Six Contemporary Dodoistu

                                          by Debra Woolard Bender


A Japanese fixed folk song form of 26 syllables in 7-7-7-5, the Dodoitsu comes from the old agricultural roots of the 
Gombei, the people of  Japan's back-country. The majority of songs were handed down by oral tradition and were performed to the accompaniment of shamisen, a three- stringed instrument. Subject matter often includes love or humor.


Does dog have buddha nature?
When our grandchildren visit,
no matter their mood that day,
how her face lights up.


On my fiftieth birthday
green seed ripens on the pine,
a feast for those squirrels tossing
cone-cob confetti.


The time comes to bake cookies
in shapes of angels and stars,
lightly sprinkled with sugar
if enough dough's left!


Red hibiscus strung with vines
in the balmy ocean breeze
sway this way, then, sway that way,
then our hula hips...


Coming home from our short tryst,
I stopped to pick wildflowers;
to press between clean white sheets,
as consolation.


I'll hide this mid-summer heat,
and wait for the first white frost
so when autumn wind grows cold
his love will blow in.



Twenty Dodoitsu were collected in various dialects,
from all over Japan between the years of 1926 and
1932 by George Bonneau, PhD, and anthologized
between 1935-1935 in "La Sensibilite japonaise":


A Zen Harvest : Japanese Folk Zen Sayings : Haiku,
Dodoitsu, and Waka, edited by Soiku Shigematsu,
contains translated dodoitsu verses.

                           A ZEN HARVEST

Robin Skelton, a Canadian poet, has written English-language
dodoitsu in two of his books; "A Way of Walking" is the
second of Robin Skelton's recent collections, following "Islands"
(Ekstasis, 1993), which consist of "Poems in the traditional forms
and metres of Japan." See:


INTERNET RESOURCES are few concerning this song-form. Seitero
Nakanishi, a craftsman of kendais (music stands for shamisen),
writes that dodoitsu is old Japanese love song. Most modern
Japanese, he laments, no longer know of the songs:


Encyclopedia Brittanica reports dodoitsu, "imitating folk song," has
26 syllables:

                             ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITTANICA

Other internet resources speak of dodoitsu as a "short comical song":


                             JAPAN MUSEUM

and                   JAPANESE LIMERICK

        Also it is spoken of as "shamisen" music, with each Japanese traditional
theatrical art having its own "deep" kind of shamisen music, including
Kabuki, Noh, Kouta, Dodoitsu, Minyo, Tsugaru Jamisen (instrument):


For more information be sure to visit Debra Bender's site:

                            PAPER LANTERNS

(Our deepest gratitude to Debra for providing all
information here.- Editor)