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Hitomaro And The Man'yōshū: The Birth Of A Legend

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses mainly on the initial stages of Hitomaro's legend, as represented by the two sequences of poems by or about him which are set in the province of Iwami (modern Shimane Prefecture), namely the so-called Iwami sōmonka (Iwami love poems, Manʼyōshū II:131-140) and the Iwami banka (Iwami elegies, Manʼyōshū II:223-227). The account of Hitomaro's death given in the Iwami banka can be situated within the poetic sub-genre known as kōroshinin no uta, poems recited on the discovery of a dead traveler by the wayside. The conventionalized literary account of Hitomaro's death given in the Iwami banka sequence reflects not only the influence of the kōroshinin no uta genre but also the fact that even by the time of the compilation of the first two volumes of the Manʼyōshū, Hitomaro had already attracted sufficient interest for such a legendary treatment of his death to be preserved.

Keywords: Hitomaro; Iwami banka; Iwami sōmonka; kōroshinin no uta; Manʼyōshū



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