NEH banner [Return to Query]

Products for grant FT-60708-13

The Poetry and Life of Medieval Japanese Poet Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241)
Paul Atkins, University of Washington

Grant details:

Teika (Book)
Title: Teika
Author: Paul S. Atkins
Abstract: This first book-length study of Teika in English covers the most important and intriguing aspects of Teika’s achievements and career, seeking the reasons behind Teika’s fame and offering distinctive arguments about his oeuvre. A documentary biography sets the stage with valuable context about his fascinating life and times, followed by an exploration of his “Bodhidharma style,” as Teika’s critics pejoratively termed the new style of poetry. His beliefs about poetry are systematically elaborated through a thorough overview of his writing about waka. Teika’s understanding of classical Chinese history, literature, and language is the focus of a separate chapter that examines the selective use of kana, the Japanese phonetic syllabary, in Teika’s diary, which was written mainly in kanbun, a Japanese version of classical Chinese. The final chapter surveys the reception history of Teika’s biography and literary works, from his own time into the modern period. Sometimes venerated as demigod of poetry, other times denigrated as an arrogant, inscrutable poet, Teika seldom inspired lukewarm reactions in his readers.
Year: 2017
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: University of Hawaii Press website
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Worldcat entry.
Access Model: Closed
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-0-8248-585
Copy sent to NEH?: No

"Friend from a World Unseen: Fujiwara no Teika and Medieval Japanese Poetry" (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: "Friend from a World Unseen: Fujiwara no Teika and Medieval Japanese Poetry"
Abstract: The medieval Japanese poet and courtier Fujiwara no Teika (also called Sadaie, 1162-1241) served as co-compiler of the eighth imperial collection of waka poetry, Shin Kokinshū and is said to have compiled the anthology Hyakunin isshu, basis of the well-known card game. Teika wrote over four thousand waka poems in his lifetime, some of which are regarded today as the very best in this distinguished canon. Through his diary, Meigetsuki, and other records, we have a tremendous amount of Teika’s activities, lifestyle, and idiosyncratic personality. Perhaps we know more about Teika than any other individual in classical Japan. Many samples of his distinctive calligraphy have survived and have been coveted by collectors and practitioners of the tea ceremony for centuries. In this talk, given in English, Professor Atkins will lead us through a tour of Teika’s life, highlighting important events such as the Genpei War of 1180-1185, the Jōkyū Disorder of 1221, the places he lived and visited during his lifetime, and Teika’s literary activities, including his most highly regarded poems. Who was Teika? Why is he still famous today? How did he shape our view about classical Japanese culture? All of these questions and more will be addressed.
Author: Paul S. Atkins
Date: 10/25/2018
Location: University of Washington, Seattle
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Video recording of lecture.