In the Nara and early Heian period, the Chinese style poetry known as ‘Kanshi’ and the waka poetry form ran out of favour officially in courts. But then in the 9th century the official representatives that were being sent to China were no longer being sent, worsening ties with the Tang dynasty and leading to the isolation of the country from the rest of the world. But this led to the court to encourage and foster new and native talent and harmonize Chinese poetic style and technique as per the local traditions. This was the time when the waka form of poetry started to gain popularity during the rule of emperor Daigo, who arranged for compiling the waka of poets into an anthology which came to be known as ‘Kokin Wakashuu’ meaning ‘’collection of ancient and modern Japanese poems’’. It was the first anthology that was issued by the imperial court to be issued, after that the tradition to issue these anthologies under the imperial court continued till Muromachi period.
The first three anthologies issued by the imperial court were Kokin Wakashuu, Gosen Wakashuu and Shuui Wakashuu. Kokin Wakashuu was compiled by Ki no Tsurayuki, Ki no Tomonori, Mibu no Tadamine and Oushikouchi no Mitsune on command of emperor Daigo in the year 905.
Gosen Wakashuu was commanded by emperor Murakami in 951 and Shuui Wakashuu was commanded by emperor Ichijou in 1005.
After these three anthologies another five anthologies known as the ‘Collection of Eight Ages’ or ‘Hachidai shuu’ was compiled during the Heian era.
Waka can be first traced back to the 8th century in the ‘Kojiki’ and ‘Manyoushuu’ but as time passed it came under the influence of other types of poetry and stories such as ‘The Tale of Genji’ it broadened its view and expressions.