Man'yōshū Explanations - Introductory Notes

Man'yōshū Page   *   Explanations:   [ p.1   p.2   p.3   p.4   p.5   p.6  p.7  ]


References: (参考文献)

  ◇ 桜井 満(訳注)『現代語訳対照・万葉集』  旺文社文庫 1974  [桜井]
  ◇ 中西 進(校注)『万葉集・全訳注原文付』 講談社文庫 1978  [中西]
  ◇ 犬養 孝 『万葉の人びと』 新潮文庫 1981 [犬養]
  ◇ H. H. Honda, The Manyoshu:  A New and Complete Translation. 
        The Hokuseido Press, 1967     [Honda]
  ◇ Anonymous, 1000 Poems From The Manyoshu: The Complete Nippon Gakujutsu 
        Shinkokai Translation.  Dover Publications, 2005 (paperback)  [NGS]
  ◇ Edwin A. Cranston, A Waka Anthology: Volume One: The Gem-Glistening Cup.
              Stanford University Press, 1993       [Cranston/Waka]
  ◇ Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. (1983), s.v. "Man'yoshu."  
                        By Edwin A. Cranston         [Cranston/MYS]

Glossary:

tanka: 短歌 たんか ("short poem"):    The tanka, or the short poem, consists of five lines usually of 5-7-5 / 7-7 syllables. It is the most prevalent form in the Man'yōshū, accounting for more than ninety percent of the poems.

chōka: 長歌 ちょうか ("long poem"):    The chōka, or the long poem, consists of 5-7 syllable phrases repeated at least twice, and concludes with an extra 7-syllable line. The Man'yōshū contains some 260 chōka.

makurakotoba: 枕詞 まくらことば ("pillow word"):    Makurakotoba is a set epithet used in classical Japanese poetry to modify certain fixed words. It usually consists of five syllables and modifies the word that follows. Makurakotoba are often not translated--that is, they do not directly affect the meaning of the poem--but in many cases their original meaning may affect the image or tone of the poem. Examples of some common makurakotoba and the typical words they modify (in parentheses) are shown below:

あかねさす (紫・日・昼・照る)、 あしひきの (山・峰・岩根)、 あらたまの (年・月・日)、  くさまくら (旅・露)、 しろたへの (衣・袖・雪・雲)、 たらちねの (母・親)、 ちはやぶる (神)、  ともしびの (明石)、ぬばたまの (黒・夜・闇)、 ひさかたの (光・天・空)、 みづどりの (浮き・立つ)


Names of Persons:

Emperor Jomei: 舒明天皇 じょめいてんのう (593-641 r 629-641)
He was the father of both Emperors Tenji and Temmu.

Princess Nukata: 額田王 ぬかたのおおきみ (also called Nukada, ぬかだのおおきみ)  (ca 630?-after 690)
Princess Nukata at first enjoyed the favor of Prince Ōama, but later became one of the consorts of Emperor Tenji, Prince Ōama's elder brother. It is unknown whether this change in relationships was voluntary or forced. After the death of Emperor Tenji, she was renuited with Prince Ōama, now Emperor Temmu.

Prince Naka no Ōe: 中大兄皇子 なかのおおえのみこ (626-672)
He was the son of Emperor Jomei, and later ascended the throne as Emperor Tenji.

Emperor Tenji: 天智天皇 てんじてんのう (also called Tenchi, てんちてんのう)(626-672 r 661-672)
He was known as Prince Naka no Ōe before his enthronement in 668.   See:   Emperor Tenji (Wikipedia)

Prince Ōama: 大海人皇子 おおあまのみこ (?-686)
His father was Emperor Jomei. Ōama later ascended the throne as Emperor Temmu., succeeding his elder brother Emperor Tenji.

Emperor Temmu: 天武天皇 てんむてんのう (?-686 r 672-686)
He was known as Prince Ōama before his enthronement in 672.

Empress Jitō: 持統天皇 じとうてんのう (645-703 r 686-697)
Second daughter of Emperor Tenji; wife of Prince Ōama who later became Emperor Temmu.

Takechi Furuhito: 高市古人 たけちのふるひと
Most likely to have been the same person as Takechi Kurohito.

Takechi Kurohito: 高市黒人 たけちのくろひと
(Most likely to have been the same person as Takechi Furuhito.) One of the low-ranking court poets of the Man'yō age, active during the reigns of Empress Jitō and Emperor Mommu (686-707). His eighteen tanka of travel are admired for their impressionistic descriptions of nature.

