Night in the west

Curiosity I found at Aozora Bunko: Kyōto-jin no yogeshiki ("The view by night with a Kyotoite"), a poem written in Taishō-period Kyoto Japanese by painter, writer and general layabout MURAYAMA Kaita.

どうどつしやろえええなあ ...

This is the sort of thing that makes me want to go all Sybilla from Last Samurai: Ohen ka dō e! Mitomiyasu na yoroshū osu e na! And later: tanto no hitode ya na, utsukushii hito bakari/ maru de tō to kao to no senjō/ a, bikkuri shita densha ga hashiru/ a, kowakatta -- but don't you see how he builds up the narrator and the city itself only to custard-pie them with a symbol of modernity encroaching rudely from the east but not with any malicious intent after all he lived in Kyoto from the age of four

Completely untranslatable, of course, even more so than regular poetry. Of course if you were completely confident in your understanding of the Kyoto dialect you could render it into English without too much difficulty, but then you'd still lose the contrast with standard (i.e. upper-class Tokyo) Japanese, without which this poem has much less reason to be. Translation into SAE is an option often exercised in these situations, but this is really a way of cutting the knot, not untying it. Ol' Virginny doesn't map 1:1 onto Kyoto, and you're liable to end up with a witty and marvelously clever translation that is nevertheless about something else entirely.

Better by far to learn Japanese and enjoy it in its natural habitat.

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