Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The most well-known forms of Japanese poetry (outside Japan) are haiku and senryu. The classic traditional form is in fact waka. Much poetry in Japan was written in the Chinese language, so it is more accurate to specify Japanese-language poetry. For example, in the Tale of Genji both kinds of poetry are frequently mentioned. When Japanese poets faced the Chinese poetry first, it was a time of its culmination in Tang dynasty and Japanese poets were totally fascinated. After some hundreds they digested the foreign impact, made it a part of their culture and merged it with their literature tradition in their mother tongue, and began to develop the diversity of their poetry. Waka and Kanshi, Chinese poetry including Japanese works written in (sometimes corrupted) Chinese languages had been the two greatest pillars of Japanese poetry. From them many other forms, like renga, haiku or senryu gave rise.
A new trend came in the middle of the 19th Century. Since then the major form among Japanese poetry have been tanka (new name for waka), haiku and shi.
Nowadays the main streams of contemporary Japanese poetry is experimental way and reviving way of tradition. The poet of tanka, haiku and shi are in fact separated and they make seldom poetry in their unfamiliar forms. But some active poets are eager to collaborate with poets who are familiar to other genres.
Poems in Kojiki and Nihonshoki
Till Korean scholars brought Chinese classical texts into Japan in the 6th century, Japanese language had not documented in letter. The oldest written work in Japanese literature is Kojiki in the 8th century. which Ota Yasumaro recorded Japanese mythology and history which Hieda no Are recited and was succeeded from his or her ancestors. Kojikl recorded many of poetic works transmitted perhaps from the time the Japanese had had no letters. Nihonshoki, the oldest history book of Japan which was finished two year later than Kojiki, it contains many of poetic works too. Those works were mostly not long and had no fixed forms. The first poem documented in both books was attributed to a kami, named Susaono, the younger brother of Amaterasu. When he married Princess Kusinada in the Izumo province, the kami made an uta, or waka, a poem.
- Yakumo tatsu / Izumo yagegaki / Tsuma-gomini / Yaegaki tsukuro / Sono yaegaki wo
This is the oldest waka, poem written in Japanese, and hence the poetry was later praised as what had been founded by a kami, divine creation.
Two books shared many same or similar works but Nihonshoki contained newer ones, because it recorded more late affairs till the reign of the Emperor Temmu than Kojiki. Themes of waka in those books were diverse; love, sorrow, satire, war cry, praise of victory, riddle and so on. Most of those works are considered as a collective works of people, even if they were attributed to someone, like the kami Susaono. Many works in Kojiki were anonymous works. Some of them were attributed to kami, emperors and empresses, nobles, generals, commoners and sometimes enemies of the court.
Early Manyoshu poets (Vol. I-III)
The oldest poetic anthology of waka is Manyoshu in 20 volumes. It was probably finished in the early of the Heian period. It gathered the ancient works. The order of its columns is roughly chronological. Most of works in Manyoshu have a fixed form today called choka and tanka. But earlier works specially in the Volume I lacked such fixed form like the waka attributed to the Emperor Yuryaku.
Manyoshu begins with a waka without fix form. It is a love song for an unknown girl whom he met by chance and at the same a ritual song praising the beauty of the land. It is worthy to be attributed to an emperor and today considered used in the court ritual. The first three columns contains mostly the works of poet from the middle of the 7th century till the early part of the 8th century. Significant poets among them were Nukata no Okimi and Kakinomoto Hitomaro. Kakinomoto Hitomaro was not only the great poet in the early days or one of most significant throughout in the Manyoshu, but also one of the most outstanding poets in the Japanese literature.
- later collected in Kaifuso, edited in the early Heian period
Prince Otomo et al.
Nara period poets
In 710 the Japanese capital moved from Fujiwara (today Asuka, Nara) to Nara and the Nara period (710-794) began. It was the period the Chinese influence culminated. Todai-ji was settled and the Great Buddha was created under the order of the Emperor Shomu. The significant waka poets in this period were Otomo no Tabito , Yamanoue no Okura , and Yamabe no Akahito . Manyoshu documented also many female poets who mainly made love poems. They are aristocrats born in Nara but sometimes lived or traveled in other province as bureaucrats of the emperor. Those poets noted their impression on travel, recited their love emotion for their lovers or their children. Sometimes their poems criticized political failure of the government of tyranny of the local bureaucrats. Yamanoue no Okura made a choka, A Dialogue of two Poormen (貧窮問答歌, Hinkyumondoka); in this poem two poormen said alas to their severe life in poverty successively. It has a hanka as the below:
世の中を憂しとやさしとおもへども飛び立ちかねつ鳥にしあらねば Yononaka wo / Ushi to yasashi to / Omoe domo / Tobitachi kanetsu / Tori ni shi arane ba I feel the life is / sorrowful and unbearable / though / I can't flee away / since I am not a bird.
