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(562) 鶯宿梅 Oushukubai [詩歌]

 鶯宿梅(Oushukubai) I saw this word a hauta song Harusame. Its lyrics were written by Shibata Hanamori about 170 years ago. An unnamed prostitute put a tune to this poem. I learned Harusame in my shamisen lessen. I like this melody. There are several performances of Harusame in YouTube.
My favorite one is Misora Hibari's dancing scene in a samurai movie. She was dancing in kimono and singing to the shamisen, a banjo-like instrument with three strings. She sang that she is uguisu the Japanese nightingale, the one she loves is the plum tree. I couldn't understand love between a nightingale and a plum tree. I am a little confused because I imagined several nightingales in a plum tree. The expression 鶯宿梅(oushukubai)
 nightingale's-home-plum tree was quite new to me. But the other day I learned a famous old waka poem and its anecdote.
梅とウグイス s.jpg

  The next short story explains what 鶯宿梅(oushukubai) is. It goes like this;
(The emperor had a red-blossoming plum tree very dear to him. It died, and his minister was sent to seek and get a tree like it. At last, one was found and asked of the lady who owned it. She loved the plum tree for its blooms, and because a nightingale would come there and sing; but she could not deny since it was the order of the emperor. When the tree was taken away, she tied to it a little paper, upon which was written:

  Chioku nare ba itomo Kashiikeshi 勅なればいともかしこし
  Uguisu no Yado wato towaba 鶯の宿はと問わば
  Ikaga kota yen.        いかが答へむ
”As it is the order of the emperor, I am filled with awe; but if am asked where is the home of the nightingale, what shall I answer?" The emperor, touched by the verse, returned the plum tree.)
ーTwenty Months in Japan by H. G. Hawkinsー
  This incident happened more than 1,000 years ago in Kyoto in Japan. This plum tree is called oushukubai, which means Japanese nightingale's-home tree.

  Now I return to the hauta song, Harusame. I try to understand the meaning of these lyrics.

春雨に しっぽり濡るるうぐいすの
Harusame ni shippori nururu Uguisuno

Ha-kaze ni Niou Ume ga Ka ya

花に戯れ しおらしや
Hana ni tawamure shiorashiya

Kotori de saemo Hitosuji ni

ねぐら定めぬ 気はひとつ
Negura sadamenu Ki wa hitotsu

私しゃ鶯 主は梅
Watasha Uguisu Nushi wa Ume

やがて 身まま気ままになるならば
Yagate mimama kimama ni narunaraba

サアー 鶯宿梅じゃないかいなー
Saa Oushuku Bai ja naikai naa

サアーサ 何でもよいわいな
Saasa nan demo yoiwai naa

A Japanese nightingale gets wet moistly in the spring rain
The fragrance of plum blossoms wafting fragrantly in the breeze of feathers
The lovely nightingale playing in the plum blossoms
Even such a fragile little bird
Has its roost firmly set
And lives in the plum tree sincerely

I am the nightingale, you are the plum tree
Someday I will be free
If I am free to do as I please
Then I'll fly to you, my home of the plum tree
Oh, it doesn't matter anymore
Oh, I don't care anymore

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(561) Marriage is less important today [debate]

In Japan, is marriage becoming less important today than it was in the past?
considering couple s.jpg

<Speech of the negative side>

  No, marriage is still important today. Its importance never changes at all. 
未婚率zuhyo01-00-20生涯 s.jpg
The "lifetime never-married rate" by age 50 is getting higher than it was in the past. But this doesn't mean marriage is becoming less important now. This just shows the difficulty of marriage in Japan. There are several problems to be solved but it is another story. The importance of marriage is everlasting. There are a lot of young people longing for getting married. They know the importance of marriage today.

  Marriage is the legal relationship between two people who are married to each other. The married couple must cooperate each other to keep a safe and comfortable life. The law makes it clear that the couple is obligated to share marital expenses in accordance with their ability to bear them (e.g., size of income). This is very important. Marital expenses are housing expenses, living expenses, living expenses and school expenses for children. These are necessary to maintain a normal social life.

Why do people get married?
  Answers are rather simple and very natural for people.
1. Living alone is lonely.
2. Living together is happier.
3. They want to have children.
4. They want to have families where they can feel safe and happy.

