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Ogura Hyakunin-isshu: Old Japan’s One Hundred Waka Poems

One of the best ways to capture the essence, the beauty, and the culture of old Japan is through a collection of 100 poems called Ogura Hyakumin-isshu. This collection of waka poems was compiled by Fujiwara no Sadaie (1162 – 1241) and translated by Clay MacCauley (1843 – 1924), who lived in Japan for over 30 years. MacCauley had a special gift for bringing out the heart and depth of each poem.

This edition contains the original Japanese script, the Romanization of each script (romaji), and the English translation by MacCauley. The poems are accompanied by beautiful artwork illustrating many of the themes and writers in the collection. Of particular importance, the editors have added extensive historical notes, analysis, and commentary for each poem. This helps the reader, whether a new or experienced reader of Hyakunin-isshu, to have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the poem, and also adds to the enjoyment by putting the poem in better context.

The period in which these poems were written has often been called the Golden Age of Japan. Two of the main themes of waka poems are the exultation of love – and sometimes the bitter disappointment and pain of lost love – as well as the seasonal changes in all their glory.  The poems also offer insights into the history and politics of the time, and provide a fascinating look at the love life of the upper and ruling classes.

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テーマの著者 Anders Norén