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Henjo, by Kanō Tan’yū.


Henjo (遍昭 or 遍照) was a Buddhist monk and poet, entering into religion in 849. Before this he was known as Yoshimine no Munesada (良岑宗貞) and lived between 816 and 890. Before entering into religion he served as Captain of the Imperial Guard under Emperor Ninmyo. His son Sosei, was also a poet.

Within the Tales of Yamato there are many stories which talk about his many lovers and religious conversations that he had.

He is also known to have had a private collection of poetry.

The Kokinshū describes him as accomplished yet lacking in truth. He was included as one of the Six Poetic Geniuses, and one of his poems (No.12) can be found in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu and goes as follows:1

Japanese text2
Romanized Japanese1
English translation1
Ama tsu kaze
kumo no kayoiji
otome no sugata
shibashi todomen
Breezes of Heaven blow closed
The pathway through the clouds
To keep a little longer
These heavenly dancers
From returning home.


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.

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

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