Japanese tenth-century poetry: Mibu no Tadamine and the Middle Kingdom (China)

Japanese tenth-century poetry: Mibu no Tadamine and the Middle Kingdom (China)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese poet Mibu no Tadamine reached his height during the late ninth and early tenth centuries. It is known that he was active in the Heian court between 898-920. Therefore, one can imagine his world through the prism of this period of Japanese history.

This period in Japan is known for the entrenchment of influences from the Middle Kingdom (China). Hence, the Heian period (794-1185) witnessed the growing influence of Buddhism, Taoism, and other areas of Chinese culture that began in the Nara Period (710-794).

In a lovely poem he wrote:

The white snow
Has fallen, drifted high around
The mountain home;
Might even he who lives there
Be buried in melancholy?

The world of Mibu no Tadamine was based on high culture and learning traditional Chinese and Japanese classics. One can only imagine the impact of architecture, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, gardens, literature, and ideas emanating internally and through the richness of the Middle Kingdom.

In another poem, he delightfully wrote:

Warding the mountain fields
In Autumn, on a rough-made hut
The dewdrops
Are passing birds’
Tears, no doubt!

Overall, the life of Mibu no Tadamine remains largely unknown apart from the legacy of his poetry. However, serving the Heian court for over two decades is evidence of his acclaimed poetry. Therefore, the world of Japanese and Chinese high culture continued to blossom because of poets like Mibu no Tadamine.




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