Heian Courtier



Courtier (oomiyabito )
***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Omiyabito 大宮人 Heian era court nobles

From the Manyo'Shu Poetry Collection :

刺竹之 大宮人乃 家跡住 佐保能山乎者 思哉毛君

さす竹の、大宮人(おほみやひと)の、家と住む、 佐保の山をば、思ふやも君




At the town of Kashiba, near Osaka, there is an area where since olden times after a vulcanic eruption there are garnets in the stone. This area is already mentioned in the old chronicles of Japan. Over the years some parts had crumpled completely and were like sand.
The courtiers of Heian liked this stone to use it as whetting stone for their swords and metal mirrors, bigger ones were used as jewels.


The main themes of the Nijo-san Museum are "Mt. Nijo (also called Mt. Futakami) and three stones," which may sound a little mysterious. While Mt. Nijo has long been worshipped as a mysterious mountain since the age of Manyoshu (Nara Period, 710-794), it once had a quite different aspect.

About 20 million years ago, the mountain was an active volcano with repeated large-scale eruptions. The eruptions produced various igneous rocks. Particularly interesting among them are the following three rare types of stone: sanukite, volcanic tuff and garnet (emery). The areas in which sanukite is produced are limited to Sanuki (the present Kagawa Prefecture) and Mt. Nijo, both in the inland sea (Setonaikai) area. Tuff was mined from the Donzuru-bo hill area.

In this way, Mt. Nijo has not only given people a deep impression due to its elegant appearance, but has also supplied these three stones as useful materials for daily life. The Nijo-san Museum visually presents the history and nature of the mountain in a familiar manner, focusing on the three stones.
香芝市, 二上山

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


Sasanami no Shiga no Krasaki sakiku aredo
Omiyabito no fune machi kanetsu

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro

ももしきの大宮人は暇(いとま)あれや 梅をかざしてここに集へる


Wish-fulfilling Sand
お願いの砂 o-negai no suna

There is a tempel in Kyoto where Toyotomi Hidenaga, brother of Hideyoshi is burried. In front of the graves was a small mountain of sand. If you had a sincere wish and took a handful of the sand home, your wish was granted. Now you had to bring back the sand. It is said, the sand never vanished since Hidenaga cared for his people very well.


kasumu hi ya oomiyabito no kami no suna

misty day--
the great courtier
with sand in his hair


Why does the courtier have sand in his hair?
Is this an idiom? A beach scene?
Tr. David Lanoue

Haiga by Nakamura Sakuo

In our present day Japan, it could well be the yellow sand of the Gobi desert, which blows in Kyoto quite often in spring. I remember walking in Kyoto in March on such a day, with very limited visibility, and after a very short while, sand was everywhere, even in our mouths.

Gabi Greve

Related words

***** Yellow Sand (koosa, kosa)(Japan, China)


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