Sugawara no Michizane
- See also: Sugawara no Michizane Poems
- Period: Heian Period
- Occupation: Udaijin, Governor, Poet
- Family: Haji no Mimichi (ancestor) Sugawara no Koreyoshi (father)
- Birth: 845
- Death: 903
Sugawara no Michizane
Sugawara no Michizane (菅原 道真/菅原 道眞) was a member of the Sugawara Clan living during the Heian Period who was famous for his knowledge of classical chinese literature amongst other things. Born in 84512 he died March 26th 903.3
During his time as minster he suggested delegations to China stop due to instability there, this was accepted in 894.
In 899 the Emperor Uda gives him the title of udaijin, but unfortunately jealousy from the Fujiwara Clan (Fujiwara no Tokihira1) would see him banished in 901 after they accuse him of treason against Emperor Daigo. His banishment would see him sent to Dazaifu in Kyushu where he was to govern, dying here in 903 whilst still proclaiming himself innocent.12 It is said he died from malnutrition.3
Poetry and Literature
His poetry was similar to that of his ancestor Haji no Mimichi, as they both use plum blossoms to express sorrow.
This particular poem can be found in the Shin Wakashū and goes as follows.
|Japanese text||Romanized Japanese4||English translation4|
|Kochi fukaba |
Ume no hana
Aruji nashi tote
Haru o wasuruma
|When the east wind blows,|
Let it send the fragrance of
The plum blossoms.
Although your master is gone,
Do not forget the spring.
Other accounts state whilst eating super he wrote 20 poems on 20 different subjects at the same time.3 He also helped in the compilation of the Sandai Jitsuroku which was the last of the ‘six offical histories.’ He also went on the create a version of these books called the Ruijū kokushi themed topically instead of chronoligcally.2
A partial list of his attacks include the following. 903 torrential rains all year. 905 drought. 906 floods. 907 bad floods. 911 floods which engulfed villages. 912 large fire in Heiankyo. 913 death of his rival. 914 more Heiankyo fires. 915 chicken pox outbreak. 918 terrible floods. 922 whooping cough outbreak. 923 death of the crown prince aged 21. 925 death of late crown princes son. 930 lightning strike in the palace walls killing several officials.3
To try and end the string of bad omens he was posthumously givn the highest honors, with some of his deified names being Tenjin Sama, Karai Tenji, Kan Shōjō and Temmangu. He is now seen as a kami of literature.12 Many shrines to him include a reposed deer which people attributed with the power to cure disease. Students have the habit of rubbing these statues before exams in the hopes of improving their grades.1
1. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.
2. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.
3. Yoda, H & Alt, M. (2012) “Yurei Attack: The Japanese Ghost Survival Guide” Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.
4. Borgen, R. (1975) “The Origins of the Sugawara. A History of the Haji Family”. Monumenta Nipponica. Vol.30 No.4 pp.405-422
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