Kobun Tomodachi: Issues and Prospects 古文友達:課題と展望

Last week I released update for my app Kobun Tomodachi. You can download it from the Play Store for Android or the Microsoft Store for Windows. I made this update mainly to change the origin character of hiragana /wu/ in accordance with the new article on this blog, “Reply to The Origin of Hiragana /wu/”, but I also added some new information, changed the backend of the kyūjitai/shinjitai converter, and added HIME-sama functionality to the Origin of Kana block. Ironically, my previous update,, was also inspired by a desire to change the hiragana /wu/ origin character in accordance with the first article on this blog, “The Origin of Hiragana /wu/”. Therefore, it’s clear that my app Kobun Tomodachi, and my blog Kobun World, are in some ways closely related. However, I have always been hesitant to write about Kobun Tomodachi on this blog because of how different the audiences for which I was aiming are. Kobun Tomodachi was designed for an audience of self-studiers who were just beginning to learn Classical Japanese. It takes inspiration from websites like Tae Kim’s Blog and Imabi. In fact, Imabi is the site which inspired me to self-study Classical Japanese and the block system of Kobun Tomodachi was very closely modeled after it. Therefore, keeping in line with these websites, I very casually cited my sources, wrote in a mixture of English and Japanese, and omitted some of the more complex details. While this style works very well for an audience of people who are just starting to learn Classical Japanese, my blog is written to present my own original research and thus requires a more academic style. Therefore, on my blog, I aim to properly cite my sources, write only in English with rōmaji, and fully explain what I’m writing about. Thus, due to this incongruence in styles and audiences, I have been hesitant to write about my app on this blog.

先週、「古文友達」という、私が作ったアプリのアップデート1.7.10.22を公開した。アンドロイド版はPlayストアから、ウインドウズ版はMicrosoftストアから、ダウンロードできる。主に、このブログの新たな記事「平仮名のわ行うの字源に対する新たな発見」に従い、アップデートを作成したが、新しい情報を加えたり、旧字体・新字体の変換の手順を改めたり、「Origin of Kana」のブロックにHIME-samaの機能を加えたりした。皮肉にも以前のアップデート(も、このブログの最初の記事「平仮名のわ行うの字源」に従って、平仮名のわ行うの字源を改良するためアップデートを行った。だから私のアプリ「古文友達」と私のブログ「古文・ワールド」は密接につながっていることが分かる。しかしアプリとブログの読者対象が非常に異なるので、このブログで「古文友達」について書くのをいつもためらっていた。「古文友達」は自分で古文を勉強しはじめる人達向けのアプリだ。「古文友達」は「Tae Kim’s Blog」や「今日いまび」などウェブサイトから影響を受けている。実際、「今日」が私にとって、古文を勉強するきっかけになった。加えて「古文友達」のブロックシステムのモデル化は「今日」の影響を受けている。これらのウェブサイトを習って、参考文献を何気なく引用したり、英語と日本語の交じり文で書いたり、複雑な詳細の説明を省いたりした。このような「古文友達」での文章は、古文を勉強しはじめる読者にはふさわしい。しかし私のブログでは独自の研究を発表する為、よりアカデミックなスタイルが必要である。故にこのブログでは参考文献をきちんと引用し、英語とローマ字の交じり文で書き、詳細を詳しく説明している。だから、読解対象と文章のスタイルの差から、このブログで私のアプリについて書くのをためらっていた。

However, I think it is time to stop ignoring my app and write at least something about it on this blog. After I initially released the app in 2018, I posted an article about it on one of my friend’s blogs (where I had previously written an analysis of a Classical Japanese poem in around 2016). I also did a presentation on the app and made some handouts for it in 2018. I packaged this promotional material into a zip file to let those who are interested in the origin of this app check it out. In addition, I also put in the original logo which was made by a friend and served as the basis for the current logo. I would like to note that some of this promotional material may have some mistakes in it, since I wrote it so long ago. You can download this content from here.


Going forward, I am not particularly interested in taking Kobun Tomodachi much further. I think it has about as much information and functionality as I would want it to have. However, I also think it is quite likely that I will update it again in the future to maintain support. Even now, I already have ideas on what I would want to change for next time, so I guess we will have to wait and see. But warts and all Kobun Tomodachi was my first real publication on Japanese language, and for that, it will always hold a special place in my heart.


Microsoft Word Right Vertical Zhuyin Tone Mark Workaround マイクロソフト・ワード右縦寄せ注音声調記号ワークアラウンド

Introduction 紹介
To keep myself occupied during the pandemic, I have been reading and translating kanbun 漢文 and kanshi 漢詩. These refer to texts and poetry written in Classical Chinese. Sometimes these Classical Chinese texts were even written by Japanese authors. Following academic tradition, when I translate these texts to English, I render proper nouns into Hanyu Pinyin. Therefore, I would render 蓬莱 as Pénglái or Penglai rather than Hōrai. When I encountered a proper noun while reading a Classical Chinese text, to remind myself of the Chinese reading for my translation, I originally would gloss the character with Pinyin. For horizontal texts, Pinyin is quite easy to read as it follows the same text orientation of the Latin alphabet, e.g. (zhī). But as Classical Chinese is traditionally written vertically, Pinyin can be quite difficult to read. One can write the Pinyin gloss vertically without rotation (zhī) or rotated 90 degrees (zhī). I find both formats quite cumbersome to read. Therefore, I began to use Zhuyin Fuhao 注音符号.


