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Waka (和歌, "Japanese poem") is a type of poetry in classical Japanese literature. Although waka in modern Japanese is written as 和歌, in the past it was also written as 倭歌 (see Wa, an old name for Japan), and a variant name is yamato-uta (大和歌).
The word waka has two different but related meanings: the original meaning was "poetry in Japanese" and encompassed several genres such as chōka and sedōka (discussed below); the later, more common definition refers to poetry in a 5-7-5-7-7 metre. Up to and during the compilation of the Man'yōshū in the eighth century, the word waka was a general term for poetry composed in Japanese, and included several genres such as tanka (短歌, "short poem"), chōka (長歌, "long poem"), bussokusekika (仏足石歌, "Buddha footprint poem") and sedōka (旋頭歌, "repeating-the-first-part poem"). However, by the time of the Kokinshū's compilation at the beginning of the tenth century, all of these forms except for the tanka and chōka had effectively gone extinct, and chōka had significantly diminished in prominence. As a result, the word waka became effectively synonymous with tanka, and the word tanka fell out of use until it was revived at the end of the nineteenth century (see Tanka ).
Tanka (hereafter referred to as waka) consist of five lines (句, ku, literally "phrases") of 5-7-5-7-7 on or syllabic units. Therefore, tanka is sometimes called Misohitomoji (三十一文字), meaning it contains 31 syllables in total.
The term waka originally encompassed a number of differing forms, principally tanka (短歌, "short poem") and chōka (長歌, "long poem"), but also including bussokusekika, sedōka (旋頭歌, "memorized poem") and katauta (片歌, "poem fragment"). These last three forms, however, fell into disuse at the beginning of the Heian period, and chōka vanished soon afterwards. Thus, the term waka came in time to refer only to tanka.
|Katauta||5-7-7||One half of an exchange of two poems; the shortest type of waka|
|Chōka||5-7-5-7-5-7...5-7-7||Repetition of 5 and 7 on phrases, with a last phrase containing 7 on. Mainly composed to commemorate public events, and often followed by a hanka or envoi.|
Numerous chōka appear prominently in the Man'yōshū, but only 5 in the Kokinshū.
|Tanka||5-7-5-7-7||The most widely-composed type of waka throughout history|
|Sedōka||5-7-7-5-7-7||Composed of two sets of 5-7-7 (similar to two katauta). Frequently in the form of mondōka (問答歌, "dialogue poem") or an exchange between lovers (sōmonka).|
|Bussokusekika||5-7-5-7-7-7||A tanka with an extra phrase of 7 on added to the end|
Chōka consist of 5-7 on phrases repeated at least twice, and conclude with a 5-7-7 ending
The briefest chōka documented is Man'yōshū no. 802, which is of a pattern 5-7 5-7 5-7 5-7-7. It was composed by Yamanoue no Okura in the Nara period and runs:
|瓜食めば||Uri hameba||When I eat melons|
|子ども思ほゆ||Kodomo omohoyu||My children come to my mind;|
|栗食めば||Kuri hameba||When I eat chestnuts|
|まして偲はゆ||Mashite shinowayu||The longing is even worse.|
|何処より||Izuku yori||Where do they come from,|
|来りしものそ||Kitarishi monoso||Flickering before my eyes.|
|眼交に||Manakai ni||Making me helpless|
|もとな懸りて||Motona kakarite||Endlessly night after night.|
|安眠し寝さぬ||Yasui shi nasanu||Not letting me sleep in peace?|
The chōka above is followed by an envoi (反歌, hanka) in tanka form, also written by Okura:
|銀も||Shirokane mo||What are they to me,|
|金も玉も||Kugane mo tama mo||Silver, or gold, or jewels?|
|何せむに||Nanisemu ni||How could they ever|
|まされる宝||Masareru takara||Equal the greater treasure|
|子にしかめやも||Koni shikame yamo||That is a child? They can not.|
[English translation by Edwin Cranston]
In the early Heian period (at the beginning of the 10th century), chōka was seldom written and tanka became the main form of waka. Since then, the generic term waka came to be almost synonymous with tanka. Famous examples of such works are the diaries of Ki no Tsurayuki and Izumi Shikibu, as well as such collections of poem tales as The Tales of Ise and The Tales of Yamato .
