Poetry as Image: The Visual Culture of Waka in Sixteenth-Century Japan


The culture of Japanese poetry, waka, is richly visual. In Poetry as Image Tomoko Sakomura examines the ways the visual culture of waka in sixteenth-century Japan engages with practice and protocol developed over the course of the previous six centuries, and what these engagements reveal about the role of the past in cultural productions of the present. The volume explores key aspects of waka culture—inscription, presentation, transmission, and vocabulary—as manifested in visual representations of noted poems, sites, and poets such as the “thirty-six poetic immortals” (sanjūrokkasen). Looking closely at the visual and material language of waka artifacts produced at the intersections of the sociopolitical spheres of the imperial court and the warrior regimes of the Toyotomi and Tokugawa, Poetry as Image investigates how they functioned as elegant instruments of elite self-representation and promoted the courtly present.
Dr Tomoko Sakomura is Associate Professor of Art History, Swarthmore College. She is a specialist in Japanese art history whose work examines the relationship between word and image in the visual culture of late medieval Japan.
Scholars and students of Japanese art and literature and interrelation of image and text in visual culture.
  • Collapse
  • Expand