Some holoalphabetisms - in Japanese
April 19, 2011 3:27 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by a recent AskMe, a search for videos featuring the 'Iroha Uta' turned up a number of interesting versions. The iroha is a pangram based on the Japanese syllabary, and thus uses each of the 48 characters once and only once (Wikipedia explanation). Let's start with the 'lovely' Hatsune Miku singing it. (Bonus: she includes hand symbols for each character - used by this young lady for her version.)

If you want to see what the written characters of the syllabary look like, another Miku-chan version is here (with the 'bonus' of an English verse added).

Are you a band fan? (US style concert band music). Listen to James Swearingen's 'Invicta', with the Japanese syllabary combined in a sing along.

In a more traditional vein, here's the Iroha in a simple 'chanted' form. It's repeated a couple of times, with various forms of (sometimes archaic) calligraphy.

This one is a visual treat. There is no singing, we simply watch the characters being drawn beautifully, to the accompaniment of music. (English transliteration included in the video description.)

Here's another beautiful version, also including a visual display of the characters. A puzzle for you - is she real or automated?

For the more serious-minded, how about a chorus of buddhist priests chanting it?

And to round up our roundup, let's finish with Miku-chan again. It's the 'Iroha Popu'! (Bonus - catch the fart scene!)
posted by woodblock100 (8 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
So it's kind of like Sodoku, if there was some way to translate Sodoku into Japanese.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:47 AM on April 19, 2011

And I'm sad that the closest thing I can thing of I can think of that is comparable in my culture is the filthy alphabet song.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:59 AM on April 19, 2011

KanJani8 (関ジャニ∞), one of the groups from Johnny's Entertainment, used the iroha in their debut song - Naniwa Iroha Bushi (浪花いろは節).
posted by emmling at 4:32 AM on April 19, 2011

"So it's kind of like Sodoku, if there was some way to translate Sodoku into Japanese."

I'm gonna feel really stupid if you were making a joke, and it went over my head, but just in case: sudoku (数独) is a Japanese word.
posted by Bugbread at 5:34 AM on April 19, 2011

I'm planning to teach my kids the Happy End kana song, Aiue wo (愛餓を).
posted by No-sword at 5:45 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Only the Buddhist monk version of this song is the traditional Iroha-Uta which is sung on Koyasan; this version is not very widely known (I sometimes sing it to Japanese people when drunk, but they never recognize it). The Miku versions appear to be some NHK children's song. I guess any song that uses the poem can be called an Iroha-Uta.

I tried very hard to find a video I once saw of the famous Japanese pop singer covering the traditional Iroha-Uta on guitar, but good LORD there are a lot of Miku Hatsune covers out there... ugh, I just spent over an hour on this and all I can find is a Japanese blog.
posted by shii at 5:49 AM on April 19, 2011

Nice, thanks for stuff.
posted by dubitable at 8:11 AM on April 19, 2011

Thanks No-sword! I just bought the guitar score for that song and will teach it to my daughter. Sweet!
posted by chickencoop at 10:26 AM on April 19, 2011

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