Zhuyin Fuhao 注音符号
Zhuyin Fuhao, also known as Bopomofo or Zhuyin, is a transliteration system for Mandarin Chinese. In 1912 the government of the Republic of China established the Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation, an organization to standardize Mandarin pronunciation and create a Mandarin phonetic system. The system they created, Zhuyin, was used in mainland China until 1958, when Hanyu Pinyin became the official transliteration system of the People’s Republic of China. However, Zhuyin continues to be used in Taiwan for teaching Mandarin pronunciation.


As for the actual system itself, each Zhuyin character represents either a Mandarin initial, or a medial/final. For example, the Zhuyin character ㄇ is the initial /m/ while the Zhuyin character ㄚ is the final /a/. Therefore, the reading of 媽, /ma/, is written in Zhuyin as ㄇㄚ. Here is a chart of Zhuyin characters with their Pinyin and IPA equivalents.



Zhuyin is flexible because it can be written both vertically and horizontally. For example, one can gloss 媽 as ㄇㄚ in horizontal writing and ㄇㄚ in vertical writing. Zhuyin can be considered analogous to katakana, because not only are the characters used for phonetic transcription, but they also originate from Chinese characters. For example, the Zhuyin character ㄖ comes from the Chinese character 日 and the Zhuyin character ㄓ comes from the Chinese character 之.


(I would like to have discussed the promulgation and origin of the Zhuyin characters more in-depth, but I encountered much difficulty in finding primary sources on the creation of Zhuyin and its adoption in the early 20th century. Maybe I will return to this one day.)


I saved the discussion of Zhuyin tones for last because it is the most relevant to this article and thus requires a more in-depth discussion. To indicate tone in Zhuyin four tone markers are utilized. They are as follows.


Tone 声調
1Omitted 省かれた

According to The Manual of the Phonetic Symbols of Mandarin Chinese by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China, “Marks of the four tones should be noted at the upper-right corner of Bopomofo in both portrait and landscape text.



However, “The mark of neutral tone should be
   a. Noted on the top of Bopomofo in portrait text. For example:
   a. 縦書きでボポモフォの上に記すものとする。例えば

   b. Noted at the very front of Bopomofo in landscape text. For example:
   b. 横書きでボポモフォの最初に記すものとする。例えば

Using Microsoft Word to Gloss Chinese Characters マイクロソフト・ワードで漢字に注音を振る方法
So now that we have a basic understanding of Zhuyin, let’s talk about how I ended up finding this problem in the first place. In addition to kanbun and kanshi, I also have been reading Classical Chinese poems aloud in Mandarin. However, because I find memorizing tones to be quite difficult, I prefer to gloss every single word. Originally, I would gloss them manually, but soon I found that Microsoft Word could do this for me.


Now I’m going to discuss how to install Zhuyin support for Microsoft Word. Because Microsoft Office and Windows are frequently being updated, the process to set up Zhuyin glossing for you may be different than what I will describe. If you are having difficulty, please leave a comment and I will try my best to help.


Microsoft Office does not have any Chinese character dictionary itself, so to provide one you need to install the Windows Chinese (Traditional, Taiwan) language pack. To do such, open Word, click on Review, then Language, then Language Preferences, and Install additional keyboards from Windows Settings. From there, press Add a language, and select Chinese (Traditional, Taiwan).








After that finishes installing, you need to install the Traditional Chinese Language Pack for Office. You can do this by opening Word, clicking on Review, then Language, then Language Preferences, and finally Install additional display languages from Office.com. From that list choose Chinese (Traditional) and run the file from office.com to install the language pack.



インストールを終えた後、「オフィス用中国語 (繁体字)パック」をインストールする必要がある。インストールするために、ワードの「校閲」をクリックし、「言語」をクリックし、「言語の設定」をクリックして、「Office.comから追加の表示言語をインストール」をクリックする。その表から「中国語 (繁体字)」を選んで、Office.comからファイルを実行する。



Now that that is installed, let’s try to gloss some characters. First, copy and paste some Chinese characters into Microsoft Word. If Word does not automatically set the proofreading language to Chinese (Taiwan), then do such manually by highlighting the text, click Review, then Language, and then Set Proofreading Language. From there select Chinese (Taiwan) and hit Ok.




Now finally, highlight the text and click the Phonetic Guide button.




Thereupon this menu will open.




Word is now using Windows’ Zhuyin dictionary to easily gloss the text for you. From my experience, Word is even pretty good at glossing Chinese characters with multiple Mandarin readings, known as duōyīnzì 多音字 or pòyīnzì 破音字, based on the context of the sentence. The only downside is that this method cannot gloss more than about 30 characters at a time, so it is necessary to click the Phonetic Guide button for each sentence.


So let’s look at how Word glosses Li Bai’s 李白 8th century poem Quiet Night Thought 靜夜思.
Please note that the text orientation is currently horizontal. The first line is 床前明月光.



Overall, this glossing is pretty good in my opinion. I would note that the tone marks are a little high, but that’s just a nitpick. As for the readings themselves, they are also pretty good. Word was able to correctly gloss the duōyīnzì 地 and 頭. The only point of contention is 地上. While I have seen this word glossed as ㄉㄧˋㄕㄤ ˋ(dìshàng) in some sources, the more contemporary pronunciation is ㄉㄧˋ˙ㄕㄤ (dìshang). You can modify the gloss by highlighting the text and pressing Phonetic Guide again.

