Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Colorful Tanka

(For those of you that don't know, a tanka is a traditional Japanese poem consisting of thirty-one syllables.)

青車
緑の埃
茶色杉
鏡に赤目

AokurumaBlue car
Midori no hokoriGreen dust
Chairo sugiBrown sugi*
Kagami ni akameIn the mirror, red eyes
Kita haru no iroSpring's colors have arrived

(*Sugi - also known as the "Japanese cedar", though it is related to the redwood.  One of nature's more insidious forms of chemical warfare...)

15 Comments:

  • hmmmhmmm..

    is it green car or blue car..

    the kanji shows green.. or am i seeing green

    By Blogger Robin, at 10:30 AM  

  • Oh cool, you haven't given us a tanka in many months.

    Your pollen is out already!

    Actually, I vaguely heard the meteorologist warning of high tree pollen yesterday, and indeed I saw buds on the very tips of branches today. I imagine after the next few days of mild temps and rain, the following warmup will really bring the spring. Time to hit the Claritin tablets again...

    By Blogger Olivia, at 11:54 AM  

  • Olivia, congrats on your move. If you have an allergy problem then yes you definately need to stock up on the meds! When I lived in the NCR (National Capital Region) I had a car that was a smashing shade of blue. Every spring so much pollen would gather on it that it went from blue to green to yellow. (stuck a link in my name for you if you don't already have it)
    sadstruc...well it seems rather obvious but I should say it is the sensation of meloncholy (or moodiness in honor of the host ;)coming down on you all at once.

    By Anonymous The Intrepid Adventurer, at 12:15 PM  

  • Our daffodils are two weeks late and it snowed yesterday...still waiting on the pollen.

    word verification - Water: um...hydrogen hydroxide.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 12:48 PM  

  • Robin
    In Japanese, that first kanji (青 - usually read "ao") usually means "blue" or "blue-green". However, strangely enough, it is used to describe both the color of grass and the "go" light of a traffic signal. Otherwise, the color green is indicated by a different kanji (緑 - usually read "midori").

    I dunno; maybe blue is a better term for the color of grass. After all, they have "bluegrass" in Kentucky, right?

    Olivia
    I don't know why, but while my musical muse has been active lately, my lyrical muse has been in a slump. That's one of the reasons why I gave up on writing lyrics for "Herald of the Dawn".

    Our best indicator that the pollen deluge is about to begin is the sugi trees turning brown, hence the line in the poem. The brown color is due to the multitude of tiny buds popping up on the branches. The pollen itself if yellow-green.

    I'd say gear up for the storm, m'lady. You're probably going to get bombed (with pollen, I mean).

    The Intrepid Adventurer
    I forgot that you were in D.C.! For some reason I'm locked into the image of you being in Nebraska. Yes, I'm sure you could tell Olivia a thing or three about living there!

    That's the way my car looked this morning. When I saw it from a distance, I was thinking, "Oh, no...FIL was burning trash on a windy day again, and my BLUE RAV4 is all covered with ash!" Then I got closer and noticed the color of the dusty coat. Oh, boy...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:58 PM  

  • Snabulus
    You got snow yesterday? Any accumulation?

    Our sudden snowstorm a week ago was shocking enough, but yours happened even later!

    Like I said, I think the weather demons are hitting buttons at random. Watch out for sudden tornadoes.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:00 PM  

  • haha.. in chinese that's green.. for sure..

    or am I colour blind.. jaja

    By Blogger Robin, at 1:00 PM  

  • @Robin:

    Just a thought of mine, might not be true, but oh well..

    Might the 青 refer to blue as in 靛青 (Indigo - translated using google translator)?

    There's a proverb that went 青出于蓝而胜于蓝.

    So the 青 in japan might actually refer to blue, while as MM said, 绿 is the actual green.

    To every other person reading this post, i'm sorry for the use of chinese in it, :þ

    By Blogger ❤ IceGlacial™ ❤, at 5:13 PM  

  • Robin and IceGlacial
    The meaning of the kanji may have changed over the years, as is the case with several of them, but in Japanese 青 (ao) means blue (or blue-green). The exception is light blue, which is called "mizu iro" (水色 - literally "water color").

    When I bought my BLUE RAV4, the color was most definitely listed as "ao" (青).

    So what is blue in Chinese?

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:06 PM  

  • @Moody:

    Google translate:

    Dictionary:
    noun -
    1) blue color
    2) green color

    adjective -
    1) green

    Personal interpretation:

    I agree with you, and as i said in my previous post, the word 青 in chinese initially referred to a kind of "blue-dye", which is - no idea whether people still use it - used to give white shirts the faint bluish tint they have when they're brand-new.

    It's called 靛青 in chinese, instant indigo or china blue as some people call it.

    But the word 青 gradually evolved through passing years - and the meaning changed from "blue-green" to "green". The word 緑 could be used for "green" too, but 青 is wider used in my opinion.

    蓝 is blue in chinese.

    And as for the proverb i said up there..

    "青出于蓝而胜于蓝"

    Literal meaning - The colour indigo-blue (青) extracted from the Chinese indigo plant (which is referred by the word 蓝) is in fact, a "bluer blue" than the original plant itself.

    Actual meaning - Successors would usually be better than their predecessors.

    Geez, i'm kinda weak in explaining stuff am i not? I actually did a research before posting this, :)

    Now, that's a free Chinese lesson for you. Donations are welcome.

    By Blogger ❤ IceGlacial™ ❤, at 7:39 PM  

  • Aah a lesson in Japanese at last

    By Blogger QUASAR9, at 6:16 AM  

  • Thanks Intrepid - I forgot I had bookmarked that website some time ago. I am notoriously rubbish at visiting bookmarks nowadays. But I left a couple of sentences about why I love it here for the May issue :)

    By Blogger Olivia, at 10:21 AM  

  • IceGlacial
    Thanks a lot for going the extra mile, so to speak! (I also appreciate the free Chinese lesson...and am contemplating how and what to donate...)

    That Chinese character for "blue" doesn't seem to be part of the Japanese lexicon. At least I can't find it in any of my dictionaries. I'll look around a bit more.

    Concerning the idiom, it is also common in Japan to use the word "ao" (青) to mean "immature or inexperienced" in the same way that we say "green" in English. That's very interesting.

    QUASAR9
    What, are you hoping for more? ;-)

    Olivia
    Not a comment for me. Hmmph!

    That looks like a very handy site. When I looked at it, the first thing I saw was a picture of a nice, frothy beer. The route to a minstrel's heart...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:06 AM  

  • @Moody:

    No problem, :)

    And about the japanese lexicon..

    Is "藍" the word you were looking for?

    It means "Love" rite?
    And the other meaning is "Indigo"?

    Correct me if i'm wrong - my japanese is weak.

    By Blogger ❤ IceGlacial™ ❤, at 1:46 AM  

  • IceGlacial
    You're right in that the kanji 藍, read "ai" in Japanese, means "indigo" as in both the color and the plant. However, none of my dictionaries verify that that kanji also means "love". It's true that the Japanese word for love is "ai", but it uses a different kanji (愛), so it may be a homonym (i.e. two words that sound alike but have different meanings).

    There are LOTS of homonyms in Japanese...the result of a very simple phonetic system.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 4:15 PM  

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