Do you know 伊呂波 (いろは, iroha)?
It is a Japanese poem written in the Heian era (AD 794–1179). The first record of its existence dates from 1079. It is famous because it is a perfect pangram – sentence using every letter of the alphabet -, and in the same time an isogram – sentence written without repeating a letter -, containing each character of the Japanese syllabary exactly once. Because of this, it is also used as an ordering for the syllabary, in much the same way that the A, B, C, D… sequence traces its origin back to the Phoenician alphabet and its Semitic predecessors.
And here it is!
i ro ha ni ho he to
chi ri nu ru wo
wa ka yo ta re so
tsu ne na ra mu
u wi no o ku ya ma
ke fu ko e te
a sa ki yu me mi shi
we hi mo se su
And writing with kanji…
Please have a closer look at the 5th and 8th lines. Yes! There are two strange characters! ゐ (wi) and ゑ (we) are no longer used and might be substituted respectively by い (i) and え (e). Also, ん (n) is not present, as it was later introduced.
An English translation by Professor Ryuichi Abe reads as:
- the form of a flower has scattered away
- of this world remain unchanged?
- of the deep mountains of evanescent existence
- intoxicated, in the world of shallow dreams.
Also, there is still another very interesting fact!
As I have introduced to you HERE, the musical notes names in Japanese are:
|Japanese||イ (i)||ロ (ro)||ハ (ha)||ニ (ni)||ホ (ho)||ヘ (he)||ト (to)|
YES! The first characters of the poem! Isn’t it just fascinating? ^O^
Iroha is also used in numbering the classes of train car for Japanese National Railways (now known as JR). I is first class, Ro is second class and Ha is third class.