Isonokami no Yakatsugu (石上宅嗣)

ISONOKAMI no Yakatsugu (729-July 23, 781) was a court noble and a literary man in the late Nara period. His grandfather was ISONOKAMI no Maro. His father was ISONOKAMI no Otomaro.


Although he was appointed to be an assistant of Kento-shi (Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China) in 761, he resigned it before leaving. He lost his position when he tried to eliminate FUJIWARA no Nakamaro together with FUJIWARA no Yoshitsugu, OTOMO no Yakamochi and SAEKI no Imaemishi, but he was revested under Dokyo administration. When the Empress Koken passed away in 770, he, as a councilor, helped to enthrone the Emperor Konin, with FUJIWARA no Nagate and so on, then he was promoted from Chunagon (Vice-Councilor of the State) to Dainagon Shosanmi (Councilor of the State, Senior Third Court Rank). After he passed away in 781, the Imperial Court Rank of Shonii (Senior Second Rank) was conferred on him. It is said that he failed to attain the position of a minister because the Fujiwara family had kept an eye on him for fear of his fame in his later life.

As he was famous as a Chinese Poet, his poems were compiled in 'Keikoku-shu' (Anthology of Chinese poems).
He was also familiar with the Buddhism, and he wrote 'Jomyokyo-san' and 'Nenbutsu-goko-san.'
Getting Ashuku-ji Temple built in his previous house, he hosted a library called Untei in a corner mainly to introduce lower books except Buddhist scriptures to the public. This 'Untei' is said to be the oldest public library in Japan. The Chinese character '芸' (used for 芸亭 [Untei]) is different from the one '藝' (used for '文藝春秋' [Bungei shunju], a name of the magazine).