★how to be the master of oneself and forget the flight of time ― Sayaka wonders at Jaugo’s perfect and persistent honesty to himself★
Jaugo: Well, after quite a lot of joys and sorrows over four seasons, we’ve finally come to the end ― this is the last seasonal TANKA rhymed out on the very last day of the year.
Sayaka: Last!? Oh, no, I thought it would last for ever!
Jaugo: I said, this is the end of SEASONAL poems ― at the mid-point of the 31 TANKA in store for you… don’t worry, Sayaka-san, the adventure still goes on.
Sayaka: Don’t surprise me… what’s coming after seasons?
Jaugo: Love ― a series of love songs.
Sayaka: Wow, lovely! Let’s get straight into it!
Jaugo: What’re you gonna do with this TANKA?
Sayaka: Well, I think it’s OK the way it is. Its message is so plain to see.
Jaugo: Is it?
Sayaka: It is ― I’ve been waiting for nothing in particular every day only to find myself at the end of this year… time flies like an arrow!
Jaugo: Does your time fly like an arrow, too, Sayaka-san?
Sayaka: Mm… I don’t know. Every day, I’m simply too busy to remember what day it is, not knowing what’s in store or what to expect, until I realize it’s already December… in view of the incredible speed, maybe yes, time flies like an arrow. But December also sets me feeling impatient to go skating and skiing, when I suddenly realize it’s already January, and then it’s April and I’ll proceed to the next grade… and yet, I’m still 17, and I’m not in the final third grade yet. So, all things considered, time doesn’t fly like an arrow before me. I may feel time flew like an arrow when I’ve graduated from high school, but until then, time doesn’t fly so fast before me as the poet feels it did. That’s how I feel about my time.
Jaugo: Your days are much more substantial than the speed of your time.
Sayaka: Not quite substantial, maybe, but my days are full of events, I’m bombarded with event after event of my school life.
Jaugo: Eventful days make you forget the flight of time. I remember feeling timeless and ageless in high school.
Sayaka: Were you already JAUGO-SAN at high school, Jaugo-san?
Jaugo: Except for the pseudonym, I’ve always been myself… since I was fourteen.
Sayaka: Why since fourteen? What happened to you at 14?
Jaugo: I started doing daily push-ups at 14. In other words, I started consciously building up myself: to put it differently, my school ceased to be the primary influence upon me as regards my body ― I became the master of myself.
Sayaka: “The master of myself”! Great! I wish I could say that about myself…
Jaugo: Aren’t you the master of yourself, Sayaka-san?
Sayaka: I think I told you before how I ceased to be “myself” at the end of my childhood?
Jaugo: Uh… you mean something else masters your body, once every month?
Sayaka: Yeah, that’s one of them, though I’ve got used to it. Many things more… school regulations, the eyes of others… many things.
Jaugo: It seems girls have so many things to get used to which try to master them.
Sayaka: It’s so hard to be the master of myself… Are you still doing your daily push-ups?
Jaugo: Yeah, only 100 every day.
Sayaka: Only a HUNDRED?! Do you call that “ONLY”?
Jaugo: Compared with 500 I used to do through 17 to early twenties, yes.
Sayaka: Did you do 500 push-ups every day when you were 17?!
Jaugo: Yes. It’s just a natural development of my daily routine starting from 10. After 10 comes 15, then 20, jumping up to 50, naturally doubled into 100, then 200, then 300, and 500.
Sayaka: Why skipping 400?
Jaugo: 500 is more memorable than 400, don’t you think?
Sayaka: Now that you say so… Is it really possible for a man to do 500 push-ups… consecutively?
Jaugo: Of course, in succession. I did it every day until I graduated from college.
Sayaka: And after that? 100 every day?
Jaugo: No. I switched from open-hand push-ups to knuckle push-ups.
Sayaka: What do you mean by “knuckle push-ups”?
Jaugo: Tighten your fists, punch them into the ground, and start fighting with gravity while talking to your fists, arms, elbows and your spirit, “Hey, buddy, can you still hold on?” ― that’s knuckle push-ups.
Sayaka: You keep surprising me!… 100 knuckle push-ups every day?
Jaugo: No, you can’t do so many at first. I seem to remember I started from 20 or 30. I ended up doing 200 knuckle push-ups every day, from mid-twenties throughout my thirties. Nowadays, though, I’m simply doing 100 open-hand push-ups. I’ve already grown out of my experimental phase on how far I could go if I put my mind to doing it. Only a 100 open-hand push-ups every day is enough for me to free myself of any doubt about my physical and mental strength.
Sayaka: What kind of a poet are you, Jaugo-san?!
