Oe no Masahira (大江匡衡)

OE no Masahira (952 - August 12, 1012) was a Confucian and poet in the mid-Heian period. His grandfather was Chunagon (a vice-councilor of the state) OE no Koretoki, and his father was Kyoshiki (an officer of the capital government institution) OE no Shigemitsu. His official court rank was Shoshii (Senior Fourth Rank) at Shikibusho (Personnel and educational ministry). He is regarded as one of the Chuko sanjurokkasen (medieval 36 Immortal Poets).

Brief personal history

He was born in 952 during the Emperor Murakami's era. The OE clan (also known as the Go family), whose founder was OE no Otondo, was a family lineage of academics, along with the Sugawara clan (also known as the Kan family). The OE clan made a leap forward after SUGAWARA no Michizane's downfall, and the clan including Koretoki and Asatsuna became a pillar of Confucianists in 'Seidai' (great imperial prince's time), the Emperor Murakami's era. His father Shigemitsu was Bunjinkanryo (a highly educated bureaucrat) who passed Taisaku (test for recruitment of government clerks). Masahira, later in his life, wrote long Jukkai shi (a retrospective poem), an account of his past. This includes his childhood and adolescence. According to Jukkai shi, he started reading at the age of seven and composed waka poems at the age of nine. It is said that in 966, he engaged in Genpuku (coming-of-age ritual) and received a cautionary lesson from his grandfather Koretoki at the age of 13 (in fact, Koretoki died in 963, according to "Kugyobunin" (list of upper officers)).

In passing, the name 'Masahira' (匡衡) which was given to him at Genpuku is thought to derive from the name of a Chinese literary, KYO Ko (匡衡), at the age of the Han dynasty. In 966, he was admitted to Daigakuryo (training institution for bureaucrats under the personnel and educational ministry) at the age of 15. The next year, he got through Ryoshi (test which students of Daigakuryo can take) and became Gimonjosho (a student who passed Ryoshi). After learning Kidendo (subject of history (Chinese history)), he passed the Shoshi test and became Monjosho (a student of poem and history) in 974. Around that time, his father Shigemitsu died. In 979, Masahira took Taisaku and passed it. (Montohakase (questioner) SUGAWARA no Fumitoki drew up Policy questions.

The Policy questions and Masahira's answers were included in "Honchomonzui" (anthology of waka poems and prose written in classical Chinese).)
He married Tokimochi AKAZOME's daughter, AKAZOME emon, who is known as a Poet. Their marriage lasted from the birth of their first child, Takachika, to the end of the Tengen era (978 - 983).

Masahira became Togugakushi (an educator of the Crown Prince) and Monjohakase (a teacher of poem and history) before getting promoted to Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) at Shikibusho. He was active as a man of literature in the Emperor Ichijo's era and interacted with FUJIWARA no Michinaga, FUJIWARA no Yukinari, FUJIWARA no Kinto, and others. On their behalf, he sometimes wrote hyo (documents to be submitted to the emperor), ganmon (prayers), reports to the Emperor, and so on, and he was called Meiju (Great Confucian). He was also acclaimed as chihokan (a local official) for his good government. He, as Kokushi (an officer in charge of regional administration) of Owari Province, established Gakkoin (training institution for officers) to improve the regional education. He wanted to become a Noble, but did not go through with it. He compiled a collection of Chinese poems "Gorihoshu" and Shikashu (a collection of his own works) "Masahira ason shu." 12 of his waka poems were selected for chokusen wakashu (anthologies of poems collected by Imperial command) starting when "Goshui Wakashu" (Later Collection of Gleanings of Japanese Poetry) was compiled and onwards.