Fujiwara no Tametoki (藤原為時)

FUJIWARA no Tametoki (949? - 1029?) was a typical Japanese poet in the court ruled by Emperor Ichijo during the middle of Heian period. He was the father of Murasaki Shikibu.

He was the third son of FUJIWARA no Masatada, Gyobu no taifu (Senior Assistant Minister of Justice) and was the grandson of Tsutsumi Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) FUJIWARA no Kanesuke. His mother was a daughter of Udaijin (minister of the right) FUJIWARA no Sadakata. He married the daughter of FUJIWARA no Tamenobu, Uma no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Bureau of Horses) and had children including Murasaki Shikibu. He had SUGAWARA no Fumitoki as his teacher, became monjosho (student of literary studies in the Imperial University), and gave Imperial Prince Morosada an education; thereafter, he was appointed as Shikibu no jo (Secretary of the Ministry of Ceremonial) when Imperial Prince Morosada assumed a throne as Emperor Kazan. This is the origin of 'Shikibu,' a part of his daughter's name Murasaki Shikibu.

There are 13 pieces of his Chinese poetries in "Honcho reiso" (a collection of Chinese poetries compiled by Takashina no Moriyoshi) and OE no Masahira praised him as well as MINAMOTO no Tamenori and MINAMOTO no Takamichi and commented; 'He is a very gifted poet among men.'
A piece of his waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) is also seen in Shin Kokin Waka Shu ("New Collection of Ancients and Modern Poems").

According to volume 10 of the latter part ten of Nihongi Ryaku (Summary of Japanese Chronologies), he was appointed as Awaji no kuni no kami (the governor of Awaji Province) at the Jimoku (ceremony for appointing officials) on February 21, 996, however, FUJIWARA no Michinaga paid a palace visit and immediately dismissed MINAMOTO no Kunimori, who had just received the announcement for change of position of Echizen no kuni no kami (the governor of Echizen Province), and changed the position of FUJIWARA no Tametoki from Awaji no kami to Echizen no kami. It is said that he took Murasaki Shikibu with him when he left for Echizen to go to his new post. Awaji Province was a gekoku (minor provinces) and Echizen Province was a taigoku (major provinces). There was a world of difference in the earnings between the two positions.

This story is described in the volume 24 of Konjaku Monogatari shu (the Tale of Times Now Past) and also in the records of ancient matters that was reported in the later age, and the one written in the records of ancient matters is said to be more precise when compared with that in Nihongi Ryaku. According to that, FUJIWARA no Tametoki delivered a poem to the emperor via a nyobo (a court lady) as follows, 'I worked my way through cold nights, wetting my collar with my bitter tears and at the next morning after the day of the announcement of my personnel transfer, my eyes hurt from the blueness of the sky,' then Emperor Ichijo read it and cried in his bedroom without even taking a meal. It was described that FUJIWARA no Michinaga paid a palace visit and heard about this, called MINAMOTO no Kunimori, who was Michinaga's close associate (menotogo (the son of a menoto, a woman providing breast-feed to a highborn baby) according to Konjaku Monogatari shu) and who had just been appointed as Echizen no kuni no kami probably due to Michinaga's nomination, had him relinquish the position, and appointed FUJIWARA no Tametoki instead. The family of MINAMOTO no Kunimori who was forced to move over the Echizen no kuni no kami was absorbed in grief, Kunimori felt so shocked that he became ill, and although he was appointed as Harima no kuni no kami (the governor of Harima Province) in the autumnal Jimoku, he did not recover from illness and died at last. This is a typical story that never fails to be introduced when middle rank of nobles and Zuryo (the head of the provincial governors) in the period of Heian imperial court are discussed.

Thereafter, FUJIWARA no Tametoki assumed the positions of sashoben (Minor Controller of the Left) and Kurodo (Chamberlain) in 1009. Two years after that, in 1011, he was appointed as Echigo no kuni no kami and his son Nobunori accompanied him, but soon Nobunori died there. Also, in July 1014, he resigned from the position of Echigo no kuni no kami, returning to Kyoto with one year of the term left; according to a story, he did so probably because Murasaki Shikibu had died immediately before that.

He became a priest in Mii-dera Temple on May 25, 1015. He dedicated a poem for a folding screen in the residence of the Sessho (regent) FUJIWARA no Yorimichi in 1018, but thereafter, he was never to be heard of again.