Preparing for poetry

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a poem written by an Iwaki resident.  I liked it, it gave a strong lasting-impression of grave yet mundane everyday life within Fukushima post-March 11th. 

Locquats, so tinternet tells me.

Iwaki is a seaside city in Fukushima, 40km from the nuclear power plant.  I went there a few years ago to eat uni (sea urchin), and  I hope to go back for a short visit soon.

Now, I am trying to translate the poem for this blog.  It`s far harder than I thought.  Sadly, I am not a poet – despite all the rumours,  I am not a native Japanese speaker and my English vocabulary is quite limited.  

For example, today I looked up the word biwa.  The Japanese-English dictionary on my phone tells me it means locquat tree.  Locquat tree? I don`t even know how to say it.  I had to track down a description on the tinternet.

I went through the same process with the word sarusuberi.  This time everything became very strange. 

Sarusuberi literally translates as monkey slip, yet the Chinese characters for the tree represent 100, days and crimson (百日紅).  OK, those are nice mental images.  So, now I wanted to know the English name.  A tinternet check brought up Crape Myrtle tree.  Crape Myrtle?  Surely that must be invented?  Delving deeper into tinternet archives, I then discovered this:

This video demands an explanation. 

Later, on my tinternet stumblings,  I also came across this interesting impassioned account of conditions in Iwaki, post-March 11th.

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