Changes and Innovations in Japanese Literature in the Medieval Era

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There is a vast difference between the courtly airs of the Heian Period and the overall feeling of the following Kamakura Period that makes the younger of the two periods more appealing. The changes in Japanese literature during the Kamakura Period can be readily observed in many works, including the innovation in poet devices found in the Shinkokinshu, as well as the subject matters of different stories. We have the introduction of another ancient Japanese classic in Heike Monogatari, where the reader is assaulted with battlefield stories and upfront political warfare not seen to that extent before. A significant feature, if not the most significant feature, of the Kamakura Period is the increased presence of Buddhist teachings and …show more content…
Perhaps this is a type of literary yuugen? Out of all three of the new poetic devices, the least understandable to me is the taigendome, probably because I tended not to notice that ending a poem on a noun was not typical for the earlier periods. Maybe it too conveys a new sense of meaning to a poem, like the more obvious effects of the other two devices. Lastly, for the poetry of the Shinkokinshu at least, the essence of sabi seeps in through the words of many poems, stripping away the color and life from the somewhat cliché nature imagery and leaving behind the “beauty of the withered.” Written works where the depressing weight of reality makes itself known seems like a given at the time, and seeing that the Shinkokinshu is one of the earliest works covered by the Kamakura timeline, it is only natural to see the trends for the rest of the contemporary literature being introduced in it.
Speaking of a hopeless reality, there is a change from the type of imagery appearing in the prose of the Heian Period to that of the Kamakura Period. We have the descriptions of an almost explicit nature in regards to death in all sorts of situation. In the Hojoki by Kamo no Chomei, the whole first half focuses on death, poverty, and destruction, especially in the episode of “The Famine,”…