大抵上手く、注音を振ったと思う。声調記号が少し高すぎるが、まあいいだろう。候補に出てきた北京語の読みもいいと思う。ワードは多音字の「地」と「頭」に正しい読みの注音を振った。問題の一つは「地上」である。この言葉の読みは「ㄉㄧˋㄕㄤ ˋ」(dìshàng)と振られたが、より現代的なの読みは「ㄉㄧˋ˙ㄕㄤ」(dìshang)である。読みを変えるためにテキストをハイライトして、もう一度「ルビ」をクリックする。

After changing the gloss of 地上, here is the result.


But while this looks good, I would argue that Pinyin should be the preferred phonetic guide system of horizontal text, on the basis of how widespread it is. The only reason I am even interested in using Zhuyin is because of the awkwardness of using Pinyin with a vertical text orientation. (That’s also why I will not be commenting on the strange glitches Word has in rendering horizontal Zhuyin). So, let’s change the text orientation to Vertical and see how it affects the Zhuyin. You can change the text direction by going to Layout, and then Text Direction.




This yields


For those unfamiliar with Chinese, you may not notice the difference at first, but compare the Zhuyin in the vertically oriented text to that of the horizontally oriented text. You may notice that the tone of 床 appears to be 4th tone in the vertical text and 2nd tone in the horizontal text. Looking at 舉 reveals the problem: the Zhuyin tone marks are rotated 90 degrees in vertical text orientation. Looking at old Microsoft Community Forums, this bug has existed in Word for a long time. I imagine this is because the user base who would use this feature is so small that there’s little demand to correct it, even if the change in code to do such would likely be quite small. I could get over the tone marks being a tad too high, but the fact that the rotated 4th tone mark looks like the standard 2nd tone mark, and vice versa, is simply unacceptable.


I tried to find some way to fix this bug, but in short of patching Word, I do not think this bug can be fixed by a user. However, I have created some workarounds to this problem which have decent results.


These workarounds come in the form of macros. A macro is a sequence of inputtable computer instructions. For example, there can be a macro that capitalizes the name of every file in a folder. While a human could manually go through each file and capitalize its name, a macro can save time by doing this task automatically. Microsoft Office macros are written in a programing language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). I should note that Office macros have been used as a vector to send computer viruses before, so one should always take caution when enabling or running Office macros of an unknown source. To create a macro in Word, go to View then Macros.


このワークアラウンドはマクロである。マクロとはインプットできる命令の順序である。例えば、パソコンでいうと、フォルダーの中にあるファイルの名前の頭文字を大文字にするマクロを作れる。人は手動で各ファイルの名前の頭文字を大文字にすることができるけれど、マクロは自動で頭文字を大文字にすることを可能にするため、使い手の手間が省ける。マイクロソフト・オフィスのマクロはビジュアルベーシック・フォー・アプリケーションズ(Visual Basic for ApplicationsあるいはVBA)というプログラミング言語で書かれた。オフィスのマクロを使う前に、注意するべきことがある。オフィスのマクロを実行すると、ウィルスをもらうことがある。だから起源不明なオフィスのマクロを実行する時には、注意する必要がある。マクロを作るために、ワードで「表示」をクリックし、そして「マクロ」をクリックする。


Then name your macro and then press Create.




This will cause a window titled Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications to open. In this window there will be a text box, and in that text box, you paste the code for your macro.

するとMicrosoft Visual Basic for Applicationsというウィンドウが開かれる。このウィンドウにあるテキストボックスにマクロのコードを貼り付ける。


To run your macro, go to the Macros menu again, select the macro you want, and hit Run.




Before we begin discussing the macros, I would like to note that my macros involve replacing all instances of certain text sequences. While possible to undo the macro’s changes using the standard Word undo button, you will need to press undo for each replaced sequence, which can be very cumbersome. So, I recommend backing up your original text before running any of these macros, especially when you are not exactly sure which macro would best suit your needs.


So, without further ado, let’s get macroing.

Workaround #1: Reverse Tones 2 and 4 ワークアラウンド#1:第二声記号と第四声記号を交換
As I said before, the most egregious problem of having the rotated tone marks is that the rotated 2nd tone mark looks like the standard 4th tone mark and vice versa. While the 3rd tone mark looks unappealing, at least there is no confusion in what it is. Therefore, the simplest solution is to change the 2nd tone marks into 4th tone marks and the 4th tone marks into 2nd tone marks. To do this
   1. I replace all 2nd tone marks (U+02CA) with the string “UPTONE”
   2. I replace all 4th tone marks (U+02CB) with 2nd tone marks
   3. I replace all instances of the string “UPTONE” with 4th tone marks

   1. すべての第二声記号(U+02CA)を「UPTONE」という文字列とする
   2. すべての第四声記号(U+02CB)を第二声記号とする
   3. すべての 「UPTONE」という文字列を第四声記号(U+02CB)とする

Keep in mind that if your document has the string “UPTONE” in it, that string will be changed into a 4th tone mark. Also, in case you do not like the results, running this macro again will revert the tones to their original form. This macro also runs very quickly because it only needs to search the document three times.


