KOBO Seattle | since 1995

On Paper

いろは Iroha 2

いろは I Ro Ha is a Japanese poem that is unique, in that it uses all of the phonetic Hiragana characters, and uses each one only once. For this reason, it is also used as the order for “alphabetizing” things in Japan, like train seats, etc., in the way we use A, B, C…  (The poem does not include the character which was added to the syllabary in the 20th century, but  does includes two archaic hiragana characters  and . Here’s the entire poem…


This translation by professor Ryūichi Abe (阿部 龍一) of Harvard University.

Although its scent still lingers on
 the form of a flower has scattered away
For whom will the glory
  of this world remain unchanged?
Arriving today at the yonder side
  of the deep mountains of evanescent existence
We shall never allow ourselves to drift away
  intoxicated, in the world of shallow dreams.

Sumi and watercolor on paper, 2020
25.5”H x 19”W

Note: This piece is ready for local in-store pickup. Or please contact us at hello@koboseattle.com for shipping options. 

Tommer was the featured artist in our Virtual Art Space for August 2020. See his entire show at this link and watch an interview by Mayumi Tsutakawa at this link.