Iroha-uta in hiragana:
1 いろは にほへと ちりぬるを
2 わかよ たれそ つねならむ
3 うゐの おくやま けふこえて
4 あさき ゆめみし ゑひもせす
or by using kanji :
1 色は 匂へど 散りぬるを
2 我が世 誰ぞ 常ならむ
3 有為の 奥山 今日越えて
4 浅き 夢見じ 酔いもせず
The meaning is
1 the prosperity, which seems so beautiful, will disappears oneday.
(every beautiful flower falls someday)
2 who can make this world ever lasting?
(humans can not live forever,that’s nature’s law)
3 Life on earth is full of ups and downs and problems as big as uncrossable mountain get in the way.
4 Don’t get drunk by the finally always disappearing dream of life
(by achieving enlightment, you can get a peaceful soul and you don’t have to have an empty dream anylonger)
This has been translatedoriginally from a ancient chienese poem, that had a slightly different meaning, but the same general idea:
There are several interpretations of this poem. One of them sees the “iroha-uta” as a cryptograph. When aristocracy prosperd in Japan, there were a lot of heavy political conflicts. How can you get a connection with the powerful, how can you win against rivals. There were plots everywhere. There was a teacher of a prince, who was fell into such a plot and was exiled to an island as a heavy criminal. The teacher supposed wrote this poem “iroha-uta” with the hidden cryptograph, which that he was innocenct. He could even be the famous “waka”- poet Hitomaro Kakinomoto from that time, who wrote a lot of wonderful waka-poems.
Let’s decipher this message!
Take every 7th letter and read them together:
to ka na ku te shi su
or in kanji:
It ssays “ no guilt, die”: I must die although I ‘m innocenct”
This message could be written by Hitomaro Kakinomoto.
“ I must die on this lonely island. I may not see you (his family and friends) anymore.
But I have to say at least before I die, that I was always innocent. Please understand my lament. I’m writing this poem for you and for later generations. Hopefuly, someone will be able to decipher what I really tried to say with this poem one day.
Iroha-uta in rouma-ji
I ro ha hi ho he to chi ri nu ru wo
wa ka yo ta re so tsu ne na ra mu
u yi no o ku ya ma ke fu ko e te
a sa ki yu me mi shi ye hi mo se su