Kohon Setsuwashu (Collection of Old Tales) (古本説話集)

"The Kohon Setsuwashu" is a narrative collection and is believed to have appeared during the end of the Heian period, or at the latest, during the early Kamakura period. There are others who believe that it had appeared in the Daiji (Japan) era (1126 - 1131).

This book had been in obscurity for a long time until it was discovered in 1943, when it was temporarily named 'Kohon Setsuwashu.'
The book was discovered without its cover or its title page, so neither the name of the compiler nor the original title is known. The Umezawa-bon (representing a book held by the Umezawa Family), which is designated as an important cultural property, is the only existing copy.

The first part of the book consists of 46 narratives about common culture, and the latter part consists of 24 Buddhist narratives. Characters of the stories of the first part include noteworthy and talented women of the Imperial Court such as Izumi Shikibu, Akazome Emon, ISE no Taifu, and Imperial Princess Senshi, as well as talented men such as KI no Tsurayuki, OSHIKOCHI no Mitsune, and FUJIWARA no Kinto, and many elegant anecdotes based on waka (Japanese poems) are used in the narratives. The Buddhist narratives include miraculous tales of devas and gods such as Kannon (the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy), historical tales of Buddhist temples, tales about passing to the next life, and tales of the supernatural. Many narratives in this book are also seen in "The Konjaku Monogatarishu" (Tales of the Past and Present), "The Uji Shui Monogatari" (Tales from Uji Collection), or "The Yotsugi Monogatari" (Tales of Generations).

The full text is available in both the Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei (New Japanese Classic Literature Systematic Edition, published by Iwanami Shoten Publishers) and "The Uji Shui Monogatari." In addition, a complete modern translation is available from Kodansha Gakujutsu Bunko (The Academic Library, Kodansha Ltd.).

[Original Japanese]