(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

Been so busy with work, I haven’t been able to do a lot of these.

Translation Attempt


On my birthday
Blew out the candles and
Stood too fast: vertigo

Tried out the 4-5-4 format and I like it. Also, “candles” being a single syllable is not a hill I’m willing to die on, so feel free to disagree. :wink:

Translation Notes
  • ローソク for candle I had to look up, :sweat:
  • 立ちくらみ to get dizzy from standing up too fast

Fortunately, the judges are feeling equanimous and charitable today (especially since you can replace the “and” with a period.)

But the third stanza may still be challenged. They do like the 3-5-3 you intended:

My birthday:
blew out the candles
– vertigo.

THAT word I knew, it was the end I had to look up! I’ve given up trying to understand when/why they use katakana, though. Doubtless it refers to some deep, historical, nuanced, and comical pun that we 外人(がいじん) can never hope to understand.

In theory, senryu aren’t as difficult to interpret as haiku. I’m starting to have my doubts, though.

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I tried doing both a 3-5-3 and a 4-5-4, but ended up preferring the 4-5-4 because the truncated grammar felt too distracting to me in English. Here’s my attempt:

誕生日(たんじょうび) ローソク()いて ()ちくらみ

happy birthday!
blew out the candles;
got lightheaded


4-5-4 version
Blowing out all / those birthday candles / made me dizzy

A more straightforward translation:
Birthday candles: / blowing them all out, / I feel dizzy

Agree & thanks to @fallynleaf for referencing it. That article made several observations that I had not really thought about. It seems that the 4-5-4 forces an economy of words that makes the translation feel closer in mood to the Japanese version. That said, a 3-5-3 translation may prove to be a challenging beast, mainly due to the need to directly mention the subject (i.e. nouns & pronouns) in English sentences, thereby losing the economy that is inherent to the Japanese language.


たんじょうびろーそく / ふいて / たちくらみ

birthday candles
all blown out I am


Saturday, May 21, 2022

Previous senryu

  1. 誕生日 ローソク吹いて 立ちくらみ
    happy birthday! / blew out the candles; / got lightheaded


  • Congrats to @fallynleaf :confetti_ball: who tbf was chosen almost at random. You folks aren’t making this selecting job any easier.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Intense

  1. リダイヤルされないように時報聞き

I’ll be on the road almost all day today. Please behave yourselves in my absence.

Remember to please use the spoiler tag with your translation attempts! Also, please include the reading in kana with your submission.

Everyone is encouraged to participate, no matter your level!

Online tools like dictionaries, sentence databases, and even AI translation engines are fair game and can be extremely helpful. Yomichan is particularly handy if you use the Chrome or Firefox browser.

Here are the links to the 356 Japanese originals (spoiler free) and to the the spreadsheet with all the upcoming senryu as well as the translations to date.


Translation attempt (low confidence)


Apparently not
Listening for the announcement

I’ve used considerable artistic license with this based on my potentially wildly inaccurate understanding of the Japanese (explained below).

Translation notes

リダイヤル - redial
されない - negative passive of する (?)
リダイヤルされない - it doesn’t redial
時報 じほう announcement
聞き audible/listening

Most literal translation I can manage:
It seems it doesn’t redial
Listening for the announcement

As far as I understand, the passive implies annoyance or having been inconvenienced. I’m imagining (but could be wrong) a humourously annoying situation where an announcement was missed, and the first instinct is to want to redial to hear it again.


Well, you get the :confetti_ball:! :smile:

Sorry I couldn’t try to encourage more attempts yesterday, I was driving most of the day. I was also rushing to get out of the house yesterday and didn’t have time to leave the hints below.

So I’m going to leave this one open for one more day. More attempts are encouraged.


  1. I’m not certain about this, but I think

    リダイヤルされないように means “to avoid being redialed” or to avoid having someone call you back.

  2. Further, I think

    時報聞き might refer to the time service available back before mobile phones and GPS made the service obsolete and unnecessary. The older among us will remember dialing a number on our landlines to hear a recording saying something like “At the tone, the time will be eight oh four and thirty seconds … BEEEP … At the tone, the time … .

