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Tanka is short, lyrical poetry set into a 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic structure. It is said that this is the most natural length for a lyric poem expressing emotion for the Japanese.
The first three lines of 5-7-5 are called "kami no ku (upper poem)" and the rest of 7-7 are "shimo no ku (lower poem)." Its original form can be seen in the "Man'you-shu (The Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves)," which is Japan's oldest anthology of poems compiled in the 8th century.
The important element of tanka is the beauty of life and nature, and a feeling of yearning. Its main feature is to express the gamut of feelings in a simple form and to contain "yojou (a suggestiveness felt beyond the words)."
There are many tanka lovers even today. There is durability and timeless appeal of this ancient poetry. Not long ago, Machi Tawara pioneered a new style using everyday language to describe everyday events.
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