國學院大學
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カテゴリー1 9. Texts and Sources
カテゴリー2 Shinto Classics and Literature
Title
Text A poetic anthology of the Asuka and Nara eras. It is composed of twenty books and includes about four thousand five hundred poems. Man'yōshū is a collection of poetry and not a text that directly refers to religion or Shintō, but compared with Kojiki and Nihon shoki—compilations from the same period with strongly intellectual and historical elements—Man'yōshū is an expression in verse of the emotions and thinking that saturated the lives of the ancient peoples and serves as a crucial text in witnessing and understanding the lived beliefs (perceptions of kami and spirits, etc.) of the people of ancient times and their religious activities (ceremonies, divination [bokusen], spells, etc.).
     There are many theories regarding the meaning of the title: 1) a compilation of many words on myriad of things (Sengaku, Kada no Azumamaro, Kamo no Mabuchi); 2) "leaf" refers to "age," so it is a compilation to last ten thousand ages (Keichū, Kamochi Masazumi); 3) "leaf" refers to "song," so it is a collection of a myriad of songs (Okada Masayuki and others); 4) "leaf" refers to "paper," so this is a collection of a myriad of pages (Takeda Yūkichi). At present, the second and third theories have the have garnered the most academic support.

Origins

Man'yōshū , consisting of twenty books, was not compiled in one period, but is believed to have reached its current composition only after having passed through several stages of compilation. The details concerning the compiler and the process of compilation remain largely unknown. According to recent research, during the time following emperor Jitō's abdication (from 697 to 702), the first half of the first book of the anthology (poems one through fifty-three) took shape primarily through the initiatives of Jitō himself—this being the Jitō Man'yō. Most scholars' hypothesize that Kakinomoto Hitomaro was the compiler for this section. Next, at the behest of Emperor Genmei, the second half of the first book (poems fifty-four to eighty-three) was added during the reign of Genmei (712 to 721). During this same period, the Jitō Man'yō project was carried over and with the completion of the second book, and it took form as a two volume collection which could properly be called the Genmei Man'yō. Scholars speculate that Ō no Yasumaro was the compiler. Inheriting the aim of the Genmei Man'yō, Books Three through Fifteen were compiled around 745 through the initiative of Emperor Genshō, with Ōtomo Yakamochi being the central figure in the compilation. Subsequently, an appendix was added (volume sixteen) taking the total number to sixteen. Furthermore, the four books of Yakamochi's poetic diary were added bringing total number of volumes to twenty. The first steps in the formation of this twenty-volume anthology occurred during the reign of Emperor Kōnin, from 770 to 771, when Yakamochi was appointed a secretary in the Popular Affairs Ministry, which marked his return to the capital after being away for seven years. The final stage and eventual completion of this anthology, which would become known as the Enryaku Man'yō, took place under the auspices of Emperor Kanmu in the early years of Enryaku (782—83) while Yakamochi was the director of the Crown Prince  Palace. In this way the twenty books of Man'yōshū came to their present state but Yakamochi was later accused of masterminding the assassination of Fujiwara Tanetsugu in 785, and though he was already dead, Yakamochi was stripped of his post and title. As a result, Man'yōshū was branded the work of a criminal and, as such, it placed in government storage and neglected. However, when Yakamochi was pardoned and restored to his former position and rank in 806, Emperor Heizei also officially recognized Man'yōshū, which was then publicly released, leading it be called the Heizei Man'yō.

Chronological Divisions and the Characteristics of the Poetry

The poetry contained in Man'yōshū spans from the reign of Emperor Nintoku (fourth century) to the third year of Tenpyō Hōji (759, during the reign of Emperor Junnin), but judging from the style and character of the poetry, those poems supposedly composed before the era of Jomei (629 to 641) are likely not as old as the text purports. It is more likely that these poems became associated with Empress Iwahime or Emperor Yūryaku during the process of transmission and that suggests that at their oldest the poems of Man'yōshū essentially begins from 629 and continue for about one hundred thirty years. The composers featured in the Man'yoshu exbihit a high degree of variance and include members of the royal family, beginning with emperors and empresses, members of the royal family not eligible to ascend the throne, as well as courtiers from the high ranking to the lowest ministers of the left and right. It even includes poetry by farmers of the eastern lands who were sent as border guards, meaning that the anthology includes poetry not only by the highest people in society to the average commoner. Collectively, there are five hundred thirty names recorded, but about half the poetry remains anonymous. Geographically, the poems are not simply compositions from the Inner Provinces, with the Yamato area as its center, but span as far as the eastern countries and the western sea. Also, these poets are composing poetry with an emotion that is faithful and true to the lives they led and, as a consequence, Man'yōshū reveals a complex and varied world that is not likely to be seen in any other single poetic anthology. Kamo no Mabuchi suggests that the poetic style has "a splendid and masculine air," and he argued that "the poetry from the ancient era is the true heart of the people" (in Man'yōshū ). Naturally, during a period of one hundred thirty years the poetic style evolved, and scholars normally posit four chronological divisions based on the periods when major poets lived, and on the political and social circumstances that formed the backdrop for the poetic style.