Jaugo: Just a Bruce Lee admiring boy grown up into a man who always wants to be the master of his own destiny. Just the kind of man you should have grown up into, Sayaka-san, had you not been a girl.
Sayaka: I’m glad I was born a girl. I couldn’t have been so stoic as you.
Jaugo: You’ll never know. Besides, I’m not at all “stoic”.
Sayaka: You don’t think so yourself, but everyone in the world will admit you ARE stoic, otherwise 500 push-ups every day is impossible!
Jaugo: No. I’m just sticking to what I really like to do, much more persistently than most people do, that’s all. Do you call that “stoic”?
Sayaka: What else should I call it?
Jaugo: I should call myself “honest”.
Jaugo: Perfect and persistent honesty to myself, without regard to what others may expect of me. In fact, I can easily exceed the expectations of others in whatever I “honestly and persistently do”.
Sayaka: Great! “Perfect and persistent honesty to myself” ― that’s the greatest phrase I’ve ever heard in my life!
Jaugo: But there’s a catch: a person perfectly and persistently honest to himself just doesn’t care what’s going on around him… until, one day, he finds himself a total stranger to the world around.
Sayaka: You mean you are alienated from the Japanese society around you?
Jaugo: Not quite. I feel at home among the Japanese, all right; since the Japanese just can’t stand the presence of a stranger, they simply refuse to see anyone as a stranger. They just regard me as “one of them”, since they don’t know or don’t want to know what I really am… like you do, Sayaka-san.
Sayaka: I really want to know much more about you, Jaugo-san. Is it dangerous?
Jaugo: I don’t think so. Because you already have something not unlike myself inside you.
Sayaka: I’m honored to hear you say that about me.
Jaugo: Unless you’re joking, I’d hate you speaking like that.
Sayaka: Oh?… Did I say anything wrong, Jaugo-san?
Jaugo: You said “honored”… what honor is there in having someone like you saying “You are like me, I like you!”; you should have said “I’m glad you say that!”
Sayaka: Oh… yes, I’m very glad you say that.
Jaugo: Me, too. Well, why do I have an impression that we’ve been talking about ourselves ― or myself ― when we should have been talking about this year-end TANKA of Winter?
Sayaka: Because we’ve been through with that TANKA: time flies for the poet, but not so with me and you, Jaugo-san.
Jaugo: You are wrong in saying that about me, though quite right with yourself, Sayaka-san.
Sayaka: Does time fly as fast for you as it did for the poet?
Jaugo: Yes, it does. Time flies incredibly fast before me.
Sayaka: But you said you and I are quite alike.
Jaugo: And I said I’m so perfectly and persistently honest to myself that I don’t care what’s going on around me, until I find myself a total stranger to the world around, totally left out of the flow of time around me… until I suddenly find the year has already come to its end, the last century is the “twentieth” not “nineteenth”, five years have mysteriously gone while immersing myself in the creation of 『扶桑語り（ふさうがたり：Fusau Tales）』… and I’m now face to face with a cute kitty-faced girl of 17, feeling as though I was her classmate, although she may be seeing me as her father or an unworldly man more than 100 years old straight out of 『大鏡（Oo-kagami）』… Time goes by different clocks within and without me. Although most people obediently resign themselves to the “outside clock” and are content to be accordingly old, I’m much less obedient, often in total oblivion of such “objective time”, so much so that I feel myself “timeless”, if not ageless.
Sayaka: (…) When I first met you, I couldn’t figure out how old you were…now I understand ― you are really ageless.
Jaugo: Not ageless, as I said: I know I couldn’t do 1,234 push-ups now.
Sayaka: You did 1,234 push-ups!?
Jaugo: Memorable number, isn’t it? In memory of my dauntless courage and strength, and to convince myself that simply increasing the number of daily push-ups was meaningless. When I found that I was able to do more than twice the number of what I did every day, I could rest satisfied with something less than 500, because I could do twice as much if I just put my mind to doing it. More than 1,000 push-ups freed me from the state of what you might call “the aspiration spiral”.
Sayaka: Aspiration spiral?
Jaugo: Or you may call it “slavery to advancement” where you cannot help feeling miserable unless you keep increasing in quantity, whether in the number of daily push-ups, the scores of exams, the number of friends, Twitter followers, annual income, social grades… whatever you’ve got just has to keep increasing; when it starts going down, your life is on the wane. I am totally free from such self-destroying attitudes.
Jaugo: All because of my humble daily push-ups. So long as I keep doing push-ups, I can keep many things ― physical shape, mental strength, belief in myself and indifference to “outside clock”… I’m so much indifferent to the passage of time that I forget getting old, if not physically, at least mentally ― that’s why I enjoy talking with you as your “classmate”… although this feeling might not be mutual.
