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Ki no Tsurayuki facts for kids

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Ki no Tsurayuki
Tsurayuki by Kikuchi Yōsai
Sanjūrokkasen-gaku - 2 - Kanō Tan’yū - Ki no Tsurayuki
Ki no Tsurayuki by Kanō Tan'yū, 1648

Ki no Tsurayuki (紀 貫之 , 872 – June 30, 945) was a Japanese author, poet and courtier of the Heian period. He is best known as the principal compiler of the Kokin Wakashū, also writing its Japanese Preface, and as a possible author of the Tosa Diary, although this was published anonymously.

Tsurayuki was a son of Ki no Mochiyuki. In the 890s he became a poet of waka, short poems composed in Japanese. In 905, under the order of Emperor Daigo, he was one of four poets selected to compile the Kokin Wakashū, the first imperially-sponsored anthology (chokusen-shū) of waka poetry.

After holding a few offices in Kyoto, he was appointed the provincial governor of Tosa Province and stayed there from 930 until 935. Later he was presumably appointed the provincial governor of Suō Province, since it was recorded that he held a waka party (Utaai) at his home in Suo.

He is well known for his waka and is counted as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals selected by Fujiwara no Kintō. He was also known as one of the editors of the Kokin Wakashū. Tsurayuki wrote one of two prefaces to Kokin Wakashū; the other is in Chinese. His preface was the first critical essay on waka. He wrote of its history from its mythological origin to his contemporary waka, which he grouped into genres, referred to some major poets and gave a bit of harsh criticism to his predecessors like Ariwara no Narihira.

His waka is included in one of the important Japanese poetry anthologies, the Hyakunin Isshu, which was compiled in the 13th century by Fujiwara no Teika, long after Tsurayuki's death.


Tosa nikki copied by Teika
Tosa Nikki faithfully copied by Fujiwara no Teika (1162–1241) (Museum of the Imperial Collections)

Besides the Kokin Wakashū and its Japanese preface, Tsurayuki's major literary work was the Tosa Nikki (土佐日記 , "Tosa Diary"), which was written using kana. The text details a trip in 935 returning to Kyoto from Tosa Province, where Tsurayuki had been the provincial governor.

Tale of Genji

Tsurayuki's name is referred to in the Tale of Genji as a waka master. In this story, Emperor Uda ordered him and a number of female poets to write waka on his panels as accessories.

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