄 (dates unknown) and Abe no Yasuchika 安倍泰親 (1110-1183), who had divined an auspicious day to first open the building, and had also divided the shelves and its contents into yin and yang categories. Moreover, Yorinaga described the location of the vault's entrance and its pond, by its trigrammic locations: with the kon 坤 character (corresponding to the ☷ trigram), i.e. the southwest; and with the ken 乾 character (trigram ䷀), the northwest, respectively. 3

The appearance of the comet was announced to Yorinaga (1145.4.10) by Abe no Harumichi 安倍晴通 (1094-1153), a Professor of Astronomy and second cousin of Yasuchika — a hardly surprising relation, given the hereditary nature of occupational groups, again illustrating the close ties between astronomy and divination. The reliance of astronomy on yin-yang knowledge is shown by Harumichi's announcement that "there is a comet in the constellation of kei 奎", which roughly corresponds to Pisces, and which itself was again associated with the trigram kon. 4

Not only the location of the comet itself, but also the organisation of the propitiation rites was informed by the suitability of days that have particular yin-yang characteristics. On 4.15, Yorinaga noted that Fujiwara no Muneyoshi 藤原宗能 (1085-1170) questioned the wisdom of presenting offerings to the twenty-two shrines on a so-called fuku 復 day. Fuku is included among one of the sixty-four hexagrams (䷗), but because the character itself means 'to return' or 'again', the suggestion seems to have been that it would be ill-advised to hold rites intended to end the cosmological calamity on a day that is associated with repetition. As a result, Kamo no Norihide was consulted, but he refused to commit. He initially evaded the question by advising the court to refer to precedent. The debate was settled a few days later, when Norihide returned with the conclusion that days of good or ill omen are not observed when making offerings to shrines, and Nakahara no Moroyasu 中原師安 (dates unknown) added that on the occasion of an earlier comet appearance (Tenroku 1/970), the propitiation offerings were offered on a fuku day. 5

Predicting the future and determining proper plans for action were a central aspect of Heian court life, and experts were employed to provide these services. It would be wrong to dismiss these practices as simple superstition: they were elements of a structured system of knowledge about understanding the course of the future, and like the models used by the economists and climatologists of our day, they had their imperfections. Still, because Heian courtiers shared the assumptions of these practices and its knowledge, they nevertheless structured their experience of the world around them: the way buildings were oriented, the meanings of the stars, the organisation of the calendar. And in this way, it was a form of knowledge that, even if it did not foretell the future, provided the means to make choices, and a way of thinking about the unknowable, chaotic future, just as do the imperfect predictions of stock market behaviour and global temperature increase of our day.

  1. Although there are many shared aspects between tenmon and astrology, I avoid this term precisely because of its modern associations with superstition.

  1. Most translations seem to render the name of the plant used in divination as yarrow. Sometimes, the name milfoil is found; e.g. Stephen Durrant, Wai-yee Lee and David Schaberg, Zuo Tradition (Zuozhuan): Commentary on the "Spring and Autumn Annals", volume 1 (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2016), 269.

  1. See the translation for 1145.4.2, where the relevant terms have been translated with their equivalent cardinal directions.

  1. The Taiki entry was not translated as part of the 2019 workshop. The relevant passage runs, in the original, 「天文権博士晴道来云、有星孛于奎、」, which I read out as 『天文(てんもん)権(ごん)博士(安倍)晴道(あべのはるみち)来たりて云わく、「星の奎(けい)に孛するあり。」と』, and may be translated as "Provisionary Professor of Astronomy Harumichi came to me, saying: 'A star shining {like a comet} in the constellation of kei has appeared.'"

  1. The Taiki entry was not translated as part of the 2019 workshop. The relevant passage runs, in the original, 「宗能卿云、十八日復日、彗星奉弊可有憚歟、」, which I read out as 『(藤原)宗能(ふじわらのむねよし)卿云わく、「十八日は復の日なり。彗星の奉幣憚(はばか)りあるべきか。」と。』, and may be translated as, "Lord {Fujiwara no} Muneyoshi said, 'The eighteenth day is a fuku day. Should we not be hesitant to make shrine offerings because of the comet?'"

Further reading:

Buhrman, Kristina Mairi. "The Stars and the State: Astronomy, Astrology, and the Politics of Natural Knowledge in Early Medieval Japan". PhD diss., University of Southern California, 2012.

Hayashi Makoto 林淳 and Matthias Hayek. "Onmyōdō in Japanese History". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 40.1 (2013), 1-18.

Hayek, Matthias. “The Eight Trigrams and Their Changes: Divination in Early Modern Japan.” In: Jeffrey L. Richey (ed.), Daoism in Japan: Chinese Traditions and Their Influence on Japanese Religious Culture. London: Routledge, 2015, pp. 209-247.

Hsiao, Chi. Cosmologie et divination dans la Chine ancienne: le Compendium des cinq agents (Wuxing dai, VIe siècle). Paris: Publications de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient, 1991.

Kokushi Daijiten Henshū Iinkai 国史大辞典編集委員会. Kokushi daijiten 国史大辞典. Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 1979-1997.

Li, Ling. “The Revolution in Shu Shu: From Divination Using Tortoise-Shells and Yarrow Stalks to Shih Methods and Selection.” Acta Asiatica 113 (2017), 1-46.

Loewe, Michael. “Divination By Shells, Bones and Stalks During the Han Period.” T’oung Pao 74 (1988), 81-118.

Pregadio, Fabrizio. Encyclopedia of Taoism, 2 vols. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

Saitō Kuniji 斉藤国治. Kokushi kokubun ni arawareru hoshi no kiroku no kenshō 国史国文に現れる星の記録の検証. Tokyo: Yūsankaku Shuppan, 1986.