Ono no Takamura

Ono no Takamura
Ono no Takamura by Kikuchi Yōsai.
  • Period: Heian Period
  • Occupation: Waka Poet, Statesman, Imperial Advisor.
  • Family: –
  • Birth: 802AD
  • Death: 852AD

Ono no Takamura

Ono no Takamura (小野 篁) was a Heian Period statesman, living from 802 to 852, who was also known for his poetry.1

In 834 he was ship wrecked during a mission to China, however, he later then refused to re-embark due to illness. During his life many legends have become attached to his name.3 Additionally, from evidence which has been pieces together, he most likely grew up in Mutsu Province where his father was governor. He later became an Imperial Advisor (sangi), later developing his knowledge of Chinese literature and poetry.4

In regards to his poetry it is said he was both good in the genres of Chinese and Japanese. Sadly entire collections his Chinese works have now been lost. However, some poems and prose do survive in other Chinese poetry collections, such as the Keikokushū, Wakan rōeishū and Honchō monzui.1 Other poems of his have survived through them being adopted as lyrics for songs and dances.4

Takamura has a personal poetry collection which goes by many names. These being the Takamurashū, Ono no Takamura shū, Takamura nikka and Takamura Monogatari. Inside only 32 are attributed to him, but it is unlikely that many of these poems are actually by him. This piece of work could possibly even have been written in the 11th century, long after his death.4

12 of his poems can be found in Imperial Anthologies4, specifically six of them in the Kokinshū, and a single poem of his (No.11) can be found in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu and goes as follows:1

Japanese text2
Romanized Japanese1
English translation1
Wata no hara
yaso shima kakete
hito ni wa tsugeyo
ama no tsuribune
Fishing boats upon the sea,
Tell whoever asks
That I have sailed away,
Out past countless inlets
To the vast ocean beyond.


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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