A couple of questions, including the use of the word ‘nanpū’ 難風.

  1. I am looking at (and transliterating) a cartouche with a combination of hiragana, hentaigana, and kanji, some in sōsho, however, there are a few characters between the words Sesshū Daimotsu-no-ura and nanpū that I’m not certain about. Can anyone shed light on these characters?

Utagawa Kuniyoshi-detail

摂州大物の浦[よ?][?][?]しうぐ難風に出合て平家のぼうれい御船を覆さんとする圖, / Sesshū Daimotsu-no-ura ([ ][ ][ ] shiugu, or shūjū) nanpū ni deaite Heike no bōrei mifune wo kutsugae san to suru zu.

The ‘mifune’ (?) and the ‘wo’ (を) are difficult to read, but I think the characters 御船 are correct in making sense of a “capsized” (‘kutsugae’, 覆) boat. In a recent post, @droooze gave a good web-link (http://www.shufazidian.com) so I have looked there for clarification, on top of my usual references:


  1. ‘Nanpū’ (難風) is a little bit of a frustrating term when it comes to institutions translating it, for I see everything from “terrible storm” to “typhoon,” the latter a bit of a misnomer since I assume that ‘taifū’ (台風) “typhoon” is a very specific type of storm in that it is seasonal, and doesn’t fit the occasion of the ghosts of the Heike rising up against Yoshistune’s boat in Daimotsu Bay. I am interested in how a native speaker would differentiate between types of winds and storms in general conversation, as well as when reading from a pre-C20th text.

There appear to be many ways of writing/describing a storm or a wind: a storm or tempest is usually represented by the character ‘arashi’ (嵐). In terms of ‘nanpū’ (難風), the character (難) can be read as “difficult,” “trouble,” “hardship,” or an “accident,” “calamity,” “disaster,” “danger,” and (風) “wind.” I trust I am not incorrect in my observations, but I have found ‘fūha’ (風波) for rough seas, literally “wind and waves”; ‘bōfū’ (暴風), literally a “violent” or “forceful wind”; ‘hayate’ (疾風), a “fast wind” or “gale” that might be thought of as a very sudden bōfū; ‘akufū’ (悪風), an “evil wind” or “bad wind”; and ‘reppū’ (烈風), a “strong wind.” Do modern Japanese speakers use these terms interchangeably, as general synonyms for a storm, or is one always mindful of the quality of the storm/wind and the way that words are used culturally, historically, semantically? That is, does it debase language and meaning if it is simply translated as a “storm”, rather than a “difficult,” “troublesome,” or “dangerous” wind (and in the case of those latter three, or any other, I would ask which would be a more definitive translation of ‘nanpū’?).

Why do I ask this? Because I often think about the importance of the poetics and ‘spirit’ of the words: it would, for instance, be inappropriate if “Blow, ill wind, blow away, Let me rest today, You're blowin' me no good” was changed to “Blow storm, blow away, Let me rest today” (Ted Koehler’s lyrics put to Harold Arlen’s 1934 musical composition). There are many other lyrics or prose with references to a particular kind of wind (ill wind, lonely wind, whispering wind, wayward wind, restless wind, summer wind, soul wind, north wind, west wind, etc.) and many synonyms for wind or storm (squall, hurricane, tempest, gale, zephyr, gust, strong breeze, breeze) that have subtle or significant differences in meaning and intent that—I hope—would be respected when translated into another language.

The title also references ‘bōrei’. This is another case in point. Many museums will translate this and related terms purely as ghost, but is this solution in tune with the vernacular understanding of ‘bōrei’ (亡霊; 亡 “dead” or “departed”; 霊, 靈, rei, “soul/spirit”, also seen as 亡灵), a ‘shiryō’ (死霊, a “dead spirit”), a ‘yūrei’ (幽霊; 幽, yū, "faint" and 霊, rei, "soul/spirit"), or an ‘onryō’ (怨霊)—literally a "vengeful spirit" or "wrathful spirit”—a yūrei believed to be “capable of causing harm in the world of the living” and “causing natural disasters to exact vengeance.” I'm interested in other's perspectives, especially in the context of the use of the word in literary works and artistic titles.

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    I got google search with 摂州大物の浦よしつねしうじう難風に出合て平家のぼうれ. い御船を覆さんとする図. Probably(歌川国芳 摂州大物浦平家怨霊顕る図). – user25382 Dec 9 '17 at 4:30
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    @musha, I believe the above comment has your answer (rendered in modern kana). With regards to , you may have misinterpreted it for the hiragana iteration marks, which are these two written vertically, joined sequentially: 〴〵. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – droooze Dec 9 '17 at 6:40
  • Thanks kimi Tanaka 逍遙 περίπατος ... よしつねしうじう is such a help. @droooze: A more noble mind than mine... you are opening up my world... an 〲 iteration mark instead of the character/sound gu ぐ, well, I've never come across it before, and telling the difference seems almost impossible in the context of handwriting! Yes, I have seen 々 and was just told it repeated the previous character, and I have seenゞ in Kagaya Kichibei's publisher cartouche, Kichi, Ryōgoku, Kagaya (吉両国加ゞや) but I did not understand it at the time, nor know where to find the character! Cheers. – musha Dec 9 '17 at 16:23

As for 難風{なんぷう}, I think you are bit overanalyzing the synonym. It should simply mean “difficult wind “ like you feel it hard to control something such as balance and hard to go forward when you are riding a bicycle, since the wind is too strong.

I guess 難風{なんぷう} itself is not so common word though, I often feel 難しい風 in a very windy day. Probably it’s hard for you to catch a ball falling down from up the sky when it was in a bit of turbulence like 難風{なんぷう}.

Yeah, I think Japanese people are mindful about the difference between 暴風{ぼうふう}:tempest , storm, 疾風{しっぷう}: quick wind, 爆風{ばくふう}: blast, 悪風{あくふう}: evil wind, 烈風{れっぷう} sharp wind as if cutting your face and so on.

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