Waka and Wakanoura Bay

What is Waka?

Waka is the general form for classical Japanese verse forms. It especially refers to Tanka, a 31-syllable verse form with five lines in a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern. It was developed by court nobles in Heian era (8th century – 12th century). “Manyoshu”, The Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves is the oldest collection of Waka. It was compiled in the 7th century and includes 4,500 Wakas.
“Hyakunin Isshu” or an anthology of one hundred poems by one hundred famous poets is popular in Japan. Some people still enjoy Hyakunin Isshu in Shogatsu.


A Treasure House of Scenic Beauty

The scenery of Wakanoura Bay is continually changing. When the water recedes, the tidal flats appear, shimmering and subtly shifting by the minute. When the tide returns, the water replenishes the bay, and the old stone bridge casts its ancient shadow on the surface of the water.
The mountain cherry trees surrounding the bay accent the shrines and temples, enveloping the tidal garden in green and with the autumn foliage, contrasting beautifully with the deep blue bay.
During the annual grand festival, a colorful procession parades through the town and is seemingly absorbed by the scenery.
Many poets have been inspired by Wakanoura’s beauty, as it is believed that the goddess of waka (Japanese poetry), resides in the bay. Their poetic musings are captured in Japan’s oldest collection of poetry, the Manyoshu, with one poet noting, “If only I could take this scenery home”.
Wakanoura Bay continues to captivate visitors with its beauty and rich history of nurturing Japanese culture and arts.

The birth place of a sacred ground of Waka

1300 years ago, the emperor Shomu visited Wakanoura at the year of enthronement. He was strongly impressed with vast tidal flats which change hour by hour in front of him. He said a prayer to the goddess and ordered people to protect the beautiful scenery forever. A master poet Akihito Yamabe composed a poet which describes the joy of the emperor as follows.

和歌の浦に, 潮満ちくれば、潟を無み

When the tide comes in Wakanoura, Cranes fly off all together, going to a reedy shore. It was the first step that Wakanoura became the sacred ground of Waka when a poet Kinotsurayuki picked the Waka to Kokin Wakashu, or Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry.
The world of Waka symbolized by Wakanoura had been expanded in Kyoto and Edo.
The Tokugawa shogunate family has governed Wakayama and built Toshogu Shrine in Wakanoura.
There are ten places of scenic beauty in Wakanoura.
This land has been fascinated people as a treasure house of scenic beauty.

Recommended Sight-seeing spots in Wakanoura

Wakaura Tenmangu

Kishu Toshogu Shrine

Bandoko Teien

Kataonami Park

By Masa Tamura

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