The twenty volume Manyoushuu is the oldest anthology of poems in Japan.
It was compiled by Ootomo no Yakamochi and others over an extended period
until its completion in the mid- 8th century. It includes approximately
4500 poems from a plethora of people including an exalted emperor, and
an unknown peasant. The style of writing is predominately Manyou-gana
(a phonetic form of writing), unlike the 751 anthology of poems, Kaifuusou,
which is written in the more continental form of kanji.
More on the history of Japanese literature next week!