12th-century song in Emperor's hand found

By Yuki Sato, Mainichi Shimbun, Friday 21 May 1999

[portion of song]
A portion of 12th-Century Emperor Go-Shirakawa's song.
A collection of songs believed to have been compiled by the 12th-century Emperor Go-Shirakawa and thought to have been lost forever has been found in Tokyo, Ueno Gakuen University officials said.

Experts believe the discovery of fragments of the Ryojin Hisho, a collection of then contemporary songs, will make a significant contribution to the nation's cultural research, particularly as the contents of much of the 20-part compilation by Emperor Go-Shirakawa remain a mystery.

[The find] shows there is an extremely high likelihood we should consider the entire 20 parts (of Ryojin Hisho) to have been compiled by Emperor Go-Shirakawa, said Kazuhiko Iijima, one of the researchers who determined the fragments are the work of the 12th-century ruler.

Kazuo Fukushima, head of the research team that carried out the work, said to learn that the fragments were almost certainly the work of Go-Shirakawa was a joy.

If the fragments are songs that are indeed the work of the Emperor, it's easy to see how much passion he put into his work, Fukushima said.

The fragments found are from a 12th-century song that refers to someone who has lost a lover. Research team officials said they picked up the fragments from a Tokyo antique book dealer in 1994.

Tokyo National Museum curators compared the fragments with other works existing from the Ryojin Hisho and discovered that they were taken from the same book.