Manyoshu doesn't contain not only poems of aristocrats but also ones of nameless ordinary people. Those poems are called Yomiboto shirazu, poems whose author is unknown. Among those anonymous poets there is a specific style waka called Azumauta, waka written in the Eastern dialect. Azuka, meaning the East designated the eastern provinces roughly correspondent to Kanto and occasionally Tohoku. Those poems were filled with rural flavors. There were a specific style among Azumauta, called Sakimori uta, soldiers' waka. It was mainly waka made by drafted soldiers at their departure from their home. Those soldiers were drafted in the eastern provinces and should have be guardians in Kyushu for several years. Sometimes it was made in their post with nostalgia for their far homeland.
Waka in the early Heian period
- Early Heian period I; Emperor Kammu - Saga
- Waka poets
Otomo no Yakamochi and completion of Manyoshu
Six best waka poets
The culmination of Kanshi
In early Heian period Chinese poetry or Kanshi (漢詩, meaning Chinese poetry) was most popular style of poetry among Japanese aristocrats. Some poets like Kukai studied in China and were very fluent in Chinese. Other poets like Sugawara no Michizane have been grown up in Japan but understood Chinese well. When they hosted foreign diplomats, they communicated not orally but with writing Kanji or Chinese characters. In those period in China Chinese poetry had reached one of its culminations. Great Chinese poets of Tang dynasty like Li Po were there contemporaries. Those Chinese poets' works were known very well. Some people who went to China for studying or diplomacy got acquaintance between those poets. The most popular styles of Kanshi were made in 5 or 7 syllables in 4 or 8 lines. The rule of rhymes were determined strictly. Japanese poets were skilled in those rules and made many good poems. Sometimes they made a long poem whose one line consists 5 or 7 syllables.
The Emperor Saga himself was a good at writing Kanshi. He ordered to consume three anthologies of Kanshi. Those three were the first enterprise of the imperial ordered anthologies which would continue d to be edited till the Muromachi period.
Ordered by the Emperor Daigo of Japan edited by Kino Tsurayuki et al. Oldest literature theory as the "Preface in Kana" by Tsurayuki
Imperial anthologies of Waka
- Other Imperial anthologies of Waka
Since Shinkokinshu ordered and edited by the Emperor Go-Toba eight waka anthologies were consumed under the imperial order. Those anthologies reflected the taste of aristocrats and were considered the ideal of waka in each period.
See Further: Waka
From the late ancient to Middle
In ancient times, it was a custom between two exchange waka instead of letters in prose. Sometimes improvised waka was used in daily conversation in the high society. In particular, it was common between lovers. Reflecting this custom, five of the twenty volumes of the Kokin Wakashu gathered waka for love. In the Heian period the lovers would exchange waka in the morning when lovers met at woman's home. The exchanged waka were called Kinuginu (後朝), because it was thought the man wanted to stay with his lover and when the sun rose he had almost no time to wear his clothes which had been laid instead of mattress (it was a custom in those days). Shortly, making and reciting Waka became an part of aristocratic culture. They recited a part of appropriate waka freely to imply something on an occasion.
- Roei style - quotation and application
Roei was a favored style to apply to poetical works. It was a way of reciting in voice. Not whole works but a part of classics were quoted and recited by individuals usually followed by a chorus. Fujiwara no Kinto consumed Wakan roeishu from Japanese and Chinese works for roei. One or two lines were quoted in Wakan roeishu and those quotations were grouped into themes like Spring, Travel, Celebration.