The output of this macro is


The code for this macro is

Sub ReverseTones_Bopomofo()
Dim rngStory As Range
For Each rngStory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
With rngStory.Find
.Text = ChrW(714)
.Replacement.Text = "UPTONE"
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With rngStory.Find
.Text = ChrW(715)
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(714)
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With rngStory.Find
.Text = "UPTONE"
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(715)
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
Next rngStory
End Sub

While not perfect, someone with a rudimentary understanding of Zhuyin tone marks should have no difficulty in identifying the tone of the glossed character. But even if understandable, the rotated 3rd tone mark still does not conform to the Zhuyin standard. The quest to properly rotate the 3rd tone mark led me to Workaround #2.


Workaround #2: Use Combining Characters ワークアラウンド#2:結合文字の使用
Without going into character encoding too much, a Combining Character is a diacritic that combines with another character. For example, the combining character ◌̅ (U+0305) can combine with ‘e’ to create e̅. These contrast with Spacing Modifier Letters, the type of independent characters which the Zhuyin tone marks are. And fortunately, when the combining characters ◌̀ (U+0300), ◌́ (U+0301), and ◌͐ (U+0350) are rotated 90 degrees, they look very similar to the Zhuyin 2nd, 4th, and 3rd tone marks respectively.


But to which characters will these Combining Characters combine? For the output most accurate to the Zhuyin standard, they should combine with the final Zhuyin character. The simplest way to do this is to look for every combination of Zhuyin final and Zhuyin tone mark. This means that the entire document needs to be searched sixty-nine times. Therefore, this macro can take some time to run.


The output for this macro is


The code for this macro is

Sub Vertical_Bopomofo()
Dim rngStory As Range
For zhuyinchar = 12563 To 12585
For Each rngStory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
With rngStory.Find
.Text = ChrW(zhuyinchar) & ChrW(714)
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(832) & ChrW(zhuyinchar)
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With rngStory.Find
.Text = ChrW(zhuyinchar) & ChrW(715)
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(833) & ChrW(zhuyinchar)
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With rngStory.Find
.Text = ChrW(zhuyinchar) & ChrW(711)
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(848) & ChrW(zhuyinchar)
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
Next rngStory
End Sub

I like how the lines are much closer together than when using Spacing Modifier Letters, but unfortunately this leads to the tone marks occasionally being quite difficult to see. For example the tone mark on 是 can be easy to miss, especially if one prints out the page. On top of this, there is the quite lengthy search process. To combat a few of these issues I present Workaround #3.


Workaround #3: Use Combining Characters after the Final ワークアラウンド#3:声母後における結合文字の使用
To help alleviate the problems of the second macro, difficulty in seeing the tone marks and how long it needs to run, I created my third macro. This macro uses Combining Characters, but instead of attaching them to the Zhuyin final, they are instead attached to a whitespace character (U+0020) which is appended after the final. This macro only searches the document three times, so it is quite fast.


This macro results in


The code for this macro is

Sub Vertical_ModifyLast_Bopomofo()
Dim rngStory As Range
For Each rngStory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
With rngStory.Find
.Text = ChrW(714)
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(832) + " "
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With rngStory.Find
.Text = ChrW(715)
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(833) + " "
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With rngStory.Find
.Text = ChrW(711)
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(848) + " "
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
Next rngStory
End Sub

I don’t think this macro completely resolves the difficulty in seeing the tone marks, for example 床, but for other characters, like 是, it does help.


Conclusion 結論
At the end of the day, these macros are only workarounds to the problem. If you want true Zhuyin support, you are likely better off using another program rather than Microsoft Word. However, if you just need basic vertical Zhuyin support, I think my macros make Word an option. They may not have the cleanest execution, but at least their results do adhere to the Zhuyin standard. I also would like to note that I have very limited experience in VBA, so I am sure that there is some way to make this code more efficient or the output more presentable. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment. Also, if you are interested in getting this bug fixed, feel free to leave feedback within Microsoft Word (Help, Feedback, and then I don’t like something) and also upvote this UserVoice suggestion.




I am pessimistic that this issue will be resolved because it affects so few people, but because I imagine the fix to be quite simple, who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky.


HIME-sama (Hentaigana Input Method Editor 変体仮名インプットメソッド)

While I was doing research for my last article, I wanted to make a small dictionary of the hentaigana I encountered in On'in Kanayōrei to speed up my reading. I put all hentaigana of one page in red boxes to show the extent of how often they were used.


Shirai Hentaigana

To type out the hentaigana for the dictionary, I booted up my program Convert Kana to Hentaigana which I introduced in a previous article and saw this.


Bad Kana to Hentaigana

Apparently, some recent Windows updates for the Japanese IME broke my program. So, I decided it was time for an update. The main difference between the original and the update is that now the program uses a rōmaji input rather than kana. This is to ensure that the program would not break again with future Windows updates. I also decided to change the name from the clunky Convert Kana to Hentaigana to Hentaigana Input Method Editor, or HIME-sama for short (pronounced hee-meh-sah-mah). For an example of how to use it, below is the hentaigana iroha poem followed by how one would type it using HIME-sama.

どうやら、ウィンドウズによる最新の日本語インプットメソッドのアップデートは私のプログラムを壊した。そして私はそのプログラムを改良した。元のプログラムと新たなプログラムの大きな違いは、プログラムは仮名のかわりにローマ字の入力を使うことだ。この変更は、将来のウィンドウズによるアップデートが再び私のプログラムを壊さないことを保証している。また、プログラムの名前は奇妙な『正体仮名を変体仮名に転換できるプログラム』から『Hentaigana Input Method Editor』に変更した。略してHIME-samaと言う(「姫様」と発音する)。使い方として例を挙げると、下には変体仮名いろは歌の写真とHIME-samaでその歌を入力した動画がある。



You can download HIME-sama from this MediaFire link. Also, if there is a specific feature you would like me to add, feel free to contact me, or edit it yourself. It really is a very simple program. And hopefully this simple program will be one of the steps to getting hentaigana more universally supported.


