Saturday, January 03, 2009

Renku and ichigo

One of the cool things about the Japanese language is its facility for puns, double meanings, and word games. I was discussing this with a buddy of mine the other day and brought up the example of renku…
Renku (連句 "linked verses"), the Japanese form of popular collaborative linked verse poetry formerly known as haikai no renga (俳諧の連歌), is an offshoot of the older Japanese poetic tradition of ushin renga, or orthodox collaborative linked verse. At renga gatherings participating poets would take turns providing alternating verses of 17 syllables and 14 syllables. Initially haikai no renga distinguished itself through vulgarity and coarseness of wit, before growing into a legitimate artistic tradition, and eventually giving birth to the haiku form of Japanese poetry. (wikipedia)
Renku was a kind of party game in which one participant gave the first line (essentially in the form of a haiku), then passed the poem to a second participant who supplied the second line while twisting the meaning of one of the syllables in the previous line. The twist was generally intended for shock value.
Well, If you guys have missed it, my student, Todd, is doing a blog with his notes and ideas about our training. His blog is titled, Ichigo Dojo, and I was curious about the name but I was too lazy to look it up so I asked him what it meant and he told me a cool translation for that particular Romaji was something along the lines of “lifelong study.” Now that’s a cool name for a dojo.
I looked up the romaji for alternate translations and found the following additional translations that are cool and fitting for the name Ichigo:
一期 【いちご】 one's life time; lifetime
一期一会 【いちごいちえ】 once-in-a-lifetime encounter (hence should be cherished as such)
一号 【いちごう】 number one
一合目 【いちごうめ】 the start of a climb up a hill

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