Know Your Picture Characters Entry #47

March 21st, 2011 by Wordsman

A. 奥の細道 B. 古今集 C. 徒然草 D. 問わず語り E. 平家物語

F. 方丈記

Dragon demonstrated terrific perception this week by picking up on the fact that the hut in Hojoki can be disassembled.  This was one of the key points made by the author, who preferred, in this impermanent world, to have a dwelling that he could relocate at will rather than being tied down to a house, which is nothing but a hassle.  Unfortunately, kanji cannot be so conveniently taken apart and rearranged.  The Hojoki (literally “Ten-Square-Foot Chronicle,” referring to the dimensions of the hut) is F.  It also may have been a poor decision to ignore the last character in B, because it means “collection,” which might have pointed her to the Kokinshu, the first imperial poetry anthology.

A Fan gave an impressive display of erudition, referencing many works I have never read and at least one I have never heard of.  He even made a joke . . . I think.  So let’s see how many matched up.  A: no, B: no, C: no, D: no, E: no, F: also no.  And thus we see why the field of comparative literature is a tricky proposition.  Hmm . . . maybe my theory that knowledge of the concept of literature in general will help is not supported by the results.  Shirley certainly seemed to think so, but she decided to take her usual shots regardless.  Sadly, her familiar Japanese author is Endo Shusaku, who wrote in the 20th century, and these works are all from the pre-modern era, so he can’t help her out much here.  Her investigations were mainly in the realm of poetry, though her decision at the last minute to label the Heike Monogatari, the epic war tale, as non-poetry is an interesting one.  You probably can’t really call it poetry, but, like the works of Homer referenced by A Fan, it derives from a recited, performed tradition rather than a strictly textual one (at least, the version we are most familiar with today does).  It is found not at C but at E.  C is Tsurezuregusa, part of a genre known as zuihitsu, literally “following the brush,” referring to just writing whatever comes to mind.  In addition to opinions on style, our friend the monk chooses to share with us his feelings on romance (they’re not very consistent), and even medical tips.

As for the other two, A is the Narrow Road of the Far North, in which a haiku master travels through northeastern Japan to visit famous historical places (and also to do a fair amount of self-aggrandizing, but he doesn’t write about that much in the book).  D is Towazugatari, literally “the tale that no asked asked about,” which tells of the difficulties of being a woman in the imperial court.

And one last comforting note for Shirley: this time around, knowledge of Japanese didn’t help either.  The first character in E, which looks like a character that means “half,” in fact means “flat,” though in this case, as it’s part of a family name, the meaning was unlikely to help much.

This is the first time in a while that no one was able to get a correct answer, so I feel it’s only fair to give you guys another shot at these.  For Round 2, see if you can identify the authors of these six works.  In the case of the poetry anthology, I’ve listed the most famous of the compilers, and for the epic, I’ve listed the man associated with the most famous version (over 100 are known to exist).

A. 明石覚一 B. 鴨長明 C. 紀貫之 D. 二条 E. 松尾芭蕉

F. 吉田兼好

Posted in Know Your Picture Characters | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. A Fan Says:

    A. That woman who wrote “Tales of Genji”

    B. Ditto

    C. Ditto

    D. Ditto

    E. Ditto

    F. I’ve actually been to her village, which is sort of a suburb of Kyoto. The bus system was confusing there.

  2. TheomanZero Says:

    I’m going to say F is the imperial concubine since I’m pretty sure I know what the last character indicates.

  3. Dragon Says:

    That woman who wrote The Tale of Genji is named Shikibu Murasaki. Well, it’s not exactly her name, but close enough. Anyway, I’m going to have to agree with A Fan and go with C for her. The only thing I know about The Tale of Genji is that Genji raises a little girl (named Murasaki, which is what we call the author because no one knows her real name) to be his wife (which is creepy). I’m picking C because the behavior of that backwards S toward the thing on its left looks suspicious to me.

  4. Shirley Says:

    This is late Saturday night and I haven’t gotten inspired with any solution to the puzzle yet and I can’t work on it now, so I hope Sunday afternoon isn’t too late. If it is, I,m sorry. I’ll try tomorrow anyway.

  5. Shirley Says:

    Ok. I can’t put it off any longer, but still no inspiration. It’s time to try a Hail Mary, so…here goes.


    D., poetry anthology

    E. Monk.

    Three Hail Marys’ actually. That many appeals for divine intervention ought to count for something!

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