The other Hyakunin Isshus

"MIZUKAKI Hisashi"'s Yamatouta page has a lot of interesting material about Japanese poems -- plus an associated blog -- but what caught my attention day was his page on the 『狂歌百人一首』, Kyouka Hyakunin Isshu, a collection of parodies of the original hundred poems, and the 『愛国百人一首』, Aikoku Hyakunin Isshu -- aikoku means "patriotism". And when was it published? 1942.

You might think this would make the collection a disaster of shoddily-constructed jingoistic trash written to order, but, perhaps in recognition of this danger, the selection criteria extend only to poems published before 1868, i.e. the beginning of the Meiji Emperor's reign. So, what you end up with is one hundred poems from throughout Japan's literary history, chosen on the basis of both quality and "patriotism", which was apparently interpreted "broadly" to include "國土禮讚、人倫、季節など" ("praising the land, morality, the seasons and so forth"). You can read more of judge ORIKUCHI Shinobu's comments, including individual comments on each poem, here.

The first poem in the collection is a golden oldie from KAKINOMOTO Hitomaro:

ohokimi ha / kami ni si maseba / amagumo no / ikaduti no uhe ni / ihoriseru kamo
"The Emperor, being a god, has built a dwelling above [on?] the lightning in the clouds."

There are other poems about gods:

hatuharu no / hatuhi kagayohu / kamiguni no / kami no mikage wo / ahuge moromoro
"The first day of spring shines on this land of the gods; revere the spirits of those gods, o multitudes!"

And there are a couple about the military, like this one:

arare huri / kasima no kami wo / inoritutu / sumeramiikusa ni / ware ha kinisi wo
"Praying and praying to the god of haily Kashima, I have arrived to join the Imperial Forces!"

Some of them were once innocent, but seem more unpleasant in the new context of the war effort:

morokosi mo / ame no sita ni zo / ari to kiku / teru hi no moto wo / wasurezaranamu
"China, too, is under the heavens, I hear; forget not the land of the rising, shining sun".

That was originally written by Joujin's mother when he went to China to learn more about Buddhism. The goals in 1942 were a little different. (Much more about Joujin and this poem here.)
The very last poem even has some spring book recommendations:

haru ni akete / madu miru humi mo / amatuti no / hajime no toki to / yomiiduru kana
"At the dawn of spring, the first book to read is the one that opens with 'when the Heaven and Earth began...'"

If you've ever wondered how eleven Japanese intellectuals in 1942 might have reconstructed a modern form of patriotism from their country's literary history, this is the collection to check out.

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