This is the second volume to be published in the 20-volume set. It includes 114 poems (104
choka), traditionally considered to be the
zoka genre, although some of them can be classified as
benka, since they deal with death and sorrow. It also contains two poems in Chinese. The volume has several long introductions (all written in Chinese) to the poems that follow. All the poems in this volume were composed between AD 724 and 733, which represents a much greater homogeneity in comparison to books one to four. Most of the poems were written by Yamanoue-no Okura (AD660-733), one of the greatest
Man’yōshū poets, who was possibly a Korean from Kudara (Paekche), or at least a descendant of Kudara immigrants to Japan. The spelling system in this volume is predominantly phonographic, with only a few exceptions. In addition, the spelling system appears to reflect Early Western Old Japanese, as demonstrated by Bentley (1997, 2002). The same can be said about its overall grammatical features.
Alexander Vovin, Professor of East Asian Languages at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, has published extensively on Japanese, Ainu, Korean and Tungusic, as well as other languages of East and Inner Asia. Among his major works are
A Reconstruction of Proto-Ainu (Brill, 1993),
A Reference Grammar of Classical Japanese Prose (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003) and
Nihongo Keitoron no Genzai/Perspectives on the Origins of the Japanese Language (co-edited with Osada Toshiki, the International Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, 2003).