The Poetry Contest in Six Hundred Rounds

A Translation and Commentary


For the monumental Poetry Competition in Six Hundred Rounds ( Roppyakuban uta’awase), twelve poets each provided one hundred waka poems, fifty on seasonal topics and fifty on love, which were matched, critiqued by the participants and judged by Fujiwara no Shunzei, the premiere poet of his age. Its critical importance is heightened by the addition of a lengthy Appeal ( chinjō) against Shunzei’s judgements by the conservative poet and monk, Kenshō. It is one of the key texts for understanding poetic and critical practice in late twelfth century Japan, and of the conflict between conservative and innovative poets.
The Competition and Appeal are presented here for the first time in complete English translation with accompanying commentary and explanatory notes by Thomas McAuley.

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Biographical Note

Thomas E. McAuley, Ph.D, (1995), University of Sheffield, is a Lecturer in Japanese Studies. He has published on premodern Japanese linguistics, literature and translation. Over 5,000 of his translations of Japanese waka are available at


All interested in premodern Japanese waka poetry and poetic criticism, and in particular the poetics of Fujiwara no Shunzei, and the monk Kenshō.

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