I recently impulse bought a book of Japanese poetry called the Hyakunin Isshu (百人一首). An anthology of one hundred, five-line waka (和歌), or now more commonly called tanka (短歌), structured with lines measuring 5-7-5-7-7 syllables, and compiled by Fujiwara no Teika in around 1237 A.D., each is written by a different Japanese poet from the 7th to the 13th century.
Why did I decide to buy this anthology randomly? Because I had just caught up to Chihayafuru, a manga on competitve karuta which features the tanka in the Hyakunin Isshu prominently. And being a fangirl, I decided to buy the book so I could understand all the layers of meaning in each tanka. Such is the life of a fangirl.
At least I’m being educated whilst spending my time in imaginary worlds.
And since reading poetry needs reflection, and reflection comes easiest when writing down thoughts, I thought I would share my reflections. After all, this blog is a Diary of sorts.
But for sure, these poems I would recommend/10. Even just hearing the descriptions as I watch the anime or read the manga was enough to kindle my interest in Japanese poetry. They are so layered, so full of meaning and double meaning, so subtle and yet so passionate underneath all the refinement. There are online translations of them everywhere, and if you have time, read a few~! I just like having a book in my hands.
Once I run out of these one hundred poems… I’ll see what I move on to. Until then… stay with me.