Fujiwara no Yoshitaka

Hear about Fujiwara no Yoshitaka on Episode 3 of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

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

Fujiwara no Yoshitaka

Fujiwara no Yoshitaka 藤原 義孝 (954 – 74) was a member of the Fujiwara Clan,  more specifically the Hokke Branch of this clan, and was the son of Fujiwara no Koretada. He had a son when he was aged eighteen by the name of Yukinari and held the position of Captain of the Right Bodyguards (右少将 ushōshō).

He sadly died young at the age of twenty, the same day as his twin brother.

As a man with an interest in reading the Lotus Sutra (as well as being a devout Buddhist according to the Ōkami) he insisted that he did not wish to be cremated. This would allow him to be reborn and continue reading the Sutra. His mother, however, ignored his wishes and so it is said Yoshitaka returned as a ghost asking her why she did not carry out his wishes. He then had to return to dwell eternally in Heaven.

As part of his legacy, twelve of his poems can be found in official waka anthologies, and one of his poems (Number 50) is included in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. He also has a private collection called the Yoshitaka-shū.

He is listed as one of the Thirty Six Poetic Geniuses of the Late Classical Period.1

The poem listed in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu goes as follows:

Japanese text2
Romanized Japanese1
English translation1
君がため
惜しからざりし
命さへ
長くもがなと
思ひけるかな
Kimi ga tame
oshikarazarishi
inochi sae
nagaku mogana to
omoinuru kana
I always thought
I would give my life
to meet you only once,
but now, having spent a night
with you, I wish that I may
go on living forever.

Footnotes

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.

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