古り行きて 左右無う解くは 難き文 利益双無き 読む人や在る
Words too old to easily decipher
Workers' benefits unparalleled hereafter
Will anyone want to wanderingly ponder?
― 平成の世に書かれた平安調歌物語『扶桑語り（Fusau Tales）ふさうがたり』
message from author Jaugo Noto（筆者 之人冗悟：のと・じゃうご 記す）
Some things in the world have to be seen to be believed. Some people in our world have to be reassured to believe anything (and believe anything
they are reassured about). And some things in this universe had best be left unknown... at least unexplained offhand. Some facts about this book ― Fusau Tales ― its author (one, not many) will tell you here at the very end of it (one word too many?)... though there will be someone, inevitably, reading this at the very beginning.
■Author and His Aim at Creating "Fusau Tales"
Its author, Jaugo Noto (pseudonym, in case you wonder, meaning something like, but not limited to, one of verbose propensity), is an English teacher of Japanese nationality, specializing in systematically educating college-bound high school students in English grammar, sentence-structures, idiomatic expressions, vocabulary, reading & writing skill and finally dealing confidently with any sane questions asked in English exams by any Japanese colleges or universities: "Fusau Tales" is meant to do the same in "KOBUN (archaic Japanese literature)" in a totally systematic package of ancient Japanese vocabulary (1,500), auxiliary verbs (37), postpositional particles (77) and all major topics grammatical and otherwise instrumental in understanding old Japanese writings of the Heian era about one millennium old ― packed in 22 Uta-Monogataries (crude tales in prose centering around some poetry I personally call "lyricalogues"): its English equivalent package is soon (hopefully) to come up, now that such high-density system of linguistic learning has been proven possible (and hopefully, successful) by the publication of "Fusau Tales".
■KOBUN Learning System by a Japanese English Teacher... WHY?
English as a subject of learning (if not as practical or cultural accomplishment) still reigns supreme in Japanese educational system, rivaled only by mathematics in its psychological importance. But English as a subject of Japanese college entrance examinations not always plays a decisive role, due to the fact that most Japanese students (and for that matter, professors) hardly have more than rudimentary command of English language: when most everyone (examiners
often included!) is ignorant, perfect knowledge of English is to be admired but not required ― not at least as much as most Japanese believe.
Consequently, excellence in English as a learning goal for would-be versity-students has gradually been overshadowed by the quest of conclusive initiative in mathematical achievement: if you excel in math, no matter how well or ill you fare in English, you'll have your day. English has seen better days in college exams these days. That much, I (as an English teacher) could stand and understand. What is more than I can stand or understand is the scandalous fact that some students more than capable in point-raking power in English tests often fail simply because they neglect (or practically ignore) KOBUN and get deservedly retaliated with poor marks... I couldn't afford to just sit still and watch my students fail, not due to my powerless assistance in English teaching but due to their brainless resistance to one-millennium-old Japanese, which could be waded through with little difficulty with a little vocabulary ― too little to be called "a vocabulary" at all by English standards. That's why I decided to create "Fusau Tales" to prevent them from fumbling in the study of KOBUN. This attempt was also a preliminary step (or rather, practical experiment) for this author to tackle the same (but far tougher) task in the world of English, which has been under construction for over two decades... call this author a perfectionist or an idler, but never a fiddler.
■In the Beginning, There Was the WORD
First, I bought and examined 17 major vocabulary books of KOBUN available on the market to have a rough idea of what archaic words of Japanese were meant to be memorized by students and made favorite targets of in college entrance exams. All the words contained therein were compiled to construct a crude list of important KOBUN words.
That list, sadly, meant little more than any single vocabulary book: for, aside from the volume of words contained (which roughly ranged from 200 to 800), there was very little difference found among all major KOBUN vocabulary books available for my research at the time: any one book might as well have been a carbon copy (or part of it) of any other; the size or wording aside, they were virtually all the same... which led me, naturally, to the notion that, while the words found in many (all, in not a few cases) vocabooks must be among quintessential terms of ancient Japanese, should there be no other words too important to ignore in such books intended to provide students with adequate lists to make them feel confident of their archaic vocabulary?
