Gosen wakashu

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Table of Contents

NOTE: I am still playing around with the layout and presentation of the translations as I go, so expect inconsistencies in how things are presented. I intend to make everything more consistent at a later date.


  1. Spring 1 (巻巻一 春上), poems 1-46
  2. Spring 2 (巻第二 春中), poems 47-80
  3. Spring 3 (巻第三 春下), poems 81-146
  4. Summer (巻第四 夏), poems 147-216
  5. Autumn 1 (巻第五 秋上), poems 217-270
  6. Autumn 2 (巻第六 秋中), poems 271-350
  7. Autumn 3 (巻第七 秋下), poems 351-442
  8. Winter (巻第八 冬), poems 443-506
  9. Love 1 (巻第九 恋一), poems 507-600
  10. Love 2 (巻第十 恋二), poems 601-699
  11. Love 3 (巻第十一 恋三), poems 700-794
  12. Love 4 (巻第十二 恋四), poems 795-890
  13. Love 5 (巻第十三 恋五), poems 891-993
  14. Love 6 (巻第十四 恋六), poems 994-1074
  15. Miscellaneous 1 (巻第十五 雑一), poems 1075-1124
  16. Miscellaneous 2 (巻第十六 雑二), poems 1125-1194
  17. Miscellaneous 3 (巻第十七 雑三), poems 1195-1249
  18. Miscellaneous 4 (巻第十八 雑四), poems 1250-1303
  19. Parting and Travel (巻第十九 離別 羇旅), poems 1304-1367
  20. Celebration and Sorrow (巻第二十 慶賀 哀傷), poems 1368-1425

List of Authors

List of Places

List of Commentaries

List of other sources


The Text

The base text for this translation is Fujiwara no Teika's "Tenpuku 2 text," written in 1234. The manuscript itself was only made available in facsimile in 2004, published as volume 3 of the 冷泉時雨亭叢書 (OCLC 56085741). However, an Edo-period tracing of the manuscript serves as the basis for every modern edition of the work. The text is close to the "standard" one found in Kitamura Kigin's Hachidaishū-shō and most other pre-World War 2 editions.

I have collated the manuscript with the texts found in the following sources:

  • Ōsaka Joshi Daigaku. (1965). Gosen wakashū sōsakuin. Ōsaka-shi: Ōsaka Joshi Daigaku. OCLC 23131799
  • Kyusojin, Hitaku, and Reiko Fukaya. 1968. Gosen wakashu unshubon to kenkyu. Mikan Kokubun Shiryo Kankokai. OCLC 673910752
  • Komatsu, Shigemi. 1961. Gosen wakashū: kōhon to kenkyū. Tōkyō: Seishin Shobō. OCLC 22939130

I mention significant differences in the notes, but I have only emended the text in cases where all three modern editions I am using have done so.

The following changes have been made in transcribing the text:

  • All kanji and kana have been changed to standard modern forms.
  • Kana usage is changed to conform with standard orthography (旧仮名遣い)
  • Voicing marks have been added, and the prose prefaces have been punctuated.
  • In the prose prefaces only, some kana have been changed to kanji.
  • Kanji that are used to represent grammatical structures (such as 南 for なん) have been changed to kana.
  • Okurigana have been added, as well as the の particle in some cases (e.g. 梅花 -> 梅の花)
  • Kana repetition signs are not used.
  • The numbers assigned to the poems are from the Shinpen kokka taikan.

The base text contains some annotations (勘物) by Teika. I have not included this; see the Shin nihon koten bungaku taikei edition of the GSS, or the transcription at the back of the volume containing the facsimile of Teika's text.

The list of emendations to the base text follows.

  • Poem 1, Prose preface: おほうちき(+を) -> おほうつきを
  • Poem 171, Prose preface: (+え)あはさりけれは -> えあはさりけれは
  • Poem 225, Prose preface: 四五日許の -> 四五日許に
  • Poem 240: けふ(+を)しそ -> けふをしそ
  • Poem 280: うへた(+て)ゝ -> うへたてて
  • Poem 393: かゝみ(+やま) -> かがみやま

The Translation

Translating Japanese waka poetry is a fraught process that has engendered a number of approaches. For these translations I have used a 5-7-5-7-7 meter like the original; there are serious questions about the validity of this method but it has been used by a number of translators.

I typically represent kakekotoba as metaphors or similes, which is questionable, but at least represents the device in English. I break the sentence only if the original poem breaks the sentence.

The Commentary

The commentary has been divided into notes and and analysis section (after two dashes). The former covers definitions of words and other such notes. The latter is for commentary on the relation of the poem to surrounding poems, similar imagery in other poetry, and criticism by classical or modern scholars.

