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Like printed vertical Japanese, full stops, commas, and small are placed in the top right corner of their own square. All punctuation marks, other marks (such as parentheses), and small kana usually occupy their own square, unless this would place them at the top of a new column, in which case they share the last square of the previous column with the character in that square. (This is the rule.) A full stop followed directly by closing quotation mark are written in one square. A blank square is left after non-Japanese punctuation marks (such as exclamation points and question marks). Ellipses and dashes use two squares.

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Toson's indebtedness to the West included imitations of Shakespeare and of the "Ode to the West Wind." Other Japanese poets turned to Keats or to Browning. Susukida Kyukin (1877-1945) wrote one poem beginning, "Oh to be in Yamato, now that October's there." After this comically obvious imitation, he continues quite respectably:


Feudal Japan Lesson Plan Collection Meiji Restoration Student

Feudal Japan Lesson Plan Collection Meiji Restoration Student

English and American poetry on the whole has not been of great influence in Japan, at least since the time of Ueda Bin. For many years Japanese poetry remained under the spell of the French Symbolists, and they were succeeded by the Dadaists, Surrealists and so on. English poetry belonging to the same schools was welcomed, and T. S. Eliot in particular worked his gloomy magic on the younger poets, even before the war created bombed-out wastelands for them to celebrate, but his absorption with tradition and religion escaped them. For the most part, English and American poetry excited relatively little interest, perhaps because translations from the French were literarily superior, perhaps because of the allure of Paris, which captivated the Japanese in the twenties and thirties no less than the Americans. By the 1880's English had become the second language of Japan, and every schoolboy, however unlikely ever to leave his farm or fishing village, was required to study English until he could plod through one of Lamb's or an 0. Henry story. But English tended to be thought of as a practical language, the language of commerce and information, not of poetry. Translation from the English was therefore generally left to teachers of English grammar, and most Japanese poets, as if to distinguish themselves from schoolmasters, studied French, though a few preferred German or Russian. Ueda Bin's translations influenced a whole generation of Japanese poets.


Read Real Japanese Essays (April 18, 2008 edition) | …

Eighteen sixty-eight is of interest in the history of Japanese poetry for another reason. In that year two poets died whose works, though in the classical form, suggest that they might ultimately have found a way out of the impasse in which Japanese poetry was trapped. The first, Okuma Kotomichi, sounded a new note in his book of poetic criticism (1857): "The poets of the past are my teachers, but they are not myself. l am a son of my time and not of the past. Were I to follow blindly the poets of former times, I should forget my own humble identity. The poems I wrote might seem impressive, but their excellence would be entirely on the surface; they would be merchants in princes' raiment. My art would be pure deceit, like a performance of Kabuki." Despite his insistence that poetry reflect its time, however, Kotomichi's works are scarcely revolutionary: in diction and structure they are sometimes barely distinguishable from the poems in the written nine hundred years earlier. It would be hard to conceive of an English poet writing in 1850, with no intention of fraud, verses which might have antedated Chaucer, but in the Japan of the nineteenth century the language of the was with few exceptions a thousand years old. Words of other than pure Japanese origin were not tolerated; it was as if the English poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had been obliged to confine themselves to words of Anglo-Saxon derivation, and Coleridge had therefore written "The Hoary Seafarer" instead of "The Ancient Mariner."

Read Real Japanese Essays by Janet Ashby, April 18, 2008, Kodansha International edition, Paperback in English, Japanese - Bilingual edition

The famous Japanese tea ceremony is perhaps the most extremeexample of the Japanese love of simplicity, or unobtrusive elegance. The ideal sought by the great teamaster Sen no Rikyu (1422-1491 wassabi, related to the word sabi, for "rust," or sabireru, "to becomedesolate." The sabi so esteemed by Rikyu was not the enforcedsimplicity of the man who could not afford better, but a refusal ofeasily obtainable, luxury, a preference for the rusty-looking kettle toone of gleaming newness. Even today Japanese are quite willing tospend a great deal of money on utensils for the tea ceremony, such asearthenware cups, which, to Western eyes, look quite ordinary.