New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry (新古今和歌集)

"New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry" was compiled by order of Emperor Gotoba in the early Kamakura period. It was the last collection of the 'Hachidaishu (the first eight collections of waka compiled by imperial command),' after Kokinshu (an abbreviation for 'Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry').

It was a collection of poems modeled after "Kokinshu," and was compiled to complete the seven collections, attempting to restore waka poetry to its former elegant status because it was being invaded by the newly rising genres of poetry, renga (linked verse) and imayo (an ancient verse form consisting of four lines, each divided into two parts of seven and five syllables). It produced unique beauty, following tradition in all ages. Along with 'Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves)' and 'Kokin,' it produced one of the three major styles of poetry--'Shinkokincho' (tone poems seen in 'New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry')--and had great influence not only on waka poems but also on the later renga, haikai (seventeen-syllable verse) and yokyoku (Noh song).


There were several anthologists, imitating Kokin. The ex-emperor ordered the following six people to serve as anthologists: Michitomo HORIKAWA, FUJIWARA no Ariie, FUJIWARA no Sadaie, FUJIWARA no Ietaka (Junii (Junior Second Rank)), Masatsune ASUKAI, and Jakuren, who died prior to the completion of the work.

When the Wakasho Agency was established, 11 Yoryudo (clerks), including the anthologists, and the kaigo (post) MINAMOTO no Ienaga, were chosen, and the ex-emperor Gotobain was deeply involved in the work, such as in choosing poems. Most of the people in the inkadan (poetry circles of In) joined in the compilation, and the work of revision and creation continued over a span of several decades, which was unusual among the Hachidaishu.

Process of compilation

In July 1201, the Wakasho Agency was established, and in November of the same year the Imperial command to compile a collection was issued; in 1204 poems were chosen, and on March 26, 1205 it was completed and submitted to the ex-emperor for inspection, and the Kyoen (a party following the selection of poetry) was held. Subsequently, the work of revision continued until December 1216.

It was generally divided into the following four terms:

The first term - from 1201, when the order was issued, until the anthologists collected the poems. The poems were chosen from among the excellent poems that had not been selected for the collections of poems by Imperial command, the Six Hundred Sets of Poetry Match (held by Ryokei (FUJIWARA no Yoshitsune)), and the One Thousand Five Hundred Sets of Poetry Match (held by the Retired Emperor).

The second term - a period in which the Retired Emperor himself closely examined and selected poems.

The third term - a period of classifying and arranging poems. The Yoryudo who were not included in the group of anthologists also joined the work. It was tentatively complete by 1204.

The fourth term - a period of correcting and revising. It was finally completed between 1210 and 1216.


It comprised 20 volumes:
Spring Poetry (2 volumes)
Summer Poetry
Autumn Poetry (2 volumes)
Winter Poetry
Gaka (Celebration Poetry)
Aishoka (Mourning Poetry)
Ribetsuka (Separation Poetry)
Kiryoka (Traveling Poetry)
Koiuta (Love Poetry) (5 volumes)
Zouka (Other Poetry) (3 volumes)
Jingika (Worshipping Poetry)
Shakyoka (waka about Buddhism)
The opening kanajo (preface written in Hiragana) was written by Yoshitsune KUJO, and the ending Manajo (preface in Kanbun, in a Washo Japanese book) was written by FUJIWARA no Chikatsune. The number of collected poems came to 1979, which was the most in the Hachidaishu, and all the poems were Tanka. The poems were skillfully arranged: volumes of four seasons were arranged in the order of seasonal transition, Koiuta was arranged according to the development of love, and poems of ancient and contemporary were placed in alternating order.

Among the selected poems, 94 of Saigyo's poems were chosen, which was the most, followed by Jien, FUJIWARA no Yoshitsune, FUJIWARA no Toshinari, Empress Shikishi (the most among the female poets), FUJIWARA no Sadaie, Ietaka, Jakuren and the Retired Emperor Gotoba. A few poems written by Manyo Poets were also included.

Style of the poem

The characteristics of Shinkokincho (tone poems seen in 'New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry') are as follows: aesthetic, emotional, fantastic, pictorial, cadenced, symbolic and artificial. Sadaie developed the idea of Yugen (subtle and profound beauty) or Ushin, which was advocated by his father Toshinari, and established 'suggestiveness and fascinating style,' being greatly reflected in the collected poems. Additionally, it is sometimes pointed out that there is a pathos in viewing downfall and nature along with the downfall of the aristocracy, whose power in politics had been taken away since establishment of the Kamakura shogunate. Moreover, around this time poems full of flowery poetic devices were composed because daiei (poetry composed on a set theme) events were held frequently. Because of daiei, realistic poems depicting the changes of emotion were being outmoded, and complex symbolic poems elaborated in the given theme came to predominate. Honkatori (adaptation of a famous poem) is a remarkable feature of it, having been facilitated by a long history of the waka poem since Jodai. Regarding poetic devices, taigendome (to use a noun in the end of a poem), which makes poems resonant, shokugire (to distinguish the meaning between the first and second phrases) and sankugire (to distinguish the meaning between the third and fourth phrases) in the seven-and-five syllable meter were used.

About Okibon

Even after the Retired Emperor Gotoba was exiled to Oki Province because of the Jokyu no Ran War (1221), he spent eighteen years bringing the collection to a high level of refinement, and issued an Imperial edict, stating that the new collection, which eliminated about 400 poems, was the authentic New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry (See 'Okibon with annex').
Thus it was called 'Okibon (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry).'
This article doesn't mention Okibon, and today it is considered that the one completed first is authentic.

[Original Japanese]