Network Analysis

Each source node found in the network analysis represents the author of a poem and each target node represents a referenced person. These nodes connect whenever the author addressed their poem to another specific person. The isolated nodes clustered in the center illustrate the sheer number of poems that did not reference another person at all. Of the connected nodes, their colors are ranked to illustrate the number of references they included:

Color Number of References
Dark Orange 0
Light Orange 1
Yellow 2
Green 3
Light Blue 4
Dark Blue 5

There are a few interesting aspects that are made clear through this analysis. Of the connected nodes, many (24%) of the authors addressing others are of the Otomo clan. Otomo Yakamochi has four individual references, second only to Anonymous, which in reality would have been different individuals. Interestingly, Otomo Yakamochi is the compiler of the Manyoshu itself. There is no doubt that the Otomos' were a prestigious and influental clan, however, it is possible that Yakamochi was biased in his selection of poems, including many that were written by his close family members, and even himself.

Emperors and empresses are the other group that dominate the connected nodes. It was expected that the emperors would be found conversing with high court or city officials, however that was not the case. In all instances but one we find the emperors writing poems to their empress and vice versa. This reinforces the fact that the Manyoshu included a diverse range of purposes and topics.

Analysis of References

Roles in the Manyoshu

The above graph illustrates the range of roles the authors played in their lives, indicating how common, or uncommon, each role was within the corpus. Many of the roles were marked up as unknown for one of two reasons, in the instance of an Anonymous author or when no surviving information regarding the authors role could be found. Maybe unsurprisingly, the most often roles belonged to members of the Imperial Family and high ranking court officials. However, with a limited corpus of only 100 poems, having 17 individual recorded roles is a testament to the variety of authors included in the Manyoshu.

References by Gender

Delving further into the network analysis discussed earlier, we can continue to learn more about the relationships shared between poets by looking at the references to other people within the context of the poems. The number of references to specific women within the Manyoshu was, somewhat surprisingly, close to the amount of references made to specific men. This leads to the question: Which types of men and women were being explicitly referenced in the poems?

References by Role

This graph displays the roles that were most to least referenced throughout the Manyoshu corpus. Unknown is the highest ranking role in this case. It is important to note that the individuals that make up this category would have originally belonged to one of the other categories, but their names and/or roles have failed to have been officially recorded. The majority of the most referenced individuals were the males of Imperial family, including the Emperor and Princes. Wife is suprisingly high on the list, forming 11.42% of the poems included within the corpus. These poems were written by husbands away at court or on envoys, lamenting the distance of their separation.

Locations in the Manyoshu

This graph explores the occurence of location types throughout the Manyoshu. In the case of the "unknown" location, this merely means that the location no longer exists or was referred to by an unclear name within the poem. Locations were mainly recorded within the context of the story as opposed to within the poems themselves, often indicating where from and where to the poet or person addressed was headed.

Other instances of location include whenever the author spoke about the location within their poetry. This involved describing its visual appearance or providing stories about the place more than portraying a series of travels to the reader. This type of reference constitutes many of the mountain references within the poems themselves. An excerpt from a poem by the Emperor Tenji (poem 13-15) illustrates this sort of reference:

When Mount Kagu and Mount Miminashi wrangled,
A god came over and saw it
Here- on this plain of Inami!

Top 5 Location References

Of the 88 separate locations, this graph displays the five most referenced. By looking at these highly referenced places we can gleen some insight into the prominent areas of medieval Japan. The city Nara ranks the highest with 8 individual references made to it. This is to be expected as Nara was the capital during the Nara period from 710-784 A.D. The second most referenced locations are tied as Yamato Province and Kagu-Yama. Yamato is the province in which the capital Nara lies while Kagu-Yama is one of the hills included in the mountain trio referred to as Yamato Sanzan. Yamato Sanzan is also located within Yamato Province and was the site of Fujiwara-kyo, the palace city of the first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu. This tells us that during the writing of the Manyoshu poems Yamato Province, in particular the capital Nara would have been the flourishing international and political center of medieval Japan. In addition, of the two poems that recorded an envoy departing for the Tang dynasty court, one of them references leaving Nara, while the second references leaving Naniwa, the previous capital of Japan before it was transferred to Nara.

Geography Analysis

The map that we created paints a very similiar picture to what we were able to deduce through analyzing the number of location references. We find that the most dense cluster of coordinates lies within the surrounding area of Yamato Province. All of the remaining locations, except those in China, are coastal, perhaps indicating higher population densities or societal importance in these regions due to their proximity to the ocean.

Change Throughout Books

Number of Role References

Number of Location References

One noticeable change that occured throughout the books was the number of references made to particular people and places. The graph on the left displays the amount of references to specific people while the graph on the right illustrates the amount of references to specific locations. Though the first book is lacking in references to names, it has the greatest number of location references. It is important to note that Book IV has twice as many total poems which contributes to its high score in name references. Book VIII consistently lacks references in its poems. This information allows us to make interpretations of the relative purpose of the poems in each book. Because Book I lacks references to specific people we can assume that these poems were not written to send information to others or to praise a specific person. Instead, with its many location references, it is more likely that these poems were made to praise the beauty of the land, or record the author's travels. Both Book II and IV are relatively consistent throughout and thus contain a multitude of purposes. In Book VIII, where references are low, we see an increase in entertainment poems as opposed to functional, including topics such as nature and love.

Future Research

This project on Nara Japan has opened up many further inquiries, more than we may have anwsered. Expanding the number of poems in the corpus could possibly increase our understanding on the relationships between authors and explore in depth the societal centers of Nara Japan. Increasing the number of poems could potentially increase the number of foreign location references, indicating with whom the Japanese were closely tied to.

Though we have alluded to the variety of purposes and topics these poems can cover, for our purposes we were not able to explore this further. We believe that analyzing the topics of the poems would provide an even more intimate view into medieval Japanese culture, allowing us to better understand their religion, stratification of society, and even the daily life of imperial and common folk alike.

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