Lesser forms of waka featured in the Man'yōshū and other ancient sources exist. Besides that, there were many other forms like:
Waka has a long history, first recorded in the early 8th century in the Kojiki and Man'yōshū . Under influence from other genres such as kanshi, novels and stories such as Tale of Genji and even Western poetry, it developed gradually, broadening its repertoire of expression and topics.
In literary historian Donald Keene's books, he uses four large categories:
The most ancient waka were recorded in the historical record the Kojiki and the 20 volumes of the Man'yōshū , the oldest surviving waka anthology. The editor of the Man'yōshū is anonymous, but it is believed that the final editor was Ōtomo no Yakamochi. He was a waka poet who belonged to the youngest generation represented in the anthology; indeed, the last volume is dominated by his poems. The first waka of volume 1 was by Emperor Ōjin. Nukata no Ōkimi, Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, Yamabe no Akahito, Yamanoue no Okura, Ōtomo no Tabito and his son Yakamochi were the greatest poets in this anthology. The Man'yōshū recorded not only the works of the royalty and nobility, but also works of soldiers and farmers whose names were not recorded. The main topics of the Man'yōshū were love, sadness (especially on the occasion of someone's death), and other miscellaneous topics.
During the Nara period and the early Heian period, the court favored Chinese-style poetry (kanshi) and the waka art form largely fell out of official favor.But in the 9th century, Japan stopped sending official envoys to Tang dynasty China. This severing of ties, combined with Japan's geographic isolation, essentially forced the court to cultivate native talent and look inward, synthesizing Chinese poetic styles and techniques with local traditions. The waka form again began flourishing and Emperor Daigo ordered the creation of an anthology of waka. where the waka of ancient poets and their contemporaries were collected and the anthology named "Kokin Wakashū", meaning Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poems. It was presented to the emperor in 905. This was the first waka anthology edited and issued under imperial auspices, and it commenced a long and distinguished tradition of imperial anthologies of waka that continued up to the Muromachi period.
The first three imperially-commissioned waka anthologies (三代集, Sandai-shū) were the Kokin Wakashū, the Gosen Wakashū and the Shūi Wakashū . The Kokinshū was compiled by Ki no Tsurayuki, Ki no Tomonori, Ōshikōchi no Mitsune and Mibu no Tadamine on the orders of Emperor Daigo in 905. It collected roughly 1,100 waka that had not appeared in the Man'yōshū into 20 volumes, arranged by theme. The Kokinshū poems are generally considered to be reflective and idealistic.[ citation needed ]
Roughly half a century after the compilation of the Kokinshū, in 951, Emperor Murakami commanded the Five Men of the Pear Chamber to compile the Gosen Wakashū, in addition to preparing kundoku readings for the Man'yōshū, which by that time was already difficult for even educated Japanese to read.
In 1005 Emperor Ichijō commanded the compilation of the Shūishū.
The above three court anthologies, in addition to the five following anthologies, are known as the "Collections of Eight Ages" (八代集, Hachidai-shū), and were all compiled during the Heian period.
After the Heian period, during the Kamakura period and later, renga, a form of collaborative linked poetry, began to develop. In the late Heian period, three of the last great waka poets appeared: Fujiwara no Shunzei, his son Fujiwara no Teika, and Emperor Go-Toba. Emperor Go-Toba ordered the creation of a new anthology and joined in editing it. The anthology was named Shin Kokin Wakashū . He edited it again and again until he died in 1239. Teika made copies of ancient books and wrote on the theory of waka. His descendants, and indeed almost all subsequent poets, such as Shōtetsu, taught his methods and studied his poems. The courtly poetry scenes were historically dominated by a few noble clans and allies, each of which staked out a position.
