Ariwara no Narihira

Ariwara no Narihira
Ariwara no Narihira by Kanō Tan’yū.

Ariwara no Narihira

Ariwara no Narihira (在原 業平) was a renowed poet from the early Heian Period living from 825 to 880. Many stories have grown up around him saying that he was an rather legendary lover, the Tales of Ise account many tale both historical and ficitional about him.

His ancestry can trace back to the Imperial family, as a son of Prince Abo, he was the grandson of Emperor Heizei on his father side, and of Kanmu. on his mothers.

He is listed as one of the Six Poetic Geniuses as well as one of the Thirty-Six Poetic Geniuses and 87 of his poems can be found in the Imperial Anthologies.

One of his poems (No.17) can be found in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu and goes as follows:1

Japanese text2
Romanized Japanese1
English translation1
kamiyo mo kikazu
karakurenai ni
mizu kukuru to wa
Such beauty unheard of
Even in the age of the raging gods-
The Tatsuta River
Tie-dyeing its waters
In autumnal colours.

Another of his poems talks of a now lost temple, and serves as one of the few references we have of the Temple of Nodera, a temple with connections to the Yōkai known as the Noderabō.3


1. MacMillan, P. (2018) ”One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Treasury of Classical Japanese Verse”. St. Ives: Penguin Classics.
2. Suzuki, H. et al. (1997) ”Genshoku: Ogura Hyakunin Isshu”. Tokyo: Bun’eidō.
3. Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

The Six Poetic Geniuses

Otomo Kuronushi * Priest Kisen * Ono no Komachi * Archbishop Henjo * Ariwara no Narihira * Fun'ya no Yasuhide.

Check out Japan Archives, our Japanese History Podcast

Follow us on social media.
Twitter: @japanarchives Instagram: @nexus_travels

Supernatural Creatures