The study of classical religious and literary texts was the main trend of the Far Eastern traditional culture. Exegesis prompted a specific vision of philosophy, literature, and science. Examining the ties between classical texts and their commentaries is important for the better understanding of the development of the Far Eastern civilizations, including Japanese. Japanese commentaries developed, first, around central religious texts of Buddhism, Shinto, and writings by Confucius, and, second, around literary texts. This article mostly examines comments on poetic monuments of medieval Japan. These comments prompted canonization of the main literary works. Already in the early medieval time (Heian era 9–12 cc.), there appeared first comments on the classical texts of antiquity, for example, the comments to Manyōsyū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves, 8 c.), the first poetic anthology of Japan. These comments were an early attempt to restore the image of the Japanese recorded in the eight century in Chinese hieroglyphs. In the tenth century, the classical poetry acquired a new form, being recorded in both hieroglyphs and Japanese syllabary (hiragana). There were several genres of literary criticism in Japan: treatises on literature, commentaries on classical texts, compilations of anthologies (e.g. selection of literary texts for intricately organized collections), and poetic contests. Commentators mostly concentrated on deciphering the meaning of select words and phrases while the overall meaning of the text remained behind-the-scenes. The ordinary compilers and commentators on medieval artistic texts became elevated to the level of poets whereas comments began to form part of the canon. The canon itself appears to have been closely connected with compiling, editing, and commenting on the text.
1 Boronina I.A. Utaavase. Poeticheskie turniry v srednevekovoi Iaponii (9–13 vv.) [Utaawase. Poetic tournaments in Medieval Japan]. St. Petersburg, Hiperion Publ., 1999. 134 p. (In Russ.)
2 Golygina K.I. Teoriia iziashchnoi slovesnosti v Kitae [The theory of belles-lettres in China]. Moscow, Vostochnaia literatura Publ., 1971. 292 p. (In Russ.)
3 Goregliad V.N. Iaponskaia literatura VIII–XVI vv.: Nachalo i razvitie traditsii [Japanese literature, 8–16 cc.: the origins and the development of tradition]. St. Petersburg, Tsentr “Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie” Publ., 1997. 415 p. (In Russ.)
4 Dolin A.A. “Kokinvakasiu” — gordost’ iaponskoi poezii [Kokinvakasiu — the pride of Japanese poetry]. In: Kokinvakasiu — Sobranie starykh i novykh pesen Iaponii [Kokinvakasiu — Collection of old and new songs of Japan], transl., introd., comm. by A.A. Dolin. St. Petersburg, Hiperion Publ., 2001, pp. 8–53. (In Russ.)
5 Ermakova L.M. Rechi bogov i pesni liudei. Ritual’no-mifologicheskie istoki iaponskoi literaturnoi estetiki [Speeches of gods, songs of people. Ritual and mythological roots of Japanese literary aesthetics]. Moscow, Izdatel’skaia firma “Vostochnaia literatura” Publ., 1995. 287 p. (In Russ.)
6 Kodziki. Zapisi o deianiiakh drevnosti [Kodziki. Records of ancient deeds]. In: Literaturnye pamiatniki drevnei Iaponii [Literary monuments of ancient Japan], transl., introd., comm. by Ie.M. Pinus. St. Petersburg, Shar Publ., 1994. Vol. 1. 320 p. (In Russ.)
7 Kokinvakasiu:. Sobranie starykh i novykh pesen Iaponii [Kokinvakasiu — Collection of old and new songs of Japan], transl., introd., comm. by A.A. Dolin. St. Petersburg, Hiperion Publ., 2001. 426 p. (In Russ.)
8 Man”esiu: Sobranie miriad list’ev [Man”esiu: Collection of ten thousand leaves], transl., introd., comm.. by A.Ie. Gluskina. Moscow, Glavnaia redaktsiia vostochnoi literatury Publ., 1971–1972. Vol. 1–3. (In Russ.)
9 Smirnov I.S. Kitaiskaia poeziia v issledovaniiakh, zametkakh, perevodakh, tolkovaniiakh [Chinese poetry in studies, notes, translations, and interpretations]. In: Orientalia et Classica. Trudy Instituta vostochnykh kul’tur i antichnosti [Orientalia et Classica. Works of the Institute for Classic and Oriental Studies]. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo RGGU Publ., 2014. Issue LV. 632 p. (In Russ.)
10 Henderson J.B. Scripture, Canon and Commentary. A Comparison of Confucian and Western Exegesis. Princeton, Princeton Univ. Press, 1991. 247 p. (In English).
11 Instructions for Practical Living and Other Neo-Confucian Writings by Wang Yang-ming. New York, Columbia Univ. Press, n.d. (In English)
12 Man”esiu [Man”esiu: Collection of ten thousand leaves]. Nikhon koten bungaku taikei [Full collection of Japanese classic]. Tokyo, Ivanami seten, 1957–1962. Vol. 1–4. (In Japanese).
13 Man”esiu. [Man”esiu: Collection of ten thousand leaves]. Simpen nikhon koten bungaku dzensiu [New edition of the collection of Japanese classical works]. Tokyo, Segakukan, 1990–1997. Vol. 6–9. (In Japanese)
14 Khiraoka Takeo. Keise-no seiritsu [Canon development]. Osaka, Zenkoku sebo, 1946. 137 p. (In Japanese)
15 Khonda Sigeiuki. Tiugoku keigaku si [History of the studies in Chinese classics]. Taibei, Gu-tszin shu-u, 1975. 123 p. (reprint). (In Japanese).
16 Chou Iui-dun. Tszin, tszin siue, tszin siue shi [Classical books, the study of classical books, the history of the study of classical books]. Chou Iui-dun. Tszinsiue shi lun’ siuan’ tszi [Selected works by Chou Iui-dun on the history of the study of classical books], ed. Chu Vei-chen. Shankhai, Zhen’min’ chuban’she, 1983. 660 p. (In Chinese)