Changes And Innovations In Japanese Literature In The Medieval Era

982 words - 4 pages

There is a vast difference between the courtly airs of the Heian Period and the overall feeling of the following Kamakura Period that makes the younger of the two periods more appealing. The changes in Japanese literature during the Kamakura Period can be readily observed in many works, including the innovation in poet devices found in the Shinkokinshu, as well as the subject matters of different stories. We have the introduction of another ancient Japanese classic in Heike Monogatari, where the reader is assaulted with battlefield stories and upfront political warfare not seen to that extent before. A significant feature, if not the most significant feature, of the Kamakura Period is the increased presence of Buddhist teachings and ideas within texts, permeating its way through all types lf literature in response to the religious immersion throughout Japan from the continent.
Beginning with the most trivial of changes, new technical aspects have been added to poetry by the writers in the Shinkokinshu: honkadori, taigendome, and the multiple consecutive usage of the noun no noun pattern. I particularly like how the honkadori and the noun no noun pattern add more depth to the poem, even if increases the likelihood of not being able to understand it. Referencing well-known passages and images in a completely new context must be considered very sophisticated, because first of all, one would need to know the poem it was taken from by heart, and second of all, use the borrowed attribute in a manner that is not redundant and still rings true as something unique while simultaneously paying homage to the other work. The noun no noun sequence is also interesting because it makes use of grammatical structure uncommon and awkward to everyday English language. (I rarely ever hear someone say the something-of-something-else-of-some-other-thing.) When reading the poem, the audience will never quite know what was intended due to the possibility of different sections of the phrase modifying the other parts of the phrase. Perhaps this is a type of literary yuugen? Out of all three of the new poetic devices, the least understandable to me is the taigendome, probably because I tended not to notice that ending a poem on a noun was not typical for the earlier periods. Maybe it too conveys a new sense of meaning to a poem, like the more obvious effects of the other two devices. Lastly, for the poetry of the Shinkokinshu at least, the essence of sabi seeps in through the words of many poems, stripping away the color and life from the somewhat cliché nature imagery and leaving behind the “beauty of the withered.” Written works where the depressing weight of reality makes itself known seems like a given at the time, and seeing that the Shinkokinshu is one of the earliest works covered by the Kamakura timeline,...

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