Friday, June 10, 2011


本当に夏になっていますね。Philadelphia is becoming steamy and summery, as it must have been when Jefferson was writing the Declaration and everyone was arguing about it at Independence Hall. In waistcoats and breeches.

Much is going on. In 習字 we've been working with kana (tanzaku) and tensho; I've been writing 無, mu, which for whatever reason everyone seems to have represented (in the distant past) as crying faces. I have a page of them that I'll try to scan at some point. 面白いですね。 A whole page of mu, "nothing/not", written in tensho as various forms of weeping. どうしてだろうかなぁ。 習字の先生 has proposed we try carving 印鑑 (tensho seals); I'm loving the thought of stamping mu on things!

This weekend we'll pick new summer haiku to practice, so I've been translating from our options (for self and for a friend who doesn't read Japanese). We're really picking based on shapes, but it's nice to write something we understand and can think about and enjoy. Here's one that's not in our pages but that I really like:
kumo no su ni tsuki sashikonde yoru no semi
moonlight shining in the spider's web / night cicada

(or maybe)

cicada at night / moonlight streaming through a spiderweb

Issa, 1805. It reminds me of a bridge I used to visit. In the summer its lattice of metal became a vast apartment complex for chunky spiders, whose webs gleamed at night.

Thanks to 習字の先生 and another student, we now have a copy of かな精習 (kana seishuu), Kana Exercises. The title doesn't do it justice. It's full of explanations of history and movements—individual kana, groups of 2 or 3 or 4, hentaigana, placement on the page, etc. Enormously valuable for a student. I've used its examples to make hentaigana mini-flashcards, and I'm getting a little better at recognizing them when I see them in tanzaku &c. As 先生 says, some are more common than others; there are certain forms of の, に, た, か, &c., that seem to pop up in almost everything. And that れ based on 車 (kuruma, REN)—very recognizable. I think my favorite so far is this crazy け; it's like a little swordfight, then a fun loop like a ゆ, and then you can just drag it down the page.

At lessons I'm writing with a really cramped, tense hand. Stage fright. At home it's better, but it happens again whenever I use decent paper.

No comments:

Post a Comment