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I recently became a fan of poet and songwriter Misuzu Kaneko. I had long been aware of her poems for children, but until recently I had never wondered about the poet herself. Now that I know more about her, I am hit harder and more deeply by her poems than I was before.

I’ve tried to translate the short poem that inspired today’s etegami, but I haven’t been able to capture the rhythm of the Japanese words, or convey the unsentimental pathos of the original. I will keep working on it. But the meaning goes something like this:

The Big Haul
Beneath a glowing sunrise,
the fishing boats return,
loaded with Ooba Sardines.
On shore, villagers celebrate like its a festival.
In the sea, sardines hold a funeral
for their tens of thousands of mates.

This is an original Etegami painted with sumi ink and water-soluble gansai paints on a soft washi postcard. Etegami is a traditional Japanese folk art that combines simple images with thoughtful words.


etegami, poetry, japan, folk art, childrens literature, fish, sardines, ocean, sea, fishing boat, school of fish, funeral, mourning, celebrating, festival, pathos, village life, misuzu kaneko

I am a professional Japanese-to-English translator and an Etegami artist. Etegami is a traditional Japanese folk art that combines thoughtful words with simple images painted on washi paper.

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  • davvi
    davvialmost 3 years ago

    very good.someone happy.someone sad.that’s the world.i like your heart.

  • You are sweet, davvi… : )

    – dosankodebbie

  • Steven  Sandner
    Steven Sandneralmost 3 years ago

    Cool, i really like the colour choice!

  • I’m glad you like it!

    – dosankodebbie

  • Rima Dadenji
    Rima Dadenjiabout 2 years ago

    This is beautiful.

  • Thank you. For this and all your kind comments today.

    – dosankodebbie

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