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Featured texts 8: Poetry Collections by Japanese Zen Monks

Original works by Japanese Zen monks
Out last group of texts is the collected works of Japanese Zen monks. Zen monks collected their teachings and Zen Buddhist verse (geju) into works known as “recorded sayings” (goroku, Ch. yulu). Already popular in China, goroku were printed in great numbers in Japan between the mid-13th century and the second half of the 14th century. After this point, however, very few were printed and most circulated in manuscript form. Collections of poetry of a less specifically religious nature were also normally not printed. One exception is the Shōkenkō (3) by the leading Gozan poet Zekkai Chūshin (*). There are also a few commentaries on such works, such as the Fukkishū (4).
This(1) is a collection of poems exchanged between Ōsen Keisan() and his circle and Ogura Sanezumi() and his associates. During the Ōnin(#) wars, Ōsen and his affiliates fled the Shōkokuji temple in Kyoto, which had been destroyed by fire, and sought shelter in Ōmi (modern Shiga prefecture) under Sanezumi’s tutelage. When Ōsen returned to Kyoto at the end of the war, Sanezumi and his retainers sent him poems, and Ōsen and his circle crafted replies. Next, we have the Tōkai keikashū (2), the poetry collection of Ishō Tokugan(*), the leading poet of the Shōkokuji temple. At the beginning, we have the heading ‘Geography;’ in other words, the poems are organized by content.
That poetry collections by Japanese monks were organized by content and subject matter shows just how widely read (and used as reference in composing poems) they were. The Shōkenkō (3) is the poetry collection of Zekkai Chūshin(*), one the finest of the Gozan literati. It is an exception among poetry collections by Zen poets in that it was published as a Gozan-ban edition rather than circulated in handwritten copies. The last item we look at is the Fukkishū (4), a mid-16th century selection of poems by Zen monks with commentary. It was edited by a priest of the Kenninji temple for a disciple from his hometown.
This is another example of how Gozan culture, from the major centers of learning, spread to the rest of the country.

The fourth category is the poetry collections by Japanese monks. Let’s see some of the examples introduced by Prof. Horikawa.

Keio University books introduced in the video:

  1. Watō Ogura Shōgen Kojiki mannen Ōsen rōjin shiin narabi ni jo (Poetic Dialogues between General Ogura and the Old Man Mannen Ōsen, with Preface), 16th c. manuscript
    Click to see the image and information
  2. Tōkai keikashū (Collection of Jade Flowers from the Eastern Sea), private collection, 16th c. manuscript
    Click to see the image and information
  3. Shōkenkō (Drafts by the Man of the Way of Plantain Strength, 1403), Gozan-ban edition, end of the 14th c.
    Click to see the image and information
  4. Fukkishū (Collection of the Overturned Basket), manuscript dated Gen’na 10 (1624)
    Click to see the image and information

Historical figures introduced in the video

Historical events and period/eras

Keywords introduced in the video

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Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books

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