Saturday, March 25, 2006

Botany for Poets

We talked quite a bit about various kinds of flowers in Thursday's class. Here are some links to sites that have nice pictures of flowers that turn up frequently in classical Japanese literature and art.

"Flower Room"
This is a good place
to start a search for flower pictures. The trouble with it for our purposes is that you need to be able to read Japanese.

So, for more specific flower sites, here are some good ones from the "Flower Room":

Plum Blossoms
At the Mito Plum Blossom Festival, in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Cherry Blossoms
At Kôrakuen Garden in Tôkyô.
At Rikugien Garden in Tôkyô
At Heian Jingû Shrine in Kyôto.
In Gion, in Kyôto. (Atmospheric night pictures.)
At Ôsaka Castle in Ôsaka. (Rather imposing, this one.)
This is the index page of Flower Room's Irises section.
The kakitsubata of Tales of Ise, Episode 9.
Pictures of paulownia trees in bloom. The kiri of Kiritsubo in Tale of Genji. Scroll down for pictures of the trees.
At Ushijima. Spectacular! The fuji of Fujitsubo in Tale of Genji.
Also called gourdflower. Yûgao, in Japanese. These bloom at night with a wonderful fragrance. A summer flower.
Bush Clover
An autumn flower, bush clover is called hagi in Japanese.
Wow! Some flashy pictures of bush clover here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Seeing / Poetry / Ise monogatari

Nara period and earlier

Kojiki (Record of ancient matters)
Manyôshû (Anthology of ten thousand leaves)

Heian (classical) period

Kokin shû (Anthology of ancient and modern poetry)
Ise monogatari (Tales of Ise)

1. The Power of Seeing/Naming in Kojiki (Record of ancient matters)
a. Creation myth
i. Japan = divine space
ii. place names

b. Visit to the world of the dead
i. death = pollution
ii. seeing = power
2. The Power of Seeing in Manyôshû (Anthology of ten thousand leaves)
Waka Poetry and kunimi 国見 (land-gazing)
3. The power of poetry in the kanajo 仮名序 (Japanese preface) to Kokin shû (Anthology of ancient and modern poetry)
i. poetry is an inevitable, natural expression of human emotion

ii. it can influence/regulate the world (the gods, angry warriors, etc.)

iii. it is the way that men and women communicate with one another
4. Seeing in Ise monogatari (Tales of Ise)
Ise monogatari is an uta monogatari - poems and tales made up to contextualize poems

• The poems and stories are unrelated, but linked together in a roughly biographical order

• There are 125 episodes

• Many of the poems are attributedto Ariwara no Narihira (825-880), a courtier, poet, and famous lover, and so sometimes Ise monogatari is thought to be semi-biographical (except it isn't). Some say he's the model for Hikaru Genji, the hero of the Tale of Genji, mostly because of episode 69.
i. Episode 1
a. miyabi (elegance) 雅--here, a lover's impulsive beautiful gesture
b. kaimaimi ("peering through a gap") 垣間
ii. Iconography of the Ise monogatari
Ise monogatari has inspired artists for centuries. Most notable are the woodblock print versions of 1608 by the studio of Hon'ami Kôetsu.(see Stanley-Baker, pp. 161-3). We also saw the Rimpa (Ôgata Kôrin) versions of the "Yatsuhashi irises" episode (i.e. Episode 9).
Famous illustrated episodes:
6 Akutagawa River
9 Yatsuhashi, Mount Suruga
12 Musashi Plain
23 Well-curb
69 Ise priestess
Ise monogatari also figures in visual culture through drama. We will read the medieval Noh play version of Episode 23, the Well-curb.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Classical Japanese Poetry: The Basics

The history of Japanese poetry predates writing; it was composed and transmitted orally. With the introduction of the Chinese writing system, it developed into some standard forms.

1. Waka vs. Kanshi
和歌 vs. 漢詩

waka = poetry in Japanese
kanshi = poetry in Chinese

Men and women wrote waka. Men wrote kanshi. Poetry was important for social advancement and for courtship.

