Ariwara no Narihira


Ariwara no Narihira 在原業平
825 – ?July 9, 880 ?(May 28)

a Japanese waka poet and aristocrat. He was one of six waka poets referred in the preface in kana to Kokin Wakashū by Ki no Tsurayuki, and has been named as the hero of The Tales of Ise, whose hero was an anonym in itself but most of whose love affairs could be attributed to Narihira.

He was the fifth son of Prince Abo, a son of Emperor Heizei. His mother Princess Ito was a daughter of Emperor Kammu, so he was therefore linked to Emperor Kammu by both maternal and paternal lineage. Along with his other brothers, he was relegated to civilian life, receiving a new clan name, Ariwara.

Although he belonged to the noblest lineage, his political life was not prominent, especially under the reign of Emperor Montoku. During the thirteen years of the Emperor's reign, Narihira was not raised to a higher rank within the court. This setback was supposedly caused by a scandal involving him and Fujiwara no Takako (藤原高子), an imperial consort or another royal lady.
Both love affairs were referred to in The Tales of Ise.

As a waka poet, his thirty waka were included in Kokin Wakashū. Traditionally he was considered the model for the hero of Tales of Ise, which contains many of his waka, although not all waka in it were his works and some of its episodes can hardly belong to his real life. Thanks to a reference to him in the preface of Kokin Wakashū he is listed as one of the Six best Waka poets and also one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.

He has been traditionally regarded as the epitome of the beau homme in the Japanese culture. It is believed he was one of the men who inspired Murasaki Shikibu when she created Hikaru Genji, the hero of Genji Monogatari, especially in the aspects of her story concerning forbidden love between a high ranked woman and a member of the court.
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When he visits his lady love, he had to climb over an old crumbling wall.

Parody of this event by Matsuo Basho:

. neko no tsuma hetsui no kuzure yori kayoi-keri .


kigo for mid-summer

Narihira Ki 業平忌 (なりひらき) Narihira Memorial Dayi
Zaigo Ki 在五忌(ざいごき)Zaigo Memorial Day

zaigo implies that he was the fifth son.

It was the 28th day of the fifth lunar month.

flag at temple Futai-Ji in Nara 不退寺
His memorial day is celebrated here on May 28.

. Memorial Days of Famous People .

17 - Ariwara no Narihira Ason 在原業平朝臣
at Tatsutagawa 龍田川

. Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Poems 小倉百人一首 .


日野草城 「青芝」


松本たかし 「石魂」

source : kigosai.sub.jp


narihira no uta yori hajimu kaki kooza

starting with a waka
by Narihira
summer school

Ozawa Katsumi 小澤克己

source : Tr. Fay Aoyagi


- - - - - His last verse (jisei)

ついに行く 道とはかねて 聞きしかど
昨日今日とは 思はざりしを

tsui ni yuku michi to wa kanete kikishikado
kino kyoo to wa omowazarishi

Upon this pathway,
I have long heard others say,
man sets forth at last -
yet I had not thought to go
so very soon as today.

Tr. Helen MacCullough
source : books.google.co.jp

I have always known
That at last I would
Take this road, but yesterday
I did not know that
it would be today.

Tr. ?
- Reference -


梅雨入りや 業平朝臣 とむらわんか

the rainy season starts -
performing the memorial service
for Narihira-ason

般若寺の 石塔 夏の天を衝く

the stone stupa
of Hannya-temple is stabbing
the summer sky

Yesterday I visited Futai-ji 不退寺 and Hannya-ji.
Both are the small temples that sight-seeing tourists seldom visit.
Futai-ji is the temple of Ariwara-no-Narihira (825 - 880) who is famous for his beauty and one of the best 6 poets in Tanka world. He has been told as the hero of the famous classic romance "The story of Ise".

The Hannya-ji is an old temple built in AD 8c. This temple is featured in "the
Story of Heike" and "Taiheiki story". During the period of the Nothern and Southern Dynasties, this temple belonged to Southern Dynasty, thus this temple has many sad stories in its history.

