Kokinwakashū 古今和歌集

The Kokinwakashū (or the Kokinshū for short), the ‘Collection of Japanese Poetry Ancient and Modern’, was the first of the 21 anthologies of waka compiled at imperial command (chokusenshû). The idea of an imperial waka anthology as a ‘modern’ successor to the Man’yôshû was first mooted by Emperor Uda (867-931; r. 887-897), and eventually commissioned by Emperor Daigo (885-930; r. 897-930). He gave the commission to Ki no Tsurayuki, Ki no Tomonori, Ōshikōchi no Mitsune and Mibu no Tadamine, who chose about 1,111 poems, completing the anthology between 915 and 920.

The collection is principally one of tanka, with only a few poems in other formats, and follows the pattern of the Man’yōshū by being divided into 20 books. A new development, however, is that all the poems in a particular book are on a set poetic topic, as follows:

Book I
Book II
Book III
Book IV
Book V
Book VI
Book VII
Book VIII
Book IX
Book X
Book XI
Book XII
Book XIII
Book XIV
Book XV
Book XVI
Book XVII
Book XVIII
Book XIX
Book XX
Spring I (haru no uta)
Spring II
Summer (natsu no uta)
Autumn I (aki no uta)
Autumn II
Winter (fuyu no uta)
Felicitations (ga no uta)
Partings (wakare no uta)
Travel (tabi no uta)
Acrostics (mono no na no uta)
Love I (koi no uta)
Love II
Love III
Love IV
Love V
Laments (aishō no uta)
Miscellaneous I (kusagusa no uta)
Miscellaneous II
Miscellaneous Forms (zattei no uta)
Poems from the Bureau of Poetry (Ōutadokoro no on’uta)

The collection, therefore, divides into two halves, the first beginning with poems on the most important topic, the seasons, and the second with the next-most important, Love. This 20 Book format was to set the model for the majority of future collections, as was the decision by the compilers to include both ‘ancient’ and ‘modern’ waka in the anthology.

The Kokinshū also has two prefaces: a Japanese one written by Ki no Tsurayuki and a Chinese one by Ki no Yoshimochi. Tsurayuki’s preface is regarded as being the first work of Japanese poetic criticism, setting out criteria for judging poems, giving terminology and making suggestions about poets who were to be regarded as superior. In particular, he mentions the ‘Six Poetic Sages’ (rokkasen): Archbishop Henjô, Ariwara no Narihira, Fun’ya no Yasuhide, The Monk Kisen, Ono no Komachi and Ôtomo no Kuronushi.

The principal poets of the collection (those with more that 5 poems included) are: Tsurayuki (102), Mitsune (60), Tomonori (46), Tadamine (36), the Monk Sosei (36), Narihira (30), Ise (22), Fujiwara no Tomoyuki (19), Komachi (18), Henjō (17), Kiyowara no Fukayabu (17), Fujiwara no Okikaze (17), Ariwara no Motokata (14), Ōe no Chisato (10), Sakaoue no Korenori (8).

It is difficult to overstate the influence of the Kokinshū on subsequent waka: its organisation, to a large extent, determined the organisation of later anthologies, its topics became regarded as the only appropriate ones for poetry and its imagery became the source on which most later work was based. The primacy it accounts to the seasons is still the case in modern haiku, while the progression of its poems influenced the development of renga. Similarly, the ideas laid out by Tsurayuki in his preface formed the basis for the majority of Japanese poetic criticism until the modern period.

Nevertheless, the anthology has been heavily criticised in recent times for being overly influenced by Chinese forms and ideas, and lacking the freshness and directness of Man’yō poetry. This is true to some extent, but it is also the case that it was the first anthology compiled when there was an awareness that there was such a thing as waka, Japanese poetry (yamato uta) which was somehow different from the Chinese poetry (kara uta) the court had brought in from overseas, and that it contains numerous fine examples of lyrical expression.

For more detailed information on the Kokinshū, follow this link to the introduction written by Professor Lewis Cook for the Japanese E-Text Initiative edition of the Kokinshū text.