Kakimoto Hitomaro: 柿本人麻呂 かきもとのひとまろ (active ca 685-705)
The most important poet of the Man'yōshū. He was a low-ranking member of courts of the Empress Jitō and Emperor Mommu. Some 17 chōka (long poems) and 60 tanka (short poems) have been conservatively attributed to him.  See:  Kakimoto no Hitomaro (Wikipedia)

Prince Karu: 軽皇子 かるのみこ (683-707)
Son of the Crown Prince Kusakabe who was the eldest son of the Emperor Temmu. He later ascended the throne as Emperor Mommu.

Emperor Mommu: 文武天皇 もんむてんのう (683-707 r 697-707)
Earlier known as Prince Karu. His father, Crown Prince Kusakabe, was the eldest son of the Emperor Temmu.

Prince Shiki: 志貴皇子 しきのみこ (?-716)
Son of Emperor Tenji. Although his works consist of only six tanka in the Man'yōshū, he is regarded as one of the finest poets of this anthology.

Empress Iwanohime: 磐姫皇后・いわのひめのおおきさき   (First half of the 5th century)
The consort empress of Emperor Nintoku, the sixteenth sovereign who established his capital at Niniwa (now Osaka). Empress Iwanohime was famous for her jealousy of the Emperor's second wife and his other amorous interests.

Princess Kagami: 鏡王女 かがみのおおきみ (?-683)
Not much is known about her. Some believe that she was an elder sister of Princss Nukata. At one time she enjoyed the favor of Emperor Tenji. Later she presumably became a wife of Fujiwara no Kamatari, the confidant and key collaborator of Emperor Tenji in the Taika Reforms.

Prince Arima: 有馬皇子 ありまのみこ (640-658)
Son of Emperor Kōtoku (r 645-654) and a nephew of reigning Empress Saimei (r 655-661). Having been tricked into joining an ostensible plot against the government, he was charged with treason and put to death by her son Prince Naka no Ōe.

Yamabe Akahito: 山部赤人 やまべのあかひと (active 724-736)
Yamabe Akahito, like Kakimoto Hitomaro, was a court official of low rank serving as a court poet. The Man'yōshū contains 13 chōka (long poems) and 37 tanka (short poems) by him. He has been admired for his great poems of travel and nature, including the famous poems on Mt. Fuji (3-317 and 3-318).

Prince Kadobe: 門部王 かどべのおおきみ (?-745)
Great grandson of Emperor Temmu. He served in various offices and governorships, including his tenures as Governor of Izumo and the Minister of Treasury. In 739 his status was reduced to that of a subject, and he was granted the clan name of Ōhara no Mahito.

Ono Oyu: 小野老 をののおゆ (?-737)
Ono no Oyu served as Assistant Governor-General (daini, 大弐・だいに)of Dazaifu in Kyūshū.

Yamanoue Okura: 山上憶良 やまのうえのおくら・やまのえのおくら (660-ca 733)
In his forties, Okura was selected as a member of the government mission sent to the court of T'ang China. His studies there (702 to 704 or 707) enhanced his reputation as a scholar of Chinese. In 721, he was appointed tutor to the Crown Prince (later Emperor Shōmu). In 726, at age 67, he was appointed Governor of the Province of Chikuzen in northern Kyūshū where he became part of the literary circle of Ōtomo Tabito who was serving at the time as Governor-General of Dazaifu . Okura is known for his unique style of realistic and mediative poetry that expressed moral and social concerns left unarticulated by the other Man'yō poets.

Ōtomo Tabito: 大伴旅人 おおとものたびと (665-731)
As Governor-General of Dazaifu between 727 (or 728) and 730, he was the center of the great literary circle consisting of such poets as Priest Manzei and Yamanoue Okura who was serving at the time as Governor of the Province of Chikuzen. He was also instrumental in making some of his relatives, notably his half-sister Lady Ōtomo of Sakanoue, and his son Ōtomo Yakamochi, take interest in poetry. In 728, soon after he arrived at his new post at Dazaifu, his beloved wife died there. In many of his poems he cherished the memories of his late wife.

Sami Manzei: 沙弥満誓 さみまんぜい・さみまんせい (active 704-731)
"Manzei " was the Buddhist name taken by Kasa no Maro, a high-ranking government official when he became a sami (or shami), a Buddhist acolyte. In 723 he was sent to the Province of Tsukushi to supervise the construction of Kanzeonji, a large Buddhist temple near Dazaifu in Kyūshū. In 728 he met Ōtomo Tabito and became part of his poetic circle.

Prince Shōtoku: 上宮聖徳皇子 うえのみやしょうとこのみこ ・ 聖徳太子 しょうとくたいし (574-622)
Second son of Emperor Yōmei (r 585-587). As regent for Empress Suiko (r 593-628), his aunt and mother-in-law, he exercised strong political leadership, including the promulgation of the famous Seventeen-Article Constitution. He sought to extend the religious and civilizing influence of Buddhism to which he was much devoted.