First Period

This period spans from the first year of Emperor Jomei (629) to the time of the Jinshin Disturbance in the first year of Emperor Tenmu (672). The poems of this period consist of ten poems that overlap chronologically with kiki kayō (songs in Kojiki and Nihon shoki ), and sixty-one other poems from the reigns of Jomei (629 to 641) and Saimei (655 to 662) that continue down to the time of the court of Emperor Tenji (662 to 671). The majority of this period's poetry appears in Books One and Two, while the poets are limited to emperors, empresses, the royal family or people closely associated with the royal family. There are a number of poems composed concerning court rituals, such as the Kunimi poem of Emperor Jomei, the Hunting on Uji Plain poem by Nakatsu Sumera Mikoto, or the Nukada Princess poem from the time when the capital was moved to Ōmi. The poems of this first period are often characterized by a vibrant worship of nature and an awe-inspired production of rituals wherein the natural phenomenon are acknowledged as possessing spiritual qualities and viewed as sacred or divine. Most of the love poems of this period (the majority being choruses, poems of presentation and response, or love poems) are poems given and received when seeking marriage. This demonstrates that the origin of such poetry was likely the utagaki poetry of social gathering by young men and women who paired off to exchange poems.

Second Period

These poems are from the end of the Jinshin Disturbance (672) until the move to the Heijō Capital in 710 and consist mainly of poems from the Tenmu, Jitō, and Monmu courts. Emperor Tenmu, who defeated the armies of the Ōmi Court, and then ascended the throne, is worshipped as a kami, and phrases like "Our great lord who is a kami" appear around this time. Correspondingly, at this time, there was a rise in the prestige of the imperial family, an organization of the state government into a system that invested the imperial family with central political authority, a refinement of the government's legal codes, and the first steps were taken to begin producing a national history. It is in this context that the court poet Kakinomoto Hitomaro appears. Of the ninety poems composed by Hitomaro, twenty are chōka (long poems) and there are a number of ceremonial poems for imperial processions, poems praising the court, poetry composed on the behalf of imperial princes, poetry produced for temporary enshrinement for a member of the imperial family following death and before burial.  Often these poems address themes such as parting and death. Hitomaro's chōka are splendid and rich in rhythmic movement, and he displays a command of epithets, preludes, and antithetical expressions. Also, Hitomaro succeeds in reproducing many of the techniques of the older oral traditions by expressing them in new medium of written characters. Another poet and contemporary of Hitomaro, Takechi no Kurohito, demonstrated originality in the production of short poems (tanka) about travel and often devoted attention to the natural environment of the destination and the homesickness of the traveler. Furthermore, Naga no Okimaro, in addition to the composition of poems for imperial processions, was also considered to be extremely talented in production playful, impromptu poems at banquets. The daughters of emperors Tenji and Tenmu also composed inspiring lyric poems on love and death.

Third Period

This period consists of the time from 710, when the capital was moved to Heijō, until 733, starting with the dual reign of Genmei (708 to 716) and Genshō (716 to 724) and continues to the first ten years of Emperor Shōmu (724 to 733). 733 is presumed to be the year that Yamanoue no Okura passed away and also the year in which the first poem produced by Ōtomo Yakamochi appears. During this period the ritsuryō code had taken shape and Heijō was functioning as the capital but with the repeated occurrence of political intrigue made this a period of intensified social unrest. It is at this period following the death of Hitomaro, that the history of waka is marked with a flowering of a diversity in individual styles. Court poets such as Kasa no Kanamura, Yamabe no Akahito, Kurumamochi no Chitose and others continued Hitomaro's tradition of courtly poetry of praise. Kanamura made unique elaborations as an official court poet who wrote about his own personal impressions into the poetry of imperial procession. Akahito, who was educated in the traditional poetic form of Hitomaro, distinguished himself through a refined sensibility in his descriptive expressions of natural scenery. In 728 Ōtomo no Tabito was sent to Kyūshū as the governor of Dazaifu leading to the formation of the Tsukushi Poetic Circle with him as its central figure. Making use of his familiarity with Chinese poetry, Tabito created a unique literary style and composed on topics such as lament at impending old age, longing for home, and expressions of grief for the passing of his wife. At this same time Yamanoue Okura was the governor of the province of Chikuzen and was also in Kyūshū and, like Tabito, he also was greatly influenced by Chinese poetry and the Buddhist canon. Many of his long poems (chōka) discussed issues of the death, his love for his children, anxiety of illness, poverty and the impermanence of people in this world. On the other side of the empire, Takahashi no Mushimaro, who had been dispatched as an official to the provinces of the eastern countries, produced resplendent poetry characterized by emotions such as the longing for home while on a journey and replete with images drawn from the world of legend.

