Important Cultural PropertyKumano poems

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  • By Asukai Masatsune
  • 1 hanging scroll
  • Ink on paper
  • 30.3x50.9
  • Kamakura period/Shōji 2 (1200)
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • B-2404

As was the case with other ex-emperors during the insei (ruling by a retired emperor) period, ex-Emperor Gotoba (1180–1239) had a deep faith in the Kumano Sanzan (three shrines in Kumano) and made 27 pilgrimages to Kumano despite the fact that it took almost one month to get there. During the long journey, he held waka (a 31-syllable Japanese poem) parties with his followers as the only diversion. Everyone created a waka for each of the two given themes and wrote it on a strip of paper to present to the Emperor. This waka paper was called Kumano Kaishi. This verse of waka is thought to have been created in 1200 by Masatsune (1170–1221) when he was 31 years old. Masatsune was one of the selectors of the Shin Kokin Wakashu (New Collection of Ancient and New Poems) and one of the top poets of the time. At present, there remain 34 pieces of Kumano Kaishi. They constitute a valuable referential material of the early Kamakura period in that their authors' names and years of creation are known.