Shuushi, haiku, and other stuff

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:

“Potato salad
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:

autumn contemplation

autumn contemplation

Master's Program

Master’s Program

income and expenditure

income and expenditure

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”.

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 13:17:15

    ❤ ❤ ❤


  2. seeker
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 15:14:51

    Love your food haiku, it makes me hungry for sushi….


  3. charlypriest
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 17:03:54

    poetry and food….can´t get any better really.


  4. Edward Hotspur
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 20:43:45

    It’s hard with no reinforcement and no reason to learn it.


  5. Sarah
    Sep 20, 2014 @ 04:36:21

    Learning Japanese sure is a challenge but it’s rewarding, isn’t it? There must be something to it otherwise you wouldn’t have stuck at it for so long. 🙂 I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question with a whole post. Thanks for the kanji.
    I have written faux-haiku and maybe my crime was greater because I was actually aware of the rules I was breaking. However, I did apologise for it up front so as not to upset those in the know (see I’m not a poet; I was playing with the interesting constraints that the 17 syllable structure presents. I like to play. 🙂 I hope you’ll forgive me.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 20, 2014 @ 10:37:37

      You I will always forgive. I like playing with the constraints as well. Its folks who just act, I don’t know. I don’t know how t describe it. I learned at such an early age (6) about haiku and it is something that is part of me. American haiku is very different from the classic and so I must be tolerant. I think I was getting some digs at a couple of people who act so very solemn and pretentious about their short poems and who twit me about mine.. I am afraid I didn’t read your apology or missed it. And when folks do something like that, I just read and appreciate. I am no poet either, but I do like to try and I do hope, like me, you’ll keep trying. I am glad the kanji helped. And I still don’t know Japanese after all these years, after having a long love relationship with a Japanese man, after still studying. I make myself crazy sometimes. I find it wonderful that you are learning and want to learn! I am dyslexic and so, I rarely write or read in Japanese because the Kanji makes my dyslexia go ballistic. Many things I have memorized but still…. Speaking is fine, no written things to confuse me and often why I use romanji. I tried using kanji for many of my titles to be more precise and have gotten comments that people were put off by it or that I was being pretentious and trying to “act” Japanese. LOL…..But Sarah, I think you are one of my kindest blog followers and when you make a comment, I try to do my best for you and I always appreciate what you say and look forward to your comments. Thank you so very much. And not all my poetry is Japanese style, some is what I call “free range”. I have some prose writings about my Samurai and myself in five parts, the Samurai and the Wren series and some of my poems are about that. Date: Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:36:22 +0000 To:


      • Sarah
        Sep 20, 2014 @ 11:24:11

        Very interesting, and thank you for your kindness too.
        I wonder how Japanese dyslexics get on? I have a very visual input system (can’t think of a better way to describe it). I find the kanji easier to deal with in some ways than an alphabet/kana; the kanji are like little pictures. I prefer pictures to words. 🙂 The main problem for me is memorising them all and their different readings.
        I’m sorry you’ve had bad feedback for including kanji. They’re probably just jealous. 🙂
        Whatever you do is fine by me. I don’t want you to attract that kind of negative attention; it’s very draining. Maybe I could let you know in the comments if I’m having particular trouble, like I did with shuushi.
        Is the Samurai and Wren series on your blog somewhere?


  6. el34ax7
    Oct 05, 2014 @ 11:10:19

    While I wait for you to finish your haiku, shall we enjoy this wonderful piece about rain?

    I can show you that when it starts to rain
    (When the rain comes down)
    Everything’s the same
    (When the rain comes down)
    I can show you, I can show you


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 05, 2014 @ 12:34:53

      My first deep intense love: john Lennon. Thanks. I missed this in lieu of the official. And tell me, of the 50 words for rain, how many have you learned over in Japan? what? you say all 50? not surprised. one wet place.

      my first haiku was:

      rain rain rain rain rain

      ducks like rain but I do not

      rain rain rain rain rain

      I was six. I still think it’s the best haiku I’ve ever written.

      Now I am off to get a vegetable stew started: eggplant, taters, fresh tomatoes, onion, okra, carrots…..gonna be a nice dinner for a cool day. Wish you could come park your feet under the table for a few bowls of it.

      Sent from Windows Mail


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