Tosa Nikki as an Instruction Manual Essay

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The Tosa nikki, or The Tosa Diary as it is referred to in English, was the first diary of literary value. The Tosa nikki was composed in kana by Ki no Tsurayuki, who was a government official and well respected poet. During the Heian period, the proper convention was for men to compose their works in Chinese, as this practice was considered more masculine and elegant. Kana was used mainly by women, so it was considered more feminine, and was less valued than Chinese. Ki no Tsurayuki wrote under the guise of a woman when composing the Tosa nikki in order to avoid criticism for writing in kana, although it was still obvious that he had written it due to the masculinity of the jokes that appeared throughout the diary. The Tosa nikki …show more content…
One recurring theme that Ki no Tsurayuki placed emphasis on was farewells. His descriptions of behavior during these partings served as examples that readers were expected to emulate. Before parting ways, parties were held for the departing group. During these parties, everyone would drink and be merry. It was normal for gifts to be exchanged between both parties, and sometimes even the servants would receive presents. The exchange of poems was the highlight of these events. These poems were supposedly composed on the spot in their drunken stupors, but they were still very elegant and captured the emotions surrounding the farewell. There were also some farewell poems that were composed after separation, but these were more a reflection on the pathos of things, like when the governor wonders if the other party will ever know that he grieved about their separation. As the diary was composed as a later recollection and not composed as the events were occurring, it is possible that Ki no Tsurayuki embellished the story to make everything seem more elegant. If his goal was to have the diary serve as an example of how people should behave, then it would be beneficial to create a truly elegant image that people would strive to emulate. I believe that when he relates the account of an eight year old boy who composed a poem while observing the “movement” of the mountains from the boat he was sailing aboard, he probably embellished the story. Ki no Tsurayuki

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