Samurai Quote on love in Japanese Calligraphy – Dodoitsu(都々逸) from Shinsaku Takasugi 01

三千世界の鴉を殺し、主と朝寝がしてみたい

I’d kill all the crows in the world, to sleep with you till morning tolls

↓ How it is read out in Japanese

This is a love poem from a very famous Samurai, Shinsaku Takasugi,  in the late Edo period known as Bakumatsu (幕末) .

Bakumatsu refers to the final years of the Edo period when the Tokugawa shogunate ended (1853 – 1868)

Back ground and meaning

Bakumatsu is the time when major ideological-political divide was happening between the pro-imperial nationalists called ishin shishi(志士、維新志士) and the shogunate forces, which included the elite shinsengumi swordsmen(新撰組).

This era is full of fantastic poems and quotes from Samurai warriors who dedicated their lives on the survival of the nation (defending their own country from western power and colonisation)

Because of the political instability, samurais were always under threat of assassination, but they still take a break and enjoy drinking, maybe escaping the reality sometimes and having a good time with their comrade(同志 : doushi) at Yūkaku(遊郭), red light districts.

Meaning of the Poem

Cawing of crows at dawn tells the end of the night and you have to leave the place and start a new day. So by killing all the crows in the world, morning never comes and you don’t have go home but stay together with the one you love.

Who is Shinsaku Takasugi?

Shinsaku Takasugi is a samurai from the Chōshū Domain (present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture) who led a fight against Tokugawa clan (The ruler of the entire Japan) and defeated (Second Chōshū expedition in 1864).

Despite the national seclusion policy at the time, he was ordered by the domain master to secretly go to Shanghai in China to investigate the state of affairs and the strength of the Western powers. He was so shocked by the effect of the European imperialism over the Chinese Empire.

This experience made him convinced that Japan must strengthen itself to avoid being colonised by the western powers, or to suffer a similar fate as China. When he returned from China, he led a squad and set fire on the under-construction British Embassy.

There was already a growing movement in Japan called Sonnō Jōi (尊王攘夷 ‘expel the barbarians and revere the Emperor’) and thus, attracting certain radical sections of Japan’s warrior class and court nobility, and Takasugi’s ideas found ready support in Chōshū and other parts of Japan.

Although he was a very influential Samurai, he died of tuberculosis at the age of 27 and did not get to see the success of his dream (Overthrowing Tokugawa Shogunate)

If you are interested in visiting Japan for holiday, then learning its history will definitely make your trip more enjoyable, especially visiting Historical sites.

➡️ Samurai Assassins: “Dark Murder” and the Meiji Restoration, 1853-1868

What is Dodoitsu (都々逸)?

Japanese poetry comes in many types of forms. You might have heard of Haiku, but there are many others and Dodoitsu is one of them.

It was developed in towards the end of the Edo period. Often concerning love or work, and usually comical, Dodoitsu poems consist of four lines with the moraic structure 7-7-7-5 and no rhyme for a total of 26 morae, making it one of the longer Japanese forms. The form, tone and structure of Dodoitsu derive from Japanese folk song traditions.

*Wikipedia

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