2. Kinds of waka

The basic structure of Japanese poetry is alternating lines of 5 and 7 syllables each. Rhyme is not used--it's too easy to rhyme in Japanese. However, many other devices for creating pattern in language were used.

長歌 chôka - long poem 5-7-5-7......7-7
短歌 tanka - short poem 5-7-5-7-7 (31 syllables)

People stopped composing chôka by the late Nara period. The 31-syllable tanka became the conventional form. This is why, for most purposes:

tanka = waka

3. Anthologies and other sources of poetry

Anthologies of poetry, particularly those collected by the imperial court, were very important. Anthologies were the major way of "publishing" (i.e., making public, not printing) poetry during this period.

Very early; i.e. Nara Period:

Kojiki (record of ancient matters): history with poems included, 712
Manyôshû (anthology of ten thousand leaves): anthology of poetry, including very ancient poems that were formally oral literature; lots of chôka; late 8th c


Kokinshû or Kokin waka shû (collection of ancient and modern waka): edited by Ki no Tsurayuki, contains the famous "Kanajo" or Japanese preface, 920
Ise monogatari (tales of Ise): an uta monogatari or collection of poems + tales about the poems

Sunday, March 05, 2006


A. Short answers (two points each). Define each term as thoroughly as you
can, and if applicable, the work(s) with which it is associated.

1. haniwa

2. Byôdô-in

3. Hiragana, kanji

4. bodhisattva/bosatsu

5. ut pictura poesis (as is painting, so is poetry)

6. Nara

7. Fujiwara

8. Minamoto Yoritomo

9. Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji)

10. Azuchi-Momoyama

B. Essay Questions (Two questions, forty points each)

All answers should have:

1. A clear thesis statement. What is the essence of your answer? Where
are you going with your essay?

2. A strong argument that is clearly structured and matches the thesis

3. Answers should be at least three paragraphs long. Five paragraphs
would be even better, depending on how you write.

4. You should show evidence of careful thought, familiarity with all
the texts and images (don't keep going back to the same one), and clear
organization of your ideas.


1. We discussed several different views on the meaning of "visual" and "visual culture," some of which included "nature" as an important element. It is often argued that Japanese culture has a particular affinity for nature, that a special awareness of the beauty of things in their natural form is basic to Japanese art, or as our textbook argues, "Here generosity of spirit, love of simplicity, and perception of beauty in all natural things is made manifest." (p. 11.) Do you agree? Choose two or three of the works of Japanese art we have looked at as examples, and show how they can help us better understand the relationship of nature and visual culture in Japan. (Think about: How has this relationship manifested itself differently in different historical periods?)

2. As in most world areas, religion has had a strong impact on the development of Japanese visual culture. Choose two or three of the works of Japanese art as examples, and show how they can help us better understand the relationship of religion and visual culture in Japan. (Things to think about: How does this relationship manifested itself differently in different historical periods? What effect have political and social changes had on this relationship?)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

February 23

Class today is cancelled.

Instead, please view the documentary film, "The Illustrated Handscroll Tale of Genji" (VHS 3060).

The film is 68 minutes long.

We have still not discussed Chapters 5 and 6, so it's okay just to look over those chapters again to prepare for next Tuesday's class.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

February 21

We're moving quite slowly, but here are the things we've talked about in the past couple of sessions:

Chapter 3

Nara (Heijô kyô) - intended to be the last permanent capital of Japan but only lasted until 794; modern city of Nara. The Nara Period (710-794). Strong influences from abroad, especially Korea and China.

Shintô Shrines
Izumo Taisha
Ise Jingû
Buddhist Temples and their Art

A. Asuka / Hakuhô Period

1) Hôryû-ji (near site of imperial regent Shôtoku Taishi's 聖徳太子 Wakakusadera temple)
Tamamushi Shrine - Jataka tales
Asuka Period Painting and Sculpture
Influences: non-East Asian=Scythian, Central Asian

Korean: Korean kingdom of Koguryô: Tori's Shaka Triad
Korean kingdom of Paekche: Miroku Bosatsu
Chinese: Tang: Gakkô
Yumetagai (Yumechigai) "Dream Changing
Horyûji murals
B. Tempyô Period

2) Tôdai-ji
Temple and Great Buddha sculpture
3) Tôshôdai-ji
Chapter 4

Heian-kyô - capital of Japan 794 - 1868; modern city of Kyôto. Heian Period (794-1185). Influences from abroad less strong.

