Japanese Literature Essay

1739 Words 7 Pages
Medieval Japan proceeded the Heian period and spanned the years of 1185 to 1600. In contrast to the relatively peaceful times in the Heian period, medieval Japan was marked by changes of the government system into feudal structures and warfare, although the capital and imperial court culture still continued to exist. Political factions, such as the feud between the Taira and Minamoto clans, and the emergence of the warrior class of the medieval period clashed with the elegant imperial court of the Heian period, resulting in the gradual transition of political power to the military and samurai classes. This era of great turmoil and change was reflected in the literature of the time. In prose, new subjects that were never mentioned …show more content…
Kokinshū was chosen because it is said to have established waka as a valuable and legitimate art form and was seen as the gold standard for waka composition for centuries. It was groundbreaking in that it was the first anthology to be commissioned by an Emperor, making it the first imperial anthology in Japanese history. Shinkokinshū was chosen because it shows both changes and slow innovation in classical Japanese poetry based on the core Kokinshū originals. While both anthologies share many similarities, numerous changes and innovations arose in Shinkokinshū that were not seen in Kokinshū, such as the sources from which the poems were taken, topics of the poems, poetic devices, and evaluative notions. In terms of sources from which the poetry was gleaned, the compilers of Kokinshū looked towards private collections of family letters and poems, which are called shikashū. Many poems in Kokinshū are from anonymous authors. It has been speculated that this was done purposefully to mask the identity of the author if he was of a really high social class or a really low social class. Poems taken from family collections were also often made anonymous if the poems were too personal, such as with love poems. On the other hand with Shinkokinshū, while retired Emperor Gotoba used private family collections to pull poems from, he also made use of four different public events to reap poems from: screen paintings or byōbu

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