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Last update January 12, 2006




           

菅原道真  用語集

SUGAWARA MICHIZANE

845 - 903

  (C) Eigo-Zakkaya



菅原道真

Sugawara Michizane
菅原氏って言えば、埴輪を考案したり、古墳造営の担当だった古代豪族、土師(はじ)氏の出身。曾おじいさんの古人(ふるひと)さんのときに苗字を菅原に変えて、文章の才能を使って朝廷に仕える家柄になったんだって。その頃は「文書経国」といって、学問をさかんにして国づくりをしようっていう方針があって、嵯峨天皇(在位809〜823年)の時代には唐風の文化の最盛期だったらしいわ。

朝廷に仕える家柄だけあって、おじいさんの清公(きよきみ)さん、お父さんの是善(これよし)さん、それから道真さんというふうに三代続いての文章(もんじょう)博士の家系よ〜っ。道真が生まれたのは承和12年(845)乙丑(きのとうし)の6月25日、お母さんは少納言伴(大伴)氏の出身。小さい頃からすごく才能あふれる子供だったらしくて、「神童」って呼ばれたらしいわ。でもさ、小さい頃はさ、どこの子も優秀に見えるらしいけど。ちなみにアタシの同僚のカラスなんかも「うちの子は天才か」なんて言ってるわよ。でも、たいてい20歳過ぎると普通の人なのよね〜っ。

でも、道真さんは違ったみたいよ。わずか5歳で和歌を詠み、10歳過ぎて漢詩を創作。でもって、18歳で文章生(もんじょうせい)、23歳で文章得業生(もんじょうとくぎょうせい)、26歳のときには方略試(ほうりゃくし)に合格したっていうことだけど、アンタ、何のことかわかる?なんでも「文章生」ってのは、今の大学みたいなとこでさ、18歳ってのは最年少だったんだって。それから文章得業生ってのは今で言う「大学院生」、方略試は国家試験のようなものですごくむずかしかったらしいわ。

それから30歳になって結婚、33歳のときには式部少輔(しきぶしょうゆう)、文章博士(もんじょうはかせ)になったのよ。文章博士ってのは「大学教授」のようなもので、当時はたったの2人しかいなくて、そのうちの1人なんだからすごいわね。もう一人の博士なんか11歳も年上の人だったらしいから、いかに優秀だったかわかるじゃない。いいわねえ〜っ、優秀な人って。アタシあこがれちゃう。でね、式部少輔ってのは、当時の政府のひとつの省である「式部」省の少輔、つまり役職のことで、大輔(だいふ)が課長なら少輔は課長代理ってとこね。

その後、一時的に讃岐守として地方へ回されたこともあったんだけど、宇多天皇のときに京都へ戻ってきて、蔵人頭(くろうどのとう)に任命されたりで活躍したらしいわ。そして、50歳のときに遣唐大使に任命されたんだけど、もうその頃は唐も国情不安定で文化も衰退し始めた頃だったのね。道真は遣唐使廃止を提案、決議されたんだって。ひょっとしたら行きたくなかったのかもね。そりゃそうよね、アタシだって危ない国に行くのはごめんよ〜っ。

The Sugawara family is a spinoff from the Haji clan, the inventor of Haniwa (sepulchral earthenware) and dedicated constructor of royal tombs. Furuhito, the great grandfather of Michizane changed his family name to Sugawara, and started serving the Imperial Court using his highly excellent skill of literature. That was the time when the government was actively engaged in nation-level cultural development activities under the slogan of "strengthen the nation through academic activities." This movement reached its peak in the time of Emperor Saga (809 - 823).

Appointed as Doctor of Literature for two generations from Kiyokimi (Michizane's grandfather) to Koreyoshi (his father), the Sugawara had become a highly esteemed family when Michizane was born on June 25, 845, a year of "Small Tree and Ox." His mother was from the Ohtomo Clan, a big power in the early sixth century.

Michizane was an extremely talented child and dubbed as "a child prodigy." At five, he composed a Waka (Japanese verse), and at 11, he created his first Chinese character poem (Kanshi). He received the degree of Bachelor of Chinese History and Literature at 18 (the youngest in history), and at the age of 23, he was assigned as Master of Chinese History and Literature (equivalent to a graduate school student today). He succeeded in the extremely difficult government official certification tests called Ho-ryaku-shi when he was 26.

He married at 30, and at 33, he was appointed as Junior Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Personnel Affairs and Education, and Doctor of Chinese History and Literature. The degree of the Doctor is compared to today's professor of a university faculty, and only two people had the degree in those days. The other doctor degree was obtained by Miyako-no-Yoshika, an eminent scholar and once Michizane's teacher. Yoshika was 11 years older than Michizane.

