Wordplay

The following is an excerpt from a folksong.  The original uses wordplay with one of the many, many homophones in Japanese: the word “hana.” Although the Chinese characters used to write the two meanings are different, the words “nose” and “flower” are both pronounced “hana” in Japanese. Otafuku is a character often depicted on masks, she is a woman with full, bulging cheeks and a flat nose. In Japanese a nose like her’s is referred to as “hikui” or “low.” The wordplay then comes in when Otafuku declares that both herself and Omuro cherry blossoms are beloved regardless of her “low nose” and the trees’ “low flowers.” This is executed with the single phrase “hikui hana.” The Omuro-zakura also have the nickname “Otafuku-zakura” which references the comparison in this ditty.

「わたしゃお多福 御室の桜 鼻が低ても 人が好く」俗謡

I am Otafuku

like the cherry trees of Omuro

even with modest features [a flat nose/ low flowers]

loved by many

Omuro Cherry Blossoms

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