Fujiwara no Kiyosuke

Fujiwara no Kiyosuke
Fujiwara no Kiyosuke in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.

Fujiwara no Kiyosuke

Fujiwara no Kiyosuke (藤原清輔) was a Heian Period poet living from 1104-1177AD.13 As a member of the Fujiwara Clan he was the second son of Fujiwara no Akisuke and is said to have been in conflict with him until the age of thirty. From his father he inherited a portrait of Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, which his grandfather had originally painted.1

He grew up to be the Leader of the Rokujo House of Poetry14, which had originally been founded by his grandfather Fujiwara no Akisue. Throughout his life he is stated as being a rival of Fujiwara no Teika and took part in many literary debates.

His literary works were numerous and included the Fukuro-sōshi, Waka dōmōshō (Notes on Japanese poetry for Beginners), Ōgishō (Notes on Basic Principles)1 and Waka ichiji shō (Notes on poetic diction).34

After the completion of the Imperial Waka Anthology by the name of Shikashū, Emperor Nijō approached him to make a sequal to it called the Shoku-shikashū, however the Emperor died before its completion and so it never was offically classed as an Imperial Anthology.4 As a literary critic he regarded Kiyohara no Fukayabu as a poet as good as those listed in the Thirty Six Poetic Geniuses.1

Ninety-four of his poems can be found in Imperial Anthologies.4 One of this poems (No.84) can be found in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu and goes as follows:1

Japanese text2
Romanized Japanese1
English translation1
mata kono goro ya
ushi to mishi yo zo
ima wa koishiki
Since I now recall fondly
the painful days of the past,
if I live long, I may look back
on these harsh days, too,
and find them sweet and good.


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. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.
4. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.

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