restricted access Kokka Hachiron
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45 KOKKA HACHIRON Kada no Arimaro | 1742 [Written at the request of Tayasu Munetake, Arimaro wrote down his feelings about waka, and inadvertently placed himself at odds with his master, Munetake. He categorized poetry into eight theories, hence the title. The section that incited the most controversy was “The Significance of Poetry,” where Arimaro declared that poetry was not suitable as a tool to govern society or people. He saw the endeavor of poetic composition worthy according to how artistic the poem was; to him it had no didactic value. Nosco (1981:77) has argued, “On the surface, the Kokka hachiron controversy appears to have been a literary dispute. It was, in fact, at least as political and ideological as it was literary, and it had a determinant influence on the emergence and future development of National Learning. It also brought into focus what was, perhaps, the most compelling issue in quondam intellectual circles, namely, whether the Way … was a product of nature … or of human invention.”] THE ORIGIN OF POETRY Poetry is where our words are lengthened and made rhythmical, and our hearts are comforted.1 Thus, [as mentioned in the preface to Kokinshū], “Poetry comes into being from feelings aroused by what one sees and hears,”2 is an inadequate explanation. The words of Izanagi and Izanami, “What a delightful lad!” “What a delightful maiden!” which appear in Kojiki and Nihon shoki and other works are feelings from the heart that have been verbalized. However, the record calls these words spoken and not sung, because these were not drawn out and had no rhythm. The following words of Susanoo were sung from the heart,   yakumo tatu   Endowed with power, idumo yafegaki a twofold multiwoven fence— 1. The recitation of poetry is almost an act of singing in which words are drawn out when sung. 2. This is from the Kana preface of the Kokinshū, “Japanese poetry has the human heart as seed and myriads of words as leaves. It comes into being when men use the seen and the heard to give voice to feelings aroused by the innumerable events in their lives” (McCullough 1985:3). 46 Views on Poetry   tuma gomi ni   To conceal ourselves yafegaki tukuru I have built a twofold fence. sono yafegaki wo Yes, within that multiwoven fence!3 [KJK 1] While these words were also thoughts of the heart, Susanoo gave them rhythm and sang. Also, the younger sister of Ajishiki Takahikone, Takahime , sang,   ame naru ya   In the heavens oto tanabata no the jewels strung upon   unagaseru   the string hung around tama no misumaru the neck of the weaving maiden,   misumaru ni   upon that string, anadama wa ya are very beautiful—   mitani   like the beauty futa watarasu of him who shines over two hills adisiki it is the kami takafikone no kami so ya4 Ajishiki Takahikone! [NS 2] These words appear in Nihon shoki, sung to announce the name of Takahikone to those who had gathered together.5 If there was no intention to sing, then those who had gathered would not have understood the name within the context.6 That is why we know that it was sung. When we look at Chinese verse, the same thing is true. The songs created by beating on one’s belly and stamping one’s feet do not appear in any verifiable historical 3. This is the first poem in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki and long has been said to be the birth of Japanese poetry. Needless to say, this poem is most likely from the Suiko-­ Tenchi era. The interpretation of this poem is difficult, and my translation has been done only after much difficulty. Yakumo tatu is usually translated as “many rising clouds,” but as Inoue Mitsusada and others point out, this is metaphorical for “great power” (NKBT, Nihon shoki, 1:123, n18). Naturally this is only fitting for Susanoo, a powerful kami who resided in Izumo. 4. This last character was not intended to be read as a man’yōgana ya. It is the copula nari. However, Arimaro believed it to be ya, and I have followed his text. 5. The story went that Ame Wakahiko had died, and Takahikone, being a friend who greatly resembled the dead individual, had come to console the family. However, at the funeral the family mistook Takahikone for Ame Wakahiko, which insulted Takahikone. 6. Because his name is in the song. In other words, he used song to announce his name of Takahikone...


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