In order to know the answer, I had to go on to the next, hideously tedious task: tackling dictionaries. I chose three(3) of the best (in my opinion) student-oriented (as opposed to purely academic) dictionaries, checking out all terms (I mean, every single meaning of every single word contained in those three dictionaries), adding any possibly important terms to the initially made list of (commercially) weighty KOBUN words, doing over the same task twice (twice more in one particular one) to make sure my selection of words was really adequate or reasonably significant. In case you don't know, time is of the essence in this kind of task ― only, in this case, taking your time is essentially important; never try to get it finished as soon as possible, for such hasty attitudes will get you nowhere ― I spent more than two(2) years on it.
■After Consulting Dictionaries, Consult Professors thru Exams
This author's dictionary-consulted selection of important KOBUN words became about twice the volume of the thickest vocabook available at bookstores. As a teacher of English, particularly as an intensive and extensive worker in the realm of terminological selection, analysis and categorization (& frequent reorganization, I'd have to add), I had faith in my own list of four-digit MUST words of old Japanese. But I knew, of course, personal faith alone was hardly enough to convince anyone (myself least of all) in the true value of my voca-list.
The next logical step for me to take was to consult the opinions of professors in KOBUN, by actually reading and solving college/versity entrance exams and FEEL the weight of really important KOBUN terms, to reassure myself of and/or refine the contents of the MUST words list. In order to accomplish this mission, this author first made a discriminative selection (for good or bad) of prestigious universities foremost in the Japanese mind. Past entrance exams (about 30 years for each) of Tokyo / Kyoto / Waseda / Jouchi (Sophia) & Rikkyo universities (and the mind-boggling numbers of their departments) and others were Xeroxed, scanned, OCR-processed (meaning digitally translated), error-corrected and, finally, read, solved and cherished by the eyes and mind (or mind's eye) of this author. This 2-year long exam-tasting marathon resulted in well over 1,300 years' volume of KOBUN questions from various versities/departments, amounting almost to 400 different writings of various writers... Now you see what this book (and its author's mental capacity) is made of?
Thus was born my final ideal list ― a practically perfect vocabook ― of 1,500 important KOBUN words... but who would read through, let alone memorize, such a thick volume of mere words? To promote it to students, there would have to be some more trick to sell it by.
■If a Word List Is Not Enough, Let Stories Embrace Words & More
Words are meant to be used in sentences; sentences are made as part of a whole story; stories call for particular terms according to their own nature, their authors' social position, and, most importantly (especially in Japanese), to the time-period the terms & their meanings belong to.
Most sentences dealt with in KOBUN entrance exams to Japanese colleges/universities belong to one particular era ― the Heian period, ranging roughly from 800 to 1200 A.D. That was the golden age of Japanese literary accomplishment, mostly by the hands of Court ladies, centering, therefore, around social affairs of purely personal kind ― romantic involvement and its unhappy development, almost always; as such, they stipulate (without ever breeding) our personal commitment to the protagonists and harmonious hatred of their antagonists: no wonder KOBUN is much less popular among boys than among girls; it could also work as an introductory course to feminine psychology and behavior: at least, that was the major merit this author used to console himself with to endure the tedium of KOBUN in young boyish days.
So, when faced with the necessity to make some meaningful use of the vast volume of MUST words, the only logical choice left open for this author was this ― make stories out of those 1,500 important words; in other words, make example sentences required of a vocabook collectively form one (or more than one) big picture(s); and, if the canvas for such pictures is large enough, just allow as many factors (other than words) as can play their respective roles in the stories. Happily, through the hellish ordeal of intensive & extensive exam-tasting process, I had acquired sufficient command of archaic Japanese ― terms, expressions and grammar ― to create stories of my own contriving. That is the last thing Japanese KOBUN experts would do; as luck would have it, this author was an ENGLISH expert.
■Fake-up Stories Have Their Own Freedom and Duties
In the world of personal creation, its author can be a God: he can make his own story any way he wants it to be. Such freedom often intoxicates writers to the point of meaningless (and often offensive) show of force... they let characters fight and win or lose, kill or be killed, love, hate, envy, agonize on whatever occasion the author-Gods happen to hit upon... just for the joy of arbitrary control of their kingdoms. Such ones are found in abundance in real life, you see; I used to wish all humans wrote some stories of their own on getting old enough to be able to exert negative social influence upon others ― the realization of what a nasty tyrant an author could so easily be in the world of pure fiction could (at least in theory) warn him/her against becoming such a nuisance outside their fancy. In an age dominated by billions of blog-kings or twitter-queens, however, my personal wish for such ethical significance in the act of writing seems as archaic as my fake Heianese tales. How time flies! If a decade ago is already aeons ago, why should I not pretend I was writing tales 1,000 years back in time?