    Hah! For once it looks like being an old fart actually paid off: [spoiler]https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/時報[/spoiler]


ah! that makes more sense and changes it entirely! lol, I had fun being the first and taking a truly innocent stab at it :face_with_monocle:

Thanks so much for the hints and background, I am loving this thread.


Oh, man!

I think I learned the 〜ないように form mostly from listening to various announcements and requests over the years.

I just found this wonderful recording that just made my morning! I’m sure this will be familiar to many of us: Tokyo Limousine Bus Lady - Film | Monocle

I used to travel to and from Tokyo a lot — on the order of six to ten or more times per year from about 1989 to ~2015. I’ve probably heard her announcements a couple of hundred times by now going between the airport and whatever hotel.

The second announcement at 1’27" was the one that taught me the form: お客様にお願い申し上げます。携帯電話のご使用は他のお客様のご迷惑となりますので、ご遠慮くださいますようお願い申し上げます。(I think I’ve finally captured that correctly!) Because she uses keigo, she doesn’t say 〜かけないように directly, but the よう in the last bit is still asking you to avoid making calls. That’s about as close to a direct command as you can give in keigo! (laugh)

I never thought of the Airport Limousine Bus as an SRS system before, but if you want proof that sufficient repetition will teach you anything, that’s not a bad example!

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Just a straight translation, which still doesn’t make sense:
Listening carefully to the time announcement so as not to redial

This one’s a tough nut to crack - no wonder it is under the “intense” category. Must be a reference to some quirky characteristic to the Japanese time announcement service of yore that I am not aware of. My (labored) guess:

Perhaps each time you called the service, you had to listen to a bunch of ads before they told you the current time? Which might force you to listen carefully, so that you don’t have to redial if you miss the time announcement? :thinking:

Perhaps each time you called the service, you had to listen to a bunch of ads before they told you the current time? Which might force you to listen carefully, so that you don’t have to redial if you miss the time announcement?

My take from @Rrwrex 's hint is a lot different, that the person has called the time signal service in order to avoid an incoming call. I believe these things were made before people came up with the idea to put ads on everything.

As for getting a poem out of that, here’s another attempt, but it’s also likely to be as far off as my first one.

Avoiding the redial coming through
Listening to the time signal

I wonder what @Rrwrex has up his sleeve!

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Yup, I’m old enough to remember this. :joy:

I think a further hint is that whenever you dialed that service, you always forgot the time 2 seconds after hanging up.

Also, I’m old enough to remember spinning a dial to make a call and physically hanging up. :sweat_smile:


I’ve been speaking about context quite a bit recently. This isn’t so much Japan-related context as just old-guy context.

Back in the before times, we only had landline telephones. Miniature portable telephones were purely the realm of the Sunday funny papers, Dick Tracy to be specific.

[ All of those things: landlines, dead-tree newspapers, Sunday funnies, and Dick Tracy, probably seem as quaint and ancient to my kids as literal ice boxes and hand-crank car engines do to me.]

There was no voicemail. If someone called you while you were using the phone, they’d hear a busy signal. This wasn’t that long ago, and landline telephones are still around, but I wonder if kids today even know what a busy signal sounds like!

Further, many if not most of our clocks didn’t keep accurate time: they ran slightly slow or fast. We’d set our clocks periodically by calling up the time service to find out what time it was exactly. [As an aside, you might wonder how the phone service knew the time: in the US, they mostly depended on a radio signals from WWV and WWVH that were broadcast by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder Fort Collins, Colorado. You can still tune in to those stations today.]

Anyway, I think this is the story of someone who received a call from someone they didn’t wish to speak to again for a while, so they called up the time service to tie up their line. That way, the caller would hear a busy signal after redialing and think the author was talking to someone else on the phone.

The main question is: why not just leave the phone off the hook? (Geez, even that phrase is an anachronism — kids these days may not even realize there used to be physical hooks for the corded handset that let the phone system know when the phone was in use!)

