Shigin | Poem Chanting and Singing

Shigin are thought to have originated in China early in the first millennium AD, and may have entered Japan amongst other texts brought back from China in the 5th century. They were most likely sung originally in Chinese, but were later given Japanese readings, which are used in their contemporary recital. New gin were written, often detailing particular Japanese concepts or events, but the standard written layout has remained.

Shigin are thus significantly older than other, more popular Japanese poetry forms, such as Haiku. Their practice is now a minority art, mostly confined to the elderly and little known amongst younger generations. Nevertheless, several Shigin festivals are held throughout the year, including the Autumn Shigin Festival in Shiogama, in the North-East) region of Japan. Gin are also sung at Buddhist ceremonies and quasi-religious gatherings in Japan.

Moreover, although largely in anonymity, Shigin continues to have a significant influence on Japanese culture. Individual poems are often studied in Japanese textbooks, and are regularly displayed at exhibitions of Japanese calligraphy.

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