Honcho Monzui (本朝文粋)

The "Honcho Monzui" (Anthology of waka poems and prose written in classical Chinese) was compiled by FUJIWARA no Akihira.

This collection includes more than 400 masterful Chinese poems and prose composed during the Heian period.

Summary

This collection is estimated to have been compiled during the Kohei era when Akihira was appointed to a number of important posts, such as Monjo hakase (professor of literature) and Togu hakase (professor for the crown prince) in his later years. More specifically, Akihira seems to have used many descriptions from various official documents to compile this collection.

The original text was composed of 14 volumes and 39 sections.

Although the style followed the Chinese work "Monzen" (Wen-hsuan, ancient Chinese poems), it also includes ganmon (written prayers related to Buddhism) that were unique to Japan, prose and waka poetry.

This indicates Akihira's intentions to improve the collection to make it more suitable for contemporary Japanese social circumstances. It is written in the form of shiroku benreibun (a prose style with a pattern of four- and six- character rhythms). It was the first compilation in Japan to use these writings, and it was used as a reference to ancient rites and authoritative precedents since it incorporated many official documents. During the Edo period, however, nobody paid attention to it after the benreibun came to be rejected. Nonetheless, it is a valuable historical source to learn about the zeitgeist of Japan and the sense of beauty during the Heian period.