Iroha Uta

This ancient Japanese poem contains each of the phonemes from the Gojuuonzu (50-Sound Chart) and illustrates a core concept in Buddhism - impermanence (anicca). School children in Japan are taught it the way American children learn to recite the alphabet.


Iroha Uta

Iro wa nioedo, chirinuru wo
Waga-yo tare-zo tsune-naran?
Ui no okuyama kyookoete
Asaki yume miji, ei mo sezu

The Flower Song
Translated by Shinzen Young

Bright indeed the flowers may be, but surely not for long.
In this life, who indeed, will not someday be gone?
Passing beyond the furthest peak in the Province of Shifting Streams,
No longer will I drunken speak, nor gaze at shallow dreams.