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Let’s once more sort through the types of study followed by Zen monks, focusing on Chinese books as well as the writings that these monks produced. We will look at some specific examples, mostly using materials owned by the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics. Let us start with entry-level books. Representative works include the Santaishi, the Guwen zhenbao, and the Jinxiuduan These were basic required texts for learning to read Chinese books and for composing Chinese-language poetry, and they had been made for this purpose in China to begin with.
Training followed a two-step method: first, students memorized the entire text and only at this point did they read the annotations to understand the content. As reading materials, they made use of printed books from China, Gozan printed editions, as well as handmade copies of either type. We start with the Santaishi(1) which is a collection of Tang poetry and one of the most popular Chinese books of the medieval period. As you can see, the text is comprised of both poems and annotations, although the handwritten version only has the poems. (2) The contents of this work will be discussed in detail in the next activity.
The Guwen zhenbao consists of two parts: poems and prose pieces. Since the prose section was more widely read in Japan, there are many more extant copies of the second part. Once again, this work is comprised of both text and comments. This(3) is the printed books from China and this(4) is the Gozan printed editions. Poems are written in large and annotations are written in small between lines. Next is the Lianzhu shige(5). Like the Santaishi, it is a poetry collection, but it includes about 330 poems by both Tang and Song poets. Here is the Jinxuiduan(6). It is a poetry collection from the middle of the 15th century compiled by the Japanese Zen monk Ten’in Ryūtaku.
It groups by content poems from the Tang through Ming periods. During the medieval period, it enjoyed wide circulation in manuscript form.




  1. 三体詩五山版覆刻(17世紀初頭刊)
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  2. 『三体詩』五山版転写本(無注本) 享禄2年(1529)写
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  3. 古文真宝後集』明刊本(14~15世紀刊)
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  4. 『古文真宝後集』五山版(14~15世紀刊)
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  5. 聯珠詩格』五山版転写本(17世紀初写)
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  6. 錦繍段(抄)』16世紀末写
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古書から読み解く日本の文化: 漢籍の受容

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