wp8ef9fbc9.png
wp3cc352ba_0f.jpg
wpdaa30520_0f.jpg
wpda2382be_0f.jpg
wpedfa6969.png
wpd71d5908.png
wp14948ae1.png
wp0039d2f3.png

Nara Period - 710-794

Japanese literature traces its beginnings to oral traditions that were first recorded in written form in the early eighth century after a writing system was introduced from China. The Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan) were completed in 712 and 720, respectively, as government projects. The former is an anthology of myths, legends, and other stories, while the latter is a chronological record of history. The Fudoki (Records of Wind and Earth), compiled by provincial officials beginning in 713, describe the history, geography, products, and folklore of the various provinces.

The most brilliant literary product of this period was the Man'yoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), an anthology of 4,500 poems composed by people ranging from unknown commoners to emperors and compiled around 759. Already emerging was a verse form comprising 31 syllables (5-7-5-7-7) known as tanka. In 905 the Kokin wakashu or Kokinshu (Collection of Poems from Ancient and Modern Times) was published as the first poetry anthology commissioned by an emperor; its preface paid high tribute to the vast possibilities of literature.

 

wp681daccb_0f.jpg