Tanaka Ohide (田中大秀)

Ohide TANAKA (September 16, 1777 – October 24, 1847) was a scholar of Japanese classical literature from the late Edo period. He was born as the third son to the owner of second-class drug seller Tanaka-ya in Ichinomachi, Takayama City, Hida Province. His original names were Toshibumi, Ohide and Hachigatsumaro. His azana (Chinese courtesy name which was, historically, the name formerly given to adult Chinese men, used in place of their given name in formal situations; scholars and the literati of Japan adopted this custom of courtesy name) was Juho. His second names were Senshuen, Shogetusha, Yutsukatsurazono (also the name of the store) and Enanookina. His common names were Yajiro, Yahei and Heisuke.


His father was Yahei Hiromichi. In addition to running a business, the Tanaka family rented the vast fields they owned in Fuito Village (currently Fuito-cho, Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture) to tenant farmers, therefore the family was financially quite well-off.

Since his childhood, Ohide liked studying and he studied under the priest Tomochika AWATA of Atsuta-jingu Shrine and poet Kokei BAN in earlier days.

In April 1801 when he was 23 years old, he visited Ise-jingu Shrine in order to ward off a bad spirit. He used the opportunity to visit Norinaga MOTOORI who was staying in Kyoto at the time. Ohide was instantly accepted to become the disciple of Norinaga, and he eagerly listened to the lecture of Norinaga for the following two months. Soon after he returned to home, he received the news of Norinaga's death. Norinaga's heir Ohira MOTOORI became Ohide's friend and teacher throughout his life.

Due to the premature death of his elder brother Yoshiaki in 1803, he took over the headship of the family at the age of 26.

Ohide was skilled with Waka (a Japanese poem form) and calligraphy, and even showed talents for the hichiriki (Japanese traditional recorder) and koto (a long Japanese zither with thirteen strings). A record describes that Gyokudo URAGAMI, who called himself Kinji (Koto player) URAGAMI, visited Ohide living in Takayama in 1808.

In 1818, when he was 41 years old, Ohide passed the headship of the family onto his eldest child in order to retire. In the same year, he identified and restored the Shido (hall dedicated to the souls of ancestors) located in 'Inaki Forest' as Ena-jinja Shrine described in "the Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers). He moved to the small building next to the honden (main hall) and called himself as Enanookina; he dedicated himself to the study of Japanese literature and culture, as well as the education of the future generations.

In 1820, he restored Hida-sosha Shrine which had been build in the Heian Period and had fallen into disrepair since the Medieval Period.

From the Tenpo era (1830-1844) and into Koka era (1844-1848) he visited the neighboring Echizen Province (Echizen-Ono, Katsuyama, Fukui, Tsuruga) and educated many disciples including TACHIBANA no Akemi.

In 1846 he was invited to Echizen Province (currently Fukui Prefecture) and gave lecture about the Manyoshu (Suzuya Manyo Kosetsu) as he had been taught by Norinaga 45 years ago, along with his own theories.

Ohide died in 1847. He was 71 years old at the time of his death. His posthumous Buddhist name was Muromatsu Ryokaku Koji, and posthumous title was Toyomitoonyatsukatarihonoushi.

There is a hill with a large pine tree to the south of Ena-jinja Shrine, which Ohide named Muromatsu-oka Hill (matsu = pine) and designated to his graveyard. There is a stone monument on the hill, engraved as 'Ohide TANAKA's Grave' in his own hand writing, while Ohide is buried in a small circular shaped mound behind the monument.

"Kyoyoriwa ware matsumuroni kageshimete chiyono midoriwo tomoto tanomamu - Enanookina" (From today I lay myself in the shadows of Matsumuro, and ask that the eternal green be my friend)

His study on Japanese Classical Literature and his Literary Works

Ohide expressed great reverence for his teacher Norinaga throughout his life and hosted an annual memorial for Norinaga in Hida while evolving his own study of Japanese classical literature. His study took into account of the theories and manners of Norinaga crystallized as "Kojikiden" (Commentary on the Kojiki), therefore it was similarly meticulous with the support of his vast knowledge. His 'Interpretation of Taketori Monogatari' became popular at his time, and still remains as 'required reading' among scholars interested in Japanese classics.

"Commentary on Yorobisenben"
"Interpretation of Taketori no Okina no Monogatari"
"Interpretation of Ochikubo Monogatari"
"Interpretation of the Tosa Diary"
"Interpretation of the Travel of the Kagero Diary"
"Study on Hida-sosha Shrine"
"Ena Booklet"
"Ena Collection" Self-selected collection of poetry, 1825; he published 515 poems on the poetry book.

Other notes

There is a theory that the 'Takayama Matsuri Festival' famous for those floats dragged around, which is thus also known as the 'Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine in Motion,' was started by Ohide around 1800 in order to make Shinto rituals more active.

In 1815, Ohide got into a fierce debate over Yorobisen with a jushin (a Confucian scholar and vassal of a feudal domain) of Owari Domain, Kanae HATA.

Today, there remains the design drawing for a bascule bridge (Sacred Bridge of Ena-jinja Shrine) (1844) produced by Ohide.