Hyakunin Isshu 百人一首

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu is an anthology of Japanese poetry called tanka containing a hundred poems by a hundred different poets of the Heian era.  Collated by Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241), a renowned scholar, critic, novelist, anthologist, calligrapher, scribe, and thought to be one of the greatest Japanese poets and the ultimate master of the tanka (or waka), the Hyakunin Isshu has been argued to be a book on tanka theory displaying all the ideal styles and techniques of the tanka.  The ‘Ogura’ in the full title of the anthology comes from the Ogura district in Kyoto, Japan, where Fujiwara no Teika resided when he was compiling the Hyakunin Isshu.

The Hyakunin Isshu tanka is also the basis of the Japanese card game, karuta, and it is from the anime Chihayafuru, which is based on the this game, that I started getting interested in the Hyakunin Isshu.

Below are the links to the tanka that I have reviewed as I read through the anthology.


Initial introduction – Recommended: Hyakunin Isshu 百人一首
No. 1: Harvest-time in the field
No. 2: Spring has past
No. 3: If I’m to sleep alone
No. 4: White Cloth on Fuji’s Peak
No. 5: In the Mountain’s Heart
No. 6: On the Bridge that Magpies Cross
No. 7: The Sky’s Meadow Above
No. 8: My Hermit Hut
No. 9: The vibrant flower’s face has faded
No. 10: Osaka’s Rendezvous Gate
No. 11: Tell the people
No. 12: I see a maiden’s form
No. 13: Male and Female Peaks
No. 14: Dyed and Tangled/Trapped In Secret Love

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