Sayaka: Mutual, I feel as though you are my friend… although I’m a little afraid if I’m worthy as your friend.
Jaugo: You are more than worthy as my friend, as well as as a cute hostess of this poetic adventure… Well, it seems we’ve been talking far too long. Time flies faster when engaged in something really interesting.
Sayaka: I could engage in your conversation until the end of time.
Jaugo: Me too… but unless we say good-bye for today, we can’t go on to the next phase ― a series of love poems you seemed so eager to see.
Sayaka: Oh yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing them and talking about them with you, Jaugo-san!
Jaugo: So, say good-bye to the end of seasonal TANKA… until next time, so long.
Sayaka: Thank you ever so much, see you ever so soon!
(on the heart at the end of the year)
Without waiting for anything in particular,
This year has come to this day already.
まつ【待つ】〔他タ四〕（まつ＝連体形）＜VERB:wait for, look forward to＞
なし【無し】〔形ク〕（なし＝終止形）＜ADJECTIVE(NEGATIVE):not, without -ing＞
に【に】〔格助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(CIRCUMSTANCE):while, as＞
…without waiting for anything in particular to happen
あけくる【明け暮る】〔自ラ下二〕（あけくれ＝連用形）＜VERB:lead a life, live from day to day＞
…each day just came and passed away
けふ【今日】〔名〕＜NOUN:today, this day＞
に【に】〔格助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(CULMINATION):result in, end up in＞
なる【成る】〔自ラ四〕（なり＝連用形）＜VERB:become, come to＞
ぬ【ぬ】〔助動ナ変型〕完了（に＝連用形）＜AUXILIARY VERB(PERFECT TENSE)＞
けり【けり】〔助動ラ変型〕過去（ける＝連体形）＜AUXILIARY VERB(DISCOVERY):I realize＞
…until today I find myself at the end of this year
《nanigoto wo matsu towa nashini ake kure te kotoshi mo kyou ni narinikeru kana》
■the fallacy of “歌徳説話（legends of promotion by virtue of poetry）”■
”何事を待つとはなしに（without waiting for anything in particular）” says the author of this TANKA 源国信（Minamoto-no-Kunizane：1069-1111）; it might well have been his actual feeling at the end of each year, in view of his smooth promotion at the Imperial Court: his ultimate official title was 正二位（shou-ni-i = upper second grade）権中納言（gon-chuu-nagon = deputy middle grade NAGON）, well beyond the ambitious dreams of normal nobles of Heian era, and he must have made still more promotion but for his abrupt death at the age of 42.
”Without waiting for anything in particular”, however, was the last thing most Heianese nobles would ever do, especially in Spring and in Autumn: the former was a season for annual promotion of high-ranking officers at the Imperial Court, the latter for announcement of the names of middle-ranking nobles assigned to local districts as 受領（zuryou or juryou）, powerful viceroy with lots of opportunity for moneymaking. In order to secure for themselves the highest positions possible, nobles of the day did everything they could to throw themselves at the attention of high-ranking officers at the Imperial Court who they hoped would pull them up by virtue of their personal relationship ― and waited every Spring or Autumn for their names to be mentioned in the promotional lists.
As the easiest and most popular means of throwing themselves at the attention of the celebrities of the day, Heianese nobles turned to TANKA poems. We might even be able to argue that the actual purpose of Heianese 歌会（uta-kai = TANKA reading party） was not so much artistic communion as social intercourse, a pretext for TANKA poets to be introduced to people with fame and power. Without such secular motives, it is doubtful whether TANKA poetry flourished the way it did in Heian period.
As a matter of fact, however, literary fame as a good TANKA poet contributed little or nothing to actual promotion at the Imperial Court. “Promotion by virtue of good TANKA alone” was the dream-product of folklore born mostly in 東国（tougoku = eastern regions of Japan） far from the realities in 京都（Kyoto） after 鎌倉時代（Kamakura period） when the good old days of TANKA’s golden age was a thing of the past, and so, free to tamper by those who didn’t even make TANKA (worthy of the name) for themselves.
For your reference, I will show you sissy yet quite honest “lamentations” by famous TANKA poets of Heian period, who were never to be rewarded for their great literary contribution to Japanese culture.
