Ogura Hyakunin Isshu

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Poem Card No.1
Ogura shikishi by Teika

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首?) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred Japanese waka by one hundred poets. Hyakunin isshu can be translated to "one hundred people, one poem [each]"; it can also refer to the card game of uta-garuta, which uses a deck composed of cards based on the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.

It was compiled by Fujiwara no Teika while he lived in the Ogura district of Kyoto, Japan.[1]


One of Teika's diaries, the Meigetsuki, says that his son, Fujiwara no Tame'ie, asked him to arrange one hundred poems for Tame'ie's father-in-law, who was furnishing a residence near Mount Ogura;[2] hence the full name of "Ogura Hyakunin Isshu". In order to decorate screens of the residence, Fujiwara no Teika produced the calligraphy poem sheets.[3]

Hishikawa Moronobu provided woodblock portraits for each of the poets included in the anthology.[4]

In his own lifetime, Teika was better known for other work. For example, in 1200 (Shōji 2), Teika prepared another anthology of one hundred poems for ex-Emperor Go-Toba. This was called the Shōji Hyakushu.[5]


List of Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Poets

Hyakunin Isshu Edo period

Poem number 2[6]
One of the poems attributed to Empress Jitō was selected by Fujiwara no Teika. The text is visually descriptive. From the Shinkokinshū, but the original poem was from the Man'yōshū.


The spring has passed
And the summer come again
For the silk-white robes
So they say, are spread to dry
On the Mount of Heaven's perfume

Hyakunin Isshu, from the Shinkokinshū

春過ぎて (Haru sugite?)
夏来にけらし (Natsu ki ni kerashi?)
白妙の (Shirotae no?)
衣干すてふ (Koromo hosu chō?)
天の香具山 (Ama no Kaguyama?)[6]

Original poem from the Man'yōshū

春過ぎて (Haru sugite?)
夏来るらし (Natsu kitaru rashi?)
白栲の (Shirotae no?)
衣乾したり (Koromo hoshi tari?)
天の香具山 (Ama no Kaguyama?)

Poem number 26[7]
A quite different poem is attributed to Sadaijin Fujiwara no Tadahira in the context of a very specific incident. After abdicating, former Emperor Uda visited Mount Ogura in Yamashiro province. He was so greatly impressed by the beauty of autumn colours of the maples that he ordered Fujiwara no Tadahira to encourage Uda's son and heir, Emperor Daigo, to visit the same area. Prince Tenshin or Prince Teishin (貞信公 Teishin Kō?) was Tadahira's posthumous name, and this is the name commonly associated with a poem which observes that "[t]he maples of Mount Ogura, If they could understand, Would keep their brilliant leaves, until [t]he Ruler of this land Pass with his Royal band."[8] The accompanying 18th century illustration shows a person of consequence riding an ox in a procession with attendants on foot. The group is passing through an area of maples.[9] Fujiwara no Teika chose this poem from the Shūi Wakashū for the Hyakunin Isshu.

If the maple leaves
On Ogura mountain
Could only have hearts,
They would longingly await
The emperor's pilgrimage.
小倉山 (Ogurayama?)
峰のもみぢ葉 (Mine no momijiba?)
心あらば (Kokoro araba?)
今ひとたびの (Ima hitotabi no?)
行幸またなむ (Miyuki matanan?)[6]'*'

'*'By modern Romanization, "Miyuki matanamu"; pronounced matanan by use of historical kana orthography.

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, Arashiyama[edit]

In November 2003, the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry founded the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Cultural Foundation to promote this work of literature and poetic appreciation.[10]

In January 2006, The Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Hall of Fame Shigure-den was completed in Arashiyama.[10] This museum introduces visitors to Hyakunin Isshu using the latest digital technology.[11]

During the following years, 100 monuments inscribed with the 100 poems from the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu are planned for installation in the nearby vicinity.[10]

English translations[edit]

The Ogura Hyakunin Isshu has been translated into many languages and into English many times, beginning with Yone Noguchi's Hyaku Nin Isshu in English in 1907.[12] Other translations include William N. Porter, A Hundred Verses from Old Japan (1909); Clay MacCauley, Hyakunin-isshu (Single Songs of a Hundred Poets) (1917); Tom Galt, The Little Treasury of One Hundred People, One Poem Each (1982); Joshua S. Mostow, Pictures of the Heart: The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image (1996); Peter McMillan, One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each (2008); and Emiko Miyashita and Michael Dylan Welch, 100 Poets: Passions of the Imperial Court (2008).

Other Hyakunin Isshu anthologies[edit]

Many other anthologies compiled along the same criteria—one hundred poems by one hundred poets—include the words hyakunin isshu, notably the World War II-era Aikoku Hyakunin Isshu (愛国百人一首?), or One Hundred Patriotic Poems by One Hundred Poets. Also important is Kyōka Hyakunin Isshu (狂歌百人一首?), a series of parodies of the original Ogura collection.

Card game[edit]

Teika's anthology is the basis for the card game of karuta, which has been popular since the Edo period.[13]

Many forms of playing game with Hyakunin Isshu exist in Japan.

Main article: Uta-garuta

Also Competitive karuta (Kyogi Karuta).

Main article: Competitive karuta


  1. ^ Mostow, Joshua. (1996). Pictures of the Heart: The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image, p.25.
  2. ^ Ogurayama: Latitude: 34° 53' 60 N, Longitude: 135° 46' 60 E; Kyoto Prefecture web site: northwest of Arashiyama Park.
  3. ^ Mostow, p.94.
  4. ^ Hishikawa, Moronobu; Fujiwara, Sadaie (1680). "100 Poems by 100 Poets". World Digital Library (in Japanese). Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Brower, Robert H. "Fujiwara Teika's Hundred-Poem Sequence of the 'Shoji Era'." Monumenta Nipponica. Vol. 31, No. 3 (Autumn, 1976), pp. 223-249.
  6. ^ a b c University of Virginia, Hyakunin Isshu on-line
  7. ^ Fujiwara no Sadaiie, Clay MacCauley. (1917). Ogura Hyakunin Isshu from Hyakunin-Isshu. Yokohama: Kelly and Walsh, Ltd.
  8. ^ Fujiwara no Tadahira. "Prince Teishin" (貞信公 Teishin Kō), A Hundred Verses from Old Japan, Being a Translation of the Hyakunin Isshu, p. 26.
  9. ^ Fujiwara no Tadahira, p. 25.
  10. ^ a b c Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, Arashiyama
  11. ^ Kyoto City Tourism and Culture Information Site: Shigure-den
  12. ^ Yone Noguchi, Hyaku Nin Isshu in English, Waseda Bungaku (1907)
  13. ^ Honan, William H. "Why Millions in Japan Read All About Poetry," New York Times. March 6, 2000.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Translation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, Peter McMillan, foreword by Donald Keene. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-231-14398-1
  • 100 Poets: Passions of the Imperial Court, Emiko Miyashita and Michael Dylan Welch, translators. Tokyo: PIE Books, 2008. ISBN 978-4-89444-757-8 This book is also available as an iPad/iPhone application.

External links[edit]