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Basic Japanese : “Iroha-uta”, line by line – Part 2 –

Date Published: Last Update:2015/04/27 Others

The rest of “Iroha-uta”, line by line

Line 3

From a Buddhism thought, “Free from living and dying(, by entering Nirvana)”.

[First half]

Iroha 7

Meaning:
The deep mountain called life,

“Ui” is also a Buddhism word.
It means “every thing and phenomenon which comes from various karma(, always lives and dies and never lasts forever)”.

Some say that “ui” is a more general word with a different Kanji character, meaning “sorrow” or “anxiety”.

[Second half]

Iroha 8

Meaning:
I ( or we) cross it today.

“Kehu” is the old Japanese for “kyou”, meaning “today”.
I’m not sure which had been changed, its pronunciation or its spelling.
Similar to this, the present word “chou-chou” (butterfly) was spelled as “tehu-tehu” in the old times.

Line 4

From a Buddhism thought, “You gain true comfort by reaching Nirvana”.
Although life on earth is filled only with pain, once you make it to Nirvana, you will be released from all the suffering or distress and be able to enjoy the peace and pleasure thoroughly.

[First half]

Iroha 9

Meaning:
I will not have an empty dream,

There is a manga entitled “Asaki yume mishi”.
Obviously it comes from this line.

The last character of this part is generally considered as “ji”, which makes the Japanese verb “miru” (lit. see / look / watch) negative.

Actually, I have read it as “shi”, which is one of past tenses in the old times.
So, I have thought that this phrase meant “I had an empty dream”.
“Empty dream” indicates “life on earth before entering Nirvana”.
However, my interpretation seems grammatically wrong, because the past tense with “shi” must be followed by a noun like “mishi yume” (“dream I had”, “yume” means “dream”).

[Second half]

Iroha 10

Meaning:
I will not be intoxicated (by any wants or things of the world).

Another major interpretation of the line is:
I do not get drunk, so (I won’t have an empty dream).

Another message hidden in “Iroha-uta”

Iroha 11

- "Iroha-uta" divided by seven characters -

There is a well-known theory that a message is hidden in the poem.
In a Japanese poem, when you connect the first or the last characters of each line, you sometimes get a proper word (like a name of flower) or a message.
It’s called “ori-ku” in Japanese, “acrostic” in English.

In the oldest extent document with this “iroha-uta”, the poem is written in seven lines with seven characters each except the last line, regardless to the phrases as the poem.
Somebody noticed that the last characters of each line (the red characters in the image) spelled out the message saying “Toka nakute shisu” (“Die without sin”).
“Toka” can be read as “toga”, meaning “sin”.

About Jesus Christ?

The same as an English acrostic, the first characters of each line (or phrase, sentence, etc.) are commonly used in Japanese “ori-ku”.
In this poem, the first characters never seem to deliver any meaningful messages as Japanese.

But during my research for this post, I found a website saying that this is from Hebrew which means “Man (or person?) of God Yahweh”.
The website also pointed out that the first letter of the poem, the first of the last line and the last of the poem spell out “I-we-su”.
(In Japanese, Jesus is pronounced as “Iesu”, similar to English “yes”.)
It concluded that the poem was not expressing a Buddhism thought but Christian.

Well?
I personally feel this is rather non-sense, for Christianity is commonly believed to have been brought to Japan long after the poem was composed.

 

Related posts:
#Japanese Alphabet (1: “Gojyuu-on” and “iroha-uta”)
(2: Out-of-use characters)
(3: First half of “iroha-uta”)

#“I” in Japanese (1) (2) (3)

#Japanese honorific titles (1:Formal) (2:Casual) (3:In text) (4:Business titles)

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kara

A Japanese living in Okayama. A proud "Otaku"! Loves animals, snacks, manga, games (PC, iPad, Nintendo DS, PSP), foreign TV dramas, traveling and football (soccer).

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