List of sources

The sources below are listed by the short names they are referred to in the notes.

Gosenshū editions or commentaries

A partial translation, covering books 9 and 14, as well as selected anonymous poems from the remaining books.
Cranston, Edwin A. 2006. A Waka anthology. Volume two, part A: Grasses of remembrance. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press.
Etsumokushō (悦目抄)
Nihon kagaki taikei v. 4
Fukurozōshi (袋草紙)
A poetic treatise by Fujiwara no Kiyosuke, written in 1156-1159.
Shin nihon koten bungaku taikei 29. (Also found in Nihon kagaku taikei v. 2)
Hachidaishū-shō (八代集抄), also "Kigin"
An edition of the first eight imperially sponsored poetic anthologies, compiled and annotated by Kitamura Kigin. The first complete commentary on the GSS. The source below is a typeset edition of the 1682 woodblock original.
Yamagishi, Tokuhei, and Kigin Kitamura. 1982. Hachidaishū zenchū. Tōkyō: Yūseidō.
Hyōchū (Gosen wakashū hyōchū, 後撰和歌集標註)
By Kishimoto Yuzuru. The edition below is a typeset edition of the 1813 woodblock edition.
Kishimoto, Yuzuru, and Yoshinobu Senoo. 1989. Kishimoto Yuzuru Gosen wakashū hyōchū. Ōsaka: Izumi Shoin.
Shin nihon koten bungaku taikei 6, 1990.
Kifune, Shigeaki. 1988. Gosen wakashū zenshaku. Tōkyō: Kasama Shoin.
Kigoshō (綺語抄)
Nihon kagaku taikei bekkan 1.
Kudō, Shigenori. 1992. Gosen wakashū. Ōsaka-shi: Izumi Shoin.
Korai Fūteishō (古来風体抄)
A work of poetic criticism by Fujiwara no Shunzei, written in 1197-1201.
Shinpen nihon koten bungaku zenshū 87. (Also found in Nihon kagaku taikei v. 2)
McCullough's book is primarily about the KKS; she comments only a few GSS poems.
McCullough, Helen Craig. 1985. Brocade by night: 'Kokin wakashū' and the court style in Japanese classical poetry. Stanford, Cal: Stanford Univ. Press.
Mumyōshō (無名抄)
A work of poetic criticism by Kamo no Chomei.
Nihon kagaku taikei v. 3
Seigi (Gosenshū seigi 後撰集正義)
Nihon kagaku takei Bekkan 5.
Shinshō (or "Nakayama")
Gosen wakashū shinsho (後撰和歌集新抄). The most detailed commentary on the GSS, although missing several later volumes. The source below is a reprint of a 1912 typeset edition of the 1812 original woodblock edition.
Nakayama, Umashi. 1988. Gosenshū shinshō. Tōkyō: Kazama Shobō.
Shūka daitai (秀歌大体)
A selection of poems from early Imperial collections made by Fujiwara no Teika.
Nihon kagaku taikei v. 2. Also found in the Nihon koten bungaki taikei and other sources.
Toshiyori zuinō (俊頼髄脳)
An early work of poetic criticism by Minamoto no Toshiyori, written in 1113.
Shinpen nihon koten bungaku zenshū 87. (Also found in Nihon kagaku taikei v. 1)
Waka dōmōshō (和歌童蒙抄)
A work of poetic criticism by Fujiwara no Norikane (藤原範兼), written around 1145.
Nihon kagaku taikei Bekkan 1.
Yakumo mishō (八雲御抄)
A 13th-century poetic treatise by Emperor Juntoku.
Nihon kagaku taikei, partly in v. 3, partly in Bekkan 3.

Other sources

Man'yoshu (万葉集), the first collection of Japanese poetry, c. 8th c.
My citations are usually from the etext at the University of Virginia website.
Kokin wakashū (古今和歌集), the first imperially sponsored poetry collection, early 10th c.
Noriyuki Kojima, and Akihiro Satake, eds. Kokin waka-shū. Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 5. Tōkyō: Iwanami shoten, 2005.
Shūi wakashū (拾遺和歌集), the third imperially sponsored poetry collection, early 11th c.
Komachiya, Teruhiko, and Akihiro Satake, eds. Shūi waka-shū. Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 7. Tōkyō: Iwanami shoten, 2004.
Tales of Yamato (Yamato monogatari, 大和物語)
Tales of Ise (Ise monogatari, 伊勢物語)
Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari, 源氏物語)

Copyright 2019, J. Christopher Kern (chriskern99@gmail.com)