Iroha is the abbreviation for Iroha - uta (Japaneseいろは歌,伊吕波 歌). It is a Japanese poem that all the characters ( Kana ) of the syllable inventories used in the Heian period of Japanese font used exactly once. There is thus a real pangram and is also used as an organizing scheme.

This applies only to a limited extent for today's Japanese, because Kana as we and wi are no longer used by default and the newer n is not included in the poem.

The poem is usually written in hiragana.


The author is unknown, in general, the authorship but is attributed to the Buddhist scholar Kūkai (空 海, 774-835 ), who is still revered among the posthumous name Kobo Daishi today. As time of origin of the poem but is now viewed the Heian period, as it was written in the time belonging to this style. Sure it was detected only for the year 1079, where it (金光明 最 胜 王 経 音 义) in Konkōmyō - Saishōō - kyō Ongi - is included - a commentary on pronunciation and meaning of the kanji in the Konkōmyō - Saishōō - kyō.

The poem engages in free translation, a thought from the Buddhist Nirvana Sutra (Japanese:大 般 涅槃 経, Daihatsu Nehan - gyō ) on :诸 行 无常/是 正 灭 法/生灭 灭 己/寂灭 为 楽( Chinese with Japanese pronunciation how the sacred texts are read usually in Japanese Buddhism: Shogyōmujō / zeshōmeppō / shōmetsumetsui / jakumetsuiraku )


In Konkōmyō - Saishōō - kyō Ongi the poem was not written with Man'yōgana in 6 lines with 7 Moren and a line of 5 Moren:

以呂 波 耳 本 へ 止 千 利 奴 流 乎 和加 余 多 连 曽 津 祢 那 良 牟 有为 能 于 久 耶 万 计 不 己 衣 天 阿佐 伎 喩 女 美 之 恵 比 毛 势 须

Structurally, however, it follows the 7-5 - syllable scheme of Japanese poetry with a shortened line as an exception. Today Kana therefore be arranged accordingly.

Translation variants

The meaning of the poem, which deals with the transience of this world, which leaves the poet behind it is, namely to capture still, in the Details soft translations but from each other. Closely aligned with the Japanese text reads the contents as follows:

Of course, the translation can not fulfill the purpose, occurring letters and characters of the target language play, certainly not in the ideal way that each letter occurs only once in a different language. The meaning comes but in the following transmission to the application that contains all the letters of the German alphabet including umlauts and the ß, also all punctuation marks.


The poem served as a training text ( tenarai ) for contemporary syllabary. It was similar to our " a), b ), c) ... " also counting and classification scheme in literature and reference books. This use can be found even today, for example, in dictionaries in the enumeration of significance differences, but also to number of other things, like the seats in the theater.

Also popular since the Edo period Iroha - garuta, a card game, in which proverbs or poems are guessing depends on this poem. There is a serene interlude of the Noh theater, a Kyōgen, with this title.

The formatting language used Cascading Style Sheets for Web pages support a numbering according Iroha. However, this is not being implemented by some browsers.

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      • Nihon Bungaku Daijiten ( Large encyclopedia of the literature of Japan). Tokyo 1932
      • Ramming Martin (ed.): Japan Manual. Berlin 1941
      • Earl Miner et al.: The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature. Princeton, N. J. 1983 ( 2nd edition)
      • Andrew Nathaniel Nelson: The Modern Reader 's Japanese - English Dictionary. Rutland, Vermont et al. various surfaces, there Appendix 7
      • Nihon Kokugo Daijiten ( Great Dictionary of the Japanese language ), various editions, Tokyo, ISBN 4-09-520001-4 (keywords below iroha )
      • Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten. Iwanami Shoten, Tokyo 1986


      • Kana
      • Poetry