"Waka" Poems Composed during the Imperial Visit to Jurakudai Castle


"Waka" Poems Composed during the Imperial Visit to Jurakudai Castle

calligraphy / Edo

By Karasumaru Mitsuhiro (1579-1638)

Edo period, 17th century

Ink on decorated paper


These are Japanese-style waka poems written on paper divided diagonally into different colors. The brushstrokes seem to dance freely before our eyes, their tempo dictated by the size of the characters or the space placed between them. This was written by the Edo-period noble Karasumaru Mitsuhiro in his later years. He was a member of the so-called literati and a master of poetry, calligraphy, and the tea ceremony, for instance.

The title of the piece mentions Jurakudai, a castle-style residence built in Kyoto by the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Surrounded by a moat, this magnificent edifice served as a symbol of Hideyoshi's power. The Emperor Goyozei visited Jurakudai in 1588, two years after its completion. This visit provided a further demonstration of Hideyoshi's authority. The Account of the Imperial Visit to Jurakudai is a valuable primary source for understanding conditions at that time. It also includes details of a waka poetry gathering held during the visit, such as the names of the attendees and the poems they composed. Karasumaru Mitsuhiro later used this information when he created this work.

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