Fujiwara no Sadaie (藤原定家)

FUJIWARA no Sadaie (1162 - October 3, 1241 [September 26, 1241 in the Julian calendar]) was a court noble and poet in the early Kamakura period. His imina (real name) is often pronounced 'Teika' as yusoku-yomi (expression of respect by using on-reading). He was from the Mikohidari line of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan and was the second son of FUJIWARA no Toshinari. His final title was 'Shonii Chunagon' (Senior Second Rank vice-councilor of state).
He was called 'Kyogoku Chunagon.'
His homyo (name as a bonze) is 'Myojo.'
The Nijo family, Sadaie's direct descendants, became extinct, but the Reizei family, a branch family, has prospered until today.

Career

He lived in tumultuous years from the end of Heian period to the early Kamakura period and established impregnable status as an expert in the art of poetry.

The following poem composed by Sadaie himself is collected in "Hyakunin Isshu" (one hundred waka poems by one hundred poets). Like the salt sea-weed, burning in the evening calm on Matsuho's shore, all my being is aflame,awaiting her who does not come.

Sadaie was a typical Shinkokin-style (tone of poems seen in "New Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese poetry") poet, and his poetry has been highly acclaimed for generations. He refined the philosophy of 'Yugen' (the subtle and profound), a concept proposed by Toshinari (his father), advocated the philosophy of 'Ushin' (sentiment with artistic sensibility), and wielded enormous influence over the poetry of the ensuing generations.

He compiled two Chokusenshu (anthology of poems collected by Imperial command): "Shinkokin Wakashu" (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry) and "Shin Chokusen Wakashu" (New Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry). Another anthology compiled by Sadaie was "Teika Hachidai-syo" (Sadaie's Anthology of Poetry from Eight Imperial Collections). He wrote treatises on poetry, including "Maigetsusho" (Monthly Notes), "Kindai Shuka" (Superior poems of our times), and "Eiga Taigai" (Essentials of Poetic Composition), whereby he discussed poetry skills such as Honkatori (writing poems quoting parts of old poems) and the relationship between emotions and words. The collection of Sadaie's poetry is "Shuiguso" (Gleanings of Worthless Weeds). Shuiguso is counted as one of the six greatest poetry collections.

He left the detailed records of his 56-year life between the ages of 18 to 74 in the dairy called "Meigetsuki" (designated as a National Treasure in 2000). "Meigetsuki" features an article on the birth of a supernova in the constellation of Taurus (the present Crab Nebula), which has become important material for astronomy. Another of his diaries is "Kumano Goko-ki" (The Emperor's Pilgrimage to Kumano: National Treasure), which was written when Emperor Gotoba went on a pilgrimage to Kumano Sanzan (three major shrines, Kumano-hongu-taisha Shrine, Kumano-hayatama-taisha Shrine and Kumano-nachi-taisha Shrine) in 1201. Also, "Ogura Hyakunin Isshu" (The Ogura's Sequence of One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets), which Sadaie compiled upon a request by Yoritsuna UTSUNOMIYA, has enjoyed popularity. Sadaie was also involved in the transcription and annotation of classics such as "The Tale of Genji" and "The Tosa Diary." The kana system used in those works was the prototype of the Teika Kanazukai (the Teika rules of kana orthography).

Also, it is generally understood that FUJIWARA no Sadaie was probably the author of "Matsura-no-miya Monogatari" (The Tale of Matsura Villa).

Record of Offices and Ranks Held

On January 29, 1167, he was conferred Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) (no remuneration in the first year of the Chokan era by Consort FUJIWARA no Kinshi).

On January 28, 1176, he was transferred to the post of chamberlain (upon the resignation of Toshinari, Ukyo no daibu [mayor of the right capital district]).

On February 9, 1180, he was promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade). He remained in the position of chamberlain.

On February 9, 1184, he was promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). He remained in the position of chamberlain (bonus paid by Hachijoin due to sakutan toji [when winter solstice happens to be the first day of December, once in twenty years]).

On December 29, 1189, he was transferred to the position of Sakone no shosho (Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards).

On February 18, 1190, he was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) while remaining in the position of Sakone no shosho.

From March 14, 1191, he also held the position of Inaba Gon no suke (Provisional Deputy Governor of Inaba Province).

On February 23, 1195, he was promoted to Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade) while remaining in the positions of Sakone no shosho and Inaba no Gon no suke.

On March 5, 1199, he also held the position of Aki no Gon no suke (Provisional Deputy Governor of Aki Province). He stepped down from the postion of Inaba no Gon no suke.

On December 11, 1200, he was promoted to Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) while remaining in the positions of Sakone no shosho and Aki no Gon no suke (bonus promotion).

On December 17, 1202, he was transferred to the post of Sakone no chujo (Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards).

On March 5, 1203, he also assumed the post of Mino no suke (Assistant Governor of Mino Province).

