Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

The poetic side of recession

February 10, 2009

JAPANJapan’s salaried workers may have an image as corporate drudges, but some are turning economic angst and political ire into poetry for a competition

“My motivation, falling in tandem with steps to cut corporate costs” is one entry in the contest for “Best 10 Senryu”, a type of humorous verse similar to 17-syllable “haiku” but without references to nature or the seasons.

“I’d like to enjoy the rising strength of the yen - but I have no yen,” wrote another poet, referring to the growing value of a currency that is hurting Japan’s exports but making it cheaper to buy imports or go on holiday overseas.

One Muse-struck salaried worker weighed in against a political stalemate that has seen three Japanese leaders take office in less than three years: “Now I must again teach my children the name of the prime minister.”

Another took aim at unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso, known for his fondness for ‘manga’ comics with this concise jab: “A fan of manga, my son says he will be prime minister one day.”

The competition has been run for a few years by Dai-Ichi Mutual Life Insurance Company, but it is only this year that the contest has taken a recessionary turn.

Last year’s top 10 poems took on such topics as global warming, high fuel costs, and Japan’s creaking pension system.

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