The following Kokinshū poems are included on this site:

Book I: Spring 1

KKS I: 1
KKS I: 2
KKS I: 3
KKS I: 4
KKS I: 5
KKS I: 6
KKS I: 7
KKS I: 8
KKS I: 13
KKS I: 14
KKS I: 15
KKS I: 17
KKS I: 18
KKS I: 19
KKS I: 20
KKS I: 22
KKS I: 23
KKS I: 25
KKS I: 26
KKS I: 28
KKS I: 32
KKS I: 33
KKS I: 34
KKS I: 42
KKS I: 43
KKS I: 47
KKS I: 48
KKS I: 49
KKS I: 50
KKS I: 53
KKS I: 54
KKS I: 55
KKS I: 56
KKS I: 62
KKS I: 63
KKS I: 67

Book II: Spring 2

KKS II: 69
KKS II: 70
KKS II: 71
KKS II: 76
KKS II: 84
KKS II: 88
KKS II: 90
KKS II: 91
KKS II: 92
KKS II: 96
KKS II: 108
KKS II: 113
KKS II: 115
KKS II: 122
KKS II: 124
KKS II: 125
KKS II: 126
KKS II: 127
KKS II: 128
KKS II: 129
KKS II: 130
KKS II: 131
KKS II: 132
KKS II: 133
KKS II: 134

Book III: Summer

KKS III: 135
KKS III: 136
KKS III: 137
KKS III: 138
KKS III: 139
KKS III: 140
KKS III: 141
KKS III: 142
KKS III: 143
KKS III: 144
KKS III: 145
KKS III: 146
KKS III: 147
KKS III: 148
KKS III: 149
KKS III: 150
KKS III: 151
KKS III: 152
KKS III: 153
KKS III: 154
KKS III: 155
KKS III: 156
KKS III: 157
KKS III: 158
KKS III: 159
KKS III: 160
KKS III: 161
KKS III: 162
KKS III: 163
KKS III: 164
KKS III: 165
KKS III: 166
KKS III: 167
KKS III: 168

Book IV: Autumn I

KKS IV: 169
KKS IV: 170
KKS IV: 171
KKS IV: 172
KKS IV: 173
KKS IV: 174
KKS IV: 175
KKS IV: 176
KKS IV: 177
KKS IV: 178
KKS IV: 179
KKS IV: 180
KKS IV: 181
KKS IV: 182
KKS IV: 183
KKS IV: 184
KKS IV: 185
KKS IV: 186
KKS IV: 187
KKS IV: 188
KKS IV: 189
KKS IV: 190
KKS IV: 191
KKS IV: 192
KKS IV: 193
KKS IV: 194
KKS IV: 195
KKS IV: 196
KKS IV: 197
KKS IV: 198
KKS IV: 199
KKS IV: 200
KKS IV: 201
KKS IV: 202
KKS IV: 203
KKS IV: 204
KKS IV: 205
KKS IV: 206
KKS IV: 207
KKS IV: 208
KKS IV: 209
KKS IV: 210
KKS IV: 211
KKS IV: 212
KKS IV: 213
KKS IV: 214
KKS IV: 215
KKS IV: 216
KKS IV: 217
KKS IV: 218
KKS IV: 219
KKS IV: 220
KKS IV: 221
KKS IV: 222
KKS IV: 223
KKS IV: 224
KKS IV: 225
KKS IV: 226
KKS IV: 227
KKS IV: 228
KKS IV: 229
KKS IV: 230
KKS IV: 231
KKS IV: 232
KKS IV: 233
KKS IV: 234
KKS IV: 235
KKS IV: 236
KKS IV: 237
KKS IV: 238
KKS IV: 239
KKS IV: 240
KKS IV: 241
KKS IV: 242
KKS IV: 243
KKS IV: 244
KKS IV: 245
KKS IV: 246
KKS IV: 247
KKS IV: 248

Book V: Autumn 2

KKS V: 249
KKS V: 250
KKS V: 251
KKS V: 252
KKS V: 253
KKS V: 254
KKS V: 255
KKS V: 256
KKS V: 257
KKS V: 258
KKS V: 259
KKS V: 260
KKS V: 261
KKS V: 262
KKS V: 263
KKS V: 264
KKS V: 265
KKS V: 266
KKS V: 267
KKS V: 268
KKS V: 269
KKS V: 270
KKS V: 271
KKS V: 272
KKS V: 273
KKS V: 274
KKS V: 275
KKS V: 276
KKS V: 277
KKS V: 278
KKS V: 279
KKS V: 280
KKS V: 281
KKS V: 282
KKS V: 283
KKS V: 284
KKS V: 285
KKS V: 286
KKS V: 287
KKS V: 288
KKS V: 289
KKS V: 290
KKS V: 291
KKS V: 292
KKS V: 293
KKS V: 294
KKS V: 295
KKS V: 296
KKS V: 297
KKS V: 298
KKS V: 299
KKS V: 300
KKS V: 301
KKS V: 302
KKS V: 303
KKS V: 304
KKS V: 305
KKS V: 306
KKS V: 307
KKS V: 308
KKS V: 309
KKS V: 310
KKS V: 311
KKS V: 312
KKS V: 313