By this period, a number of clans had fallen by the wayside, leaving the Reizei and the Nijō families; the former stood for "progressive" approaches, the varied use of the "ten styles" and novelty, while the latter conservatively hewed to already established norms and the "ushin" (deep feelings) style that dominated courtly poetry.[ citation needed ] Eventually, the Nijo family became defunct, leading to the ascendancy of the "liberal" Reizei family. Their innovative reign was soon deposed by the Asukai family, aided by the Ashikaga shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshinori.
In the Muromachi period, renga became popular in the court and people around it. It spread to the priestly classes and thence to wealthy commoners. In much the same way as waka, renga anthologies were produced under the imperial aegis. As momentum and popular interest shifted to the renga form, the tanka style was left to the Imperial court. Conservative tendencies exacerbated the loss of life and flexibility. A tradition named Kokin-denju,[ citation needed ] the heritage of Kokin Wakashū, was developed. It was a system on how to analyze the Kokin Wakashū and included the secret (or precisely lost) meaning of words. Studying waka degenerated into learning the many intricate rules, allusions, theories, and secrets, so as to produce tanka that would be accepted by the court.
There were comical waka already in the Kojiki and the Man'yōshū, but the noble style of waka in the court inhibited and scorned such aspects of waka.[ citation needed ] Renga was soon in the same position with many codes and strictures reflecting literary tradition. Haikai no renga (also called just haikai (playful renga)) and kyōka, comical waka, were a reaction to this seriousness. But in the Edo-period waka itself lost almost all of its flexibility and began to echo and repeat old poems and themes.
In the early Edo period, waka was not a fashionable genre. Newly created haikai no renga (of whose hokku, or opening verse, haiku was a late 19th-century revision) was the favored genre. This tendency was kept during this period, but in the late Edo period waka faced new trends from beyond the court. Motoori Norinaga, the great reviver of the traditional Japanese literature, attempted to revive waka as a way of providing "traditional feeling expressed in genuine Japanese way". He wrote waka, and waka became an important form to his followers, the Kokugaku scholars.
In Echigo Province a Buddhist priest, Ryōkan, composed many waka in a naïve style intentionally avoiding complex rules and the traditional way of waka. He belonged to another great tradition of waka: waka for expressing religious feeling. His frank expression of his feeling found many admirers, then and now. In the cities, a comical, ironic and satiric form of waka emerged. It was called kyōka (狂歌), mad poem, and was loved by intellectual people in big cities like Edo and Osaka. It was not precisely a new form; satirical waka was a style known since ancient times. But it was in the Edo period that this aspect of waka developed and reached an artistic peak. Still, most waka poets kept to ancient tradition or made those reformation another stereotype, and waka was not a vibrant genre in general at the end of this period.
|makura-kotoba||枕詞||Literally, "pillow word". Poetic epithets generally not used for their literal meaning but to "connect" with the word (often a place name) that follows|
|jokotoba||序詞||Literally, "preface words". Longer versions of makura-kotoba|
|kakekotoba||掛詞||Literally, "hanging word". A word deliberately used to convey two meanings, due to the existence of separate homophonic words. An example is matsu, which can mean either "a pine tree" (松, matsu) or "to wait" (待つ, matsu).|
|engo||縁語||Literally, "linked words". Semantically related words used on different positions of a waka|
|tsuiku||対句||Literally, "paired phrases". Similar to parallelism.|
|kugire||句切れ||Literally, "phrase gap". The most significant semantic gap in a waka.|
|honkadori||本歌取り||Literally, "taking from the main poem". Allusion to or quoting one or more lines from a poem written by someone else.|
|taigen-dome||体言止め||Ending a poem with a noun or noun phrase. Since Japanese is a subject–object–verb language, complete grammatical sentences typically end with the verb, but in waka composition this is not necessarily the case.|
Kakinomoto no Hitomaro was a Japanese waka poet and aristocrat of the late Asuka period. He was the most prominent of the poets included in the Man'yōshū, the oldest waka anthology, but apart from what can be gleaned from hints in the Man'yōshū, the details of his life are largely uncertain. He was born to the Kakinomoto clan, based in Yamato Province, probably in the 650s, and likely died in Iwami Province around 709.