From February 16, 1210, he also held the position of Awaji no Gon no suke (Provisional Deputy Governor of Awaji Province). He stepped down from the postion of Mino no suke.

On February 23, he stepped down from the position of Sakone no chujo.

On January 10,1211, he was assigned to Kura no kami (Chief of Kuraryo, Bureau of Palace Storehouses).

On October 23, 1211, he was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and transferred to the post of chamberlain.

On March 30, 1214, he was appointed as Sangi (councilor). He remained in the position of chamberlain.

From February 20, 1215, he also held the position of Iyo no Gon no kami (Provisional Governor of Iyo Province).

On February 9, 1216, he also assumed the post of Jibukyo (Minister of the Ministry of Civil Administration).

On April 23, he stepped down from the position of chamberlain.

On January 27, 1217, he was promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) while remaining in the positions of Sangi, Jibukyo, and Iyo no Gon no kami.

On August 8, 1218, he also assumed the post of Minbukyo (Minister of Popular Affairs). He stepped down from Jibukyo.

In 1219, he stepped down from Iyo no Gon no kami.

From March 5, 1220, he also held the post of Harima no Gon no kami (Provisional Governor of Harima Province).

On September 29, 1222, he stepped down from the post of Sangi. He remained in the positions of Jibukyo and Harima no Gon no kami.

In 1224, he resigned from the position of Harima no Gon no kami.

On December 8, 1227, he was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and transferred to the position of Minbukyo.

On February 29, 1232, he was transferred to the post of Gon Chunagon (Provisional vice-councilor of state).

As the Joei era started, on February 5, 1233, he resigned from Gon Chunagon.

On November 21, 1233, he entered the Buddhist priesthood (homyo, or name as a bonze: Myojo).

On October 3, 1241, Sadaie passed away (at the age of 80).

Evaluation as a Calligrapher

Like his father Toshinari, Sadaie first learned Hosshoji-ryu calligraphic style, but he created his own idiosyncratic calligraphic style, which reflected his stubborn personality very well. His works, which are far from usual calligrapher's works, apparently seem unskillful in some aspects, but lines are actually well-trained and powerful. In the Edo period, Sadaie's works were greatly appreciated by lords such as Enshu KOBORI and Harusato MATSUDAIRA.
Those lords fueled a big trend for this calligraphy style, naming it 'Japanese calligraphic style by Master Teika.'

Sadaie as a Politician

Sadaie was a great-great-great-grandchild (descendant of five generations) of FUJIWARA no Michinaga, Sessho Daijo daijin (Regent and the Grand Minister). However, Sadaie's line, the Mikohidari line, which had only remote connection with the main branch and could not produce In no Kinshin (the retired Emperor's courtier), was less successful than other branch lines of the Mido linage (the Nakamikado line and the Kazanin line). In addition, Toshinari (Sadaie's father) lost his father in early childhood and worked as zuryo (provincial governor dispatched to a particular province) of some provinces for a certain period as the adopted son of FUJIWARA no Akiyori (the Hamuro family). As a result, Toshinari failed to succeed as a noble living in the capital and had few opportunities to be promoted with regard to court ranks, despite his reputation as a poet. Sadaie himself worked as Konoe no Chujo (middle captain of the palace guards) for a long time but failed to become Tono Chujo (the first secretary's captain) and finally managed to join the realm of Kugyo (the top court officials) at the age of 51. This advancement, however, was possible because his older sister, Kujo-no-ama, presented shoen (a fief) to FUJIWARA no Kenshi (also known as 'Kyo no Nii'). Sadaie, however, served the Kujo family as Keishi (household superintendent), was involved in many political operations and ceremonies of a court noble as an aide to Sekkan (regents and advisers), and mastered Yusoku-kojitsu (knowledge of court rules, ceremony, decorum and records of the past). At the same time, he threw himself into the tumultuous political world; for example, he experienced fierce feuds with anti-Kujo politicians such as MINAMOTO no Michichika. It is possible to know from "Meigetsuki" that Sadaie had profound knowledge of Yusoku-kojitsu and aspired to be a leading figure of the political arena. Sadaie, however, was unable to achieve his goal of holding a top-notch political post like Udaijin (Minister of the Right), FUJIWARA no Sanesuke, who seemed to be Sadaie's role model and even appeared in his dream according to the chapter of 'September 27 of the first year of the Antei era' in "Meigetsuki."

Genealogy

He belonged to the Fujiwara no Nagaie line (Mikohidari line) of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan and was a great-great-great-grandchild of FUJIWARA no Michinaga.

Descendants

Sadaie's direct descendants (the Nijo family, the main branch of the Mikohidari line) became extinct in the Muromachi period.

However, the Reizei family, a branch family, has prospered until today and produced four Urin (the fourth-tier of the nobility) families (the Kami-Reizei family, the Shimo-Reizei family, the Fujigayatsu family, and the Irie family).