Though he was once transferred to the county of Sanuki (presently Kagawa prefecture, Shikoku, Japan) as Mayor, he was called back to Kyoto when Uda took the reign as Emperor, to assume the role of Private Secretary of Emperor. When he was 50, he was assigned as Chief Envoy to China (Tang Dynasty). Considering that the dynasty was now in political turmoil and cultural decline, Michizane proposed to discontinue sending envoys to the dynasty. His proposal was soon enacted by the government.

そして、55歳で右大臣、延喜元年(901年)には従二位の位を与えられてまさに順調に進んでたのに、突然、大宰府左遷を言い渡されてしまったのね。「左遷」って言ったってさ、当時は僻地の大宰府、これって名目上の「流刑」ね。なんでも反対派の左大臣藤原時平が陰謀を企てて、反逆罪だとか言って無実の罪を着せてしまったらしいわよ。でさ、宇多天皇には信頼されていた道真だったけど、その頃はもう宇多天皇から次の醍醐天皇の時代になっていて、醍醐天皇は藤原時平と親しい間柄だったらしく、「じゃあ左遷しよう」なんてことになったのかもね。いやあね、ほんとに。やっぱり、才能や能力のありすぎる人って妬まれるのよね。アタシも気をつけなきゃ(は?)。

さて、大宰府での毎日、楽しいわけがなく、環境も悪かったらしいし、京都で待ってる奥さんも亡くなったりとかで、そりゃガックリくるわよね。生きているうちに京都に帰ることはなく、とうとう延喜3年(903年)2月25日に失意のうちにこの世を去ってしまったのよ。可哀想ねえ。こうして、道真が亡くなってしまったわけだけど、その後がまた大変だったらしいわよ。京都では天変地異が続き、陰謀を企てた張本人の藤原時平は39歳で急死、次いで醍醐天皇の皇太子が相次いで亡くなる、延長8年(930年)には宮廷に雷が落ちてたくさんの死傷者が出たんだって。

でさ、昔は、悪いことはたいてい「怨霊の祟り(たたり)」だと信じられていたのね。これはきっと道真の怨霊が祟っているんだということで、当時、雨の恵みをもたらす「火雷天神」が祀られていた京都の北野に、道真の霊を鎮めるという目的で永延元年(987年)、「北野天満宮」が建てられたらしいわ。こうして道真イコール「天神さま」ってなことになり、時代が経つにつれて「学問の神さま」として全国に広がったっていうわけ。

じゃあ、最後に、天才詩人と言われた道真の有名な歌をひとつ。これは、左遷の地で京都の家にあった紅梅を思い出しながら詠んだ歌で、この歌を詠むと京都の邸宅から梅が大宰府まで飛んで来たっていう「飛び梅」伝説があるんだって。

東風吹かば にほひおこせよ梅の花
あるじなしとて春な忘れそ

His brilliant career continued to prosper. Promoted to be the Minister of the Right (equivalent to the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary) and endowed with the Junior Second Rank in 901, his life seemed to be on an ever-thriving path. However, as it says that an envious demon wants to butt in a spell of good luck, he was suddenly deprived of the position and condemned to exile in Dazaifu (presently in Fukuoka Prefecture) far away from the capital. Behind this was a conspiracy plot against him by his jealous opponent Fujiwara Tokihira, then Minister of the Left, who is said to have falsely indicted him for treason. With a strong connection with the new emperor Daigo, the enemy succeeded in removing his rival from the political stage.

His life in Dazaifu was sad and lonely. He began ailing, and his illness became even worse when he knew the death of his wife, who had been waiting for his return in Kyoto. Deep in sorrow and despair, he finally passed away on February 25, 903, without ever returning to his home again.

After Michizane's death, a series of tragic events happened in Kyoto. Natural disasters hit the capital, Fujiwara Tokihira, plotter of the conspiracy died a sudden death at the young age of 39, and the Crown Princes consecutively passed away. Also a great thunder hit the Imperial Palace in 930, injuring and killing many people.

Ancient people strongly believed in avenging spirits, and all these terrible incidents were interpreted as materializations of the strong anger of Michizane. To appease his rage and console his spirit, a shrine was built on the land of Kitano, Kyoto in 987. As Kitano was originally a place where a heavenly deity of fire and thunder was enshrined, the shrine for the deity later merged with that for Michizane, and Michizane began to be referred as a "Divinity of Heaven." As time went by, the shrine was gradually redefined as the sanctuary enshrining a Patron of Academy and began to have many worshippers wishing for success in academic activities. The belief in academic divine power became popular, thus promoting construction of many shrines of its kind throughout Japan.

The following is the famous Waka poem composed by Michizane during the exile in Dazaifu. The poem uses a form of talking to the plum tree in his home garden in Kyoto:

My dear plum blossoms:
Catch east winds
To send your scent.
The master's not there;
But forget not spring.

A legend says after he created this poem, plum blossoms in his garden came flying over to see their master in Dazaifu. This story of "Flying Plum Blossoms" is loved by many Japanese.