The Man'yōshū is the oldest extant collection of Japanese waka, compiled sometime after AD 759 during the Nara period. The anthology is one of the most revered of Japan's poetic compilations. The compiler, or the last in a series of compilers, is today widely believed to be Ōtomo no Yakamochi, although numerous other theories have been proposed. The chronologically last datable poem in the collection is from AD 759 (No. 4516). It contains many poems from a much earlier period, with the bulk of the collection representing the period between AD 600 and 759. The precise significance of the title is not known with certainty.
Tanka is a genre of classical Japanese poetry and one of the major genres of Japanese literature.
The Kokin Wakashū, commonly abbreviated as Kokinshū (古今集), is an early anthology of the waka form of Japanese poetry, dating from the Heian period. An imperial anthology, it was conceived by Emperor Uda and published by order of his son Emperor Daigo in about 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 Shin Kokin Wakashū, also known in abbreviated form as the Shin Kokinshū (新古今集) or even conversationally as the Shin Kokin, is the eighth imperial anthology of waka poetry compiled by the Japanese court, beginning with the Kokin Wakashū circa 905 and ending with the Shinshokukokin Wakashū circa 1439. The name can be literally translated as "New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems" and bears an intentional resemblance to that of the first anthology. Together with the Man'yōshū and the Kokinshū, the Shin Kokinshū is widely considered to be one of the three most influential poetic anthologies in Japanese literary history. It was commissioned in 1201 by the retired emperor Go-Toba, who established a new Bureau of Poetry at his Nijō palace with eleven Fellows, headed by Fujiwara no Yoshitsune, for the purpose of conducting poetry contests and compiling the anthology. Despite its emphasis on contemporary poets, the Shin Kokinshū covered a broader range of poetic ages than the Kokinshū, including ancient poems that the editors of the first anthology had deliberately excluded. It was officially presented in 1205, on the 300th anniversary of the completion of the Kokinshū.
Japanese poetry is poetry typical of Japan, or written, spoken, or chanted in the Japanese language, which includes Old Japanese, Early Middle Japanese, Late Middle Japanese, and Modern Japanese, as well as poetry in Japan which was written in the Chinese language or ryūka from the Okinawa Islands: it is possible to make a more accurate distinction between Japanese poetry written in Japan or by Japanese people in other languages versus that written in the Japanese language by speaking of Japanese-language poetry. Much of the literary record of Japanese poetry begins when Japanese poets encountered Chinese poetry during the Tang dynasty. Under the influence of the Chinese poets of this era Japanese began to compose poetry in Chinese kanshi); and, as part of this tradition, poetry in Japan tended to be intimately associated with pictorial painting, partly because of the influence of Chinese arts, and the tradition of the use of ink and brush for both writing and drawing. It took several hundred years to digest the foreign impact and make it an integral part of Japanese culture and to merge this kanshi poetry into a Japanese language literary tradition, and then later to develop the diversity of unique poetic forms of native poetry, such as waka, haikai, and other more Japanese poetic specialties. For example, in the Tale of Genji both kanshi and waka are frequently mentioned. The history of Japanese poetry goes from an early semi-historical/mythological phase, through the early Old Japanese literature inclusions, just before the Nara period, the Nara period itself, the Heian period, the Kamakura period, and so on, up through the poetically important Edo period and modern times; however, the history of poetry often is different from socio-political history.
Fujiwara Sadaie (藤原定家), better-known as Fujiwara no Teika, was a Japanese poet, critic, calligrapher, novelist, anthologist, scribe, and scholar of the late Heian and early Kamakura periods. His influence was enormous, and he is counted as among the greatest of Japanese poets, and perhaps the greatest master of the waka form – an ancient poetic form consisting of five lines with a total of 31 syllables.
