Imperial Prince Shiki (志貴皇子)

Imperial Prince Shiki(志貴皇子, 668?-, September 5, 716)lived from the end of the Asuka period to the beginning of the Nara period. His name is also written in Chinese as 芝基皇子, 施基皇子(or 施基親王) and 志紀皇子. His father was the Emperor Tenchi and his mother was Koshi no Michi no Kimi no Iratsume.

Summary

As a member of the Imperial family related to the Emperor Tenchi, he had nothing to do with the succession to the throne because after the Jinshin War, the lineage of the Emperor Tenmu acceded to the throne. He led a life devoted to cultural fields such as waka poetry, rather than to politics. However, his sixth son Prince Shirakabe (Shirakabe no Okimi), who after his death had married the Emperor Shomu's daughter the Imperial Princess Inoe and fathered Prince Osabe (of Tenmu's line on the mother's side), was supported by agreement among ministers and councilors and ascended to the throne as the Emperor Konin in 770. Due to that, he was given the honorific title of Kasuga no Miya Shiroshimeshi shi Sumeramikoto. Furthermore, that resulted in his lineage lasting up to the present day. He is also called the Emperor Tawara after the name of his tomb, the 'Tawara nishi tomb' at Tawara in Nara City.

He left six poems in the Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) as a poet of limpid style, being excellent at appreciating nature.

His most famous representative poem is 'Iwa bashiru Tarumi no ueno Sawarabi no Moeizuru Haru ni Nari ni keru kamo' (Above a waterfall with water running over the rocks, there are some bracken sprouts that made me realize that the spring has come.)'.

A Brief History
In 679
On June 21 he made an oath to be loyal to Prince Kusakabe in Yoshino.

In 689
On June 27, he was appointed as Yoki koto Erabu Tsukasa (literally, an official post to select and compile admonitions).

In 703
On October 21, he was ranked as shihon (the fourth court rank for Imperial Princes).

In 708
On February 11, he was ranked as sanbon (the third court rank for Imperial Princes).

In 715
On February 22, he was ranked as nihon (the second court rank for Imperial Princes).

In 716
On September 5 (also said as 3rd), he passed away.

In 770
On December 1, he was given the honorific title of Kasuga no Miya Shiroshimeshi shi Sumeramikoto.

In 793
His grandson the Emperor Kanmu paid a visit to the Tawara nishi tomb, an imperial tomb, just before he moved to the new capital, Heian-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Kyoto).

Imperial Poems
The Manyoshu has six of Imperial Prince Shiki's poems, which are all fine poems brimming with subtle beauty.

'Above a waterfall with water running over the rocks, there are some bracken sprouts that made me realize that the spring has come.'
'Cuckoos of the Iwase forest where is a place for a god, alas, when will you come to the Kenashi hill and sing?'
'My feelings toward you had only deepened like firewood hedges flourishing in Ohara field, and I could see you tonight, at last.'
'A giant flying squirrel trying to jump to the top of a tree was caught by a hunter in a mountain.'
'The wind of Asuka, which used to make trailing sleeves of an uneme (a maid-in-waiting at the court) flutter, now blows in vain after the capital moved somewhere away.'
'In such a freezing cold evening that there is frost on the wings of a wild duck while it is drifting around a clump of reeds, I terribly miss my home Yamato.'