I selected the grammar point “no” の for today’s post after reading a haiku by Ueda Hizashi 上田日差子 (1961-). Actually it isn’t strictly a classical grammar construct, but is one found often in haiku.
It’s cherry blossom season in Japan, and in Akita the cherry blossoms should be blooming any day now (I’ve seen a few here and there that already have). The word sakura 桜 (as in, cherry blossom) appears in Ueda’s poem, but I do not think that this is necessarily a seasonal poem. It does however have a strong Buddhist theme in it.
kari no yo ni iro araba kono sakura-gai
Which I translated as follows:
If there is color
in this fleeting existence
it’s this pink tellin
In a quick scan of my inbox, I’ve found the following examples of no の:
- 来月のテニスコート予約 Next month’s tennis court reservations
- 前期の授業 first semester classes
- 下記の期日 the following dates
- 総合学務課の佐々木 Mr. Sasaki from the General Administration Office
- 会議の開催 holding of the meeting (as in: the next holding of the meeting will be…)
In modern Japanese “no” is usually used to connect two nouns and indicates their realtionship. So in these examples it is connecting
- next month の tennis court reservation
- first semester の classes
- written below の dates
- General Administration Office の Sasaki
- meeting の holding
There is sometimes flexibility with how these are translated into English. For example I could write “tennis court reservations for next month,” “General Administration Office’s Mr. Sasaki.” The order in which the words are translated does not have to necessarily match the order with which they appear in the original text.
In Ueda’s haiku, she wrote kari no yo. “Kari” meaning temporary, provisional, interim and “yo” meaning world, which I wrote as “fleeting existence.” I have also seen it translated as “transient world.” Both ways capture the Buddhist message that the world (life) in which we find ourselves is not permanent.