Speaking of danna, here's a great anecdote from 1876 that I read in KURATA Yoshihiro 倉田喜弘's "Hayariuta" no kōkogaku 「はやり歌」の考古学 ("The archaeology of popular song").

So, it's the Shimpūren Rebellion. ŌTAGURO Tomoo 太田黒伴雄 and his band of two hundred-odd mutinous, barbarian-expelling ex-samurai have launched their surprise attack on the Kumamoto garrison, leaving hundreds of casualties. They've also invaded the official residences of and critically wounded prefectural governor YASUOKA Ryōsuke and garrison commander TANEDA Masaaki 種田政明.

However, Taneda's lover Kokatsu 小勝 escapes with her life. She's a geisha originally from Nihonbashi; he bought her contract out so that she could move with him to Kumamoto. Though wounded, she manages to get to a working telegraph station, and sends her mother the telegram that will make her immortal:

ダンナハイケナイ ワタシハテキズ
Danna wa ikenai. Watashi wa tekizu
[My] danna's done for. I'm wounded [but alive]

(Also reported as "...watashi wa teoi", basically the same meaning.)

What made this telegram so great? Well, writers like KANAGAKI Robun 仮名垣魯文 praised it as a model of the kind of clarity and precision that telegraphy demands. More importantly, though, it's made up of two sentences of seven mora each, which means that all you have to do is add a 7-5 ending to make it into a dodoitsu.

And that's just what people did: two good examples from Kurata's book are "And what have you been up to?" (soko de omae wa/ dō shita ka) and "Now, where can the money be?" (kane no arika wa/ doko ni aro). For a while it seems that publishing lists of these was a bit of a craze.

Summary: There's no tragedy that the media won't exploit if it helps them fill out the morning edition.

Popularity factor: 7

Leonardo Boiko:

> publishing lists of these was a bit of a craze.

Aand? Where can I read more?


So: Making fun of people through poetry--long-standing Japanese tradition. (See also Taiheiki.)

language hat:

That's quite wonderful. I too would like to see some more, if you have the time and energy to translate a couple.


Very well! Let it never be said that I ignored my readership.

Although it was a craze then, it's not interesting to many people now, and so I wasn't able to find any more except for the two others Kurata records in his book (or variations on them):

"Kawaritai zoe/ kuni no tame" - "Would that I could take his place, for my country's sake!" This one is attributed to author Kanagaki Robun and was apparently very popular among Kokatsu's ex-colleagues. Not sure how to measure the various irony levels there, though.

"Kore de yoyaku/ toshi ga aki" -- "And so the new year begins at last." I can only understand this as regular old nonsense.

L.N. Hammer:

Or possibly Simpsons/Family Guy style satire.

language hat:

Excellent, many thanks!

g handle:

there once was a tersely spoken geisha
who escaped from most certain erasure
my danna is dead
and I hurt my head
so she said from a telegraph station

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