川柳 (senryu) for reading practice

Someone in another thread stated they were learning Japanese expressly to read “zen poetry”.

I replied that 川柳(せんりゅう) tend to be less serious and more approachable than haiku or whatever for novices like myself. 川柳 tend to be comedic/light-hearted observances about everyday life that anyone can relate to.

I’ve always enjoyed it when someone shared 川柳 with me, but until Wanikani I always needed someone to read them to me or else find pre-translated sources with furigana or romaji.

Which got me to thinking … (Always dangerous)

I’ve not been doing enough reading outside of WK in Japanese or English these days, which makes me sad. But I really want to force myself to read more Japanese.

It turns out that I’m already able to read the kanji in many if not most of the senryu I’ve found, and they come in nice, small, self-contained chunks: I don’t need to commit to much longer-form things like novels and manga (though I still want to do more of that). I still get to practice my reading, but I can just snack on a few pocky-sticks rather than committing to a full meal.

Senryu (like (ことわざ)) seem like a great way to build your vocabulary as well as expose yourself to various grammatical constructs. Reading them online provides access to crutches like Yomichan, etc., but often the mechanical translations don’t really suffice. They really help to get you to think in Japanese. Reading and understanding each one feels almost like solving a puzzle for me — kinda like solving the daily wordle!

I found a few old (locked) threads here for haiku/senryu, but they were mostly about writing poems rather than reading practice, and contained a mish-mash of people’s own attempts (some excellent) as well as English poems and other commentary.

I wanted some simple lists of poems that I could pick and choose from for practice.

After a short search for 川柳の例, I was able to find a few lists like this one with 300 特選(とくせん)名作(めいさく)川柳(せんりゅう) (“specially selected masterpieces”).

I wonder if anyone else has any other lists they might recommend?

I don’t understand many of these, but I’m surprised how many I can read. They are great fun.

As an example, I’ve a birthday coming up, so this one caught my eye:

ゴミの日と丸つけられた誕生日

Most people here should be able to read the individual vocabulary words, but you must understand at least a little grammar to comprehend the whole thing. Apple’s machine translation is little help: “Garbage day and rounded birthday”.

It’s about the circled day on the calendar being both your birthday and garbage day (which warranted the circle?). :thinking:

tl;dr — I’m looking for lists of 川柳 to use as reading practice. I’m still interested in any particularly interesting examples (whether self-created or not) but I’d love to find more lists that people recommend.

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I didn’t know what you were referring to when you posted this, but I did a search on the forums to find information about 川柳 just now and have a question…

Is ‘comic haiku’ an accurate translation? Why not ‘comic poem’? I’ve typically understood haiku as a 5-7-5 form of poetry… but maybe haiku has more mean than that?

Anyways, I think your idea of using these to study/enjoy learning is a great one. I might try a little too. Sorry not to be able to help, but maybe someone will notice this and be able to help in your pursuit.

川柳 are 5-7-5 poems that ignore the more obscure rules of haiku and are usually humorous. So comic haiku seems fine to me.

Especially when most English speakers don’t even know there are more rules than 5-7-5.

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Ok, good to know. This term is starting to become a bit more tangible for me.

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In case you didn’t realize, the follow-up to this thread is here: (The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

I’m terribly remiss in updating the thread with the next poem. I’ve been unusually busy lately (currently sitting in a Tokyo hotel room between meetings) but I hope to update the thread tonight.

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