The Hundred Poets of the Inkstand

(Sumi-ire hyaku-nin isshu, 住入  百人一首)

Publisher: Sa-Ichi of Ichigaya

c. 1845

 

Hyaku-nin isshu is an anthology of 100 poems by 100 different poets compiled by the thirteenth-century critic and poet Fujiwara no Sadaie (also known as Teika).  The poems are all five-line poems of 31 syllables arranged as 5, 7, 5, 7 and 7.  This form was known as waka and is now known as tanka.  The 100 poets are in approximately chronological order from the seventh through the thirteenth centuries.  Some of the prints portray the poets, and some show scenes associated with their lives or poetry.  The poem and some descriptive text appear on each print.  The poems were translated by Clay MacCauley in his book Single Songs of a Hundred Poets (1917, Kelly and Walsh, Yokohama).  Kunisada also designed prints for this series. The prints are each about 7 by 5 inches (18 by 13 centimeters), a size known as koban.  I am grateful to Horst Graebner for contributing images.

 

No image available

Number: 1

Poet: Emperor Tenchi Tennô

Scene: Emperor Tenchi Tennô on a palace balcony overlooking a misty landscape

Robinson: S27.1

 

Number: 2

Poet: Empress Jitô Tennô (持統天皇)

Scene: Empress Jitô Tennô and a maid looking back at a garden pavilion

Robinson: S27.2

 

Number: 3

Poet: Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (柿本人麿)

Scene: Poet Kakinomoto no Hitomaro at his writing desk, chin in hand, watching a pheasant in a tree

Robinson: S27.3

 

 

No image available

Number: 4

Poet: Yamabe no Akahito

Scene: Poet Yamabe no Akahito on the rocky sea-shore with Mount Fuji in the background

Robinson: S27.4

 

 

 

Number: 5

Poet: Sarumaru Dayû (猿丸大夫)

Scene: Poet Sarumaru Dayû standing and viewing a mountain with maple trees in their autumn colors

Robinson: S27.5 (listed as “not seen”)

 

 

No image available

Number: 6

Poet: Chûnagon Yakamochi (Otomo no Yakamochi)

Scene: Poet Chûnagon Yakamochi on a veranda contemplating a building through the mist

Robinson: S27.6

 

 

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Number: 7

Poet: Abe no Nakamaro

Scene: Poet Abe no Nakamaro seated on the foreign shore with two Chinese men, one of whom points across the sea towards Japan

Robinson: S27.7

 

 

No image available

Number: 8

Poet: The monk Kisen-hôshi

Scene: Two girls seated picking tealeaves while one of them rebukes a wandering child

Robinson: S27.8

 

 

No image available

Number: 9

Poet: Ono no Komachi

Scene: Poetess Ono no Komachi seated on a palace veranda

Robinson: S27.9

 

 

No image available

Number: 10

Poet: Semimaru

Scene: The blind poet Semimaru seated at the window of his hut listening to the sounds of passing travelers on the road

Robinson: S27.10

 

Number: 13

Poet: Emperor Yôzei-in (陽成院)

Scene: Emperor Yôzei-in bareheaded and seated on a veranda with mist and distant mountains in the background

Robinson: S27.13

 

 

No image available

Number: 14

Poet: Kawara no Sadaijin (Minamoto no Toru)

Scene: Poet Kawara no Sadaijin seated and dozing with folded arms with a river and drying clothes in the background

Robinson: S27.14

 

 

No image available

Number: 15

Poet: Emperor Kôkô Tennô

Scene: Two court ladies and three pages searching for young greens (wakana) in the snow

Robinson: S27.15

 

 

No image available

Number: 16

Poet: Chûnagon Yukihira (Ariwara no Yukihira)

Scene: Attendants carrying a palanquin under the watchful eyes of a supervisor with a wooded hill in the background

Robinson: S27.16

 

 

No image available

Number: 17

Poet: Ariwara no Narihira Ason

Scene: Poet Ariwara no Narihira with a page beside the Tatsuta river viewing the autumn maples

Robinson: S27.17

 

Number: 18

Poet: Fujiwara no Toshiyuki Ason (藤原敏行朝臣)

Scene: Poet Fujiwara no Toshiyuki Ason dozing at his writing table by lamplight with a screen behind him

Robinson: S27.18

 

Number: 19

Poet: Lady Ise (伊勢)

Scene: Lady Ise with a fan in hand walking by the sea-shore with distant sailboats in the background

Robinson: S27.19

 

 

Number: 20

Poet: Prince Motoyoshi-shinnô (元良親王)

Scene: Prince Motoyoshi-shinnô and his lady by the Bay of Naniwa with distant sailboats in the background

Robinson: S27.20

 

The poem translates:

   In this dire distress

   my life is meaningless.

   So we must meet now,

   even though it costs my life

   in the Bay of Naniwa.

 

 “Robinson” refers to listing in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints by Basil William Robinson (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1982) and its privately published supplement.

 

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