Viewing a Myriad Leaves

Man’yō Botanical Gardens in Japan

Thomas McAuley



This paper describes a current research project examining botanical gardens in Japan which exhibit the plants referenced in the eighth century Man’yōshū poetry anthology. This anthology contains approximately 4,500 poems, of which 1,600 refer to one or more of about 160 different species of plants, making botanical references and imagery one of the most significant features of the work. Despite the chronological distance separating the Man’yōshū from the present day, there are currently thirty-seven botanical gardens throughout Japan dedicated to exhibiting the plants of the collection, accompanied by representative selections of poems. These establishments vary widely in type: some are part of larger public parks, some are attached to shrines or temples, some are attached to museums of various types, and some are independent. But, all are clearly intended to act as facilities to attract visitors to localities or institutions. They are, therefore, stimulators of literary contents tourism. By being dedicated to the objects referenced in poetry, the gardens form an unusual type of contents tourism facility which is focussed on the resources of, and stimulants for, literature, rather than the literary work itself.



Author Biography

Dr T. E. McAuley is a Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield, UK, where he teaches Japanese language, as well as on Japanese Popular Culture. His main research interests lie in premodern Japanese literature and linguistics, and with a focus on waka poetry, a substantial quantity of which he has translated into English and made available online ( In addition to his research on Man’yō botanical gardens, he is also currently studying the role of poetry competition judgements and appeals in the development of mediaeval Japanese poetics.

T. E. McAuley(博士、日本学)。英国シェフィールド大学東アジア研究所准教授。 日本語学及びポピュラーカルチャー学担当。研究の専門は、特に和歌に関する近代以前の日本文学と言語学。和歌の膨大な作品群の英語訳を手がけ、オンラインで広く英語圏に紹介してきた(。目下、万葉植物園の研究に加え、中世の和歌文学の発展における歌合の判詞と陳状の役割について研究中。