Princess Oku (Okunohimemiko) and Prince Otsu (Otsunomiko)
Two unforgettable poets in Manyoshu, Japan's oldest anthology of poems, are Princess Oku (661 - 702) and Prince Otsu (663~686). Princess Oku and Prince Otsu were brother and sister.
Their father was the Emperor Tenmu and their mother was Princess Ota. The Princess Oku was sent to Ise shrine as a *Saigu. He was described in Kaifuso, the oldest collection of Chinese poems in Japan compiled in 751: the prince is strong, brave and generous. Since he was young, he liked to study. He was intelligent and an excellent writer. He was also expert in the martial arts. In spite of being born as a prince, he was humble, and loved by many.
He was likely to be a great leader.
After the Emperor Tenmu passed away, however, he was captured as a rebel, because of Prince Kawashima’s betrayal. He received a death sentence at home in "Yakugoda in Iware”, now Sakurai City in Nara Prefecture. This happened because he was considered to be an obstacle to Prince Kusakabe’s ascension. He wrote this poem before being executed:
Hearing the snipes over the everlasting Iware Pond, I am to die watching them only today. (Manyoshu, Japan's oldest anthology of poems, No. 415 in Volume 3)
Princess Oku wrote a poem right after her brother's visit at Ise shrine, concerning his situation:
When I see my brother off to Yamato, The night has gotten deep, I find myself standing, drenched in morning mist. (Manyoshu, Japan's oldest anthology of poems, No. 105 in Volume 2)
The autumn mountain, hard for both of us together to go over, How could you do by yourself? (Manyoshu, Japan's oldest anthology of poems, No. 106 of Volume 2)
The body of Prince Otsu was reburied on Mt. Nijyo. On top of Odake Peak, the tomb of Prince Otsu was built.
I, a living person, From tomorrow on, Would look at Mt. Futakami, As my brother’s back (Manyoshu, Japan's oldest anthology of poems, No. 165 of Volume 2)
* It was also called "Itsukinomiya”. One of the female royal family members was chosen, and sent to Ise Shrine to serve. One female in each emperors' era was sent.