Do as a human and a pine tree

Doyou know how Tanka, Haiku, and Zen Parables are connected; they are all formsof Japanese literature. Japanese literature was heavily influenced by Chineseculture and writing.

They are three of the oldest and most well-known Japaneseliterature. Tanka are brief lyrical poems of around 31 syllables and alldivided into 5 lines. A haiku is an unrhymed poem that is three lines long. ZenParables are short stories that teach a lesson or moral about life.    The most evident cultural trait in Tanka isthe Yin-Yang, or In-yo in Japanese.

The philosophy of yin-yang is that nothingis constant or fully pure, and that it always carries the seed of the nextthing. Tanka supplies a strong image and emotion that are subtle and direct.For example, “One Lone Pine Tree,”shows some of the yin-yang values. This poem is about a “lone pine tree growingin the hollow,” and someone discovers that they aren’t the only lonely thing”without a friend.” This poem shows yin-yang characteristics because everythingcontains yin-yang even opposites such as a human and a pine tree that both arealone in the world, yet these opposites still have things in common with oneanother. An additional cultural trait that I think is apparent within  Tanka is Confucianism. One of the mostimportant principals in Confucianism is that family is the center and comesbefore an individual.

In the poem “Now That theBlossoms,” the author writes “the blossoms have fallen at my house;” I feelthat they aren’t actually referring to cherry blossoms, but maybe a loved one whohas passed because they “hope that it will seem like home.” I can see thisbeing true because when you lose someone important in your life home doesn’treally feel the same warmth as if it would have if that person was still there.I feel that this poem really shows the impermanence of life.     The main apparent cultural trait in a haikuwould have to be Shintoism. Shintoism is an ancient religion of Japan, and theprominent object of worship is Kami, or translated to god or deity. They residein nature or objects.

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Some beliefs of Shintoism are aesthetic sensitivity whichis a sense of beauty for the simple things and an emotional view on life likehappiness and sadness. For example the haiku “Avoiding Fishnet” provides aesthetic sensitivity by theway a person is described “avoiding fishnet and fishing lines,” because it isdark out and the “moon on the water” is the only provided light. Another haikuthat shows Shinto beliefs is “Everything I Touch,” which is a sadder haiku. Itis about someone who no matter how hard tries to “touch with tenderness,” still”pricks like a bramble.” I get a depressing feeling from this story, it may beshort, but carries a lot of emotion within it. I sense that no matter how hardthis person tries they end up ruining something, or someone.     In Zen Parables the most prominentcultural trait is Zen. Zen is Japanese school ofBuddhism which stresses the value of meditation and intuition.

Anotherimportant belief is to live in the moment instead of the past. A good exampleof this would be the parable “Muddy Road.”It is about two monks who come across a pretty young woman who can’t crossthe road, so one of the men offers to carry her across. After a while the otherman said “We monks don’t go near females, especiallynot young and lovely ones.” The wiser man replied “I left the girl there, areyou still carrying her?” What he meant was if the other man was still carryingher in his thoughts, meanwhile he was in the present and moved on and forgotabout it. It is important for them to live in the present so they can avoiddark and negative thoughts about the past.

    Culture traits have always been crucial tothe way people write literature. If we didn’t have different unique culturesthen it would show in our literature, and not as diverse. Stories wouldn’t bethat interesting to read because there would be I greater chance that we wouldhave already read something like it before. In short, culture differences arevery important to pretty much anything not just literature because we can makeit our own distinctive quality that sets us apart from other parts of theworld.