- Age of Nyobo (court ladies); Emperor Ichijo of Japan and courts of his empresses, concubines and other noble ladies
The Pillow Book and Tale of Genji, from the early 11th century, provide us with examples of the life of aristocrats in the court of the Emperor Ichijo and his empresses. Murasaki Shikibu wrote over 3,000 tanka for her Tale of Genji as waka her characters created in the story. In the story most of those waka were created for exchanging in a letter or a conversation. Many classic works of both waka and kanshi were quoted by the nobles. Among those classic poets, the Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty Bai Juyi had a great influence on the culture of the middle Heian period. Bai Juyi was quoted by both The Pillow Book and Tale of Genji, and his A Song of unending Sorrow (長恨歌), whose theme was a tragic love between the Chinese Emperor and his concubine, inspired Murasaki Shikibu to imagine tragic love affairs in the Japanese imperial court in her Tale of Genji.
- Poetry in the period of the cloistered rule
Imayo (今様, modern style) ; Anthology Ryojinhisho 梁塵秘抄
- Some imperial anthologies
- Emperor Go-Toba of Japan and Shinkokinshu
- Works of Teika as a waka poet, critics, scriber and editor
- Two lines of descendants of Teika - Reizei family
- Other poets in those days
- Poetry in the Kamakura period
- Poetry in the Nanbokucho period - Renga development
Tsukubashu - imperial anthology of renga renga poets, critics and theories Development of shikimoku (renga rules) Io Sogi Haikai renga appears - as a parody of renga Shinseninutusukbashu Noh play and poetry Influence from waka and other poetry Noh play reading as a verse
- Poetry in the Sengoku period
Renga and Waka
In the Pre-modern or the Edo period (1602-1869) some new styles of poetry has developed. One of greatest and influential styles was haikai, emerging from haikai-renga in the medieval. Matsuo Basho was a great haikai renga master and had a wide influence to his contemporaries and later generations. Besides haikai, another new style appeared from renga. That was senryu.
Waka faces renovations too in relation of kokugaku, study of Japanese classics. The tradition of collaboration between painters and poets gave a good influence to the poetry in the middle Edo period. In Kyoto there were some artists who were poets and painters at the same time. Painters of Shujo school were known as good poets too. Among such poets-and-painters most significant artist was Yosa Buson. Buson began his career as an artist as a painter but learned renga and became a master of renga too. He left many painting work accompanied by his own poem (haikai).
Kyoka (mad song), a satirical waka was also popular.
In the late Edo period, a master of haikai, Karai Senryu made an anthology. His style became known as Senryu named after his pseudonym, Senryu. Senryu as a style of poetry is a satirical poem whose motives are taken from daily life in 5-7-5 syllables. Originally senryu was made as a former part of kyoka whose latter part was given by the a haikai master. That was not highly artistic but a sort of wordplay and called maekuzuke (adding a former part). In anthologies of senryu in the Edo period collect many 'maeku' or senryu made by ordinary amateur senryu makers adding to the latter 7-7 part made by a master. It was a sort of poetry contests and the well written senryu by those amateurs were awarded by the master and other participants.
One new wave came from Western literature when European and American poetry were introduced to Japan. This poetry belonged to a very different tradition, and was considered by Japanese poets as a form without any bound. Shintai-shi (New form poetry) or Jiyu-shi (Freestyle poetry) were made . They still relied on a tradition pattern of 5-7 syllable patterns, but were strongly influenced by Western poetry form and motives. Later in the Taisho era, some poets began to write their poetry in much looser style of metrics. Compared to this new development, Kanshi slowly went out of fashion and was seldom written. As a result, Japanese men of letters lost the traditional background of Chinese literature knowledge. Originally shi meant poetry, specially Chinese poetry, but today it means mainly modern style poetry in Japanese. Shi is called also kindai-shi (modern poetry). After World War II poets and critics have used the name gendai-shi (contemporary poetry). This includes the poets Kusano Shimpei , Tanikawa Shuntaro and Ishigaki Rin.
As for the traditional styles such as waka and haiku, the early modern era was also a time renovation. Yosano Tekkan , and later Masaoka Shiki revived those forms. Both haiku and tanka were creations of Shiki. They put the basis of development of these poetry in the modern world. They introduced new motives, denied some old authorities in this field, recover forgotten classics, and publish magazines to express their opinion and lead their disciples. This magazine-based activity of leading poets is a major style of Japanese poets even today.
Some poets, including Yosano Akiko, Ishikawa Takuboku, Hagiwara Sakutaro wrote in many styles: they used both traditional forms like waka and haiku and new style. Most Japanese poets, however, generally write in a single form of poetry.
Important Poets (premodern)
Important poets (Modern)
Important collections and works
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details