Category: Japanese Politics

'Pigeon Mountain'

In Japan, there is a form of poetry called 落首, which literally means ‘the head fell off.’ This can be read as ‘ochi gaki,’ ‘ochi kubi,’ or ‘rakushu.’ Though it began in the Heian period, it was extremely popular during the Edo period. Because the Tokugawa shogunate fiercely restricted free speech, people used these poems as a form of political criticism. The name ‘the head fell off’ came from the fact that by writing these poems the author was literally risking having his head cut off. These were usually written on walls as graffiti, think Bansky but during feudal Japan. These poems were always anonymous and also very witty.

Here is a modern rakushu about Japan’s current Prime Minister, Hatoyama Yukio.

Below is a translation. Inside the “quotation marks” are the names of various birds and inside the (parenthesis) are the second meanings of those birds’ names. Line by line, here it goes:



We have a mysterious bird in Japan. We don’t really know what it is.


Chinese say it is “Kamo” (stupid person is can easily deceived)


Americans say it is “Chicken” (chicken, as in scared or afraid)


Europeans say it is “Ahoudori” (ahou = aho, or idiot)


Japanese think it is “Sagi” (liar/cheater)


But Ozawa says it is “Oumu” (yes-man, as in the guy who always says yes to Ozawa) [Ozawa here is obviously Ozawa Ichiro, the current head of the DPJ]


But the bird itself says he is “Hato” (Pigeon, helpless and unsure of where to go, as in Hatoyama)


When it promises something, it ends up with “Uso” (lies)


During inspection, it becomes as black as “Karasu” (crow, as in corrupt)


In front of reporters, it becomes “Kyuukan-chou” (naive/plain person)


In reality, it is merely a “u” (U is a bird that catches fish for people, IE a slave.)


But I believe it really is a “Gan.” (cancer)


Here is the link to the original article (in Japanese):

And massive thanks to Hide for showing me this in the first place and helping me understand it!

So, the Imperial Household Agency has agreed to let Li Xinping, the probable successor to the presidency of the PRC, meet the Emperor…without giving one-month in advance notice (as is customary). I find it rather interesting that the unrelenting bureaucrats (or cloaked shadows, as I like to think of them) of the Imperial Household Agency have actually agreed to let the Emperor out of his cage without following the proper protocols (Now China, you know all play dates with the Emperor must be scheduled at least one month in advance). Of course, the fact that the DPJ holds a majority in both Houses of the Diet (thus the purse strings over the Imperial Household Agency’s budget) might have something to do with it.

You can interpret the DPJ’s (or just Ozawa Ichiro’s) interest in China two ways:
A) The DPJ sees the value in warmer relations with China as necessary and doesn’t want to slight them by refusing a visit with the Emperor.
B) The DPJ is too soft when it comes to their China policy and is allowing Li Xinping to show the world that a Chinese leader can meet the Emperor whenever he wishes, regardless of protocol. Considering the current Futenma debacle, the LDP will take any chance they can get to point out the Hatoyama government’s lack of finesse when it comes to foreign policy.

Regardless, I doubt Li Xinping will contort himself at the waist when he greets the Emperor like the foolish young American did…

Yes, during Obama’s recent visit to Japan he bowed to the Emperor. Sparking the dumbest controversy EVER.

I'm just using you to limber up for China

Yes, Obama bowed. Clearly, this must be some sort of alpha male sig of submission. Because no American would ever try to show any cultural sensitivity to an important figure from another country.

But wait, it gets better – THE EMPEROR DIDN’T BOW BACK! Thus revealing to the Emperor Obama’s (and by extension – America’s) weakness. If this doesn’t led to a redo of WWII then I don’t know what will. But hey, the Emperor doesn’t bow to anybody – he’s the Emperor. Let’s reference some imperial propaganda (ahem, Kokutai no hongi) – everyone is a subject of the Emperor (including Obama and Paris Hilton). The Japanese imperial line runs back from time immemorial to the great sun goddess Ameterasu. So unless Obama can pull out a lineage that trumps that (Zeus, perhaps?), then he isn’t going to get a bow.

I honestly can’t believe that the American media spent as much time on this as they did.