Read More 読み続ける

Reply to The Origin of Hiragana /wu/ 平仮名のわ行うの字源に対する新たな発見

Disclaimer 記事を読む前の重要事項
This article is a follow-up to my previous article The Origin of Hiragana /wu/; I highly recommend reading that article first to understand my previous theory and its context. However, there will also be a short summary of it in this article.


Introduction 紹介
I find myself in relaxing in a Korean spa. With the peace of the spa, I finally can reflect on my previous research. However, my heart starts racing as I begin to doubt my former conclusion. “Is it too big of an assumption that Katayama would derive his hentaigana from the same kanji?” While I didn’t let it bother me too much, this problem continued to float in my mind. A couple months later, as I was showing my theory to a professor, he was skeptical on the basis that the simplification I proposed had no precedent. After that, I decided it was time to reevaluate my theory and see if I could find any new evidence that either supports or disproves my original theory.


The Question 問題
For a quick summary, in 1873 Junkichi Katayama published Shōgaku Tsuzuriji Hen 小学綴字篇 wherein there is a hiragana gojūon chart with a /wu/ kana. This /wu/ hiragana is boxed in red.



During the Meiji era there were several orthographies which contained a hiragana /wu/; however, none of these contained Katayama’s hiragana /wu/. So naturally this begs the question, does Katayama’s hiragana /wu/ come from a kanji, and if so, which one? Answering this question is more important now than ever as there has been a proposal to encode this character into Unicode, and its origin character is included as a note.


Comments on The Origin of Hiragana /wu/ 『平仮名のわ行うの字源』の論評
In my previous article I claim that the origin character of hiragana /wu/ is 紆 because in the textbook there is also a hentaigana for /wu/ whose origin character is 紆, as seen below.



While there are a few things I would change in that article (such as making the tone less confirmatory), I am still pretty proud of it as my first article. I like to think that the recent influx of discussion on /wu/ kana is partially due to that article. However, I would like to lay out some of the implicit assumptions of that article to better convey its argument. The best candidate for the origin character of hiragana /wu/ would be the one that Katayama explicitly states it is. However, in the absence of that evidence the best candidate should have the following

   1. The character should be mentioned by Katayama indirectly
   2. The simplification of the origin character should have precedent

If no character has both of these than a character with (1) is a better than a candidate with (2). As 紆 was the only character Katayama indirectly mentions it naturally became the character I accepted as the origin. I still think this line of reasoning is the best for this situation, so I will retain it and increase the number of places I search for Katayama to indirectly mention the origin character.


   1. 片山が暗に述べている
   2. 字源の簡略化に前例がある


The Commentaries 附説
The two works I found that would become the basis for this new theory are the Shōgaku Tsuzuriji Hen Fusetsu Upper and Lower Volumes 小学綴字篇附説 巻之上・巻之下, written by Junkichi Katayama in 1873. These are appendixes to Shōgaku Tsuzuriji Hen. In the Upper Volume, Katayama explains his justification for extending kana to fit the gojūon chart. In the Lower Volume, Katayama explains how to teach using Shōgaku Tsuzuriji Hen.


Starting with the Upper Volume, the first thing to catch my eye was a chart with katakana characters next to their origin characters.



I couldn’t believe it; the character I proposed was right there! Now I only needed to find the hiragana chart... But as I was quick to learn, there was no such chart. I searched, and I searched, and I searched, but while the Upper Volume spoke extensively on the /wu/ katakana and its origins, there was nothing about the hiragana. At this point, while I didn’t receive the exact answer I wanted, I felt that this new document overall supported my theory, as it was now confirmed that 紆 was the origin character for the /wu/ katakana... and then I looked at the Lower Volume.


While the Upper Volume was primarily concerned with theory, the Lower Volume was concerned with praxis. The Lower Volume explained how to use the textbook day by day and had very little concerning the new sounds and their characters. But, in this volume, there was one peculiarity that would singlehandedly dismantle my entire theory.


Reference to 汙

In the red box, Katayama is explaining the pronunciation of the /we/ sound. He does so by saying this sound is a contraction of 汙 and 衣, which represent /wu/ and /e/ respectively. Customarily one would represent those sounds by using the origin characters of the consonant and vowel’s kana. This is seen by how every other boxed sound is represented by their katakana origin character. Why is it that Katayama would use 汙 to represent /wu/ over the katakana origin character 紆? To choose a random character of the same sound, over an origin character seems like a very strange decision, especially when the only justification I see for a change in character is just for some variety. I think using the origin character of hiragana /wu/ is much more reasonable, because at least then, Katayama could achieve some variety and still keep with the custom of using origin characters.


Previous Usage of 汙 as Man’yōgana万葉仮名として使われた汙
At this point, we have two candidates that are indirectly mentioned, 紆 and 汙. By the logic I laid out above, the character who has a precedent of simplifying to Katayama’s /wu/ hiragana is the best candidate for the origin character. Starting with 紆, by once again looking at Identifying Japanese Cursive Script by Marcus Sesko, we can clearly see that 紆 does not traditionally simplify to Katayama’s hiragana /wu/.

