Jan 29

WIT Life #350: サラリーマン川柳コンクール

Interpreter/Translator/Writer Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) presents WIT Life, a periodic series about aspects of Japanese culture such as art, film, food and language. Stacy starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she offers some interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

明けましておめでとうございます! Hope everyone’s Year of the Ox has been getting off to a good start. With the cold plus Covid, it’s understandable if this winter season is not getting much love. Something that might bring a little brightness to these dark days are the salaryman poems courtesy of Dai-ichi Life Group. Every year this life insurance company sponsors this contest for 川柳 (senryū, or “three-line unrhymed Japanese poems structurally similar to haiku, but treating human nature usually in an ironic or satiric vein”).

As you might expect, these poems from the last fiscal year largely address issues of Covid and working from home. The top 100 senryū were willowed down from 62,542 entries, and they can be found here (scroll down to the light red rectangular box that says 「優秀100句はこちら」 and click the + sign on the right). To my knowledge the poems only exist in Japanese, but content-wise they are relatively simple and extremely enjoyable (some of the entrant’s names are entertaining as well). Happy reading!

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