Yamanoue no Okura


Biography of Yamanoue no Okura

Yamanoue no Okura (山上憶良?, also written as 山於億良, 660?–733?) was a Japanese poet, the best known for his poems of children and commoners. He was a member of Japanese missions to Tang China. He was also a contributor to the Man'yōshū and his writing had a strong Chinese influence. Unlike other Japanese poetry of the time, his work emphasizes a morality based on the teachings of Confucius. Most scholars believe that he was born in 660, on the basis of his Chinese prose "Chin'a Jiai-bun" recorded in the fifth volume of Man'yōshū as a work written in 733 (Tenpyō 5), in which he says, "In this year, I am 74."
Yamanoue no Okura accompanied a mission to Tang China in 701 and returned to Japan in 707. In the years following his return he served in various official capacities. He served as the Governor of Hōki (near present day Tottori), tutor to the crown prince, and Governor of Chikuzen. While there, he associated with Otomo no Tabito, who was serving in Dazaifu.

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When I Eat Melons

瓜食めば
Uri hameba
When I eat melons
子ども思ほゆ
Kodomo omohoyu
My children come to my mind;
栗食めば
Kuri hameba
When I eat chestnuts

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