Why is marriage so important?
Because there are many merits in marriage.
1. You can live your life and future with your partner.
2. You can create an ideal life style with your partner.
3. You can get tax relief, such as spousal deduction and deduction for dependents.
4. Marriage allows a legal proof of marital status.
  "If you love someone, you get married, right?"
Marriage is the legal relationship between two people who are married to each other. Marriage gives the couple obligation of fidelity and proper division. These are important to live happily together. In order to avoid unhappiness, it is essential to analyze oneself to find out what makes "oneself" happy. Marriage is surely the important relationship for the coupe to think of. In conclusion, marriage is not becoming less important than it was in the past. Marriage is still important today for the loving couples to long for better life styles.

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(560) Rich and riches [英単語]

The word of the day / Rich and Riches

  Rich means having much money. 
When used about food, rich means containing a lot of fat, oil, sugar, cream, etc.
For example, rich sauce, a rich chocolate cake.
chocolate cake s.jpg
  Riches mean a lot of money or a lot of valuable things.
I recently read a book. Its title is "Beauty and the Beast". This book is a retold one in easy English. I'll show you a sentence having riches from this book.
美女と野獣 Beauty and the Beast (ラダーシリーズ Level 1)

美女と野獣 Beauty and the Beast (ラダーシリーズ Level 1)

  • 作者: ザンディ・スミス-セラフィン
  • 出版社/メーカー: IBCパブリッシング
  • 発売日: 2006/08/28
  • メディア: 単行本(ソフトカバー)

Beauty and her sisters s.jpg

  Beauty's elder sisters were very proud of their family's money. They thought that their riches and beautiful things made them better than other people. They laugh at poor people and were mean to other girls.

Poor is opposite rich.

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(559) Automatic subtitles generator [thought]

  Can you get this English sentence?
And Dennis on what I see all day or all stake you decide.

Sound strange? Unintelligible text. No meaning!
Yes, you're right. This is not English at all but Japanese. This is a Japanese sentence written in English words. Can you guess what it is?
Original Japanese sentence is;
"運転手さん私をここで降ろしてください", which means "Driver, please let me off here".

  I recently came to know that YouTube has a function of automatic English subtitles generator. When I set it on? and watched a video of Rakugo comic story by Katsura Sunshine, I accidentally got this weird English-like subtitle for the Japanese sentence.
タクシー運転手と客 s.jpg
He got a taxi and got to the theater. He said this Japanese to the taxi driver.
Its subtitles appeared as follows.
And Dennis on what I see all day or all stake you decide.
I break it into three parts.
And Dennis on / what I see all day / or all stake you decide
I'll show you each part of this sentence.

English subtitle ⇔ Japanese
And Dennis on ⇔ Untenshu-san
what I see all day ⇔ watashi o koko de
(The sound of "koko" is missing though.)

or all stake you decide ⇔ oroshite kudasai

  This automatic English subtitles generator is really smart, I think. It might be a fun way for English speaking people learn Japanese by playing on English words. What do you think of this idea?

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(558) Goko in Ishite-ji temple [調べる]

Can you guess what this is?
Do you feel something special for this object?
Yes... No...?
Goko 2021,03.20.JPG
  2021,03.20 at Ishite-ji temple

  I'm afraid this is not a real thing but an enlarged replica1). This is a five-pronged2) vajra3) or Goko (五鈷) in Japanese. This object symbolizes an ancient India's weapon. It is supposed to keep off evil spirits as well as to relieve us of earthly desires and sufferings.

  Vajra is a Sanskrit4) word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond. The vajra is used as a symbolic and ritual tool in Vajrayana5) Buddhism, or mikkyou(密教) in Japanese, that is, esoteric Buddhism or Tibetan6) Buddhism.