New capital, new Buddhisms:

Tendai; Saichô; Mt. Hiei; Lotus Sutra
Shingon; Kûkai; Mt. Kôya; mandalas
Pure Land (Jôdo); Kûya; raigô (visit of Buddha at believer's death)

Fujiwara Period (897-1185)

Imperial / regent system (especially the Fujiwara family as Kampaku or Sesshô=regent)

1) Buddhist Art

Byôdô-in Phoenix Hall Temple + Garden
mandala (map of the Buddhist cosmos) hanging scrolls
raigô (visit of Buddha at believer's death) hanging scrolls
Heike nôgyô illuminated sutra (Lotus sutra) handscroll
Shigisan engi handscroll [scroll of the legend of Mt. Shigi] (flying granary scene)

2) Secular Art

Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari) Handscroll
Chôjû giga (Funny pictures of birds and beasts) narrative scroll
Tale of the Heiji disturbance (Heiji monogatari) Handscroll

3) Calligraphy

4) Terms

Yamato-e (Japanese pictures)
onna-e ("feminine" painting style pictures) built-up layers of color, related to Yamato-e; outlines less
important than in otoko-e, below
onna-de ("feminine" hand=hiragana=Japanese script)

otoko-e ("masculine" painting style pictures) monochromatic or lightly colored; related to Chinese style, calligraphic line (like Chôjû giga)

hikime kagihana (simplified faces, example in Genji scroll; lit., line for eye, hook for nose)
fukinuki yatai (blown-off roof style)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thinking about your paper

I. How to develop a topic for the research paper

There are lots of guides that walk you through the process of figuring out a topic for a research paper. I've given you a link to Emory's own, below, in (II.1).

The best way to start is with paper and a pencil. Ask yourself what kinds of things interest you about Japanese art and literature. What kinds of things would you like to find out more about? Is there something in the literary or visual culture of another world area that has interested you in the past, and you'd like to see if the same things are true in the Japanese context? Is there a historical period that you're drawn to? Is there a particular aspect of the culture or society (religion, politics, the environment, etc.) that you think might have had some bearing on the development of Japanese literature and visual culture, and you want to explore it further?

Pick up the pencil, and write. It doesn't have to be complete sentences--it's okay to have vague ideas to start. Just follow your instincts, and see where they lead.

What are you curious about?

II. Useful Web Sites

1. Developing a Research Topic

Emory's general guide to thinking about papers. Lots of good stuff here, including advice about how to cite your sources.


3. Doing Research in East Asian Studies at Emory

This list of sources was developed for my Freshman Seminar, Introduction to East Asian Studies. Scroll down to the "Databases" section. The databases that will be most useful to you are:

Bibliography of Asian Studies

I've never used Project Muse, it may be helpful. The MLA bibliography is probably not going to be helpful.

At the bottom of this list is a link that gives you tips about style in citing sources.

4. Databases

Visit EUCLID's databases page and select "Art, Architecture and Art History" from the pull-down menu.

5. Bibliography of Early Modern Japanese Art, Architecture, and Gardens

The early modern period is from 1600-1868. This is a PDF included in the online reserve materials.

6. Talk to people

I'd be delighted to talk over your research interests with you. You might also get help from the research librarians at Woodruff--either just by walking up to them at the information desk on the ground floor, or by making an appointment with one of the specialist librarians in East Asian Studies or Art History. I can help you get in touch with them.

You might also browse:

Asia Society's Guide to Japanese Art. It's probably more helpful if you know what sort of genre you're interested in (painting, prints, etc.) but it doesn't hurt to start looking here.

Duke has a nice guide to their collection in Japanese Art History. There are two problems with it for us: 1) the materials are at Duke, and while many may be available through interlibrary loan, some may not be and 2) some of the materials are in Japanese. Still, it's worth browsing--at the end of the page is a fabulous list of materials on the WWW.