Journey through Japan's Literary History

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What was the influence of neighboring Asian literatures on Japanese literature?

What was the language used in early Japanese texts?

What are some important works from the Heian period in Japanese literature?

What was the cultural focus of Japanese literature during the Heian period?

What is renga in Japanese literature?

Who is recognized as the greatest master of haiku in Japanese literature?

What is the significance of European literature in Japanese literature during the Meiji period?

Who are some important writers from the Meiji period in Japanese literature?

What is the emphasis in modern Japanese literature?


Literature of Japan

  • Japanese literature has been influenced by neighboring Asian literatures, especially China and India.

  • Early Japanese texts were written in Classical Chinese before transitioning to a hybrid of Chinese characters used in Japanese syntax.

  • The Nara period saw the creation of the Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, and the Man'yōshū, and the tale of Urashima Tarō.

  • The Heian period is considered the golden era of art and literature in Japan, with literature becoming centered on the cultural elite of nobility and monks.

  • The Tale of Genji, Kokin Wakashū, and The Pillow Book are important works from this era.

  • The Kamakura-Muromachi period saw the development of a warrior class and war tales, histories, and related stories.

  • The decline of the imperial court in the Muromachi period led to cultural activity spreading through all levels of society, with new genres such as renga and Noh theater developing.

  • The Edo period saw popular drama develop, and many different genres of literature make their debut, helped by a rising literacy rate.

  • Ihara Saikaku might be said to have given birth to the modern consciousness of the novel in Japan.

  • Matsuo Bashō is recognized as the greatest master of haiku, and Fukuda Chiyo-ni is widely regarded as one of the greatest haiku poets.

  • During the Meiji period, European literature brought free verse into the poetic repertoire, and young Japanese prose writers and dramatists assimilated new ideas and artistic schools.

  • Natsume Sōseki's Wagahai wa neko de aru, Botchan, and Kokoro, and Mori Ōgai's The Dancing Girl and The Wild Geese are important works from this period.A Brief History of Japanese Literature

  • Natsume Soseki's shift from Romanticism to Naturalism

  • The establishment of "I Novel" in Japanese literature

  • The rise of Neo-romanticism

  • The proletarian literary movement during the 1920s and early 1930s

  • The influence of World War II and Japan's defeat on Japanese literature

  • The prominence of writers in the 1970s and 1980s identified with intellectual and moral issues

  • The emergence of avant-garde writers such as Kobo Abe

  • The popularity of Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto in contemporary Japanese literature

  • The emphasis on subjects' inner lives in modern Japanese literature

  • The flourishing of popular fiction, non-fiction, and children's literature in urban Japan in the 1980s

  • The penetration of manga in almost every sector of the popular market

  • The emergence of literature utilizing new media

  • The brief period of success of female writers in Japan during the Heian period and the challenges they faced

  • The literary contests and awards in which authors can participate and be awarded.


Test your knowledge of the rich literary history of Japan with this quiz! From the early texts written in Classical Chinese to the emergence of modern Japanese literature, this quiz covers the major periods and important works of Japanese literature. Learn about the influence of neighboring Asian literatures, the rise of different genres of literature, and the emergence of avant-garde writers. Challenge yourself to see how much you know about the literary culture of Japan.

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