Ōtomo no Tabito

Ōtomo no Tabito
Ōtomo no Tabito

Ōtomo no Tabito

Ōtomo no Tabito (大伴 旅人) was a member of the Ōtomo Clan, living from 665-731.


He was father to Ōtomo no Yakamochi and half-brother to Sakanoue no Iratsume.12


In 718 he was given the rank of chūnagon (Middle Counsellor) and by 727/728 had recieved the rank of Viceroy for the government headquarters at Dazaifu (he was sent into exile here4). Later in 730 he was promoted again to dainagon (Great Counsellor)1 and returned to Nara where he then died the following year.14

Poetic Legacy

His poetry is well known and he is thought to have inspired his son and half-sister to also pursue poetry. His own poetic interests, as well as interest in chinese studies was fuelled by both Priest Manzei and his friend Yamanoue no Okura.1

He became aquainted with Manzei after the priest had been exiled to Kyushu.4

Within the 5th book of the Man’yōshū there is a record of a plum blossom viewing that Tabito held as well as poems written by those who participated, additionally, the Man’yo-shū contains almost all of his surviving poems. Some of the more famous are a set of 13 poems which celebrate not just wine but also the pleasure of being drunk.1

He is listed as one of the Man’yo no Go Taika (5 Great Poets of the Time),2 and the poet Haji no Mimichi is known to have served under him.3


1. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.
2. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.
3. Borgen, R. (1975) “The Origins of the Sugawara. A History of the Haji Family”. Monumenta Nipponica. Vol.30 No.4 pp.405-422
4. Miller, R. A.. (1981) “The Lost Poetic Sequence of the Priest Manzei”. Monumenta Nipponica. Vol.36 No.2 pp.133-172

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