To make chronological truthfulness meaningless, I consciously wrote "timeless" tales. The stories or statements included in "Fusau Tales" ― at least in their essence ― might as well be spoken from the mouth of anyone, anywhere, of any given time period. I, as the author, ruled and controlled the whole universe of my writings, but I never put any single word in a story just to satisfy my personal pride in sovereignty: all the words, expressions, figures of speech, auxiliary verbs, prepositional particles, sentence structures, grammatically meaningful phrases, queerly archaic events or customs were put there because they had to be taught to students: I made a list of such "MUST-TEACH things" first, then exhausted the list by placing respective items/topics in the stories. Any tale is a vehicle for some particular purpose, not an end in itself.
■Lurking Messages as Spice to Stories
Of course, a story is no mere collective of such tangible materials as words, expressions or grammar ― it's some idea or ideal, atmosphere or philosophy, some intangible mood or current running through it, that pulls up the unseen strings of a story to keep it up as a meaningful entity. All my stories have their own message, which I will not mention in detail in mere words here, except that they are all different from tale to tale... to get rid of the tedium this author personally couldn't stand.
Such messages, however, are not my purpose of writing "Fusau Tales", as I already said, just fanciful accompaniment to "MUST-TEACH things" ― since they are meant to be memorized, they had best be presented in some memorable clothing, don't you agree? Well, I don't expect you to agree to any particular message in my stories, but if you agree to disagree, I warrant there will be much scope for repeated exploration and discovery in those stories... each additional visit to their universe will make you the more substantially acquainted with things to remember about Heianese Japanese words, phrases, grammar or culture. A total package of KOBUN mastery ― that's what "Fusau Tales" is meant to be, and I'm proudly sure any delving reader should find it just so... enjoy reading it as much as, or more than, I did writing!
■Too Dense Might Be Too Much ―the Need for Mastering Weapons
The nature of "Fusau Tales" as a total package of everything to know about Heianese Japanese literature, naturally, requires not only the storybook but also some teacher or guidance to lead students through the thick forest of meanings; without such mentors, it could well be a mental torture, intellectual air too dense for anyone to casually breathe, always making readers discover something new, while making them feel anxious if there is nothing else they missed between the lines.
To help students from such embarrassment throughout the systematically dense universe of terminologically, grammatically and culturally meaningful items, the author prepared an Internet-based interactive guidance system of "Fusau Tales" ; in fact, this project was originally intended as such a computerized personal tutorial system, not as an independent book on paper. A traditional book version of it is meant to be a mere convenience to satisfy the need of some students to make the whole stories available at hand in some tangibly material form other than projected images on monitor screens of computers.
As it turned out, however, the luxuriously dense nature of "Fusau Tales" as a grammatical textbook might be a disadvantage to frighten off some students. Most young Japanese rarely read or understand serious books with some meaningful streams of ideas. They are mostly passive, seldom active, in studying (or rather, being made to learn) anything, for whom the act of "discovering" or "realizing" so many meaningful items scattered all over the lines of 22 different stories would simply be a malicious obstacle race not at all to their fancy.
So, the author of "Fusau Tales" decided also to publish a book intent especially on systematic mastery of old Japanese grammar and poetry, entitled "KOBUN･WAKA(Archaic Japanese Prose･Verse) Mastering Weapon" (which was originally meant as a teaching aid and confirming test for those students of "Fusau Tales" who sit before computers to learn it on-line). This is definitely a diversion from the author's original ideal, but the real world rarely pays homage to one's initial intention. Interactive version of "Fusau Tales" is a treasury of intellectual info, to the complete satisfaction of this mentally greedy author himself... but he also knows that most folks in Japan are not so greedy as himself (otherwise than materially), and he knows better than to deny them the possible method of easily mastering old Japanese grammar and TANKA poetry in a single book in quite a short period of time.