Book VI: Winter

KKS VI: 314
KKS VI: 315
KKS VI: 316
KKS VI: 317
KKS VI: 318
KKS VI: 319
KKS VI: 320
KKS VI: 321
KKS VI: 322
KKS VI: 323
KKS VI: 324
KKS VI: 325
KKS VI: 326
KKS VI: 327
KKS VI: 328
KKS VI: 329
KKS VI: 330
KKS VI: 331
KKS VI: 332
KKS VI: 333
KKS VI: 334
KKS VI: 335
KKS VI: 336
KKS VI: 337
KKS VI: 338
KKS VI: 339
KKS VI: 340
KKS VI: 341
KKS VI: 342

Book VII: Felicitations

KKS VII: 343
KKS VII: 344
KKS VII: 345
KKS VII: 350
KKS VII: 351
KKS VII: 352
KKS VII: 355
KKS VII: 360
KKS VII: 363
KKS VII: 364

Book VIII: Partings

KKS VIII: 365
KKS VIII: 366
KKS VIII: 367
KKS VIII: 368
KKS VIII: 374
KKS VIII: 381
KKS VIII: 400
KKS VIII: 401
KKS VIII: 402
KKS VIII: 404

Book IX: Travel

KKS IX: 406
KKS IX: 407
KKS IX: 409
KKS IX: 410
KKS IX: 411
KKS IX: 415
KKS IX: 418
KKS IX: 419
KKS IX: 420

Book X: Acrostics

KKS X: 424
KKS X: 425
KKS X: 427
KKS X: 428
KKS X: 435
KKS X: 436
KKS X: 439
KKS X: 440
MYS X: 450

Book XI: Love 1

KKS XI: 469
KKS XI: 470
KKS XI: 471
KKS XI: 472
KKS XI: 473
KKS XI: 474
KKS XI: 475
KKS XI: 476
KKS XI: 477
KKS XI: 478
KKS XI: 479
KKS XI: 480
KKS XI: 481
KKS XI: 482
KKS XI: 483
KKS XI: 484
KKS XI: 485
KKS XI: 486
KKS XI: 487
KKS XI: 488
KKS XI: 489
KKS XI: 490
KKS XI: 491
KKS XI: 492
KKS XI: 493
KKS XI: 494
KKS XI: 495
KKS XI: 496
KKS XI: 497
KKS XI: 515
KKS XI: 521
KKS XI: 527
KKS XI: 536
KKS XI: 547

Book XII: Love 2

KKS XII: 552
KKS XII: 553
KKS XII: 554
KKS XII: 555
KKS XII: 556
KKS XII: 557
KKS XII: 558
KKS XII: 560
KKS XII: 561
KKS XII: 562
KKS XII: 563
KKS XII: 564
KKS XII: 565
KKS XII: 566
KKS XII: 572
KKS XII: 573
KKS XII: 574
KKS XII: 575
KKS XII: 579
KKS XII: 583
KKS XII: 586
KKS XII: 587
KKS XII: 588
KKS XII: 589
KKS XII: 592
KKS XII: 593
KKS XII: 594
KKS XII: 595
KKS XII: 596
KKS XII: 597
KKS XII: 598
KKS XII: 599
KKS XII: 601
KKS XII: 602
KKS XII: 604
KKS XII: 605
KKS XII: 606
KKS XII: 607
KKS XII: 609
KKS XII: 611
KKS XII: 613
KKS XII: 615

Book XIII: Love 3

KKS XIII: 616
KKS XIII: 617
KKS XIII: 618
KKS XIII: 619
KKS XIII: 620
KKS XIII: 621
KKS XIII: 622
KKS XIII: 623
KKS XIII: 625
KKS XIII: 628
KKS XIII: 632
KKS XIII: 633
KKS XIII: 635
KKS XIII: 637
KKS XIII: 644
KKS XIII: 645
KKS XIII: 646
KKS XIII: 647
KKS XIII: 650
KKS XIII: 656
KKS XIII: 657
KKS XIII: 658
KKS XIII: 661
KKS XIII: 667
KKS XIII: 668
KKS XIII: 671
KKS XIII: 676