Prince Ōtsu: 大津皇子 おおつのみこ (663-686)
One of the many sons of Emperor Temmu. The talented, urbane, and popular prince was the leading contender for the throne. Shortly after the death of Emperor Temmu, he was seduced into a plot concocted by the emperor's widow, the Empress Jitō, who wanted her own son, Prince Kusakabe, to succeed the late emperor. The plot came to light, and Prince Ōtsu was put to death by self-strangulation on the bank of Iware Pond in Yamato. His body was buried on top of Mt. Nijō nearby.

Lady Ōtomo of Sakanoue: 大伴坂上郎女 おおとものさかのうえのいらつめ (active ca 728-746)
Half-sister of Ōtomo Tabito. When Tabito's wife died at Dazaifu, she went to stay with him there. After the death of Tabito in Nara in 731, she assumed the role of the matriach of the Ōtomo clan. The Man'yōshū contains 88 of her poems.

Lady Kasa: 笠女郎 かさのいらつめ (? - ?)
Little is known about Lady Kasa except that she had a romantic relationship with Ōtomo Yakamochi. Twenty-nine of her love poems to Yakamochi are recorded in the Man'yōshū.

Ōtomo Yakamochi: 大伴家持 おおとものやかもち (718?-785)
Son of Ōtomo Tabito and nephew and son-in-law of Lady Ōtomo of Sakanoue, Ōtomo Yakamochi was the chief and final compiler of the Man'yōshū. He was also the most prolific contributor to the anthology, with his 479 poems comprising over 10 percent of the entire collection.   See: Otomo no Yakamochi (Wikipedia);   大伴家持 (Wikipedia-Japan)

Prince Ichihara: 市原王 いちはらのおおきみ (? - ?)
Presumably a great grandson of Prince Shiki. A contemporary and friend of Ōtomo Yakamochi.  For many years, he served as an official in charge of the construction of the great statue of Buddha at the Todaiji Temple in Nara.

Takahashi Mushimaro: 高橋虫麻呂 たかはしのむしまろ (fl ca 730)
This poet is known for his poems on travel and local myths and legends. Little is known of his life except that he was a low-ranking court official serving in Nara and in some northeastern provinces. Most of the 30-odd pieces indicated in the Man'yōshū as from the "Takahashi no Mushimaro Collection" are believed to have been composed by him.


Names of Places:

Iwami: 岩見 いわみ
A province in western Honshū, facing the Japan Sea, in the area that is today the Western part of Shimane Prefecture.

Naniwa: 難波 なにわ
Several sovereigns had their palaces (Palace of Naniwa, or Naniwa-no-miya, 難波の宮 なにわのみや) at Naniwakyo (Capital City at Naniwa, 難波京 なにわきょう), which was begun by Emperor Temmu in about 683. The site of a series of palaces was located on what is now Uemachi Heights, south of Osaka Castle.

Yamato: 大和 やまと and Nara: 奈良 なら
The province of Yamato (Yamato-no-kuni, 大和の国・やまとのくに)was where the capital city of Nara (Heijō-kyō, 平城京・へいじょうきょう; also known as Nara-no-miyako, 奈良の都・ならのみやこ) was situated. The first unified state in Japan emerged in Yamato during the prehistoric Yamato period (250-710).  In 710, the first permanent capital was established in Nara. During the ensuing Nara period (710-794), a centralized bureaucracy on the Chinese model was adopted and a new civilization based on Buddhism took roots in Japan.

Tsukushi: 筑紫の国 つくしのくに
An ancient province located in the northern part of Kyūshū, in the area that is present-day Fukuoka and Saga Prefectures. Dazaifu was located in this province.

Dazaifu: 太宰府 だざいふ
The Imperial Government Office in northern Kyūshū during the Nara period and Heian period. It served as the center of government administration, diplomacy, and defense in the region. Also, the name of the town where Dazaifu was located.   See:   Dazaifu (Wikipedia)

Wakanoura: 若の浦 わかのうら
Waka Bay, a small bay located to the southwest of present-day Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture.

Yoshino: 吉野 よしの わかのうら
The mountainous region in the central part of present-day Nara Prefecture. The region is famous for its scenic beauty.


Top of Page   *   Manyoshu Page   *   Explanations:   [ p.1   p.2   p.3   p.4   p.5   p.6  p.7 ]

Last Updated:  26-Sep-06   *   Copyright 2005-2006 Kanji Haitani