Bungo Nyûmon
A Brief Introduction to Classical Japanese



     I am a great fan of bungo — that is, Classical Japanese language and literature. To make it easier for others to gain a foothold to also read and understand that most golden and poetic language, I have created this modest collection of web pages.

     I am firmly believe that the way Classical Japanese is taught in the United States (at least in those I know — I am unfamiliar with other places) is inadequate to produce a true, deep understanding of the language and an ability to work in it originally. Therefore, my particular methodology (or, rather, the madness of my particular methodology) is to present paradigms and forms as it were a living language. I am of the opinion that to truly understand a language, one should not just read and parse. Rather, one should fully internalize it, to the point that one can actually write and speak it. There is no other way, for example, to write poetry in Classical Japanese but to know the rules to that point.

     As I am but one first stepping out on the Way, I fear that this small effort may be little more than the blind leading the blind; but I can only hope that my enthusiasm for the material and my unconventional approach may serve to stir the interests of others who might follow the Classical Japanese path.

     This site is not yet completed. I hope, in future, to add actual lessons and more material on aspects that I have so far only touched on (e.g., kakari-musubi), so I hope that those reading this site will be both understanding in its shortcomings and helpful in suggesting areas of improvement.

     I would be remiss were I not to credit my erstwhile professors at Indiana University (Jurgis Elisonas, Edith Sarra, and Yasuko Ito Watt) who taught me what little bungo I know, and to also acknowledge the great mountain of work done by them and others (listed in the bibliography) without whose efforts I would be blundering about in a darker room than I am.

      It is, therefore, to them, and to all instructors of bungo, that I humbly dedicate this work.


Anthony J. Bryant, MA
March, 2004

This page was last updated on 3/22/04.

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