The Roles and Significance of the Anthologies: Man’yōshū vs. Kokinshū

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Man’yōshū The poetic anthology Man’yōshū, compiled in ca. 759, is well known as an outstanding masterpiece of the Nara period, following the two chronicles: Kojiki (712) and Nihon Shoki, or Nihongi, (720). As its title describes, Man’yōshū (collection of ten thousand leaves) is an anthology of as many as almost 4,500 poems by writers from various backgrounds and different periods, in which I see this anthology significant. The composers include such prominent poets as Kakinomoto Hiromaro, Ōtomo Yakamochi, and Yamanoue Okura, as well as the noble, soldiers, and peasants, suggesting that the volumes teach us different aspects of those eras, or perspectives not only of the educated or rich but those of commoners. Perhaps, that no specific writing styles, both choka and tanka, were yet to be regulated enabled the huge collection in a variety of composers. Another point regarding the contents of Man’yōshū that somehow struck me is that men didn’t hesitate to express their emotional parts and weakness, as seen in the pieces by Kakimonoto Hitomaro and Ōtomo Yakamochi: “…I thought myself a strong man. But the sleeves of my garment are wetted through with tears” (Kakinomoto Hitomaro) “…then I think of my far-off home – sorely do I grieve that with my sobs” (Ōtomo Yakamochi) Consequently I assume that there might have been some connections between the era as being pre-Confucian and gender roles in the society; that is, perhaps, the concept that “Boys don’t cry” was yet to come in later time of the Japanese history. Speaking of Kakinomoto Hitomaro, he is known for his good use of such poetic devices as makurakotoba, joshi, and on’in; especially his use of makurakotoba was extensive, using over 140 makurakotoba, half of which is alleged ... ... middle of paper ... ...buted to a great degree into the modern Japan. In conclusion, two of the well-known Japanese literature works, Man’yōshū and Kokinshū, have had great impacts on later periods of Japan, not only in the literature world but also in many other aspects of the culture and society: poetic styles and devices, writing systems, pursuit of intelligence, reflection on one’s identity, appreciation for humanity, nature, and other possible connections in life, etc. Works Cited Hatano, Fumio. (2004). Japanese History: 11 Experts Reflect on the Past. Tokyo: Kodansha. Gyaru Moji Henkan. http://www.glne.jp/tbl1.cgi Retrieved on May 30, 2010. Wikipedia. Kakekotoba. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%8E%9B%E8%A9%9E retrieved on May 30, 2010. Wikipedia. Kakinomoto Hitomaro. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%9F%BF%E6%9C%AC%E4%BA%BA%E9%BA%BB%E5%91%82 Retrieved on May 30, 2010.

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