Japanese students nowadays NEVER study English grammar (or should I say, systematically conceptualized logic of any kind). Incredibly absurd as it may sound to any self-respecting intellectuals of the Western world, this is true ― folks brought out from the Japanese educational mill since the late 1980's have hardly been trained in seeing any detail as part of a big picture: although the Japanese have NEVER been good at contextual comprehension, their bigoted cohesion to petty familiar circles, shocking blindness to the world outside their immediate vicinity, lack of foresight or any belief in their future, appear to be all-time-high in these opening years of the twenty-first century... all due, essentially, to their lack of contextual perspective ― to see everything not as an entity complete in itself but as a manifestation of something larger lurking behind each phenomenon.
Traditionally in the West, linguistic studies and historical science have played the role of such contextual enlightenment; in fortunate cases, the study of natural sciences can be expected to do the work too, in the hands of some exceptionally competent teachers, not in classrooms or labs but out in the field, in the meaningful palm of eloquent Nature... but they are all too vast for all but the undaunted students confidently powerful in mental capacity sufficient to tackle any riddles to their intellectual advantage. I intended to have "Fusau Tales" play the part of a miniature field for timid seekers of knowledge to make one new discovery after another to their intellectual satisfaction and personal growth in confidence. Still, I have to confess my lack of faith in moral capacity, intellectual tenacity and dogged determination of Japanese people in general these days... knowledge of KOBUN other than vocabulary might as well be taught in a separate, independent book of "KOBUN･WAKA Mastering Weapon" as in the densely suggestive universe of "Fusau Tales". At least, the book has the merit of letting them know what "systematical study" is.
■If Grammar Gets Independent, How Could Words be Left Behind?
So long as this author separates grammatical teachings from "Fusau Tales" into an independent book, the vast number of important words scattered around in the 22 tales should also be served as a neat package in a single separate vocabook, independent of "Fusau Tales" ― which led this author to re-organize the 1,500 KOBUN words into 126 semantic groups and to present them as bunches of similar words, lending themselves to mutual settlement in learners' memories. This book, "KOBUN Words 1,500 Mastering Weapon", was not necessarily a divergence from the original path of "Fusau Tales": while the storybook is an extensively memorable collection of example sentences, the vocabulary book is an intensive formula for quick, systematic memorization of important archaic vocabulary of Japanese: they just go two separate ways to the same goal ― perfect mastery of KOBUN words of importance ― supplementing each other in their respective ways. The interactive learners of computerized lessons of "Fusau Tales" should have much to learn from the traditional paper book version of "KOBUN Words 1,500 Mastering Weapon", and vice versa.
■After All, Who Would Read "Fusau Tales"?
Come to think of it, this author feels doubtful if there is any reader who reads "Fusau Tales" at all, either in printed form or on-line. Most students will opt for the paper versions of "Mastering Weapon" books, and those two books are guaranteed to do their jobs admirably. Even so, this author is proud of his own achievement, not just as a secure stepping stone to English mastery system in future, but as a collection of tales which he, in his remote adolescence, would have had pure fun reading, contributing to lessen the burden of mentally depressing days.
author Jaugo Noto
COPYRIGHT DECLARATION AND WARNINGS AGAINST UNAUTHORIZED USAGE
"Fusau Tales" is a collection of sentences specifically designed for educational use by duly authorized licensees and personal pleasure of its readers. Any other use of any part of "Fusau Tales" intending or involving commercial profit, consciously or otherwise, is hereby explicitly prohibited by the author as potential offense of civil nature without regard to copyright belonging to Jaugo Noto, with the sole (or dual) exception of the following two old Japanese verse too old to claim copyright by anyone:
...Recite or use them any way you want... do the same to any other part ONLY AFTER the copyright protection is gone, long after the earthly sojourn of the author on this planet...
『ふさうがたり（Fusau Tales）扶桑語り』は、適正なライセンス承認を受けた教育者による使用を企図して（＆読者の誰かさんの個人的愉悦のために）作られた文章の集合体であり、それ以外の形で利潤を見込んで（意図的であれ結果的にであれ利潤を伴う形で）本作の一部なりとも使用することは、之人冗悟に属する著作権を無視した民事上の犯罪となる可能性ある行為として、この場で明示的に禁止する； 唯一（あるいは二つ）の例外は、古すぎてもはや誰も著作権の主張が不可能な次の日本の古歌のみ：