今までに、片山が暗に述べている候補は「紆」と「汙」だ。上で述べた方法に従うと、片山が選んだわ行うの平仮名の字源への一番の候補は、簡略化の前例がある漢字だ。始めに、マルクス・セス子の『草書の識別』Identifying Japanese Cursive Scriptを見ると、「紆」は片山が選んだわ行うの平仮名に簡略化しないと確認できる。


As for 汙, since it is not in Identifying Japanese Cursive Script, let’s look at its use as a man’yōgana in the Wooden Tablet Database by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. In Tablet 1 and Tablet 1806, the character 汙 is being used as a man’yōgana for the /u/ phoneme for personal names.



Clearly, these man’yōgana look identical to Katayama’s /wu/ hiragana. Therefore, only 汙 meets criteria 1 and 2 and thus is the most likely candidate to be the origin character of hiragana /wu/.


And while I knew this for quite some time and think the logic is sound, I still didn’t feel like there was enough evidence for this new theory. So now I would like to go back into the Edo period and try to figure out what led to the weird orthography of Junkichi Katayama.


Various Edo Orthographic Developments 色々な江戸の綴りの発展
Fortunately, the Upper Volume contained several references to Edo period works that discuss kanji readings and kana orthography. Here I will go through each one to establish a timeline.


Let’s go back to 1776, when Motōri Norinaga 本居宣長 wrote Jion Kanazukai 字音仮字用格. This work posits a traditional orthography based on Heian era pronunciation. For example, the character 草 has an on’yomi of さう while the character 走 had an on’yomi of そう. By the Edo period, these on’yomi were both pronounced as そう, but Norinaga’s orthography preserves this classical distinction. While this work wasn’t too influential directly on Katayama, it started getting Edo period scholars to reflect on orthography and ancient pronunciations.


In 1815, Zensai Ōda 太田全斎 wrote Kangōnzu 漢呉音図, wherein he provides the go-on and kan-on readings of kanji juxtaposed with their “original pronunciation” 原音, which is a reconstructed Japano-Chinese pronunciation of that character. How to read these squares is explained well in Katayama’s Lower Volume. Here are the squares for 汙 and 紆 followed by how to read them.


Oda 紆Oda 汙HowToReadYomizu.png

This work also contains a gojūon chart which utilizes 于 for /wu/.



As 于 is used in many subsequent orthographies to represent the phoneme /wu/, I believe that tradition can be traced directly back to this work (though perhaps it can be traced even further).


As for the next two references, they can be seen in the Upper Volume as the creators of the orthography which Katayama is using.



Before discussing Gimon Hōshi, I want to recap what I wrote about Hirokage Shirai 白井寛蔭 in the last article. Shirai is considered the founder of extended kana, as he was the first to designate kana for /yi/, /ye/, and /wu/ in his magnum opus On'in Kanayōrei 音韻仮字用例. I would like to juxtapose his orthography with Katayama’s. Their claimed origin characters are adjacent to the kana. Those that are different are highlighted.


Sound 音素Shirai Hiragana’s 白井の平仮名Katayama’s Hiragana 片山の平仮名Shirai’s Katakana 白井の片仮名Katayama’s Katakana 片山の片仮名
/i/い 伊イ 伊イ 伊
/e/え 衣〈 衣Japanese_Katakana_E.png
/ye/𛀏𛀁ye katakanaエ 廷
/u/𛀍ウ 宥ウ 宥
/wu/う 于wa-wu.png于 宇于 紆

As for the differences between the orthographies, I originally posited that Katayama simply chose more common kana. This is demonstrated by how he slightly modified the katakana for /e/ and /ye/, making them much more similar to the very common katakana エ. As noted in my previous article, several other Meiji orthographies also use the same kana as Katayama. Perhaps these kana were just popular in orthographic traditions? Or maybe these other orthographies were inspired by Katayama’s. But if the creators of those orthographies really were inspired by Katayama, why would none use his hiragana /wu/? As of right now, I don’t have a good answer to explain all of these orthographic variations, but in order to not overanalyze, I will assume that Katayama just opted to use more common kana in his orthography. However, this explanation does not explain why 汙 was chosen. Why would Katayama use a kana so obscure for hiragana /wu/? In Japanese, the kanji variant 汚 is much more prevalent than 汙. For the answer to that, I would like to turn to Gimon Hōshi.


Gimon Hōshi: The Final Piece to This Puzzle 義門法師:このパズルの最終のピース
Gimon Hōshi was a kokugaku scholar who lived from 1786 to 1843 and was also the only other named person whom Katayama accredits for his orthography. Gimon is probably most famous for Namashima 男信 wherein he distinguishes /mu/ む from the moraic nasal /-n/ ん. However, he also extensively studied orthography. As noted in Gimon Hōshi’s National Language Study 東条義門の国語学 by Jirō Kameda 龜田次郎, Gimon made a commentary to Norinaga’s Jion Kanazukai, which Shirai says was very influential to his On'in Kanayōrei. Also, Gimon was in the middle of writing his own treatise on orthography, but it was destroyed in a fire. So that leaves us with another work to look for clues, O/Wo Kyōjūgi 於乎軽重義. This work concerns the difference between /o/ お and /wo/ を, a topic that Norinaga also discussed. It is unknown when it was written, but Gimon died before Shirai was born, so it is impossible that Shirai influenced this work during its creation. And the manuscript that I found actually has comments by Shirai in it, so it must have been very influential to him. The first thing of note is that this manuscript actually references Shirai’s katakana orthography in its chapter titles.


