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Hitomaro In Heian Texts: A Sage Of Poetry

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Chapter Summary

The Heian period saw the rise of Japanese poetry to a canonical status comparable to that of poetry in Chinese. The decisive development in this process was the compilation of the first imperially commissioned anthology of Japanese poetry, the Kokinshū, in the early tenth century. Its compilation was not only a crucial development in Japanese court poetry, but also an event of paramount importance for the canonization of Hitomaro. Hitomaro had been similarly singled out as an ancestral poetic figure by Otomo no Yakamochi in the Man'yōshū, but it was his treatment as such in the prestigious Kokinshū that cemented his place at the apex of the court-poetic tradition. In addition, the early Heian Period saw Hitomaro canonized as one of a group of outstanding poets, the "Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals" first gathered together by the prominent poet and critic Fujiwara no Kinto in his collection of poems and poets, Sanjūrokuninsen.

Keywords: Heian period; Hitomaro; Japanese poetry; Kokinshū; Man'yōshū; Sanjūrokuninsen



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