SOKENDAI Review of Cultural and Social Studies


vol.17 (2021)

Minamotono Akifusa’s Activities as
an Uta-Awase (Poetry Contest) Referee

HANAUE Kazuhiro

Department of Japanese Literature,
School of Cultural and Social Studies,
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI

Key words:

Minamotono Akifusa, referee of uta-awase, the Insei period, judgment of uta-awase, Akifusa’s two attitudes

Minamotono Akifusa was the second son of Tsuchimikado Udaijin, Minamotono Morofusa. He was a poet of the waka anthology chosen by the Emperor. Fourteen waka poems he composed were selected for the Goshuiwakashu (an imperial waka anthology) and other anthologies.

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate Akifusa’s activities as an uta-awase referee in the history of Japanese waka literature by discussing Akifusa’s judgment notes for the Joryakuninen-dairi uta-awase and Kanjigonen-Ikuhomonin ne-awase, of which he served as a referee, and by investigating his activities referred to in Fukurozoshi, Yakumomisho, Eigamonogatari, and other materials.

Previous studies that used the Joryakuninen dairi uta-awase as a major source to explore Akifusa’s role as a referee resulted in low evaluations because his judgment was too traditional and that declared draws in many uta-awase. The reason for his attitude in judgement was that he emphasized harmonious proceedings of uta-awase.

He participated in uta-awase from a young age and was active as a member of the competing uta-awase teams, and his activities were highly evaluated.

As an uta-awase referee, he made decisions by giving examples and explaining the grounds for his decisions. Prior to making a judgement, Akifusa created opportunities for open and intense exchanges of opinions among the poets who were present, which should also be evaluated as one of his achievements.

This study demonstrates that in the Insei period, when uta-awase changed in its nature from traditional and playful to highly literary, Akifusa had two attitudes as a referee. One was to keep the traditional norms of uta-awase and emphasize the compatibility of the opposing teams rather than winning or losing. The other was to create opportunities for discussion in order to enhance the literary value of waka poems.