Nishi-Honganji-bon Sanju-rokunin-kashu (The Nishi Hongan-ji Collection of Thirty-Six Anthologies) (西本願寺本三十六人家集)

Nishi-Honganji-bon sanju-rokunin-kashu is a decorative manuscript produced at the end of the Heian period that compiled the poems of Sanju-rokkasen (thirty-six famous poets). It is the oldest one among the manuscripts of poems of Sanju-rokkasen, and it is designated as a national treasure. It is being possessed by Nishi Hongan-ji Temple (Hongan-ji Temple, Hongan-ji school of Jodo Shinshu sect [the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism]) in Kyoto City.


One or two books are allotted to each of Sanju-rokkasen for their poems. It consists of 39 books in total since the collection of KAKINOMOTO no Hitomaro, KI no Tsurayuki and ONAKATOMI no Yoshinobu were allotted two books for each. Among them, the collections of Ise (poet) and Tsurayuki were split into dankan (fragmentary pieces of a book) in 1929. These dankan were named 'Ishiyamagire' after the name of place where Hongan-ji Temple was located previously, and they are being possessed by museums and collectors across the nation in the form of hanging scroll etc.

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple possesses 32 books of original manuscript produced in the Heian period (around 1110), one book of supplemental manuscript (FUJIWARA no KANESUKE) produced in the Kamakura period, four books of supplemental manuscript (volume one and two of Hitomaro' Collection, ARIWARA no Narihira's Collection, ONO no Komachi's Collection) produced in the Edo period and two restored copied books drawn by Shinbi TANAKA around in 1929. 37 books other than two books drawn in the Showa era are designated as a national treasure together with a scroll of "Imperial letter of the Emperor Gonara nyobo hosho" ("nyobo hosho" is a letter sent by the Court ladies by imperial order).

It is a 20cm-by-16cm paper book, and detcho-so (a kind of binding technique) was employed for binding. Every and all paper decoration techniques, such as colored preliminary sketch, gold leaf and silver leaf, mica-printed jimon (textile pattern), suminagashi (pattern made with ink drop) and yaburitsugi (Heian-style collage technique to decorate poetry sheets), were employed in producing each book. It is one of the most luxurious ones among the existent decorated manuscripts produced in the Heian period. Its cover is made of silk with gauze-made padding, and it is being reinforced by paper at present. Chinese-style landscape painting was drawn mainly with silver paint on the silk used for its cover.

It is surmised that it was produced in 1112 by the Imperial Court in celebration of the 60th birthday of the Emperor Shirakawa. It had been kept at the Imperial Court for long since then, and the Emperor Gonara gave it to Shonyo of Hongan-ji Temple in 1549. Imperial letter of the Emperor Gonara nyobo hosho,' which is also designated as a national treasure, is material concerning the above history.

[Original Japanese]