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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: January 2016

28 - Setsuwa (anecdotal) literature:Nihon ryōikitoKokon chomonjū

from Part III - The medieval period (1185–1600)


In the early Heian Academy, talented scholars were sometimes able to rise to posts on the Council of State itself, but the hegemony of the Fujiwara Regents' House effectively ended literati political influence. During the mid to late Heian period, the collection Godansho contains many anecdotes illustrating the friction between hereditary scholars and unaffiliated students, as in this conversation about Sugawara no Fumitoki, scion of the Sugawara lineage, and Minamoto no Shitago, a less prestigious student from the same Letters curriculum. Another burst of glory for the traditional scholarly families was Oe no Masafusa, a child prodigy who tutored and advised three emperors, and was the first of his lineage to sit on the Council in over a century. Near the end of his life, Masafusa's student Fujiwara no Sanekane, began keeping a record of his conversations with his teacher, Godansho, an important influence on later setsuwa literature.

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