Chiryū, 1855, 4th month

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The Japanese have long lauded Ariwara Narihira, a high-ranking courtier who lived in the ninth century, as one of the country's six greatest poets. He is depicted here by Kunisada appropriately wearing the voluminous robes and black lacquered hat of a Heian period aristocrat. Narihira's colorful life and romantic adventures provided the inspiration for the Tales of Ise, a tenth-century poetic narrative, and Japanese artists have long pictured the handsome Narihira based on accounts in this text. According to tradition, Narihira was exiled from the capital when his mistress was chosen as an imperial consort. During his journey eastward, he composed many poems inspired by the landscape. At Chiryū, pictured above by Hiroshige, a mire of blossoming irises prompted Narihira to compose the following verse:

I have a wife,
familiar as a well-worn robe.
And so this distant journeying
fills my heart with grief.

Artist Life
1797 - 1858
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
S0432-040; T79-40
Curator Approved

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