In the mid-tenth century Sone-no-Yoshitada created his own style of rendering one hundred poems as a unit. Later the style had been established as a convention, but in the process it had been often modified for individual practices. In Maigetsu-shō, for example, the alleged author Fujiwara-no-Teika insisted on the importance of making a hundred poems every month and adapted Sone's method for his training program for the prolific production of poems. Although it seems to be extraordinary, Teika's version of one hundred poems contributed much to the poetics of the mid-Kamakura Period.
In Gukan-shō Jien tried to write an “authentic” history of the country on the basis of the dogma of “mappō” or a Buddhist version of latter days. In so doing he used the emperor's body as a frame of reference for the accurate understanding of historical and social contexts and the construction of the most comprehensive world outlook. Thus paradoxically the book was written as a historical description about the mythological function of imperial body, a universal model on which everything in medieval society was created.
In some poems of medieval times the phrase “pinewood pillars” is used as a phrase referring to a shabby house. The usage of the phrase is peculiar to Japanese poetry because it has no metaphorical meaning in Chinese verse. Probably it is due to the influence of Genji-monogatari that “pinewood pillars” came to symbolize a shanty in Japan. Indeed the classical work played an important role in the interpretive assimilation of Chinese poems into Japanese literature.
In medieval times a name changed from something impersonal to be simply given to something personal to show one's own identity. This remarkable shift in the social meaning of names gave birth to stage names in the entertainment world. The origin of stage names can be traced to the naming of dancing children called “maiwarawa,” but little is known about what value the names of entertainers socially assumed before the establishment of the custom. This article will outline a history of stage-naming and examine the influence of this “cultural pattern” on art and literature.
In the fifteenth year of the Bunmei Period Ashikaga-Yoshihisa, the ninth shogun of the Muromachi government, held a poetry contest where the court nobles and the Zen monks of Gozan Temple were invited to sing zekku or poems written in four lines with seven Chinese characters in each line. According to the poetical convention of zekku, all the competitors had to present a given theme in the first two phrases and develop the theme or pay a tribute to the host in the last two phrases. Faithfully adhering to the pattern of composition, however, the monks showed more skills in making tasteful songs than the noble poets. Here I will explicate the unique style of Gozan Temple by reading the monks' poems at the contest.
In the third year of the Kanei Period there were published the illustrated editions of the two war narratives: Hōgen-monogatari and Heiji-monogatari. Most illustrations of the books were drawn after a conventional pattern probably to save time and effort in production. But they not only served an economic purpose but also worked as a directional guide for the “correct” way of reading; the readers were expected to learn the historical necessity of the rise of samurai warriors. This article will focus on one of the illustrated books Hōgen-monogatari to analyze the ideological role it played in the formation of the early modern samurai society.