Kokin Wakashu (A Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry) (古今和歌集)

"Kokin Wakashu" was the first anthology of poems collected by Imperial command. Compiled by the command of Emperor Daigo and completed in 905 during the Heian period, Kokin Wakashu was submitted to the emperor on May 29 of the same year. Great poems over 140 years from times of "Manyoshu" to that of the compilers this anthology were collected.
It was abbreviated to 'Kikinshu.'
The Chinese preface was written by KI no Yoshimochi, whereas, the Japanese preface was written by KI no Tsurayuki. The Japanese preface of Kokin Wakashu is of literary importance not only as a wakashu but also as a treatise on waka poetry that had a significant influence on Japanese poetry in the years to come.

Kokin Wakashu established the tradition of anthology of waka by Imperial command as a state project and it is recognized as the number one among Hachidaishu (the eight collections of history books by Imperial command) and Nijuichidai-shu (the twenty-one collections of waka compiled by imperial command). Kokin Wakashu made a significant contribution to establishing the Kokufu Bunka (Japan's original national culture) in the mid Heian period and, according to "Makura no Soshi" (the Pillow Book), it was considered a cultural accomplishment to recite Kokinshu among noblemen in those days.

Senja (compiler of waka collection)

KI no Tsurayuki

KI no Tomonori (deceased)

MIBU no Tadamine

OSHIKOCHI no Mitsune

Composition

Kokin Wakashu consists of 20 volumes with the number of poems totaling 1111. Those poems include 5 long poems and 4 sedoka (an adjacent form of the waka or tanka which consists of six lines with sound units arranged as six/seven/seven, five/seven/seven). The remainder are all tanka. There are 2 prefaces including kanajo (Japanese preface) and manajo (a preface written in Chinese). The contents of these 2 prefaces are virtually identical. The Japanese preface was written by KI no Tsurayuki. The body of Kokin Wakashu consists of 20 volumes and has been organized into the classifications including Spring (2 volumes), Summer and Autumn (2 volumes), Winter, Congratulations, Partings, Travel, Acrostics, Love (5 volumes), Laments, Miscellaneous, Miscellaneous Forms and Traditional Poems. This classification established by Kokin Wakashu became the standard method for organizing waka and was adopted at various waka events such as Uta-kai (poem competition) and treatise on waka poetry. This classification method, while going through various revisions, was passed down to the succeeding anthologies of waka by Imperial command and, furthermore, became the cornerstone of organizing renga which further segment zed poems.

Since ancient times, it had remained a mystery that choka (long poems) were included under the heading of 'Tanka' (short poems) in the beginning of Volume 19 but, in 2000, a new explanation was offered.

Style

The delicate style of poems of Kokin Wakashu is referred to as 'feminine' in contrast to the 'masculine' style of "Manyoshu." It has a coquettish beautiful body. Sophisticated techniques developed and, particularly, 'kakekotoba' (a rhetoric in Waka in which one word has more than one meaning) and 'engo' (two words related in meaning, used in waka to heighten effect) were often used. Additionally, a transition from the five-and-seven syllable meter to the seven-and-five syllable meter was detected.

Kokin denju (the secret transmissions of the "Kokinshu," Anthology of Old and New Japanese Poems)

The style of "Kokin Wakashu" subsequently became a school of waka which was passed down to the succeeding generations being referred to as Kokin denju (the secret transmissions of the "Kokinshu," Anthology of Old and New Japanese Poems). Thereafter, other various schools of waka including Goshodenju (the instruction of knowledge on Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry in the Imperial Palace) which was instructed in and around the Imperial Palace, Chika denju (a school of the interpretation of Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry) and Sakai denju (a school of the interpretation of Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry) developed. It was said that, Kokin denju, which Yusai HOSOKAWA inherited from Sankei SANJONISHI even relied on for the art of getting along with people during the Sengoku period, was about nothing but explaining where the trees mentioned in the poems existed (based on the study conducted by Masaharu FUJI). In "Ashiwakeobune" (treatise on waka poetry), Norinaga MOTOORI made a blistering criticism that it was a fabricated account made in posterity.