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Old 05-09-2008, 04:54 PM   #19
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,618
Re: Kisshomaru as Interpretor of the Founder's Words

Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Hi Erik, can you provide samples of Hearn's translation of the texts in question?
Well, since he died in 1904 before that text was written, very likely not, but I'll get my trusty weejy board and see what I can do ...

I was referring to his interpretation of the concept of "yamato damashii." He married into the (still) very prominent Koizumi family, became a Japanese citizen, translated a number of folk stories and wrote extensively about the contemporaneous culture of early modernizing Japan. He studied with Kano and introduced the first work on judo/jujitsu in English in 1897. He might just have some tangential contributions...

A general cultural overview:,M1

Some letters are collected here:,M1

Some thoughts in a chapter on jujutsu (not his book of that title) are here:,M1

And a pertinent one to the topic here:

In the latter, he quoted a poem of Motoori Norinaga (who all but invented the concept of yamato-damashii in Kojiki-Den as a near-ideology for the Kokugaku). Referring to "Yamato-Gokoro" Hearn translated it as:

"If one should ask you
concerning the heart of a true Japanese,
point to the wild cherry flower
glowing in the sun."

The romaji is all that is given but it goes:

Shikishima no
Yamato-gokoro wo
Asa-hi ni niou
Yamazakura bana.

The wild cherry in the romaji he cites is "yamazakura" and he comments that unlike the cultivated types, it leafs before blossoming, and he also notes a pun associated with the word. in the passage following he also translated a proverb "As the cherry is first among flowers, so the warrior should be first among men."

The implication is plain -- first to will to live; first to will to die. "Asagao", the morning glory is one of the images used in some circles for the principle of aiki. It has a similar image of both bursting forth and ephemerality. (The dynamic of that blossom has other features of interest to me, in its physics, but I'll leave that aside.)


Erick Mead
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