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Questions tagged [japanese-literature]

For questions about Japanese literature: works of literature which were originally written in the Japanese language.

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Which book is the maxim 大道無門 from?

From which book is the maxim 大道無門 Zen kōan だいどうむもん "Daidō mumon" "to achieve great understanding there is no single but thousands of ways".
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Where can I find details on the original manuscripts for the Miyamoto Musashi texts?

I'm doing a "reliability of the text" study and want to review the reliability of the texts that have been used to substantiate the Miyamoto Musashi texts The Book of the Five Rings and The Path of ...
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What Kanji startles Otoko so much?

As I was fighting through the first page of Chapter 7 of Beauty and Sadness (see Dramatis Personae of Beauty and Sadness), I stumbled upon a sentence that is hard to understand. Since I read it in ...
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Dramatis Personae of Beauty and Sadness

Beauty and Sadness (美しさと哀しみと Utsukushisa to kanashimi to) clearly isn't an easy read. I had started it some 5 years ago, read till the middle and abandonned it. Now, I picked it up again and found a ...
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Is there a translation of the 雑兵物語 (zohyo monogatari)?

When I was taking a few notes about Ashigaru, japanese foot soldiers of the jigoku-era, I found that most contemporary illustrations on this page stem from one and the same book by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. ...
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pre-Meji Japanese book/essay about Strategy

Years ago I had a book in my fingers that was somewhat similar to the Art of War by Sun Tsu, but it was from Japan, and focussed in part on specific combat situations and what to do then. So maybe it ...
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At the start of 6th Spice and Wolf light novel, what's up with the discrepancy between “like” and “love”?

Note: I'd like to request no spoilers beyond the start of the 6th novel. At the very end of the 4th S&W novel, Lawrence says "I like you". Love is never once used by Lawrence toward Holo so far ...
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A break in the 5-7-5-7-7 meter?

So I was reading about Waka poetry and then about the tanka meter, when I came across several poems by Ono no Komachi and Narihira. The ついにゆく poem from Narihira has 8 syllables rather than 7 in the ...
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What is the meaning of O-san having a blank face?

When the cat gets his teeth stuck in a rice cake, we see that eventually O-san has to help him: O-san looks at the mistress as if to say, “Why not make him go on dancing?” The mistress would gladly ...
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How did the cat become well known?

In the second chapter of I Am a Cat, we see this: SINCE New Year’s Day I have acquired a certain modest celebrity: so that, though only a cat, I am feeling quietly proud of myself. Which is not ...
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What is happening in the scene with Coldmoon and the geisha?

In chapter two of I Am a Cat, we see this scene:  As we turned at Hotan’s corner another geisha appeared. She was slim, well-shaped and her shoulders were most beautifully sloped. The way she wore ...
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What does the teacher's clothing choice say about him?

In chapter 2 of I Am a Cat we see this chunk of text: He continues to wear his black cotton crested surcoat and, thereunder, a quilted kimono of hand-woven silk which, supposedly a keep-sake of his ...
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Why does the cat call the children 'dear little things' if they treat the cat badly?

The cat in I Am a Cat calls the children 'dear little things': The children, dear little things, now trot off, day after day, to kindergarten: but on their return, they sing songs, bounce balls and ...
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Does this passage in “I Am a Cat” reference a real Western novel?

In Chapter 2 of I Am a Cat (full text of this and preceding chapters available here), the cat makes reference to a particular "western novel" in order to draw an analogy with his master: “Ah, and ...
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Why should a teacher's cat care less about human robbery?

I started reading Natsume Sōseki's I Am a Cat a week or two ago in preparation for this month's topic challenge, and I came across the following paragraph towards the end of the first chapter (whose ...
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Do traditional Japanese haikus always describe a moment?

I am currently reading The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield. In it, there are many examples of haikus by Bashō. In them, they always appear to give reference to a time, either explicitly or through ...
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Does Nausicaä not develop as a character at all?

There will be spoilers regarding characters from the end of the manga here. In Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Naushika) manga, the characters are usually ...
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What is the meaning of this tanka by Saigo Hoshi?

What is the meaning of the following tanka by Saigo Hoshi which I came to read today? Now indeed I know That when we said "remember" and we swore it so, it was in "we will forget" ...
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Why are manga panels read differently than Japanese text?

Japanese is traditionally read in an up-to-down column, then jumps right-to-left to the next column. But all the manga I've ever seen reverse that order for panel flow, so we go from panel to panel ...