Kakinomotono Hitomaro (dates of birth and death unknown)
Kakinomoto in Katsuragi City has a deep relationship with Kakinomotono Hitomaro, who was one of the representative poets of Manyoshu, Japan's oldest anthology of poems. It is said to be the birth place of Hitomaro. Kakinomoto Jinjya Shrine where Hitomaro is enshrined, started when Hitomaro was reburied there in 770. There are the shrines named Kakinomoto Jinjya Shrine in other places of Japan, such as Tenri City, Akashi City in Hyogo Prefecture, Masuda City in Shimane Prefecture, and others.
Hitomaro’s dates of birth and death are unknown. According to Manyoshu and Iwamikoku Fudoki (Records of the Culture and Geography of the Province of Iwami), however, he served seven emperors and worked in the Province of Iwami in Shimane Prefecture. In Kakinomoto in our city, there used to be Hitomaro’s residence, which is called Iwamida.
Hitomaro left many great poems in Manyoshu, a famous collection of poetry. Especially as far as Choka (long poems) are concerned, there are poems to praise the members of the Imperial Family, to mourn the dead, and a love poem for his wife. His style was grand and solemn. Highly mature as a lyric poet, he is regarded as the leading expert and is worshipped as a god of poems. As a poem in regard to the place of Katsuragi, he recited:
Spring willows, the clouds over Mt. Katsuragi,
Remind me of my sister, Standing or sitting
His relative, Shinzei, built Hitomarodo Hall (now Eigenji Temple), and placed the wooden statue of Hitomaro, which is said to have been carved by Shinzei. It is still kept with good care by the people of Kakinomoto.
The record of Shinzei holding a poem party to respect Hitomaro and to celebrate the wooden statue was handed down in Eigenji Temple. The poems at that party were offered to the temple, and until the beginning of Showa for such a long time, the poems had been offered by local people.
Moreover, at Kakinomoto Jinjya Shrine, every April 18, which is regarded as the anniversary of his death, a memorial service known as the Chinponkanpon Festival is held.