Gimon uses Shirai

I do not know whether this was added by Shirai on subsequent reprints, or if Gimon actually created this orthography first because it is only referenced in the chapter titles, not in the actual contents, but I am going to assume that it was added by Shirai in order to avoid over analysis. As for the content of this work, Gimon discusses the Siddham Script, a South-Asian script which was imported to Japan by Kūkai in 806 CE and is the origin of the gojūon chart. The Siddham script distinguishes between long and short vowels for /a/, /i/, /u/, /e/, and /o/. For example, short /a/ and long /aː/ are contrastive. As seen below Gimon notes that this long /uː/ is actually /wu/.


wagyouu vs agyouu 2wagyouu vs agyouu 1

As seen below, the character that he chooses to represent /wu/ is 汙.


Using 汙 for wu

This makes sense as 汙 was pretty popular for representing the Sanskrit long /uː/ phoneme in Chinese transliterations of the Siddham script, as exemplified by Shu-Fen Chen in Vowel Length in Middle Chinese Based on Buddhist Sanskrit Transliterations.

悉曇の長音「う」の音素を中国の悉曇の翻字で表すために「汙」が一般的なのは理解できる。これは陳淑芬の『仏教悉曇翻字基づいた中古音の長短母音』Vowel Length in Middle Chinese Based on Buddhist Sanskrit Transliterationsで示されている。

sanskirt chart

Gimon also provides an explanation on why he doesn’t use 汚, namely that 汙 is more “closed” than 汚.


Why not 汚2Why not 汚

Moving back to On'in Kanayōrei, Shirai explains why he does not use 汙 or 烏, which is from the same rime, as the basis for his kana. This is because their go-on is う and their kan-on is を, which might cause some confusion.


Why not 烏

So overall, Katayama’s usage of 汙 for /wu/ can be seen a direct reflex of the works of Gimon Hōshi, which ultimately comes from the Chinese tradition of writing the Siddham Script with Chinese characters. I suspect that Katayama made Shirai’s /wu/ hiragana う into his /u/ hiragana because it was more common; then, Katayama chose a kana based on 汙 for his /wu/ hiragana in order to follow the tradition, started by Ōda, of using the 于 radical for /wu/. This would explain why Katayama chose 汙 over Shirai’s /u/ hiragana 𛀍 or another kanji in the same rime such as 烏.


Conclusion 結論
Looking back, I think I was correct to be skeptical of only looking at the shape of Katayama’s kana to deduce its origin character. While this may suffice for Heian era kana, by the Meiji era different orthographic traditions based on different rationales led to some highly improbable conclusions on origin characters. For example, the origin character for ウ is nowadays regarded as 宇 and not 宥 as Katayama states. However, when Katayama expressed /we/ with 汙衣, I knew that my old theory could no longer stand. I’m glad that I could establish a timeline on the usage of 汙 for orthography, and how through Gimon, Katayama would come in contact with it. In addition, the kana shape of hiragana /wu/ matches perfectly to the cursive style for 汙. I think the evidence suggests that the origin of Katayama’s /wu/ hiragana is 汙, and thus, I retract my pervious theory.


However, my research in this area has only just begun. How did Katayama’s orthography impact the other orthographies of the time? What exactly is the contents of Gimon Hōshi’s commentary to Norinaga’s Jion Kanazukai? How do Edo Orthographic studies relate to those of the Heian period and those from China? What little clues am I missing in the manuscripts which I have already read? Fortunately, I intend to keep on researching these orthographies, and I will keep you in the loop if I find anything notable. And who knows, maybe I’ll be seeing you next time in my reply to my reply~


English Translation of The Five Poems of Reminiscence 五首述懐の英訳

Before I started to study Classical Japanese, I played a series of games popular in Japan called the Touhou Project (東方Project). They are bullet-hell games that incorporates many Classical East Asian stories. For example, Kaguya, from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter has a counterpart character within the series. In the fan made English patch of the 7th game of the Touhou Project, Perfect Cherry Blossom, after defeating the final boss, Yuyuko Saigyōji (幽々子西行寺), this text is displayed.

古文の勉強を始める前に、東方Projectと呼ばれる日本で人気のゲームシリーズをプレイした。このゲームはたくさん東アジアを起源とする古典的なストーリーを含む弾幕ゲームである。例えば、シリーズには竹取物語の主人公かぐや姫をモチーフとした「輝夜」というキャラクターが登場する。東方Projectの第7番のゲーム、東方妖々夢~ Perfect Cherry Blossom、ファンが作った英語化パッチは最後のボス(幽々子西行寺)を負かした後、このテキストが現れる。


Remembering the melancholy of human existence
Even ghosts stray from the path of righteousness


Even now I think this is a powerful verse. It reminds me of the Rokujō Lady from the Tale of Genji, who even after death had so much anger in her heart from how Genji treated her, that she murdered three of Genji’s lovers. So naturally when I became interested in Classical Japanese (in part due to the Touhou Project), I wanted to investigate the original text of this poem. However, after seeing it, I quickly realized that this English “translation” is not a translation at all, or even a reinterpretation of the poem; it is a completely separate work. Now, I would like to revisit the original poem in the Japanese version of the game.