The first is a 長歌（chou-ka = a long poem） made by 源俊頼（Minamoto-no-Toshiyori） who was the sole editor of the 5th Imperial TANKA anthology 『金葉集（Kin-you-shuu：A.D.1126）』：
最上川 瀬々の岩角 湧き返り 思ふ心は 多かれど 行く方も無く 堰かれつつ 底の藻屑と 成ることは 藻に住む虫の 割殻と 思ひ知らずは なけれども 言はではえこそ 渚なる 片割舟の 埋もれて 引く人も無き 嘆きすと 波の立ち居に 仰げども 虚しき空は 緑にて 言ふことも無き 虚しさに 音をのみ泣けば 唐衣 抑ふる袖も 朽ち果てぬ 何事にかは 哀れとも 思はむ人に 近江なる 打出の浜の 打ち出でて 言ふとも誰か 小蟹の 如何様にても かきつらむ ことをば軒に 吹く風の 烈しき頃と 知りながら 上の空にも 教ふべき 梓の杣に 宮木引き 御垣が原に 芹摘みし 昔を余所に 聞きしかど 我が身の上に 成り果てぬ さすがに御代の 始めより 雲の上には 通へども 難波の事も 久方の 月の桂し 折られねば うけらが花の 咲きながら 開けぬ事の いぶせさに 四方の山辺に 憧れて 此の面彼の面に 立ち交じり うつぶし染めの 麻衣 花の袂に 脱ぎ変へて 後の世をだにと 思へども 思ふ人々 絆しにて 行くべき方も 惑はれぬ 斯かる憂き身の つれもなく 経にける年を 数ふれば 五の十に 成りにけり 今行末は 稲妻の 光の間にも 定め無し 例へば一人 永らへて 過ぎにしばかり 過ぐすとも 夢に夢見る 心地して 隙行く駒に 異ならじ 更にも言はじ 冬枯れの 尾花が末の 露なれば 嵐をだにも 待たずして 本の雫と 成り果てむ 程をば何時と 知りてかは 暮れにとだにも 沈むべき 斯くのみ常に 争ひて 猶古里に 住の江の 潮に漂ふ うつせ貝 うつし心も 失せ果てて あるにもあらぬ 世の中に 又何事を 御熊野の 浦の浜木綿 重ねつつ 憂きに堪へたる 例しには 鳴尾の松の 徒然と 徒ら言を 掻き集めて 哀れ知れらむ 行末の 人の為には 自づから 忍ばれぬべき 身なれども 儚きことも 雲鳥の あやに叶はぬ くせなれば これも然こそは みなし栗 朽葉が下に 埋もれめ それにつけても 津の国の 生田の社の 幾度か 海人のたく縄 繰り返し 心に添はぬ 身を恨むらむ
・・・This is a totally worthless bunch of words as a poem, at least NOTHING WORTHY TO BE INTRODUCED IN AN IMPERIAL TANKA ANTHOLOGY ― still, it was given its place in 『千載集（Senzai-shuu：1188）』 by 藤原俊成（Fujiwara-no-Shunzei） obviously because 俊頼（Toshiyori） was speaking for 俊成（Shunzei） and all the other unfortunate TANKA poets who were far from being rewarded for their notable literary achievements.
・・・Since most of its words are simply unnecessary, I will curtail it into the following for eager readers to interpret:
行く方も無く 堰かれつつ 底の藻屑と 成ることは 割殻と 思ひ知らずは なけれども 言はではえこそ 埋もれて 引く人も無き 嘆きすと ＜仰げども 虚しき空は 緑にて＞ 言ふことも無き 虚しさに 音をのみ泣けば 哀れとも 思はむ人に 打ち出でて 吹く風の 烈しき頃と 知りながら 上の空にも 教ふべき 咲きながら 開けぬ事の いぶせさに 花の袂に 脱ぎ変へて 後の世をだにと 思へども 思ふ人々 絆しにて 行くべき方も 惑はれぬ 斯かる憂き身の つれもなく 経にける年を 数ふれば 五の十に 成りにけり うつし心も 失せ果てて あるにもあらぬ 世の中に 徒然と 徒ら言を 掻き集めて 心に添はぬ 身を恨むらむ
…for less eager readers, the following is the synopsis of what 俊頼（Toshiyori） is saying:
《In a time like this, it is hard for a person like me to get promoted in the Imperial Court, I know; but I did my best and even edited an Imperial TANKA anthology ― which, after all, contributed nothing to my career as an Imperial officer… I’ve been so depressed that I was tempted to desert this secular life and become a Buddhist priest, but the people I love so much in this world have been a psychological hindrance to such religious determination of mine… after all these vainly painful years of waiting, I turned fifty, losing my senses, only to stick to this world as a worthless trash, venting my irritation with such meaningless words of lamentation》
・・・The only reason I cited this totally worthless bunch of lamentation is that it contains the phrase ＜仰げども 虚しき空は 緑にて：aoge domo munashiki sora wa midori nite＞… literally translated, it means ＜I look up vainly at the sky to find it tinged with green＞ ― green is a freshly energetic and hopeful color in Nature; at the Imperial Court of Japan, however, 緑（midori = green） is the symbol color of the lowest of nobles along with 黒（kuro = black), contrasted with the highly honorable colors of 紫（murasaki = purple） and 青（ao = blue）… in between was 赤（aka = red）, as can be seen in the following TANKA by 藤原輔尹（Fujiwara-no-Suketada） who was much less known than the rest of poets cited here (and was no editor of an Imperial TANKA anthology):
《むらさきもあけもみどりもうれしきは としのはじめにきたるなりけり：murasaki mo ake mo midori mo ureshiki wa toshi no hajime ni kitaru narikeri》『後拾遺集（Go-Shuui-shuu）』春(Spring) No.16 紫も(purple)朱も(red)緑も(green)嬉しきは(they are all delightful because)春の始めに来／着たるなりけり(they all come at the beginning of Spring in their respective colors worn by nobles high and low)
・・・Spring, as I told you in this article, is the annual season of promotion for high-ranking officers at the Imperial Court. Judging from this TANKA, 輔尹（Suketada）, like 国信（Kunizane）, seemed to be far enough from promotional worries.
