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Unformatted text preview: onstruction on a retreat, called
the Silver Pavilion (in contrast to Yoshimitsu’s Golden Pavilion), in the
Higashiyama or Eastern Hills suburb of Kyoto (fig. 33). Though a dismal
failure as a generalissimo, Yoshimasa was perhaps even more noteworthy
as a patron of the arts than his grandfather, Yoshimitsu. In any case, his
name is just as inseparably linked with the flourishing of culture in the
Higashiyama epoch (usually taken to mean approximately the last half of
the fifteenth century) as Yoshimitsu’s is with that of Kitayama.
In certain cultural pursuits, most notably the nò theatre, the Higashiyama epoch added little to what had been accomplished earlier. Yoshimasa and his cronies loved the nò, and sometimes they arranged programs that lasted for several days. But the epoch produced no artists of
the caliber of Kan’ami or Zeami, whose works proved to be so lofty that
they tended to inhibit further development.
One art that was brought to its highest level of perfection in Higashiyama times was linked verse (renga). The idea of two or more people
alternately (or consecutively) composing the 5–7–5 and 7–7 syllable links
of a waka and stringing them together one after another was not new.
The Heian courtiers had occasionally engaged in sessions of linked verse
composition for their own amusement, and the pastime became even
more popular at court during the Kamakura period. But it was not until
the fourteenth century that linked verse was given any serious consideration as an art. By this time, the creative potential of the traditional waka,
upon which countless generations of Japanese had lavished such unstinting love, was at last exhausted. The waka cliques at court dictated such
rigid rules of composition that they throttled the efforts of even the most
imaginative poets. It was partly because linked verse offered freedom
from such restrictions that poets and would-be poets turned increasingly
to it in the Muromachi period.
Still another reason for the spread in popularity of linked verse from
the fourteenth cen...
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- Spring '13