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Sōjō Henjō (遍昭 or 遍照, 816 – February 12, 890) was a Japanese waka poet and Buddhist priest. His birth name was Yoshimine no Munesada (良岑宗貞). Thanks to a reference to him in the preface of Kokin Wakashū he is listed as one of the Six best Waka poets and one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.


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Henjō was the eighth son of Dainagon Yoshimine no Yasuyo, a son of Emperor Kanmu who was relegated to civilian life. Henjō began his career as a courtier. He was appointed to the position of kurodo, a sort of Chamberlain of Emperor Ninmyō. In 849 he was raised to the Head of Kurodo (Kurōdonotō). After Emperor Nimmyō died in 850, Henjō became a monk out of his grief.

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He was a priest of the Tendai school. In 877 he founded Gangyō-ji (元慶寺) in Yamashina, in the southeast part of Kyoto, but continued to be active in court politics. In 869 he was given another temple Urin-in or Unrin-in (雲林院) in the north of Kyoto and managed both temples. In 885 he was ranked in Sojo and called Kazan Sōjō (花山僧正).

He was rumored to have had a love affair with the great female poet Ono no Komachi.

Thirty-five of his waka were included in the imperial anthologies of waka including Kokin Wakashū. In the preface Ki no Tsurayuki criticized him: "he knows how to construct waka, but there is less real emotion. It is like when you see a picture of a woman and it moves your heart". Henjō was famous for the following poem from the Hyakunin Isshu:

天津風 雲の通ひ路 吹き閉ぢよ をとめの姿 しばしとどめむ Amatsukaze / kumo no kayoiji / huki tojiyo / otome no sugata / shibashi todomen Oh stormy winds, bring up the clouds And paint the heavens grey; Lest these fair maids of form divine Should angel wings display, And fly far far away.

His son, Priest Sosei was also a waka poet and monk.


Henjō Wikipedia

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