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Kokin (waka)shu (古今(和歌)集 kokin (waka)shū, "collection of ancient and modern poems") is an early Heian waka anthology, conceived by Emperor Uda (r. 887-897) and ordered by his son Emperor Daigo (r 897-930) in 905. Its finished form dates to c. 920, though according to several historical accounts the last poem was added to the collection in 914. The compilers of the anthology were four court poets, led by Ki no Tsurayuki and including Ki no Tomonori (who died before its completion), Ōshikōchi Mitsune, and Mibu no Tadamine.
The kokinshū is the first of the nijūichidaishū (二十一大集), the twenty one collections of Japanese poetry compiled at Imperial request. It was the most influential realization of the ideas of poetry at the time, dictating the form and format of Japanese poetry until the late nineteenth century. The primacy of poems about the seasons pioneered by the kokinshū continues even today in the haiku tradition. The Japanese preface by Ki no Tsurayuki is also the beginning of Japanese criticism as distinct from the far more prevalent Chinese poetics in the literary circles of its day. (The anthology also included a traditional Chinese preface authored by Ki no Tomonori.) The idea of including old as well as new poems was another important innovation, one which was widely adopted in later works, both in prose and verse. The poems of the kokinshū were ordered temporally; the love poems, for instance, depict the progression and fluctuations of a courtly love-affair. This association of one poem to the next marks this anthology as the ancestor of the renga and haikai traditions.
The exact number of poems in the collection is a matter of dispute. The online edition in  contains 1,111 poems. The collection is divided into twenty parts, reflecting older models such as the man'yōshū and various Chinese anthologies. The organisation of topics is however different from all earlier models, and was followed by all later official collections, although some collections like the kin'yōshū and shikashū scaled the model down to ten parts. The parts of the kokinshū are ordered as follows: 1-2 on Spring (春哥 haru no uta), 3 on Summar (夏哥 natsu no uta), 4-5 on Autumn (秋哥 aki no uta), 6 on Winter (冬哥 fuyu no uta), 7 about Congratulations (賀哥 ga no uta), 8 on Partings (離列哥 wakare no uta), 9 on Travel (羈旅哥 tabi no uta), 10 on the Names (物名 mono no na), 11-15 on Love (恋哥 koi no uta), 16 on Lamentations (哀傷哥 aishō no uta), 17-18 on Miscellaneous (雑哥 kusagusa no uta), 19 on Miscellaneous Kinds (雑体哥 zattai no uta), and 20 on chiefly traditional and ritual poems from the Bureau of Poetry (大哥所御哥 ōutadokoro no on'uta).
The compilers included the name of the author of each poem, and the topic (第 dai) or inspiration of the poem, if known. Major poets of the kokinshū include Ariwara Narihira , Ono no Komachi, Ise, Henjō and Fujiwara no Okikaze , apart from the compilers themselves. Inclusion in any imperial collection, and particularly the kokinshū, was a great honour.
- Online edition of the Kokin wakashu at the UVa Library Japanese Text Initiative.
- E. Miner, H. Odagiri and R. E. Morell, The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature, pp. 186–187, Princeton University Press, 1985, ISBN 0691065993.
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