SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

The Long Bridge at Seta: Reconsidering Daij√łe Poetry

20150128 - Seminar - Edward Kamens
Dr Edward Kamens (Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC))

Date: 28 January 2015Time: 5:05 PM

Finishes: 28 January 2015Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar


As part of a study of classical Japanese poetry and/as material culture, I focus in particular on Daijøe waka and Daijøe byøbu: poems and landscape screen paintings produced as tribute offerings for the Great Thanksgiving Rites celebrated at the enthronement of new Emperors. Beginning in the ninth century and continuing—with some interruptions—to the present, poems of celebration and landscape screens depicting sites in designated provinces (kuni) were featured among the goods submitted for presentation in these official ceremonies. By the mid-Heian period, certain provinces (such as Ømi in the east and Tamba and Bitch√ in the west) were repeatedly called upon to make these offerings; also, while the earliest submissions were indeed produced by local, un-named poets and artists, the institutionalization of this aspect of the rite led to the practice of appointing (and honoring) court poets with the responsibility of composing the verses and directing the artists. I am particularly interested in thinking about the materiality or “thingness” of poems produced and presented in such circumstances. In addition, these practices led in turn to the conventionalization of modes of poetic usage involving place names and the attributes of those places named and depicted in both poems and images. The role of these Daijøe productions in the development of utamakura and meisho (“famous place”) poetics and meisho-e traditions has not sufficiently been explored in English language publications; my study will help to fill this gap.

Speaker Biography

Edward Kamens has been a member of the faculty of Yale University since 1986.  He received his BA (1974), MA (1979) and Ph.D. (1982) from Yale.  His teaching covers Japanese literature from the earliest periods into the 19th century; his research interests focus primarily on the poetry and prose genres of the Nara, Heian and Kamakura periods.  Major publications include Utamakura, Allusion and Intertextuality in Traditional Japanese Poetry (1997); The Buddhist Poetry of the Great Kamo Priestess: Daisaiin Senshi and Hosshin wakashū (1990); and The Three Jewels: A Study and Translation of Minamoto Tamenori’s Sanbøe (1988); Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries, ed. with Mikael Adolphson and Stacie Matsumoto (2007); and articles in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies and Journal of Japanese Studies. His current project examines the relationship between traditional poetry (waka) and material culture.

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