First Poetry Meeting


First Poetry Meeting (utakai hajime )

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: New Year
***** Category: Observance


First poetry meeting at court, utakai hajime
歌会始 (うたかいはじめ)

..... uta gokai hajime 歌御会始(うたごかいはじめ)

first waka poetry meeting
..... waka gokai hajime 和歌御会始(わかごかいはじめ)
..... gokai hajime 御会始(ごかいはじめ)


A New Year Poetry Reading is a gathering of people who get together to read a collection of poems on a common theme to a wider audience. This practice was already in usage during the Nara Period, and became known through the famous volume of Japanese poetry, the Manyoshu.

An Imperial Poetry Reading is the same as the above-mentioned description, the only difference being that the poetry reading is convened by His Majesty the Emperor. As part of the annual events at the Imperial Palace, every month a Poetry Reading came to be held. Of these monthly Poetry Readings, the Imperial Poetry Reading was held as the first such party of the New Year, and was given the name Uta Gokai Hajime.

The origins of the Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime are unclear. During the mid-Kamakura period, on 15 January 1267, Emperor Kameyama convened a Poetry Reading at the Imperial Palace, which is recorded in the Gaiki Nikki as an internal ceremony. Since that time, records of the New Year's Poetry Reading can be found down through the ages. From such evidence, it can be surmised that the origins of the Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime are traceable to the mid-Kamakura period.

The Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime came to be held almost every year through the Edo period, and after the Meiji Restoration, the first Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime during the reign of Emperor Meiji was held in January 1869. Since then, among various reforms in ceremonies, the Utakai Hajime has continued to be held.

The Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime at the Imperial Palace boasts a long history and represents a ceremonial culture that has become more sophisticated with the reforms of the Meiji and post-war eras, to become a cultural event with national participation in a way that is unique in the world. Tanka poetry is said to be at the heart of all traditional culture in Japan. These tanka poems are heard and read not only in Japan, but also throughout the world, and the ceremony demonstrates their power to bind the people together with the Imperial Family through this annual ceremony at the Imperial Palace, which is something to be truly praised and lauded.

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Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime is attended by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress,
and poems recited include those chosen from submissions by the general public, poems of the selectors themselves, and poems by professional poets. Finally, the poems of the Imperial Family, Her Majesty the Empress and His Majesty the Emperor are recited. Members of the Imperial Family, including His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince are present at the Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime, and other audience members include the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, members of the Japan Academy of Art and the members of the public whose poems have been chosen.

The ceremony is performed through several participants, each with special titles: the dokuji (master of ceremonies), koji (reader of all poems), hassei (singer of poems from the first poem), and kosho (accompanying singer to the hassei for poems from the second poem).
© www.kunaicho.go.jp

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

. Man'yōshū 万葉集 "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves" .

Man'yōshū (万葉集, "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves")
is the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, compiled sometime after 759 AD during the Nara period. The anthology is one of the most revered of Japan's poetic compilations. The compiler, or the last in a series of compilers, is today widely believed to be Ōtomo no Yakamochi, although numerous other theories have been proposed. The collection contains poems ranging from AD 347 (poems #85-89) through 759 (#4516), the bulk of them representing the period after 600. The precise significance of the title is not known with certainty.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Manyooshuu 万葉集 Manyoshu, Manyo'shu

As you travel on,
if the mist arises white
along the seashore
by your shelter, think of it
as a sigh I breathe at home

Anonymous 736 C.E.

source : www.rarebooksinjapan.com

TAKI, SEIICHI and others,
The Manyoshu [Manyoushuu].
One Thousand Poems,
Selected and Translated from the Japanese.
Iwanami Shoten for Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkoka
As the title pages states, this book has the text in romaji, an introduction, notes, maps, biographical notes and a chronological table.
The full publishing information for this book is contained on a tipped-in slip at the back of the book; without that it is impossible to distinguish between the first printing and later impressions.


Related words

***** First Court Rituals

***** Song (uta) and Haiku

- #manyoshu -



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