Otomo Traveler ~ Alcohol, Tears, Friends, and Women ~

``Otomo Tabito'' suddenly became famous with the new era name ``Reiwa.''
Because he wrote the ``preface'' to the original Plum Blossom Banquet, his name was heard every day for a time.

However, there seems to be little mention of the travelers' own songs and stories.
That's not fun. Travelers are extremely charming poets!

If there was a catchphrase to describe a traveler, it would be this: ``Alcohol, tears, friends, and women.''
Tabito Otomo's manliness is reminiscent of Eigo Kawashima's blues, and this is what makes Tabito Otomo so appealing.

→Search “Alcohol, tears, men and women

In the first place, the Otomo clan belonged to a powerful family that held the highest official position, ``Daren,'' in the ancient Yamato court before the Taika Reforms.
Although he fell from power and lost his position to clans such as the Mononobe clan and the Soga clan, this traveler was also a great aristocrat who rose to the rank of court noble (Junior Second Rank Dainagon). By the way, his son Ieyamochi also rose to the rank of Junior Third Rank, Chunagon. However, after that, the Otomo family became embroiled in various political conflicts, and after Yoshio Tomo was dethroned in the Otenmon Incident, no one rose to the rank of court noble.

→Related article “Otomo Yamochi - Let it flow. Manyo Ocean Tea for a homeowner without a home

In any case, the Otomo family is a major force, accounting for over 700 of the approximately 4,500 poems in the Manyoshu. Even though he was a Manyo poet, he created a new genre of ``poetry for high-ranking aristocrats,'' which was different from that of lower-ranking officials such as Hitomaro Kakimoto and Akato Yamabe of a generation earlier. Travelers were a typical example of this.

A notable example of this is the ``Plum Blossom Banquet,'' which is the origin of the word ``Reiwa.''
The participants were high-ranking officials from Dazaifu. The 32 poems that were recited are all long and high-pitched songs.
(1) 822: “It has been a long time since the plum blossoms have fallen in my garden, and snow may fall from the sky.” (Tabito Otomo)

→Related article “The first month of spring is full of energy and style. The origin of the new era name "Reiwa" (Man'yoshu) was a very Chinese poetic idea.

As you can see from the atmosphere of this party, the main traveler loved alcohol.
Volume 3 of the Manyoshu contains 13 poems in praise of sake.

(2) 13,433 ``Something that is not human becomes a sake pot and is soaked with alcohol.'' (Otomo Traveler)
(3) 344: ``When you look ugly, you don't drink. If you look closely at people, they resemble monkeys.'' (Tabito Otomo)
(4) 347 “There is joy in the path of play in the middle of nowhere, but there is no joy in getting drunk and crying” (Tabito Otomo)
``If I weren't a human, I'd want to turn into a sake pot and get soaked in alcohol.'' ``People who don't drink are like monkeys.''
It's a very exciting song! A paean to alcohol that has never been seen in Japanese poetry since the Kokinshu. It was this style of poetry in the Manyoshu that Meiji poets fell in love with.

Well, why did travelers come to Dazaifu in the first place?
Although he was appointed as a marshal (chief), being transferred to a local area was a role for a lower-level bureaucrat and was not appropriate for a court noble. There are many speculations about this, but one theory is that it was part of the exclusion of the Nagaya king.
Moreover, when I was assigned this time, the traveler was already an elderly man in his 60s. He must have hated it from the bottom of his heart, as there are many poems in the Manyoshu that remember his hometown, Nara.

(5) 13,311 “My prime is at its peak, and I swam without seeing the capital of Nara.” (Otomo Traveler)
(6) 332,000 yen “My life will never end, so I go and see the elephant stream” (Otomo Traveler)
(7) 13,344 “I forget the old village of Mt. Kagu where the grass is attached to my string” (Otomo Traveler)

Moreover, the traveler lost his wife, Otomo, who had been with him, in Dazaifu, where he was posted.
How sad was that?
He will be returning to Tokyo soon, and we are sure that we will be deeply moved by the songs he composed during his journey.

(8) 449: ``If I were to see it alone, returning from Minume-no-saki with my younger sister, I would be moved to tears.'' (Tabito Otomo)
(9) 450,000 “There are two people who have to go to see Shikonosaki, but it would be sad if they passed through it alone.” (Otomo Traveler)
Although I was reluctant to do so, the scenery we saw together when we went to Dazaifu, and even though I was finally able to go home, my beloved was not there next to me.
This song, which freely expresses its feelings without embellishment, will naturally bring us to tears.

The traveler's time in Dazaifu was actually only two years.
But in this short period of time, the old traveler was moved tremendously. This is because the Manyoshu contains at least 50 of his poems, most of which were composed after he was assigned to Dazaifu. This turning point can only be thought of as something quite shocking happened to him in Dazaifu.

The death of my beloved wife would be one such thing. But perhaps even more important than that was meeting my friends.
Not only her half-sister Otomo Sakagami, who is part of the family, and her legitimate son, Iemochi, but also members of the Tsukushi poetry circle, such as Yamagami Noriyoshi, Ono Roi, and Samiman Sei.
My encounters with them led me to become a traveler and blossom as a singer in my later years.

In that sense, ``Plum Blossom Banquet'' can be said to be a very symbolic event that clearly represents his life. This is a scene that every fan of Manyoshu and classical waka should keep in mind.

Now for the epilogue.
The traveler returned to the city of his dreams, but died the following year.
I can't imagine what Miyako must have looked like without a wife or companion.
However, at least Dazaifu became a second home for travelers.

(10) 574 "It's here, in Tsukushi and Izuku, towards the mountain where the white clouds wave." (Otomo Traveler)

(Written by Uchida Engaku, a poet)

Learn the basics of waka poetry and try reciting it!

We are holding a "Utajuku" with the goal of learning from representative classical works and being able to compose traditional "Waka" on an individual basis!