Departmental Bulletin Paper 下田歌子の和歌教育 ―人生と和歌―
Utako Shimoda’s waka Poetry Education – The Life and waka –

久保, 貴子

On19 October 1872, Saki Hirao, the later Utako Shimoda, joined the imperial household as the 15th grade official servant under Imperial Household Ministry. Her enrollment in the imperial household took place immediately after she moved to Tokyo from her home town, the then Iwamura Domain of the Mino Province. Undoubtedly, it marked the beginning of an entirely new life for her. Legend has it that in December of the same year, her remarkable talent in waka poetry was acknowledged by the wife of Emperor Meiji, Empress Haruko (later Empress Dowager Shoken), who granted her a new name, uta (poetry). Her marriage to Takeo Shimoda in 1879 officially gave birth to the renowned waka poet, Utako Shimoda (Uta was changed to Utako in 1911). The above demonstrates the crucial role uta (waka poetry) played in her life. This paper reviews the life of Utako Shimoda in terms of her commitment to waka poetry in an attempt to shed a new light on the purposes and approaches of waka poetry education she devoted her life. As explained earlier, her fair name epitomizes her significance as a waka poet, thus her identity is synonymous with waka poetry. The first half of this paper retraces Shimoda’s life in terms of waka poetry. Her travel diary, “Azumaji-no-Niki (the Travel Diary to the East)”, and other records show that her talent and skills in waka poetry already burgeoned during her early days in her home town of Iwamura. Her god-sent gift, however, was further refined under mentors in Tokyo. In particular, her encounter and eventual friendship with the famed waka poet, Atsuko Saisho, was a divine fortune for her. Their relationship, catalyzed by waka poetry, had certainly affected her life and left a lasting impact on her commitment as an educator. The strong bond between the two poets is witnessed in this paper through their poems and writings. The latter half of the study focuses on the guidebook to waka poetry by Utako Shimoda to examine her educational method. While the new liberal trend dominated her time, the teaching of Shimoda, generally under the influence of Goshoha (imperial school), might have been blamed as anachronism. As demonstrated in her emphasis on the practical benefit of waka poetry, however, her enthusiasm as a waka educator seems to be founded on reasons beyond her fame as a poet. Inthe society where new educational institutes were established under Christian influences, it can be suggested that there was definitely a demand for traditional waka education.

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