There is a poetry collection that was flown off the shelves in the past couple of weeks. The poetries were written by a Japanese poet of nursery rhyme, Misuzu Kaneko, who wrote 512 poetries before she passed away at the age of 26 in 1930.
Why her poetries that were written over 80 years ago are popular now? The reason is related to the March 11 earthquake disaster.
Since the earthquake and tsunami, almost all advertisers for TV shows withdrew their advertising; therefore, they were switched to the advertisements of Advertising Council Japan (AC Japan), a non profit organization that distributes Japanese public service announcements and promotes Japanese virtue and social manners.
Misuzu’s poetry “Echo” is used in one of the AC Japan’s advertisement.
Echo (Originally titled “Kodama” in Japanese, written by Misuzu Kaneko)
When you say “Let’s play”
He says “Let’s play”
When you say “Stupid”
He says “Stupid”
When you say “I won’t play with you any more”
He says “I won’t play with you”
Later, you feel lonely
And say “I’m sorry”
He says “I’m sorry”
Are they echoes?
Anyone who is spoken ill will speak ill. When one is spoken kindly, he will speak back kindly. Interestingly, words you give come back to you like echoes, so why don’t you to be the first person who gives kind words? That is what the poetry implies.
This advertisement has been presented repeatedly, and the viewers who got interested in the poet bought up most of the copies of the Misuzu collection. Now the publisher is reprinting the book.
The most well known poetry of Misuzu is probably “Me, a Songbird, and a Bell.”
Me, a Songbird, and a Bell
(Originally titled “Watashi to Kotori to Suzu to” in Japanese, written by Misuzu Kaneko)
Spread my arms through I may
I’ll never fly up in the sky.
Songbirds fly but they can’t run
Fast on the ground like I do.
Shake myself through I may
No pretty sound come out.
Bells jingle but they don’t know
Lots of songs like I do
Bell, songbird, and me
All different, all just right.
Because her poetries are made for children, they are consists of simple words. The rhythms of Japanese spoken language that she uses and her beautiful, gentle words are highly appreciated, therefore; her poetries are adapted to Japanese textbooks for elementary school.
Misuzu’s poetries hopefully console the Japanese who are in devastating sorrow and despair.
This is JAPAN Style!