Fourth Period

This period starts in 734 in the reign of Emperor Shōmu and continues to 759 during the reign of Emperor Junnin, and is the middle portion of the Nara period. During this time, with the construction of the Tōdaiji and the consecration of a new giant statue of the Buddha (Daibutsu), there was a flowering of Tenpyō culture but this is also a time when political infighting became more serious. Ōtomo no Sakanoue no Iratsume, who has eighty-four poems in Man'yōshū and is succeeded in number by only Yakamochi and Hitomaro, became the matriarch of the Ōtomo family after the death of Tabito. She composed a variety of poems, some at banquets with relatives, others revering the tutelary deity (ujigami) of the Ōtomo family, still others as expressions of lament and she even presented poetry to the emperor. The poetry of Ōtomo Yakamochi, the poet who in many ways is representative of this period, first appears in 733 continues until 759. During his youth he exchanged a variety of poems with a number of women. After he was dispatched to Etchū, he apparently learned a great deal from the poetry of Hitomaro, Akahito, and, Okura and having received some inspirations from Chinese literature, Ōtomo Yakamochi went so far as to pioneer his own unique poetic territory. Additionally, others like Tanabe no Sakimaro who should be known as the last official court poet, Ōtomo no Ikenushi, a poetic companion of Yakamochi's, Kasa no Iratsume who exchanged love poems tinged with sadness from the capital with Yakamochi, Nakatomi no Yakamori who wrote about the tragic fate of passionate love, and Sanonochigami no Otome all have poetry preserved in the anthology. In 755 Yakamochi, who was a secretary in the Ministry of Military Affairs, compiled poetry composed by the Border Guards (sakimori ) who had been dispatched to defend the eastern countries, and these poems appear in Book Twenty. The majority of poems composed during this period are playful and formal poems composed during banquets. Given their sharp contrast, the border guard poems, which sing of tearful partings and longing for home, have received much attention for their candid and plain character. Man'yōshū also contains poems by poets whose identities remain unknown and these poems comprise about forty percent of the entire work. Many of these anonymous poems are found in poetry from the eastern provinces contained in Book Fourteen and in other places including Book Seven and Books Ten through Thirteen.
     The religious as it that appears in Man'yōshū is characterized largely by a religious attitude toward natural manifestations and phenomenon that is frequently characterized as nature worship. This religious outlook is evident in the fact that kamiare believed to reside in mountains and forests, the reverence given mountains and specific trees and animals, the view of the emperor as a divine figure who is a manifestation of a visible deity (akitsukami ), and the belief of kotodama (the spiritual power of words). During travel, at locations of mountain passes, oceans, and rivers which inherently treacherous, people prayed for safety by taking nusa (paper offerings) in hand but these pleas were directed to toward the rather abstract "divinities of heaven and earth." On the other hand, when a playful sort of love was desired, one might then have various magic spells or divinations (bokusen) performed.

Research

As for research on Man'yōshū , in the Heian period research on the readings and commentary of the text was conducted by poet-scholars, but comprehensive, systematic work on the text began in the mid-Kamakura period with Man'yōshū chushaku by Sengaku. Sengaku collated the various manuscripts, attached readings and commentary and, thus, opened the door for further research on Man'yōshū . In the Edo period, research on the text became more active, and Keichū's Man'yō daishōki was written, containing empirical and scientific research. By the time of Kamo Mabuchi's Man'yōshūthis research had reached a point of employing a literary form of research methodology and, along with this, there was a vibrant movement to compose poetry in the Man'yō fashion. In the modern period scholars added critical textual methodology to their work, and Man'yō research became more thorough. This is especially true for research following the late Taishō and early Shōwa publication of Kohon Man'yōshū and Man'yōshū sōsakuin, which made much progress. The texts most frequently turned to at the present are Nihon koten bungaku taikei, Shinchō Nihon koten shūsei, the version published by Hanawa Shobō, and/or the version published by Ōfūsha. Also regarding works that treat the religious aspects that appear in Man'yōshū , there is Sasaki Nobutsuna and Imai Fukujirō's Man'yōshū jinji goikai (1944), Nishitsuno Imasayoshi's Kodai saishi to bungaku (1966), Harada Toshiaki's Nihon kodai shūkyō (1970) and Nihon kodai shisō (1972), Shigematsu Nobuhiro's Kodai shisō no kenkyū (1978), Ōhata Kiyoshi's Man'yōjin no shūkyō (1981), Matsumura Takeo's "Man'yōshū ni okeru shūkyō-shinwa" (contained in volume two of Man'yōshū kōza, Shunyōdō, 1933), Hori Ichirō's "Man'yōshū ni arawareta sōsei to takaikan-reikonkan ni tsuite" (in Man'yōshū taisei, volume eight, 1953), Takezono Kenryō's "Man'yōjin no shūkyō " (in Shūkyō kenkyū , no. 149, 1956).
— Motosawa Masafumi
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Man'yōshū