Otagaki Rengetsu

Ōtagaki Rengetsu

Ōtagaki Rengetsu (太田垣蓮月)(1791-1875) was a Buddhist nun who is widely regarded to have been one of the greatest Japanese poets of the 19th century. She was also a skilled potter and painter and expert calligrapher.

Originally born into a samurai family with the surname Tōdō, she was adopted at a young age by the Ōtagaki family. She was a lady in waiting at Kameoka castle from age 7 to 16, when she was married. However, her husband died in 1823. Ōtagaki joined the temple Chion-in and became a nun, taking Rengetsu ("Lotus Moon") as her Buddhist name. She remained at the Chion-in for nearly ten years, and lived in a number of other temples for the following three decades, until 1865, when she settled at the Jinkō-in where she lived out the rest of her life.

Though best known as a waka poet, Rengetsu was also accomplished at dance, sewing, some of the martial arts, and Japanese tea ceremony. She admired and studied under a number of great poets including Ozawa Roan and Ueda Akinari, and later in her life became a close friend and mentor to the artist Tomioka Tessai. A number of Tessai's works, though painted by him, feature calligraphy by Rengetsu.

References

  • Takeuchi, Melinda (1985). "Ōtagaki Rengetsu." Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.

Images

Sake Flask (Tokkuri 徳利) by Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) 大田垣蓮月

Hanging Scroll (Kakemono 掛物), Poem Sheet (Tanzaku 短冊) by Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) 大田垣蓮月

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