  St. Kobo brought back the vajra from old China, Tang7) about 1200 years ago. He learned the esoteric8) Buddhism there, and started the Shingon sect (真言宗) in Japan. Looking at the portrait of St. Kobo holding Goko, you can get the real size of Goko.
Goko (-sho)五鈷(杵)s.jpg
1) replica [
2) vajura [ˈvʌ́]
3) five-pronged [fάɪv-prɔŋd]
4) Sanskrit [sǽnskrɪt]
5) vajrayana [
vʌ̀dʒrʌjɑ́ːnə] 密教、literally "diamond vhiecle", 金剛乗
6) Tibetan [tɪbétn]
7) Tang [
8) esoteric [èsətérɪk] 秘密の、深遠な、難解な

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(557) Important part of Japanese grammar [joke]

  Katsura Sunshine is a Rakugo comic story teller. He is Canadian. He has lived in Japan for about 20 years. A few years ago, he did his performance in Tront Canada. He did his comic story in English. It's about Japanese language. It goes like this.

  There is important part in Japanese grammar. It is called NOBASU. It is lengthening the vowel. It is almost imperceptible1) for Anglophone2) ear. If you lengthen the vowel you can really run yourself into trouble.

  I will give you some pairs of words that are troublesome.

Tori --- bird,
Toori --- road.

Now, if you mistake a bird for a road or a road for a bird, are given that much trouble.

These get worse.
Obasan --- madam,
Obaasan --- old lady.

Shujin --- husband,
Shuujin --- prisoner.

Komon --- supervisor,
Koomon --- ass hole.

His short story finished here.

1) imperceptible: not capable of being distinguished
2) Anglophone: a person who speaks English, especially in countries where English is not the only language that is spoken

I found "tori and toori" in a book, TONGUE TRIPPERS.



  • 出版社/メーカー: アルク
  • 発売日: 2022/03/30
  • メディア: 単行本
The book I have here is a one published in 1996, though.
tongue trippers s.jpg

tori toori s.jpg

The pair of obasan and obaasan is also mentioned in this book.

obasan obaasan s.jpg

Even if you pronounce obasan properly, there is another thing to be careful. What you should be careful about is whether to address a middle-aged woman who is not your aunt as obasan or oneesan (used for younger women). This book advises like this. In cases where you're not sure which one to use, play it safe by using oneesan.  

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(556) Synchronicity of YADOKARI [調べる]

In the afternoon, I read about Yadokari in Hawkins's booklet.
In the evening, I saw Yadokari illustrations in a children's TV program. I knew Yadokari is a hermit crab in English, and remembered Natsume Soseki had a hermit-like personality.
At night, I found another hermit crab in a book, Gift from the Sea.
This state of being synchronous might be a kind of synchronicity of Yadokari, hermit crab.

  One afternoon in February, at an online meeting, my friends and I enjoyed reading an old booklet written by an American teacher, Hawkins. He taught English in Matsuyama middle school in 1892 and 1893, 25 and 26 in the Meiji era. The school is now Matsuyama East high school. Hawkins wrote about his bathing in summer. He went to Takahama to swim. It goes like this.

Yesterday I picked up a shell, thinking to bring it home. As I held it a teacher called attention to some smaller shells upon the edge of the sea, in which very curious crab-like animals were making their homes, moving back and forth with the waves, crawling on one foot when the waves did not supply motive power. Looking at my shell, I saw the half of an ugly body protruding. 
ーTwenty Months in Japanー

裸のヤドカリ s.jpg
a naked YADOKARI (hermit crab)
  I thought he didn't know of YADOKARI, because he just mentioned them as curious crab-like animals.

  On the same evening, I was watching a children's program of NHK TV. Children tried to get anything begin with YA on the screen. Illustrations of YADOKARI appeared.
ヤドカリ.jpgI instantly remembered about Hawkins's diary. It was a coincident happening.

  I just wondered what they call YADOKARI in English. I looked it up in a dictionary of smart phone for the first time. It said YADOKARI is a hermit crab in English. I was a little bit surprised at this word. Because western people expressed the crab as one who lives in solitude. Hermit is unfamiliar word for me, but I know it. Because Natsume Soseki used this word in his first letter from Matsuyama to his former teacher in Tokyo university. He wrote that he has a hermit-like personality, so it is difficult to live in an environment with close relationships of Matsuyama. Natsume Soseki became a teacher of English in Matsuyama middle school after Hawkins and Johnson left the school.

