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Medieval Reception: Poetic Deities In The Secret Commentaries

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Chapter Summary

The most significant development in Hitomaro's reception during the medieval period was his canonization as a deity of Japanese poetry, a waka no kami. This chapter examines Hitomaro's canonization as a deity of Japanese poetry, particularly as it occurred in medieval commentaries on the Kokinshū. There are numerous references in the Gyokuden jinpi and elsewhere to the relationship between Hitomaro, Narihira, and the Sumiyoshi deity. The influence of honji-suijaku philosophy is felt in the commentarial accounts in which Hitomaro and Yamabe no Akahito are revealed to be the same person. The Hitomaro eigu ceremony of 1118 was a crucial turning point in the process of Hitomaro's deification, and set the precedent for the ritual uses to which his portrait was subsequently put, such as its display and function as an object of reverence at poetry meetings, kōshiki, and the initiation ceremonies employed in the transmission of the kokin denju.

Keywords: deity of Japanese poetry; Hitomaro; honji-suijaku; kokin denju; Kokinshū; medieval commentaries; Narihira; Sumiyoshi



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