Satomura Joha

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  • Born: 1524
  • Died: 1602
  • Other names: Hokkyo

Satomura Jôha is regarded as the last great master of renga poetry.

Jôha was the younger son of a temple servant at the Ichijôin in Yamato province who died when Jôha was 12. After a period of monastic life, Jôha became a priest though he elected to devote himself to poetry and traveled with noted renga poet Shûkei to Kyoto in 1542. He trained under Satomura Shôkyu and assumed the Satomura name after the death of the latter in 1552, as well as becoming a foster father to Shôkyu's son Shôshitsu. As head of the Satomura school of renga, Jôha's fame gradually increased and he gained both Miyoshi Chokei and Matsunaga Hisahide as patrons and later became a teacher for Chokei's son Yoshioki. He gained the favor of Oda Nobunaga in 1568 when the latter entered Kyoto and over the next ten years composed verse alongside such great names as Akechi Mitsuhide and Hosokawa Fujitaka. When Akechi killed Nobunaga in 1582, Jôha managed to spirit the crown prince out of Nijô and harm's way, which held him in good stead when Toyotomi Hideyoshi questioned him afterwards (he had been involved in a provocative linked-verse session with Mitsuhide only days before Nobunaga's death). He became active in politics under Hideyoshi and a companion of Toyotomi Hidetsugu, an association that led to his banishment to Miidera when Hidetsugu was ordered to commit suicide in 1595. Jôha was allowed to return to Kyoto in the fall of 1596 and was soon forgiven by Hideyoshi. While enjoying the reputation of being Japan's last true renga master and a discerning critic, Jôha's reputation suffered from what some saw as opportunism and ambition in his character. His most notable works included the Renga Shihôshô (Book of the Supreme Treasure of Renga) and his own journal, which detailed a trip he took to view Mt. Fuji in 1567.