Kaifuso (Fond Recollections of Poetry) (懐風藻)

"Kaifuso" is the oldest Japanese collection of Chinese poems in existence.


The preface was written in 751 during the Nara period. As to the editor of Kaifuso, the most popular opinion has been that it was the great grandson of Emperor Kobun OMI no Mifune and while other people such as ISONOKAMI no Yakatsugu and FUJIWARA no Yoshio were also considered, it remains inconclusive.

116 poems written by 64 poets between the Omi and Nara periods have been compiled in Kaifuso but the preface mentioned 120 poems instead suggesting that the existing copy is different from the original. Most of the poems included in Kaifuso are five-character-line poems being vastly different from the seven-character-line poems dominating the 3 collections of Chinese poetry compiled by imperial command in the early Heian period.

The authors included emperors, imperial princes such as Imperial Princes Kawashima and Otsu, princes without imperial proclamation), retainers, Buddhist monks and the like. The style of poems reflected considerable Chinese, particularly, the frivolous Rikuchoshi (the Six Dynasties poetry) influence but began to suggest the effect of the early Tang Dynasty period.

In ancient Japan, the introduction of Chinese poems reflected Japan's attempt on transition towards a country under the ritsuryo system to join the continent culture. According to the preface of "Kaihuso," a peaceful society thanks to the stable government of the Omi period was conducive to developing poetry and numerous works were created.

In "Kaifuso," in addition, Chinese poems written by FUJIWARA no Fuhito, whose works were not among the poems in "Manyoshu," were included, whereas, Chinese poems by OTOMO no Yakamochi were included in "Mayoshu" but not in "Kaifuso." Poem to admonish the clan' was written by OTOMO no Yakamochi when OTOMO no Kojihi was removed from the post of Izumo no kami (governor of Izumo Province) fallen victim to the slander by OMI no Mifune in 756.


Emperor Kobun
Imperial Prince Kawashima
Imperial Prince Otsu
Prince Kadono
Emperor Monmu
FUJIWARA no Fuhito
OTOMO no Tabito
Prince Nagaya
FUJIWARA no Fusasaki
FUJIWARA no Umakai

[Original Japanese]