This started because I was asked if I could post kanji for the Romanji words I use sometimes for a word in the Japanese language. And that was because of the work “shuushi”.
Okay, I’ve been studying Japanese language for about 20 years and often get thrown back on my butt. I am not a scholar and I don’t want to offend anyone or anything. this isn’t a lecture or learned’ treatis – just an observation by a Westerner and a Southerner to boot. Obvious: The Japanese language isn’t just about words: it’s the culture in toto and over a vast amount of time. Same word, different symbols, different meanings, different points in time or activity.
I was asked for the Kanji for a poem I wrote: Shuushi – Autumn contemplation. Well, there’s like 12 or 13 meanings for the word and how it is used. It runs the gamut from Master’s Program to a religious tenet. Tucked in there are things about accounting (income and expenditures), doing something from beginning to end – consistently, to the meaning I used for shuushi: autumn contemplation, melancholy thoughts about autumn.
And then you have Kanji, Kiragana, and Katakana: three different ways of writing the symbols for a word. Oldest way to most contemporary. Many times, because of all this, I just use the Romanji form and dang, it is still confusing!!!!
I’ve been working on a post about rain for about a year. Oh yes, simple, hey? NONONONONO. The Japanese have about 50 words for rain depending on type, season, when in the season they occur. and that brings us to true Haiku – not just a short poem with 17 symbols many people write and call “haiku”. The “shuushi” I used is a kigo – a Japanese season word. And while this has 17 syllables:
Fried chicken and string beans -
A Sunday dinner”
it is merely a short something or other with 17 symbols. There is no season word, no cutting word to delineate between two different scenes. It is not haiku.
So at last Sarah, here ya go:
You all are of course encouraged to question or comment. But I will not get into arguments or long debates about this. I am not a scholar as previously stated, just a plain ol’ Southern girl doing the best she can with concepts and culture way over her little 4’10” head. Maybe in the next 10 years, I might just complete that post about “rain”.