Japanese Literature Essay

1208 words - 5 pages

The Japanese medieval age consists of the Kamakura and Muromachi periods (from approximately 1185 to 1600). During this time, the political power was switching from the imperial family to a militaristic government. In addition, civil wars (from 1156 to 1568) were increasing throughout Japan. This change of centrality in society’s focus from court to warriors shifted the perception and style of Japanese literature.
As we learned during the first half of the course, the Heian period focused their attentions on elegance, aesthetics (of actions or objects), and relationships (specifically the feelings of love, longing, and waiting). This is reflected that period’s literature. In “Genji Monogatari,” the characters continuously behaved elegantly and gracefully spoke in poems. “Makura no Sōshi” acted as a reference and guide for appropriately refined court behavior. While various nikki, such as “Izumi Shikibu Nikki” and “Kagerō Nikki,” gave readers insight into the lives and relationships of people in the Heian period court.
In comparison, tone of medieval age Japanese literature becomes more intense, realistic, and darker in scope as focus shifts more to the lives and interests of people outside of court. In particular, the warrior class contributed a lot to Japanese literature during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, because of the increase in civil wars and shift in political power. This is clearly evident in the works of gunki monogatari, especially “Heike Monogatari,” because the tales depict inelegant things that were not to be mentioned in Heian period literature, such as blood and gore.
The illustration of the atrocities of war shows the increase in battles and wars of the period. This coincides with the European medieval era, in which battles were prolific and evident in literature, such as “Beowulf” and “The Song of Roland” – both are epics that follow a hero through war. There is another similarity that the Japanese and European literature share and that is in the inclusion of religion. So while Europe embraced Christianity, Japan culture flourished in the inclusion and practice of Buddhism (LaFleur 17). As such, literature (poetry and prose) with Buddhist themes and tones dramatically increased during the Japanese medieval era.
In the Heian period, Buddhism did exist in that time period’s literature, but it was not heavy included. In “Kagerō Nikki,” practice of this religion was evident, but its purpose or teachings are not explained or explored. The “Izumi Shikibu Nikki” was the first to show a heavy influence by Buddhism, but (from the section that we had obtained through the class) it did not seem to be overflowing with references to the religion in either the poetry or prose. The same can be said for “Genji Monogatari,” in which we see Buddhism as an escape from court or an undesirable societal position and the teachings or practices remain unexplored.
In the medieval era, this changes and it becomes clearly...

Find Another Essay On Japanese Literature

Universal Truths in Japanese Literature Essay

2006 words - 8 pages Universal Truths in Japanese Literature By Imani Fulwilder Arts, Culture and Literature Period 1 Mrs. Alkazian February 14, 2014 In The Crane Wife and Princess Hase, both short stories in the book Tales of Japan-Illustrated Folk Tales, Fairy Tales and Mythology by Birgit Amadoi there are examples of Universal truths. The Universal Truths such as Good vs. Evil, Greed vs. Generosity, and Outer Strength vs. Inner Strength affect

Japanese Literature during the Medieval Period

1264 words - 5 pages During the Medieval period (1185–1603) in Japan there was change and innovation in Japanese literature. “Waka composition practices change as Japanese society does” (Huey 652). The medieval world was greatly reflected in Japanese literature because during this time there were numerous civil wars that led to different classes in society. “In fact, many different types of people helped shape the medieval period. Over 400 years, from the late

Analysis of Japanese Literature ---Okuno Hosomichi

900 words - 4 pages Virginia Library, website: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/basho/MatOkun.html Haruo S. (1998), Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Bash?, Stanford University Press © 1998 ISBN 0-8047-3098-9 cloth ISBN 0-8047-3099-7 pbk [381 pp.] Matsuo B. translated by Cheung Min Ying (2002), ????, 1st Ed, Shan Dong, Hubei Education Press, p.55-114.Infoplease (2005), Japanese Literature: Literacy Forms of Edo Era, retrieved in

Medieval world reflected in Japanese literature

1365 words - 5 pages The process of Japanese society shifting into a more medieval state can be seen by looking at various pieces of Japanese literature, such as poetry and prose, that were written around the time that this shift is said to have started to happen, specifically in the Heian (794-1185) and Kamakura (1185-1333) periods. Things like war tales, Gunki monogatari, emerged reflecting the tumultuous state of Japan during these times, with the Heike

