Friday, May 28, 2010

These things reflect our society. Please enjoy our sense of humor.

I talked about Senryu /川柳 in my previous entries. Senryu started catching public attention during the Edo era in the 1800s. Since it enables you to express yourself and to make satirical commentary on society with a sense of humor, Japanese people have been enjoying composing Senryu.

Today, I'll introduce two senryu that appeared in the top 20 in a popular Senryu contest. These two really reflect our society. If you are interested in finding more information about Senryu and the contest, please click here and here.

★Ninth place

【Background and Interpretations 】
-オラ is equal to 俺 and means "I". Today, オラ is used by men and makes people think of old men in the countryside.
-There are local or neighborhood communities throughout Japan. Each community has some groups, such as a women's group/婦人部 and a young men's group/青年部.
-This senryu represents that although I'm 70 years old, I still belong to a young men's group of my local community in my village. It implies how many old people there are in the village and how many young people have left there. Since Japan has been encountering the aging society, 70-year-old people tend not to be considered as old people. In fact, it's common for around 70-year-old people to take care of their parents who are in their 90s, especially in the countryside.

★Twelfth place

Each phrase in the senryu would be translated into the following ordinary Japanese sentences.

【Background and Interpretations 】
In Japan, analog broadcasting services are due to be terminated in July, 2011. Instead, only terrestrial digital media broadcasting services will be provided. Because of this, all people in Japan are required to get ready for the switch. People usually buy flat-screen televisions that can receive the digital broadcasting, which represents that these televisions are replacing thick, CRT-based televisions. Since a flat-screen television isn't cheap, purchasing it makes a thick wallet filled with notes flat. The senryu is describing this situation. So, this senryu indicates that when I purchased a flat-screen television, my wallet filled with notes has inevitably become flat, too.

I 'd like to wrap this topic up for today.Anyway, iPads are going to hit the Japanese market about 8 hours later. According to the news, there is currently a long queue in front of the Apple Store at Ginza. iPads have been catching considerable public attention here, too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Do you understand our innuendo and dark humor ?

In my previous entry, I talked about how popular Senryu/ 川柳 has become recently. Today, I'll introduce some of the top ten Senryu in a popular contest. They were announced a few days ago. I hope you can understand why they are very funny and enjoy our innuendo and dark humor. If you are interested in finding more information about Senryu and the contest, please click here. The senryu that I'll introduce reflects our society.

★Second place in the contest.

「先を読め!」:"You have to look ahead"
言った先輩: My senior co-worker who told that.
リストラに:In the Japanese language, リストラ / restructuring often means being forced to resign due to corporate restructuring.

-In Japan, because of the economic downturn, we've been struggling to survive at work. Workers are always afraid of being laid off or being compelled to resign since many businesses are forced to restructure.
-In Japan, workers are expected to perform their duties while looking ahead. The phrase" look or think ahead" is often heard at work.

-My senior co-worker who was taking care of me gave me a pep talk, saying that I had to look ahead. Despite that, he was forced to quit his job due to corporate restructuring. This shows that he was't able to look ahead. How ironic!!

★Third place

ただいまは:In Japan, when we come home, we say ただいま/ I'm home.
犬に言うなよ:Don't say ただいま to the dogs.
オレに言え:Say ただいま to me.

-In Japan, when husbands approach their mandatory retirement age, many of them realize that they don't belong to any communities other than their companies whereas their wives have many friends. After retiring, they spend a lot of time alone at home. In contrast, their wives often go out with their friends. They often wait for their wives to come home.
-Many husbands over 55 didn't care much about their wives before they retired. As a result, their wives has a stronger bond with their pets than them when they retire.
-Husbands tend to complain about this situation.

-Every time my wife comes home, she says "I'm home" to her dear dog. She should say it to me.
-Readers can understand how much the writer has been suffering from the situation where he is hardly paid attention and he has nowhere to go .

★Fourth place

「離さない!」:I'll never let your go.
10年経つと:After ten years have passed
話さない:I don't want to talk with you.

-When we got married, my spouse told me that he/she would never let me go. It's been ten years since then. My spouse is even unwilling to talk with me.
-In the Japanese language, 離さない and 話さない are homophones, which makes this senryu funny.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Do Japanese people love innuendo? How popular Senryu / 川柳 is.

I recently read an English blog written by a British woman. She underscored the fact that many people in the UK loved innuendo and black humor. I believe that in many Western countries, a sense of humor is very important in human relationships.

In Japan, Senryu /川柳 has been very popular recently. Have you heard of it? Senryu is similar to Haiku /俳句 in construction. It's a form of short poetry that consists of 17 moras /syllables in three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 moras. Roughly speaking, 17 moras are equivalent to 17 Hiragana characters. Senryu has flexibility whereas Haiku is formal and has rules. Basically, other than the form, there aren't any specific rules of Senryu. People enjoy composing Senryu to describe their honest feelings or make satirical commentary on society. The number of words are so limited that your wit, sense of humor and ability to deliver are tested.

Businessmen/women Senryu Contest is a popular Senryu contest that is held by Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance company every year. The entry period ends in October, and top 100 Senryu are announced in January. After that, everyone can cast a ballot for his or her favorite senryu among them. A few days ago, the top 10 Senryu in the 23rd contest were announced. So, I'd like to introduce some of them.

The Senryu that took first place is below. It's very hard for me to explain to non-Japanese why it's very funny. However, I'll try to do that because it won the contest.


It means that a certain well-known woman (*note 1) is still more indulgent and softer than my wife. To put it briefly, this Senryu implies a husband is under the control of his domineering wife. Many people seem to sympathize with the situation, which made the Senryu win the contest.

*note 1
Last year, right after our new government started in September, in order to review the entire national budget, it held an open meeting called 事業仕分け/project classification. Many taxpayer-financed projects were discussed at the meeting. Bureaucrats and other people in charge of the projects answered questions asked by members who had been chosen by the government. These members were called 仕分け人/Shiwake nin. Among them, a female member caught considerable public attention. She asked pointed, insightful questions in a forceful tone. She often put the male bureaucrats in a difficult position. She is the well-known woman referred to in the Senryu.

I'll introduce the others in my future entries.