Ai no te

A poem by Minamoto Unkai 源雲界, Meiji shakuhachi guy and sometime Hokkaido resident:

Dust swept away by little waves
And fish caught gathered in their schools: Shirahama
A yaysama's mournful strains on northern seas
A tonkori-mukkuri break: uppopo-po-po.

A yaysama (or yayshama) is literally a song of "one's side", a song about the self. Apparently it is possible to sing someone else's yaysama; here's Toko Emi singing one about her grandmother's grandmother.

Tonkori and mukkuri are instruments, strongly identified with Ainu culture as they have no counterpart in Japanese music. On the other hand, the word I have translated "break," ai no te, is used in Japanese art music. It refers to a short instrumental interlude, usually connecting two lines of the lyric. The unseen Ainu musicians of the poem are implicitly put on the same level as the shamisen-and-koto musicians down south.

Uppopo-po-po is harder to figure out. Upopo is a word for a type of song, apparently a canon sung by people (usually women) sitting in a circle. It doesn't seem to have much overlap with yaysama. On the other hand the addition of the extra po-po suggests that maybe Unkai is using it for a sort of semi-onomatopoeic effect: the sound of Ainu music, if you will.

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All together now: 魔法の言葉で・・・


There's a rather good anime caleld Samurai Champloo. They cover a range of subjects from the horrible treatment of prostitutes to the Ryuukyuu aboriginals and the Ainu. Sadly they didn't cover the Burakumin. The Ainu bear people I only found out when doing some research on Japanese dialects for a computer programme that predated Google Maps by several years. I was unable to dig up a single Ainu speaker where I lived and it broke my heart as there is virtually nothing left of them as a people or culture. The Japanese have been very good at covering up, and destroying, anything non-Japanese'. The folks I meet, from Japan, are always amazed I know about what has gone on there because most outsiders do not.BTW: You Irish? Your quips are hilarious and remind me of my family in Cork.


F7z0KN nfglhmnobugd

Aime la vérité, mais pardonne à l'erreur

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