Ōtagaki Rengetsu

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In this Japanese name, the family name is "Ōtagaki".
Ōtagaki Rengetsu
Tea caddy by Otagaki Rengetsu, 1860s, Honolulu Museum of Art, 13225.1a & b.JPG
Tea caddy incised with waka poem by Ōtagaki Rengetsu, Japan, 1860s, glazed earthenware, Honolulu Museum of Art, accession 13225.1a & b
Born Nobu Tōdō
(1791-02-10)10 February 1791
Died 10 December 1875(1875-12-10) (aged 84)
Jinkō-in, Japan
Ethnicity Japanese
Citizenship Japanese
Occupation Poet, potter, painter, calligrapher
Employer Kameoka Castle (age 7–16)
Religion Buddhism
Spouse(s) married, 1807–1823

Ōtagaki Rengetsu (太田垣 蓮月?, 10 February 1791 – 10 December 1875) was a Buddhist nun who is widely regarded to have been one of the greatest Japanese poets of the 19th century. She was also a skilled potter and painter and expert calligrapher.

Born into a samurai family with the surname Tōdō, she was adopted at a young age by the Ōtagaki family. She was a lady in waiting at Kameoka Castle from age 7 to 16, when she was married. However, her husband died in 1823. Ōtagaki joined the temple Chion-in and became a nun, taking Rengetsu ("Lotus Moon") as her Buddhist name. She remained at Chion-in for nearly ten years, and lived in a number of other temples for the following three decades, until 1865, when she settled at the Jinkō-in where she lived out the rest of her life.

Though best known as a waka poet, Rengetsu was also accomplished at dance, sewing, some of the martial arts, and Japanese tea ceremony. She admired and studied under a number of great poets including Ozawa Roan and Ueda Akinari, and later in her life became a close friend and mentor to the artist Tomioka Tessai. A number of Tessai's works, though painted by him, feature calligraphy by Rengetsu.


  • Takeuchi, Melinda (1985). "Ōtagaki Rengetsu." Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.

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