June 1, 2009

i-ro-ha #2 "ro"


This is only the second letter but it is probably going to be the hardest one to feature.  

There aren’t very many names that start with “ro”…. Rosanjin!

Rosanjin is a famous calligrapher, potter and food critique.  He passed away 50 years ago but his philosophy on food and the dishes that they should be served on has continued to influence Japanese cuisine. 


I wish I could take a picture of the real thing, but this will have to do for today...

a book about Rosanjin and his ceramics. 

The most well used word that starts with “ro” would have to be…

 the number 6 = = ろく= roku


Other words that start with “ro”:


roba = donkey

roudou = labor 

("rou" is pronounced like "row" in "row a boat" but the "r" sound is actually in between an L and an R... it can be very hard to say correctly at first)

roudoku = reading aloud

rouka = hallway, passageway

There is a very strange passageway in Osaka.

There is “trick art” painted on the walls.


rou = wax

rousoku = candle = ろうそく

These are Wa (Japanese) Rousoku.  Traditional Japanese candles are “vegetarian”.  They are made from wax taken from wax trees.

The candles in my picture are about 9cm in length and will stay lit for about 55 minutes each. 

Wa Rousoku need tending to. 

You can’t just light one and walk away.  The wick needs to be cut off after a while so that the flame doesn’t get too big and start to smoke. 

You could call this inconvenient but the purpose of the candle is not just to light a room. 


A candle is also used for guiding the soul…


In Japan when you pray to your ancestors there is almost always a candle lit.  Whether the religion is Shinto (like my mother’s side of the family) or Buddhism (like my husband’s side of the family) there is a candle. 


In Shinto there is often more than one candle.

Buddhists light one candle and with that flame you burn incense.


When you tend to the light of a candle it becomes a natural way of meditation. 

Be careful not to cut off too much of the wick, make sure you cut off enough. 

The light of a Wa Rousoku is bright enough to read by…even the tiny one that I lit.

roudoku by rousoku

(reading aloud by candelight)


lucyslounge-dee said...

my husbands name is ro

B said...

I really enjoy this "lessons"! It's interesting how candles are always present in rituals. In the Catholic tradition, we light candles when we are asking for something specific, as an offer to God. I remember my Grandma doing this!

Delwyn said...

this is another lovely post and I think that you have come up with a novel and intriguing way of telling us more about Japan by using the letters. Well done.
Must off and light a candle...but have no wa Rousoku unfortunately!

Happy Days

I_am_Tulsa said...

Lucy, thank you for sharing! (I love your clothes by the way!)

B, It is interesting that many religions and spiritual rituals are lighted with candles, isn't it? The light and the symbol of light is universal...
Thank you for sharing about your Grandmother!

Delwyn, thank you.... as long as you try to use candles made from natural material it is supposed to do the "job" just fine! But now you have one more thing on your list of "things to buy" when you come to Japan again! ;-)

lucyslounge-dee said...

hi tulsa, thank you for your comment and good idea. i am going to do another blog this wee which will show my new idea for the new section of my blog . thanks so much d ps i ment to say what a great idea explaining japanese letters are

Polly said...

Thanks for this lesson. A quick question, although you may have answered it before: the symbol represents a syllable rather than a letter, does it? And when you write, do you link it with other symbols in a sentence or are they all "standing" independent of each other? I think I need to revise first lesson again :-)

A candle is definitley used for guiding the soul, it's the best guide. Your candles are stunning.


I_am_Tulsa said...

Polly, thank you for the very good question!
The symbols are syllables in the English sense. That is absolutely correct. That is why they are usually called "characters" instead of "letters". But I prefer to call them letters... to distinguish them from Kanji.

When you write Japanese, everything is stuck together. That is why it is very hard to read when you use only the simple letters and none of the Kanji (characters taken from the Chinese language).

If you don't use Kanji in a whole sentence, words run together and it gets difficult to understand...I will explain this is the next edition since there is a perfect example for the next letter!

BTW, some letters are a word all by itself....for example, "ka" means "or" and it also means "mosquito"!

Thank you for the question, I love to figure out how to answer them, so feel free to ask more!

Lucy, thank you! I'm glad you have decided to keep blogging!

Butternut Squash said...

Hi Tulsa,

That was a very soothing post. I love Japanese pottery and who doesn't enjoy candle light. Did you write Ro and rosouku or is it a printed book of some sort? It must be printed, the calligraphy is so perfect.

There are so many meditations in Japanese culture, tending the light, and writing... It's simply beautiful.

I_am_Tulsa said...

Oh my goodness, Butternut Squash! Your words about my calligraphy are too kind...;-) Maybe one day I will be able to get it printed!

I don't think many Japanese people realize how much meditating and relaxation there is in traditional Japanese culture. These days everybody is so busy being busy...