The poem was written by Saigyō Hōshi (西行法師), also known by his monk name En'i (円位). He was a late Heian, early Kamakura Japanese poet who lived from 1118 to 1190 (He also was the inspiration for the surname Saigyouji (西行寺) within the Touhou Project mythos). He was born a noble in Kyoto but took religious vows in 1140. His Buddhist values and lifestyle are very often the subject of his poems. He lived in isolation in many places, his favorite of which was Mt. Yoshino (吉野山) in nowadays Nara prefecture. Saigyō’s journeys to Northern Honshu inspired the haiku master Matsuo Bashō to take the same journey, which he depicts in Oku no Hosomichi (おくのほそ道). For Matsuo Bashō considered Saigyō to be the greatest waka poet. To be complimented as the greatest waka poet, by who is considered to be the greatest haiku poet, is no small feat indeed. Fortunately, when I stayed in Nara this summer, I was able to visit Mt. Yoshino and see a recreation of Saigyō’s lodging. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of it (it was raining quite heavily). This is the only photo that I have from Yoshino which relates to Saigyō, so my apologies.



Saigyō published his poems in his anthology, the Sankashū (山家集). The aforementioned poem from the Touhou Project’s original Japanese text is poem 908 within this anthology. It is part of a series of five poems called The Five Poems of Reminiscence (五首述懐). Because of my relationship with that poem, I decided to attempt translating all five of them into English so that others could enjoy their true meanings. To ensure that the translations were accurate, I recruited my friend from the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies Classical Japanese class, Michael Zeng, from the University of Washington in St. Louis, to translate these poems into English with me. I would like to thank Michael for working on this project with me; I wouldn’t have been able to do it with you.

西行は山家集という歌集で著した。東方Projectの日本語原文の例の和歌は山家集の908番の和歌である。これは五首述懐と呼ばれる五首の和歌の連作の一首である。私は長い間、西行の歌に興味を持っているので、また他の人が楽しめるように、英訳することを決めた。英訳の正しさを向上させるために、京都アメリカ大学コンソーシアムで古文の授業での同級生で、セントルイス・ワシントン大学の大学生、ソウ マイケルに協力を求めた。マイケルの協力なしでは、英訳を完成させることができなかったので、ここでお礼をいいたい。

Now without further ado, here are some facts about the poems before they are presented. The Five Poems of Reminiscence are poems 908-912 in the Sankashū, but poem 908 also appears in the Shin Kokin Wakashū (新古今和歌集), the eighth anthology of imperially commissioned Japanese poetry, as poem 1829. It is said that poem 908 is a derivative poem from poem 896 of the Senzai Wakashū (千載和歌集), the seventh imperial anthology of Japanese poetry, which itself references poem 645 from the Goshūi Wakashū (後拾遺和歌集), the fourth imperial anthology of Japanese poetry. Poem 909 of the Sankashū is poem 1150 of the Senzai Wakashū. The Five Poems of Reminiscence are each tanka (短歌), but the first line of the poem 912 is a jiamari (字余り).


As for previous translations of Saigyō’s works, the two most prominent are likely Saigyo: Poems of a Mountain Home by Burton Watson (whose student I studied Classical Chinese under), and Awesome Nightfall: The Life, Times, and Poetry of Saigyō by William LaFleur (which is an expansion of his previous novel on Saigyō, Mirror for the Moon). However, neither of these anthologies cover any of The Five Poems of Reminiscence. However, I was able to find translations of poem 908 on the Touhou Wiki [link] and WakaPoetry.net [link].

以前の西行の作品の英訳で一番な有名な本はバートン・ワトソンの「西行:山家の和歌」(Saigyo: Poems of a Mountain Home)(また私はバートン・ワトソンの生徒として、漢文の講義を受けた)とウィリアム・ラフレールの「恐るべし暮れ:西行の生活、時世、和歌」(Awesome Nightfall: The Life, Times, and Poetry of Saigyō)(以前に書かれた西行について本、「月のための鏡」(Mirror for the Moon)の改訂版)。しかしながら、どの本も五首述懐の和歌に触れていない。しかし、908番の和歌の英訳は東方ウィキ[リンク]とWakaPoetry.net[リンク]で見つけることができる。

Now, for the moment you have all been waiting for, Michael and I proudly present our translations of The Five Poems of Reminiscence.


The Five Poems of Reminiscence
By Saigyō Hōshi

I would have died
Without fathoming
The sorrows of the body
Were this a world,
From which I could not withdraw

身の憂さを 思ひ知らでや 罷みなまし 背く習の なき世なりせば

Even as a priest,
At what place
Could I find solitude
Were there no deep mountains
In this sorrowful world

いづくにか 身を隠さまし 厭ひても 憂き世に深き 山なかりせば

This mountain village,
Where I have chosen to hide
The sorrows of my body,
It is because of my priest heart
That I must live here

身の憂さの 隠家にせん 山里は 心ありてぞ 住むべかりける

Tear drops
That know the pathos of the world
Have spilled down my cheek.
That is the reason why
I thatched this grass hut

あはれ知る なみだの露ぞ こぼれける 草の庵を むすぶ契は

Since a static body
Does not suit a
Restless heart,
No matter how I feel
How could I even do it?

浮れ出づる 心は身にも 叶はねば 如何なりとても 如何にかはせん