Catfish blues

It has proven surprisingly difficult to find man-bashing poems in Sankachōchūka as promised. I may have to look further afield.

Virtually all of the ones I did find included the word namazu-otoko, "catfish man", which seems to have had a similar meaning among the Edoites as it did among pre-war Southern bluesmen: a player. (The metaphor is slightly different, though, because the Japanese version was more about slipperiness than sexual potency.)

There are a couple along the lines of "catfish man, go fall in the river and talk to the catfish", which you probably have to be drunk and hakama-clad to really appreciate, but I found this one oddly touching:

わしは小池の鯉鮒なれど 鯰男はいやでそろ
washi wa koike no koifuna naredo/ namazu-otoko wa iya de soro

I may be a crucian carp in a little pond
But I don't want no catfish man

(Obviously the koifuna in the Japanese version is a lot more down-home than "crucian carp" is in English.)

This non-catfish one wasn't bad, and I'm sure made many an Edokko say "Ei, snap!":

今の若い衆は麦藁襷 一夜かけてはかけ捨てよ
ima no wakai shu wa mugiwara-dasuki/ ichiya kakete wa kakezuteyo

Young guys today are [as flimsy as] straw kimono cords:
They spend the night, and then they're spent.

Finally, this song is irrelevant to the main topic, but I thought I'd share it anyway:

鳥もはらはら夜もほのぼのと 鐘も鳴ります寺々に
tori wa hara-hara, yo mo hono-bono to/ kane mo narimasu, tera-dera ni

The night sky pales, the birds take wing,
The temple bells all start to ring

It's a lullaby from Awa (now Tokushima prefecture) which was adapted from a lover's song lamenting the coming of dawn. I love the way it mixes evocative onomatopoeia and the onomatopoeia-like old plural pattern (tera-dera, as in tera (temple) + tera). You can't form plurals like that any more in MJ, but in OJ it was apparently so standard that it could even be applied to verbs, which is why we have words like miru-miru ("watch-watch", i.e. "even as one watches") in Japanese to this day.

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