  At the night, when I was thinking about a hermit crab, two books titled "Gift from the sea" were coincidentally, right next to me. I had brought them from the bookshelf a few days before. One is a paperback and the other is a pocket-sized one. I bought the same essays by mistake. I had not read them yet. But its title "Gift from the sea" reminded me of hermit crabs. I guess that something about a hermit crab must be written in this book. My guess was right. I found the writing about a hermit crab in the second chapter.

  The shell in my hand is deserted. It once housed a whelk, a snail-like creature, and then temporarily, after the death of the first occupant, a little hermit crab, who has run away, leaving his tracks behind him like a delicate vine on the sand. 
-Gift from the Sea-

海からの贈りもの - Gift from The Sea【講談社英語文庫】

海からの贈りもの - Gift from The Sea【講談社英語文庫】

  • 出版社/メーカー: 講談社インターナショナル
  • 発売日: 2006/08/03
  • メディア: 文庫

paperback Gift from the Sea s.jpg
This book was published by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1955.

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(555) Why I was afraid of kawauso. [英作文]

  Hello everyone. I was afraid of kawauso.

Today, I'd like to report on one of little important topics. But I am very curious about this. My topic is why I was so scared of kawauso when I was small. You might say, "I'm not interested. You are just scaredy-cat. I don't care." 

  Please listen to me. It happened when I was a fourth-grade boy of elementary school. I was on the way home from school with my older friend. When we were walking beside the high school playground, he suddenly whispered to me. "You know what. There is a stuffed specimen of a real kawauso in a science room of the high school."

"Really does kawauso really exist in this world?" I froze in fear.

  Let me make it clear. The English word for kawauso is the Japanese otter. It is just an animal.

But I don't know of real Japanese otters. I had never seen them. So, to me Kawauso really sounded like a scary unknown monster. All I can remember now is that freezing fear on the way home.

  Out of curiosity, I decided to collect the information about kawauso. And I happened to get an old book, the Animal Chronicle in haiku.

俳風動物記 (1984年) (岩波新書)

俳風動物記 (1984年) (岩波新書)

  • 出版社/メーカー:
  • 発売日: 1984/06/20
  • メディア: 新書

This book says that kawauso stands up on its hind legs so was often mistaken as a human child. 

  I had another information on the internet. It is a scary story of being deceived by otters. Surprisingly it is a scary story told in Uwajima city, my home town. A man was walking alone on the street at night when he looked closely, it became to grow taller and taller as if it was going up into the sky. This monster is called Nobiagari.

nobiagari s.jpg

It startled the local people. They believe nobiagari is kawauso. Nobiagari monster is scariest to me. So, I am sure that nobiagari is my real reason why I was scared of kawauso. Now my question is solved completely.

  In 2012 kawauso the Japanese otter became an extinct species. I feel sorry for kawauso. But it is too late. 

Nowaday kawauso become very popular in Japan. The otter is a small-clawed otter, in Japanese kotsume-kawauso. There are many cute and friendly illustrations and stuffed toys of the otters.

stuffed toys of kawauso s.jpg

Fortunately, they still survive in several Asian countries. But are they really happy with us? I have come to know that most of the otters of all kinds in the world are now in danger of extinction. So, thinking about otters' happiness would be an important topic. I hope otters and people can live together friendly and peacefully from now on. Lastly otters are not scary folklore monsters but very cute animals which love to play.

Contest chair.

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(554) Ring a ring o' Roses [thought]

I'd like to introduce a nursery rhyme1), "Ring-a-ring o' roses" from Mother Goose rhyme2). This is also a children's singing game in which the children join hands3) and dance round in a circle singing this rhyme. Let's sing it.

Over the Moon, A book of nursery rhymes
Adobe Scan 2022_01_05 (1)_1 trimmed s.jpg

Illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Ring a Ring o' Roses: Nursery Rhymes

Ring a Ring o' Roses: Nursery Rhymes

  • 作者: Briggs, Raymond
  • 出版社/メーカー: Hamish Hamilton
  • 発売日: 2022/01/06
  • メディア: ハードカバー
Adobe Scan 2022_01_05_1 s.jpg

Ring4)-a-ring o' Roses,
A pocket full of posies5),
A-tishoo6)! A-tishoo!
We all fall down
ばらのはなわを つくろうよ
ポケットには はなびらいっぱい
はっくしょん! はっくしょん!
みんないっしょに しゃがもうよ
(谷川 俊太郎 訳)

