Motoori Norinaga occupies an ambivalent place in the history of Japanese thought as at once a brilliant literary critic and a vociferous proponent of Japanese nativism. Most studies have tended to focus on one or the other facet of Norinaga's thought. Even when the two have been analyzed in relation to each other, attention has been paid to his nativism as the foundation of his intellectual project. This article, by contrast, argues that Norinaga's poetics, particularly his theory of mono no aware, or sensitivity to the emotive power of things, played a constitutive role in his articulation of a nativist politics. More specifically, it suggests that Norinaga's nativism was predicated on his construction of classical Japanese literature as a sacred Way and situates this sacralizing effort in the medieval tradition of Buddhist waka poetics founded by the poet Fujiwara no Shunzei.