On Japanese poems

I don`t know if any of you somehow know this, but in 2010 I went on an exchange to Kyoto, Japan for 5 months. 4 Months of this I spend studying at a University, and the final month I went travelling through the southern half of Japan. A lot of the things you`ll see in my newest video are souvenirs/memories from these months in Japan.

There are a few things in the video I would like to expand on, because I often didn`t have the time to do it in the video.

One of these is the Japanese poem I have next to my map of Japan. The one I did a really crude translation of.

I got the poem in one of the classes in Kyoto, which was a class on kanji and their origins and their meaning in contemporary Japan. The level of the class was technically too high for me, and it definitely was a challenge for me to understand and follow the class, but it was still one of the classes I enjoyed the most. I`m not sure anymore why we got this poem, but I still like it anyway.

Here`s the poem itself:

色は匂へど  散りぬるを                 iro wa nuhedo    chirinuru wo
我が世誰そ  常ならむ                   wagayo tare so    tane naramu
有為奥山   今日越えて               uwu no okuyama   kefu koete
浅き夢見じ  酔ひもせず                 asakiyume mishi  yuhi mo sesu

This is the modern translation I sort-of translated in the video (except this time with a slightly better translation, though only slightly):
hana wa saitemo chitte shimau
sono yo no naka ni zutto onaji sugata de zonjishitsuzukeru mono nante arienai.
“jinsei” to iu kewashii yamamichi wo kyou mo mata hitotsu koete
hakanai yume ha mitakunai mono da, yui mo sezu ni.

Even if a flower blooms, it will eventually fall
there are no things in this world that will always continue in the same form.
Today too you must cross one of these steep mountain roads called “life”
you don`t want to see an empty dream, even without getting intoxicated on it.

One of the meanings given to it, is that it`s a poem or song telling of the short-livedness of our lives, and if you can get above the lost feeling of the masses, you can live without worrying about empty dreams and find peace of heart instead.

Or something. I`m still not 100% sure. I still like it, though more for the rhythm, the sounds , and the memories that come with it, than for the meaning.

P.S. Since I apparently have a thing for traditional Japan (like that`s any news 😉  ), I decided to start a series on traditional Japanese clothing. I`m already working on the happi, the yukata, kimono (+furisode), but I`m also thinking of possibly a special on the obi, the hakama, and I might include some things like samurai armour. What do you all think? Anyone up for that?

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