Collection of Words for Everyday Use


The Setsuyōshū (Collection of words for everyday use) is a type of Japanese dictionary from the end of the Muromachi period (late 16th century), collated in iroha (Japanese phonetic alphabet) order and subdivided into semantic categories. This book is one of the first of these dictionaries to have been published. It was created in order to instruct people how to write certain words in kanji (Chinese characters) when writing letters or documents. It contains hardly any examples or explanations. There is no date of publication, but it has long been considered to have been published by Manjūya Sōji (also called Hayashi Sōji and Rin Sōni, 1498–1581) ‏and is also known as the Manjūya-bon Setsuyōshū (The manjū seller’s book of a collection of words for everyday use). Manjūya Sōji was a merchant and scholar of waka (literally, Japanese poems) who lived in Nara. One of his forefathers was said to be a Chinese man from the Yuan Dynasty who accompanied a Japanese monk back to Japan from his studies in China and taught the Japanese how to make manjū (steamed buns). Sōji ran a manjūya (manjū shop) as the family business, studied Japanese and Chinese literature from the best scholars of the day, such as Kiyohara Nobukata (1475–1550), and was also said to be proficient at renga (collaborative verse). Many of the existing Manjūya-bon Setsuyōshū are incomplete, but this version is excellent both in terms of its print quality and its condition. It is a compact and long horizontal book designed for the convenience of the reader.

Last updated: January 8, 2018