Fujiwara no Shunzei was a noted Japanese poet and nobleman, son of Fujiwara no Toshitada. He was also known as Fujiwara no Toshinari or Shakua (釈阿); in his younger days (1123–67), he gave his name as Akihiro (顕広), but in 1167, changed to Shunzei. He was noted for his innovations in the waka poetic form, and for his achievement in compiling Senzai Wakashū, the seventh Imperial anthology of waka poetry; this work was at the behest in 1183 of the Retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa, who despite Shunzei's low rank, admired him. Go-Shirakawa's trust in Shunzei is significant, as Imperial anthologies were landmarks in the poetic circles of the court, second to no other events in significance; poets were literally willing to risk their lives just for the chance to have a poem included. The Tale of the Heike relates that Shunzei was compiling the Senzai Wakashū during the Genpei War, and that Taira no Tadanori ventured into enemy territory to Shunzei's residence, asking him to include a particular poem of his, and then managed to successfully escape back to his own forces without being apprehended. Shunzei eventually did decide to include Tadanori's poem, but attributed it to "Anonymous." His son, Fujiwara no Teika, is considered one of the four best poets in Japanese history.
The Shūi Wakashū, often abbreviated as Shūishū, is the third imperial anthology of waka from Heian period Japan. It was compiled by Emperor Kazan in about 1005. Its twenty volumes contain 1,351 poems. The details of its publication and compilation are unclear.
The Rokujō family (六條家) was a poetically conservative faction in the Japanese Imperial court, founded by Fujiwara no Akisue ; it was the first clan to specialize in attaining power and influence via success in poetry, and was originally opposed to their opposite numbers amongst the Minamoto clan, although later they would be opposed to a more junior branch of the old and puissant Fujiwara family, as represented by Fujiwara no Shunzei and his son, Fujiwara no Teika. It was also known for, besides its conservative views on the composition of poetry, the quality of its scholar's work on old poetry. One of the Rokujō—Fujiwara no Akisuke (1090–1155)—compiled the Imperial anthology, the Shika Wakashū.
The Shokukokin Wakashū is a Japanese imperial anthology of waka; it was finished in 1265 CE, six years after the Retired Emperor Go-Saga first ordered it in 1259. It was compiled by Fujiwara no Tameie with the aid of Fujiwara no Motoie, Fujiwara no Ieyoshi, Fujiwara no Yukiee, and Fujiwara no Mitsutoshi; like most Imperial anthologies, there is a Japanese and a Chinese Preface, but their authorship is obscure and essentially unknown. It consists of twenty volumes containing 1,925 poems.
The Rokkasen are six Japanese poets of the mid-ninth century who were named by Ki no Tsurayuki in the kana and mana prefaces to the poetry anthology Kokin wakashū as notable poets of the generation before its compilers.
Uta-awase, poetry contests or waka matches, are a distinctive feature of the Japanese literary landscape from the Heian period. Significant to the development of Japanese poetics, the origin of group composition such as renga, and a stimulus to approaching waka as a unified sequence and not only as individual units, the lasting importance of the poetic output of these occasions may be measured also from their contribution to the imperial anthologies: 92 poems of the Kokinshū and 373 of the Shin Kokinshū were drawn from uta-awase.
The composition and translation of tanka in English begins at the end of the nineteenth century in England and the United States. Translations into English of classic Japanese tanka date back at least to the 1865 translation of the classic Ogura Hyakunin Isshu ; an early publication of originally English tanka dates to 1899. In the United States, the publication of tanka in Japanese and in English translation acquires extra impetus after World War II, and is followed by a rise of the genre's popularity among native speakers of English.
Ariwara no Motokata was a Japanese waka poet of the early Heian period.
The chokusen wakashū (勅撰和歌集), also shortened to chokusenshū (勅撰集), were imperially-commissioned Japanese anthologies of waka poetry. They numbered 21 in total.
Japan's medieval period was a transitional period for the nation's literature. Kyoto ceased being the sole literary centre as important writers and readerships appeared throughout the country, and a wider variety of genres and literary forms developed accordingly, such as the gunki monogatari and otogi-zōshi prose narratives, and renga linked verse, as well as various theatrical forms such as noh. Medieval Japanese literature can be broadly divided into two periods: the early and late middle ages, the former lasting roughly 150 years from the late 12th to the mid-14th century, and the latter until the end of the 16th century.