・・・In spite of the poem above, the color “緑（green）” was the color of miserable lamentation for the following poets, who were all editors of some Imperial TANKA anthologies:
《まつならばひくひとけふはありなまし そでのみどりぞかひなかりける：matsu nara ba hiku hito kyou wa arinamashi sode no midori zo kai nakarikeru》『拾遺集（Shuui-shuu）』春(Spring) No.1027 by 大中臣能宣（Oonakatomi-no-Yoshinobu）松ならば(if I were a branch of a pine tree)引く人今日は有りなまし(some people would draw me on this happy Spring day)袖の緑ぞ甲斐なかりける(in fact, my sleeves are tinged with the lowest color green, only to find no one to pull me up)
《まつをのみときはとおもふによとともに ながすいずみもみどりなりけり：matsu wo nomi tokiwa to omou ni yo to tomo ni nagasu namida mo midori narikeri》『拾遺集（Shuui-shuu）』賀(Greetings) No.291 by 紀貫之（Ki-no-Tsurayuki）松をのみ常盤と思ふに(pine trees are the only thing in this world that will stay for ever green, I thought, but)世とともに(as I advanced in years)流す泉も緑なりけり(the tears falling down from my eyes turned out to have been always green, never turning red, blue or purple)
《あをやぎのみどりのいとをくりかへし いくらばかりのはるをへぬらむ：aoyagi no midori no ito wo kurikaeshi ikura bakari no haru wo henuramu》『拾遺集（Shuui-shuu）』賀（Greetings） No.278 by 清原元輔（Kiyohara-no-Motosuke）青柳の緑の糸を(the green branch of a willow)繰り返し(I’ve been drawing over and over again)幾らばかりの春を経ぬらむ(how many Springs have I spent waiting in vain to be promoted to red, blue or purple?)
《むらさきのふぢさくまつのこずゑには もとのみどりもみえずぞありける：murasaki no fuji saku matsu no kozue ni wa moto no midori mo miezu zo arikeru》『拾遺集（Shuui-shuu）』夏（Summer） No.85 by源順（Minamoto-no-Shitagau）紫の藤咲く(with Japanese wisterias blooming in purple)松の梢には(at the end of the pine branch)本の緑も(its original color green)見えずぞありける(might as well be non-existent)
・・・This poem is at once grieving over the lowly position of its author 源順（Minamoto-no-Shitagau） by referring to “緑（midori = green）” and insinuating the overwhelming prosperity of the clan of 藤原（Fujiwara）s by the terms “藤（fuji = Japanese wisterias）” and “紫（murasaki = purple）”.
・・・まつもむなしきときはのみどり（松／待つも空しき時は／常磐の緑：matsu mo munashiki tokiwa no midori… no matter how long they waited, their official ranks stayed forever low） ― to the ears of these less-than-rewarded great poets, 国信（Kunizane）’s “何事を待つとはなしに明け暮れて 今年も今日になりにけるかな：nanigoto wo matsu to wa nashi ni ake kure te kotoshi mo kyou ni narinikeru kana” must have sounded quite differently.
We provide you not with actual conversation partners, but we enable you to engage in intellectually enticing conversation with Sayaka-san/Jaugo-san(…no mean feat, isn’t it?)
WEB lessons by ZUBARAIE LLC. are currently for JAPANESE students only, conducted in Japanese language (…sorry for English speakers)