Star and Dandelion

A guest blog by Tilak Bhattacharjee on his musings with Japanese literature.














The above is a poem from my favourite Japanese poet by name is Kaneko Misizu. She was born in April 11, 1903 in Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan. In a very short life of only 26 years, she wrote about 500 poems, all of which were very thought provoking. In this article I shall present to you one of her poem, called“星とたんぽぽ” which translates as “Star and Dandelion” (The flower shown in the picture below).

In this poem the poet tells that, “In the depths of the blue sky, similar to small rock which lies in the bosom of sea-bed, the stars are submerged till night arrives. The stars although present are not seen in the afternoon sky. There are things which we cannot see but are present, there are things which cannot be seen but are present.
The withered Dandelion flower, which stays silently in between the roof tiles, is hidden till the spring arrives. The strong root of the flower beneath was not seen, there are things which we cannot see but are present, there are things which cannot be seen but are present.”

The poem makes us to think about the existence of things which cannot be seen but are still present. Because we did not see it does not mean it does not exist, it exists, just we have to know how to see it, which is the central theme of the poem.

Hum Ming burd…


I wokeup with a faint memory of what I was dreaming… and even before i could make a mental note of what it was about the memory just eroded away. I wonder what it was, for all I believe is dreams are influenced by the events of the day. To sum it up it can be anything with a vague connection to a bond story I had finished reading or the bourne movie i slept watching, or the hunger pangs i had to silence by sleeping, could be anything, what ever it was, I dont suppose it was a pleasant one, for all i know on days I have dreamt something happy I have had a head start for the day, wokeup early had a proper breakfast, been merry all day long, all without the knowledge(or a subconscious knowledge) of what I had dreamt that made me happy in the first place.

Dreaming, daydreaming are the same, just that one happens with consciousness, and the other in subconscious or so I think.


I was tired of no proper sleep, tired of the silence at nights before sleep, silence creeps anyone out, reading or watching movies in solitude doesnt help either, watching bollywood flicks (read: Raanjhanaa and Ghanchakkar ) at a single screen theater two days in a row helped a bit.

All this tiredness with the though of having to see the same landscape I am so used to of travelling everyday in a train made me considering sleeping enroute the journey back as an option, so after boarding the train and managing to get a window seat in a new coach of an empty 56262, I fell asleep in no time, the passengers boarding and deboarding the train at the various stops enroute did wake me us for a moment or two, but all of a sudden I was wide awake with a fear that I might have missed my stop or got on to a wrong train again, has happened in the past, and maybe this thought was a fruit of what I must have been dreaming while I was asleep for the brief time of an hour or so. But it so happens it was just a thought,this time around I was on the right train it was stranded at an earlier station malur.

Relaxed on thought of boarded the right train and also the calm of the near empty coach(trust me u wont have space to breath if this was a train late evening going back from the city or a early morning which comes to the city), I was sunk in the solitude calmness again.


I am now looking out of my window, out on to the fields, and the forests, on a glance my eyes are caught staring at the lava flower bush (it took me 4 hours to find the name of this flower, publishing the blog had to wait just for this name I chanced upon this amazing compilation on wild indian flowers and also a wonderful site at first I thought the flower was hydrangea, this was the closest i got to which searching through googleimagesearch, it looked similar, then I thought it was butterfly bush.), the lava flower grows in bunches, and I recollect as a kid we used to pluck them for the nectar at the end of the stalk.


What I saw next was like a lucid dream for me, I was stuck, astonished, for what I was seeing was one of the most amazing sight ever, at first i thought its a dragonfly, then I noticed how quick it was in its movement, the next thought or reasoning I put was maybe its a “bhawara” but NO this was “that nectar collecting bird” I am telling myself “what the name” pacing thoughts trying to recollect its name… and then it comes to my mind the Hummingbird!!!


Its the most amazing, lovely, fabulous sight of a bird I have ever seen, just seeing it hover from one bunch of lava flower to another, just like a tiny fairy, I was totally astonished to have seen it, I couldnt belive my eyes the size of it, less than half a finger length, that made me believe even more it was a fairy. I so wished that moment I had a camera to take a video of that sight, taking a picture of it moving with such grace and pace would be a challenge in itself.


Just when I was hoping to get down to take a closer look, the train had to move. And I was bent to write a blog entry and also make my self believe that they are  actually tiny, if not tiny fairies checkout this spectacular feature video on hummingbird, 69 different species in the jungles of panama alone!!! beat that awesomeness variety. No wonder they are called hummingbird and not humming-bird cause one for certain cant believe its a bird, (telling you a secret they are actually fairies.)


東雲 Kanji? Part 2

The concluding part of the guest blog by Tilak Bhattacharjee on his musings with kanji.
The word “shinonome” actual origin comes from a special type of bamboo plant unique to Japan called “Shino/Sasa” in Japanese and its scientific name is “sasamorpha borealis(篠 )“.
These were dried and knitted together to form a net-like structure having large gaps in between.
These gaps are called eyes and since they are made from “Shino/篠” they came to be known as “eyes of the Shino/篠 plant” or “shino-no-me (篠の目) “.
(目 is kanji character which represents “eye” and its KUN-yomi is “me”. の(read as “no”) is connective particle which here implies “of”  and connects the two nouns in context “eye” and the “Shino plant”.)
The analogy as to why they are called eyes would be same if we compare it to  “eye of a needle” which is the the section of a sewing needle formed into a loop for pulling thread, located at the end opposite the point.
So since this knitted structure made of “Shino plant” was used a skylight, so that the first sunrays of a day enters through its gaps(or “eyes”) into a traditional Japanese house, the word “shinonome” symbolized the meaning of “daybreak”.
Thats the beauty of the Japanese language we can relate to so many topics just through one word.
A shino-no-me (篠の目) in a Japanese house. Photo credit: Atsushi Ishikawa

東雲 Kanji? Part 1

A guest blog by Tilak Bhattacharjee on his musings with kanji. This is the first part of a two-part blog post.

The word 東雲 comprises of two Kanji (chinese characters used in Japanese) characters.

But before that I would like to explain about the pronunciation used for the Kanji characters.
The Japanese language has in general two pronunciations for each Kanji characters.
One is called ON-yomi(音読み) which is Chinese pronunciation of a given Kanji character and the other is called KUN-yomi (訓読み)  which is Japanese pronunciation of a given Kanji character.
Note:Japanese had a well developed spoken language before the arrival of Kanji through China, so Japanese assigned  KUN-yomi for a given Kanji character in addition to On-yomi from China.
That is why there are generally two pronunciations of a Kanji character.
Now the Kanji of my topic is 東雲.
The first Kanji character 東  means “east” and its ON-yomi or chinese pronunciation is “TOU” and its KUN-yomi or Japanese pronunciation is “Higashi”.
The second Kanji character 雲 means “cloud” and its ON-yomi is “UN” and its KUN-yomi or Japanese pronunciation is “Kumo/Gumo”.
So by definition these characters would imply “eastern clouds”, but in reality it implies “daybreak” and its pronunciation in Japanese is also special as it is called “shinonome”.
This type of special Japanese pronunciation given to a word is called “Ateji (当て字)” which uses substitute Kanji characters for a given pronunciation and does not imply its actual meaning.
So that lead me delve deeper as to what is it is the origin of the word “shinonome”.

ImageA skylight in a Japanese house. Photo credit: Atsushi Ishikawa