term for archaic
and classical Japanese
writing used from the Nara Era
) all the way to the Edo era
). These classical works are called koten
. The most famous haiku
, and other literary works for over a thousand year period in ancient Japan
were mostly written in kobun
Kobun is usually a mixture of Japanese characters, hiragana, and Chinese characters. Works written completely in Chinese characters are called kanbun.
kobun and the modern Japanese language are completely different. For example:
- grammar such as verb conjugation is completely different
- words have changed meanings over the ages or went out of use and modern words have also developed
- kanas usage and pronounciation have changed over the ages. This is differenciated as historical kana usage and modern kana usage.
The differences between kobun
and modern Japanese are so great that Murasaki Shikibu
would not be able to understand a modern Japanese newspaper and most all living Japanese cannot read and understand her works.
Some examples of koten, or kobun literay works are :
Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari)
The Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari)
Tsure-zure-gusa ("Essays in Idleness")
Kobun is written in Japanese fonts at the top of this writeup so you might experience mojibake.