I suspect the reason is the same as it was in the US: if you left the phone off the hook for more than a few seconds without a call being connected, it would start blaring out an annoying horn sound (“DEET DEET DEET DEET DEET”) to alert you that you hadn’t “hung up” properly. By calling the time service, the speaker in the handset would only emit the time announcements at a normal volume level that couldn’t be heard without holding the handset up to your ear.

Honestly, I just picked this one completely at random without even really looking at it yesterday. Geez I wish I’d picked a different one, though!

While I’m sure many or most here know all of the above, it may be be new information to some of the younger folks. It’s really making me feel ancient two days after turning 60!

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Come to think of it, this makes a lot more sense, all the more as it is in the true spirit of 川柳 than my line of thinking. I (mis?)translated リダイヤルされない as “having to suffer me redialing” (in other words, “I’ll end up having to redial”) as opposed to @Rrwrex’s translation “me having to suffer redialed incoming call,” which now makes sense.

Still challenged with causative, passive, etc voice, all the more so in the absence of particles to figure who is “causing” and who is “passively” receiving.


Well put. That’s exactly the challenge with most of these.

“me redialing” — I think that would be something like リダイヤル掛けないように (I’m not sure if that’s the correct kanji, but I’m pretty sure it would be かけない rather than させない).

Also, I’m now wondering how “off the hook” came to mean a wild party. I wonder if it had something to do with taking the phone off the hook to ignore noise complaints or other incoming phone calls.


  • This site says it comes from taking something new off a store hangar: What Does Off the Hook Mean?

  • It also says that my usage is now officially “dated”. :unamused:

  • Thinking about it further. I think that site missed a fifth usage that I think is the actual derivation: a phone ringing “off the hook” means that it was ringing so frequently and violently that it literally shook the handset off the hook. Cartoons would often depict a phone ringing so hard it was shaking in mid-air. I think this makes much more sense than new stuff off a store shelf or hangar.

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Isn’t the を/が particle always required in front of 掛けないように? Further, since リダイヤル is a suru verb, I’d think that it can be used as such (i.e. without having to 掛ける, even though it is in the context of a phone call).

Actually, this particular 句 has turned out to be quite educational in the nuances of word usage. So, not to worry, you done good! :wink:


Oh! I should have prefaced that with a disclaimer that my knowledge of Japanese grammar is close to nonexistent!

My knowledge of grammar is 100% from repetitive hearing and usage, not from studying rules. I honestly don’t know most if any of the rules. I just go by what “sounds right” to me, which means I’m often quite wrong!

But yes, here リダイヤル掛けないように is probably more correct. I tend to drop particles expressly because I so often get them wrong. It’s a bad habit.

Though, as I think you’re pointing out, リダイヤルしないように is probably even correcterer. (Virginia grammar.)

I’m not going to attempt to translate today’s because there’s too much unknown grammar and vocab for me, haha, but I did want to share this.

I was so struck by something that I saw last night, which seemed to embody the spirit of these poems, I ended up trying my own hand at writing a senryu in Japanese:


It breaks the 17 mora rule, but since plenty of others on the list are breaking that rule, I don’t feel too bad about it! I’m sure the grammar and overall poem is wonky, because my Japanese isn’t that good, but if anyone wants a second senryu to look at today, there’s one.


The wrestler quietly captured a bug during the match?

I’m tickled pink that my understanding of today’s (and yesterday’s) senryu was confirmed to be correct by my daughter, but I had to explain it to her first!

Oh! This senryu reminded me of a likely apocryphal story I heard long ago about an American guy living in New York breaking up with his girlfriend. They have a huge fight, and he tells her, “Look, I have to go on an international business trip for a week, but when I get back I want you and all your stuff packed up and outta here!”.

When he returns from his trip, he notices the phone off the hook. When he picks it up, he hears, 「ただ今、一時三十七分三十秒です。。。ピー。。。ただ今、。。。」