Book XIV: Love 4

KKS XIV: 677
KKS XIV: 678
KKS XIV: 679
KKS XIV: 681
KKS XIV: 682
KKS XIV: 683
KKS XIV: 684
KKS XIV: 689
KKS XIV: 691
KKS XIV: 693
KKS XIV: 694
KKS XIV: 697
KKS XIV: 705
KKS XIV: 706
KKS XIV: 707
KKS XIV: 710
KKS XIV: 712
KKS XIV: 715
KKS XIV: 725
KKS XIV: 727
KKS XIV: 729
KKS XIV: 733
KKS XIV: 734
KKS XIV: 735
KKS XIV: 741
KKS XIV: 742
KKS XIV: 746

Book XV: Love 5

KKS XV: 747
KKS XV: 748
KKS XV: 753
KKS XV: 754
KKS XV: 756
KKS XV: 757
KKS XV: 761
KKS XV: 769
KKS XV: 770
KKS XV: 771
KKS XV: 775
KKS XV: 777
KKS XV: 780
KKS XV: 782
KKS XV: 783
KKS XV: 784
KKS XV: 785
KKS XV: 787
KKS XV: 791
KKS XV: 792
KKS XV: 795
KKS XV: 797
KKS XV: 804
KKS XV: 810
KKS XV: 818
KKS XV: 822
KKS XV: 823
KKS XV: 825
KKS XV: 826
KKS XV: 827
KKS XV: 828

Book XVI: Laments

KKS XVI: 833
KKS XVI: 834
KKS XVI: 835
KKS XVI: 836
KKS XVI: 838
KKS XVI: 839
KKS XVI: 841
KKS XVI: 842
KKS XVI: 843
KKS XVI: 846
KKS XVI: 847
KKS XVI: 849
KKS XVI: 851
KKS XVI: 852
KKS XVI: 853
KKS XVI: 854
KKS XVI: 861

Book XVII: Miscellaneous 1

KKS XVII: 867
KKS XVII: 868
KKS XVII: 871
KKS XVII: 872
KKS XVII: 876
KKS XVII: 879
KKS XVII: 880
KKS XVII: 881
KKS XVII: 884
KKS XVII: 892
KKS XVII: 900
KKS XVII: 901
KKS XVII: 909
KKS XVII: 913
KKS XVII: 914
KKS XVII: 915
KKS XVII: 916
KKS XVII: 917
KKS XVII: 918
KKS XVII: 919
KKS XVII: 920
KKS XVII: 923
KKS XVII: 926
KKS XVII: 928
KKS XVII: 931

Book XVIII: Miscellaneous 2

KKS XVIII: 933
KKS XVIII: 938
KKS XVIII: 939
KKS XVIII: 942
KKS XVIII: 944
KKS XVIII: 950
KKS XVIII: 951
KKS XVIII: 952
KKS XVIII: 968
KKS XVIII: 969
KKS XVIII: 970
KKS XVIII: 971
KKS XVIII: 972
KKS XVIII: 980
KKS XVIII: 981
KKS XVIII: 982
KKS XVIII: 983
KKS XVIII: 985
KKS XVIII: 990
KKS XVIII: 991
KKS XVIII: 994
KKS XVIII: 995
KKS XVIII: 997
KKS XVIII: 1000

Book XIX: Miscellaneous Forms

KKS XIX: 1001
KKS XIX: 1007
KKS XIX: 1008
KKS XIX: 1009
KKS XIX: 1010
KKS XIX: 1012
KKS XIX: 1013
KKS XIX: 1014
KKS XIX: 1015
KKS XIX: 1016
KKS XIX: 1024
KKS XIX: 1030
KKS XIX: 1036
KKS XIX: 1051
KKS XIX: 1067

Book XX: Poems from the Bureau of Poetry

KKS XX: 1080
KKS XX: 1081
KKS XX: 1086
KKS XX: 1092
KKS XX: 1093
KKS XX: 1095
KKS XX: 1099
KKS XX: 1100

'Simply moving and elegant'