  This is an old rhyme. In 1881 it first appeared in print. But it was reported that a version was already being sung in the 1790s. Nobody knows what its lyrics7) really mean. One of explanations is the Great Plague8) which happened in England in 1665. The Great plague killed almost a quoter of London's population.
  A ring of roses means red rashes on the skin. It was a sign that they had caught the plague.
  Posies are herbs warding off9) the bad smell of the disease.
  A-tishoo is a sound of a sneeze. Sneezing or coughing was a final fatal symptom10) of the plague.
  And lastly all sick people fall down to death.

  In March 2020, during the early stages of COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, Ring-a-ring o' Roses was jokingly proposed as the "ideal choice" of song to accompay11) hand-washing in order to ward off infection.
1) nursery rhyme: (伝承)童謡
2) Mother Goose rhyme: マザーグースおばさんの唄、伝承童謡集
3) join hands: 手を握り合う、(join hands in a circle 手をつないで輪を作る)
4) ring: to form or take the shape of a ring
5) posies: posyの複数、bouquet, nosegay
6) atishoo: ətíʃuː(米国英語)、ハックション
7) lyrics: [複数形で](流行歌などの)歌詞
8) plague: (大規模な)疫病、The~ (特に)ペスト、黒死病
9) ward off: 受け流す、防ぐ、近づかせない to turn aside, deflect
10) symptom: 症状、subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance
11) accompany: to perform an accompaniment to or for, の伴奏する

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(553) Ame nimo makezu [詩歌]

  Yesterday evening (Dec. 11) I knew of this song for the first time.

  Minister Mandai sang this song at Matsuyama Citizen Charity Xmas. I was instantly fascinated by this song. The lyrics are so famous that all of us know of the beginning of it, "Ame nimo makezu, kaze nimo makezu." It was Miyazawa Kenji's poem. I wanted to get a CD of this song. But Minister Mandai said there was not CDs of the song. I searched for this song on the internet and found a singer, Usamoto Kyoichi put this melody to the relics in 2007.


宮沢賢治Adobe Scan 2021_12_24_1 s.jpg

Unbeaten by rain
Unbeaten by wind
Unbowed by the snow and the summer heat
Strong in body
Free from greed
Without any anger
Always serene

With a handful of brown rice a day
Miso and a small amount of vegetables suffice
Whatever happens
Consider yourself last, always put others first
Understand from your observation and experience
Never lose sight of these things

In the shadows of the pine groves in the fields
Live modestly under a thatched roof
In the East, if there is a sick child
Go there and take care of him
In the West, if there is an exhausted mother
Go there and relieve her of her burden
In the South, if there is a man near death
Go there and 
comfort him, tell him "Don't be afraid"
In the North, if there is an argument and a legal dispute
Go there and persuade them it's not worth it

In a drought, shed tears
In a cold summer, carry on
Even with a sense of loss
Being called a fool
Being neither praised nor a burden

Such a person I want to be

Translation Copyright[コピーライト]2011 by Catherine Iwata, Fredrich Ulrich, Orlagh O'Reilly, Helen Bartos, Minaeri Park, Mokmi Park, Helen Bartos, Sophie Sampson, Kotomi Okbo, Eva Tuunanen, Alessanra Lauria, Sophie Sampson, Miwa Block, Nancy O'Reilly, Jasmina Vico & Yasuko Akiyama

慾ハナクFree from greed
  greed: the feeling that you want more of something than you need
イツモシヅカ二ワラッヰルAlways serene
  serene: very calm and peaceful
・一日二玄米四合トWith a handful of brown rice a day
   handful: the amount that you can hold in your hand
・味噌ト少シノ野菜ヲタベMiso and a small amount of vegetables suffice
   suffice: be sufficient
ツマラナイカラヤメロトイヒGo there and persuade them it's not worth it
   worth: having a certain value. This ring is worth a lot of money.
ヒドリノトキハナミダヲナガシIn a drought, shed tears
サムサノナツハオロオロアルキIn a cold summer, carry on
   Even with a sense of loss
carry on: to continue doing something

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