- Shared by Naotaka Uematsu -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013


Japanese Reference


Related words

***** Introducing Japanese Haiku Poets 


. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

Miyagi 宮城県 古川市 Furukawa town

Ono no Komachi zuka 小野小町塚 Mound for Ono no Komachi
Komachi lived here in Furukawa when she was old. She went to the Himuro Yakushi Temple 氷室薬師 one day and was found dead under the Torii gate in the evening.
Narihira visited the Yasoshima 八十島 "80 Islands" (many islands), which are said to be there. From her skull there was grass growing through the eyes, so he did not say 小野 Ono, but あなめあなめ aname aname.


akikaze no fuku ni tsukete mo aname aname
ono to wa iaji susuki oikeri -

- quote -
Ariwara Narihira Imagining Skull of Ono-no Komachi
Ariwara no Narihira, a famous Japanese waka poet and aristocrat, is seen sitting on the floor by a window overlooking the garden. He fled the capital because of a love affair with Fujiwara no Takaiko and came to the east. He took lodging near the place where a famous poetess and a rare beauty of her time Ono no Komachi died. They both belonged to Rokkasen - the best-known six poets from the Heian period Japan. Alone and moody, he started imagining to see Japanese pampas grass growing through the eye-sockets of a skull in the garden. He thought it might be the skull of Ono-no Komachi crying.

Series title, Shinkei Sanju-roku Kaisen (Thirty-six New Ghost Stories) on the upper margin. A poem by Narihira to the cartouche in the upper right corner of the image
Akikaze-no Fuku-ni Tsuketemo Aname Aname
Ono towa Iwaji Susuki Oikeri - Narihira
The autumn wind blows, there is nothing more to say,
grass grows through the eye-sockets of the skull of Ono
- source : japanesegallery.co.uk/default -

A poem by Fujiwara no Norikane

akikaze no fuku tabi goto ni aname aname
ono towa naraji susuku oikeri

the autumn wind
every time it blows
oh, how painful! how painful!
it will not become Ono / a little field
in which pampas grass grows.

Writing Margins: The Textual Construction of Gender in Heian and Kamakura Japan
Terry Kawashima
The image of Komachi as a speaking skull - aname aname
- source : books.google.co.jp -

宮城県大崎市古川南沢字氷室 Himuro Yakushi, at 村上寺

. Ono no Komachi 小野 小町 . (c. 825 — c. 900)

Shizuoka town 静岡市

Meeting a demon
When Narihira travelled from Kyoto toward the East, he heard that Oni demons come out at the pass 宇津ノ谷の峠 Utsunoya.
So he performed some rituals to appease the demons at the Jizo Hall in 下野宇津宮素麺谷.
Jizo appeared dressed like a monk, transformed the demons into 10 small dumplings and ate them. People venerate the Jizo to our day.
This is also the origin of the speciality 十粒団子 / todango 十団子 "ten dumplings" from temple 慶竜寺.

Read the details of this legend about the 10 dumplings here:
. Utsunoya Tooge 宇津ノ谷 Utsunoya pass - Shizuoka .

Tottori town 鳥取市

Once there lived a young samurai in town, who was just as beautiful as the legendary poet
在原業平 Ariwara no Narihira. He made the girls pregnant in no time and children were born to him.
But they say he was a fox.


- reference : nichibun yokai database -


- #ariwaranarihira #narihiraariwara -


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

A legend from 鳥取市 Tottori town

Once there lived a young samurai in town, who was just as beautiful as the legendary poet
在原業平 Ariwara no Narihira. He made the girls pregnant in no time and children were born to him.
But they say he was a fox.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

He is Nr. 12 of
日本の仏仙人16人 - The 16 Buddhist Immortals of Japan

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

He gave his name to
Narihira 業平 Narihira district
Sumida, Narihira 一丁目 - 三丁目 first to third sub-district

The Narihirazuka 業平塚 Mound for Narihira used to be in the compound of 南蔵院 Nanzo-In and 業平神社 Narihira Shrine.
Narihira had visited this area and the mound in in his memory.
The name of the bridge, 業平橋 Narihirabashi, is also very old.
In 1662 the bridge was built East of 業平神社 Narihira Jinja Shrine.

Gabi Greve said...

Jusan Kaido 十三街道 Jusan Highway
also called
Shuntoku Kaido 俊徳街道 Shuntoku Highway
From Osaka city, 四天王寺南門 the South gate of the temple Shitenno-Ji via the pass 十三峠 Jusan toge to 生駒郡斑鳩町 Tatsuta in Ikaruga, Ikoma district, Nara.
The famous poet 在原業平 Ariwara no Narihira passed here.