The Reizei School (冷泉派)

The Reizei school ("Reizeiha" in Japanese) is a school of waka poetry composition that began in the mid Kamakura period and continues to the present day. It is an offshoot of the Nijo school.

A brief history of the Reizei school

The school began with FUJIWARA no Tamesuke, grandson of FUJIWARA no Teika. The center of the Reizei school's activities shifted with each era; in the Kamakura period, it was in Kamakura, while in the Muromachi and Warring States periods it moved to Sunpu before relocating to Edo in the Edo period, extending its influence only in the Kanto region (Sunpu was the seat of power for the Imagawa clan, who held the position of vice-Shogun under the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun)), where the Nijo school failed to hold much sway.

The best example of a Reizei school poet during the Muromachi period is Sadayo IMAGAWA. And when, during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, the leading poet of the Reizei school fell under the emperor's censure and was ruined, it was none other than Ieyasu TOKUGAWA who exerted all his power and influence to rehabilitate him. Ieyasu's wife, Lady Chikuyama, was a descendant of Sadayo IMAGAWA. Ieyasu himself, however, was a student of the rival Asukai school. The Reizei school flourished during a considerable stretch of the Edo period, up through the rule of Shogun Yoshimune TOKUGAWA. Although it never reached the level of prominence enjoyed by the Nijo school, in its rivalry with the Kyogoku school, the Reizei school survived for a very long time. Compared to the Kyogoku school, the Reizei school did not produce any poems worthy of mention in terms of poetic style, but they were esteemed by the major poetic school from which they broke off, the Nijo school, for the pedigree of their master family alone.