Little is known of Yamanoue no Okura (660 – ca.733) , beyond that he was a member of an embassy sent from the Yamato court to T’ang China in 701 and returned home some time later.
It has been suggested that his family may have been Korean immigrants to Japan, but it is hard to know for sure.
He is still reckoned as being one of the Man’yōshū‘s great poets, however, being unafraid to experiment with the form and introduce elements learned from his time in China. He has only 10 nagauta and 62 tanka in the collection, but did contribute some of the writing in Chinese.
Of all the poets in the anthology, his work shows the strongest Confucian moral influence, especially in works such as his ‘Dialogue between the Poor and the Destitute‘.
He is also admired for the simple humanity of poems such as those mourning the death of his son.