In his preface to the Kokinshu [the abbreviated term for the Imperial anthology Kokin Wakashū - conceived of by Emperor Uda (r.887–897) it was published by order of his son, Emperor Daigo (r.897–930) , in about 905. Its finished form dates to c.920], Ki no Tsurayuki listed the ''Six Best Waka Poets'' in history: Kisen Hōshi, Ono no Komachi, Sōjō Henjō, Ariwara no Narihira, Fun'ya no Yasuhide and Ōtomo no Kuronushi.
Strangely, he then ridicules them in the same preface* (maybe for Japanese modesty?) .
* Ki no Tsurayuki (872–945) , in the preface, had a unique critique for each of the 6 poets:
- Kisen Hōshi (death 909?) : The priest of Mt. Uji, Kisen, is obscure, and his beginnings and endings do not chime; he is like an autumnal moon, bright in the evening, dim at dawn.
- Ono no Komachi (c.825—c.900) : As to Ono no Komachi, she has pathos but lacks power, like a fair but feeble woman.
- Sōjō Henjō or Archbishop Henjo (816–890; born Yoshi-mine Munesada) : Sojo Henjo, whose manner is successful, but his work is deficient in truth, like the picture of a beautiful woman that excites emotion, but to no avail.
- Ariwara no Narihira (825–880) : Arihara Narihira, very full of feeling but poor in diction; his poetry reminds one of a faded flower that yet preserves some of its perfume.
- Fun'ya no Yasuhide (death 885?) : Funya no Yasuhide, on the other hand, is an artist in words; with him form is better than substance. He is like a peddler dressed up in fine silks.
- Ōtomo no Kuronushi (born between 824-835, died 923?) : Ōtomo no Kuronushi, lastly, has a pretty turn for verse, but his form is poor; he is like a faggot-bearing boor resting under a blossom-filled cherry-tree.