Basic Japanese : “Iroha-uta”, line by line – Part 2 –
The rest of “Iroha-uta”, line by line
From a Buddhism thought, “Free from living and dying(, by entering Nirvana)”.
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”.
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.
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.
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”).
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”
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.
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.
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
There are several ways of saying “Thank you” in Japanese. In this post, I am going to explain the most common phrase for “Thank you”. Arigatou (gozai masu / mashita) The phrase was derived from “Arigatashi”, which literally means “difficult to be”. The Kanji in “ari” means “there is” or “be (there)”, and another in […]
Old Japanese Alphabets or Historical Japanese Alphabets The two red characters in “gojyuu-on” and “iroha-uta” are out of use now. Both characters had their own sounds consisting of a consonant and a vowel, but each of them changed into the same sound as a vowel which has a similar sound. Although they couldn’t be distinguished […]
I’m sure many of those who have been to Japan would agree that one of the places that got them spend money are 100 yen shops. These are shops that sell items that mostly cost 100 yen exclusive of tax. The items range from food to housewares to accessories, or in other words, there’s a […]
“Iroha-uta” as a poem I’m going to explain the meaning of the poem in two posts. As I wrote in the previous post, it is thought to be composed in the Heian era (794 – 1185). In the major theory, the poem is said to express a doctrine from the Nirvana Sutra. But the poem […]
Roll up for the mystery tour! This one can be categorized as an urban legend as well. Masakado no Kubi-zuka (The burial mound for Masakado’s head) Quick History Taira no Masakado is said to be one of the Big Three Onryou (vengeful spirit) in Japan. There are some novels about Masakado, and “Teito Monogatari” […]
What’s your blood type? – For most people, the only reason that they ask this question to others is that when they’ll be needing blood (no, not that vampire-ish type of need) for blood transfusion when something bad happens, that person may be able to help if they are compatible. But in Japan and other […]
General Info : Japanese Alphabetical orders There are two patterns of Japanese Alphabetical orders. One starts with “A”, “I”, “U”. This is now used at school to learn Japanese Alphabets, Hiragana and Katakana. Known as “Gojyuu-on” (lit. “fifty sounds”). The other starts with “I”, “Ro”, “Ha”. Probably this was more commonly used before. Known as […]
After Michizane’s death in 903, people, who were involved with the conspiracy to frame him, died in a mysterious death one after another. Also, there were natural disasters in Kyoto. Victims of vengeance by Sugawara no Michizane Year: Person 906: Fujiwara no Sadakuni (Age: 40) 908: Fujiwara no Sugane (Age: 53) He reported to the […]
Old-fashioned / historical “I” in Japanese The following “I” pronouns are well-known and can be quite often heard / seen in historical stories especially those which are set in the Edo period. But, these are rarely used in the present time. Neutral [Temae] “Temae” literally means “before hand(s)”. The near side of someone / something. […]
When I watch foreign TV dramas, I sometimes see Christian people praying before meal. It seems that the prayer is to appreciate God who have given them food. In Japan, maybe Christians do the same, but I guess most of people say certain phrases before and after dinner instead of a prayer. If you love […]