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Advanced Japanese Lesson: 街を行き子どものそばを…

街を行き 子どものそばを 通るとき みかんの香(か)せり 冬がまた来る
木下 利玄(きのした りげん)




ミカンは漢字で「蜜柑」と表記します。 「蜜」の文字をよく見ると「虫」が書かれていますね。この漢字には「蜂が花から集めて、巣の中に封じ込めた甘い液(はちみつ)」という意味があります。このことから転じて、「はちみつのように甘い」という意味が生じました。



When passing by a child while I was in town, there was the scent of mandarin oranges. Winter is coming again.

This time let me introduce a tanka on the beginning of winter.

How do you feel that winter has come? The writer becomes aware of the change of seasons by the incidental smell of mandarin oranges.

The writer was walking through town when he/she passed by a child. At that moment, what drifted to the writer’s nose was the smell of mandarin oranges. 香せり means there was an aroma. The child the writer passed probably ate a bittersweet mandarin not long ago. From that remaining scent he/she thought “ahh, winter is coming again” and is what the tanka is about.

In kanji, mandarin orange is written as 蜜柑. If you look closely at the character蜜, it has 虫 or “bug” in it. This character has the meaning of “the sweet liquid that the bee collects from flowers and contains it in the hive.” From here it has come to mean “sweet like honey.”

The next character is 柑 and you write it as 木 is 甘 or the “tree” is “sweet”. The character 甘 also has the meaning of “delicious”, and 柑 expresses “a tree that will grow delicious fruit, a mandarin tree.”

Japan’s climate is that although summer is very hot and very humid, winter is comparatively   cold, which is suited for the cultivation of mandarins, which is why mandarins are a representational fruit which is so popularly eaten among the Japanese.

“Sitting in a kotatsu (small table covered with a quilt with an electric heater underneath)eating mandarin oranges” is one of the images that always comes   to mind for the Japanese when thinking about winter, therefore mandarin is a fruit that is a reminder of winter.