Tosa Nikki and Oku no Hoso Michi: Japanese Literature

1248 words - 5 pages of its time, Tosa Nikki is a fictional travel diary written by Ki no Tsurayuki’s point of view as a woman. At the beginning of the diary, he clearly states he is a woman, as “diaries are things written by men.” However, through Tsurayuki’s notes, people were able to deduct his actual gender. This is somewhat groundbreaking in Japanese literature at the time as he is not only one of the first to do this, but one of the first great pieces to be

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

Medieval World Reflected in Japanese Literature: Examples of Changes and Innovations in Literature (Poetry and Prose)

1620 words - 6 pages One of the main reasons that studying Japanese literature from different time periods is so important is due to the fact that it provides the reader with an insight into the time around which it was written. Direct accounts of events are always a good source for learning about history. At the same time, cultural tales can be of the exact same value as the conventional history. The accounts of events might be embellished but it is in the way

Japanese Literature: Forms of Waka, Tosa Nikki and Oku no Hosomichi

1322 words - 5 pages Literature, whether oral or written, reflects the society in which it is produced. The history of literature in Japan, in particular of poetry is quite extensive. If we begin with Manyoushuu, compiled in 770, until the present day, the history of waka is over one thousand two hundred years long. Such a vast collection of literature enables us to take a look Japanese history through its poetry and prose. The development of waka and the

Medieval world reflected in Japanese literature: Examples of Changes and Innovations in Literature (Poetry and Prose)

1423 words - 6 pages Even without knowledge of the history in Medieval Japan, one can easily learn that Kamakura era was right in the transition period of the government and that of worldviews among people. The warrior class was gradually and surely coming to power, only by looking into the literature works of the era. Perhaps Emperor Gotoba was one of the aristocrats who were threatened with declination of their status and culture, which could have been his motives

Manyoshu vs. Kokinshu: Roles and Significance

1253 words - 5 pages piece of literature showing the transition from Chinese literature to become something original. Not only did it have an impact on Literature but it also was of great importance in changing the Japanese writing system, being composed in manyogana. Though manyogana was used earlier, it wasn’t until Manyoshu that it became influential enough to get its name. This system used Chinese character to represent Japanese syllables phonetically rather than

Japanese Occupation in South-east Asia

5066 words - 20 pages Japanese Occupation in South-east Asia Table of Contents Chapter 1: Introduction Background                                                  Pg. 3 Thesis                                                       Pg. 3 Research questions                                             Pg. 3 Rationale                                                  Pg. 3 Methodology                                                  Pg. 4 Chapter 2: Literature

Similar Essays

Japanese Literature Essay

1617 words - 6 pages Rich in sensitivity, quality and variety, Japanese literature ranks as one of the great literatures of the world. While some of its works are over 1,300 years old, they still capture us with their sensitivity to nature. Their writing is artfully worded and structured, and it has always been characterized by its lyrical beauty. In this essay, we will look at how Japanese literature has evolved over the years, beginning at the first complete works

Japanese Literature Essay

1404 words - 6 pages Literature has always reflected the perceptions, ideals, and environments of its authors; Japanese waka and prose during Japan’s transition from the “classical” Heian period (794-1185) to a more turbulent medieval period (1100-1500) is a fascinating window into this cultural metamorphosis. Japan was irrevocably changed during this period both politically and ideologically, and Japan’s literature followed suit. Several characteristics of the

Japanese Literature Essay

1186 words - 5 pages . Because of the control that the samurai maintained over the government and the Japanese people, their religion spread rapidly during the Kamakura period. The “zen” concept of Buddhism was especially appealing to the samurai because of its use of discipline and meditation to achieve enlightenment and connection to oneself. This new religion paved a path for new opportunities in literature. Tsurezuregusa or “Essays in Idleness” is a collection of

Japanese Literature Essay 2052 Words

2052 words - 8 pages many distinct and interesting changes and innovations as compared to those of earlier times, which can be analyzed in more detailed aspects. Poetry is how Japan initially gained recognition and respect in the literary world; it was and continued to be the central cornerstone of classical Japanese literature through many centuries, which is why the focus of this paper will be the poetic anthologies of Kokinshū of the Heian period and Shinkokinshū