Dai-ichi Life Insurance announced their “Sarasen” (サラリーマン川柳) winners in the 28th annual satirical poem competition.

In this yearly “sara-sen” competition, regular folks submit their humorous senryu poems by postal mail (quaint, but very Japanese), then vote on the best. Senryu are like haiku but are about human life rather than nature, and have the same familiar haiku cadence of 5, 7, then 5 syllables.

Screenshot of Dai-ichi Life illustration for the 2015 Sarasen competition
Screenshot: Dai-ichi Life Sarasen

The best ones combine news events from the year, mixing in home and work life.

Sarasen Medalists 2015

Let’s look at the sara-sen medalists this year, with my annotations and translations:

2015 Bronze Sarasen, by “Koma-san”


In romaji -

Youkai ka
Yo-deru, Yo-deru
Tsuma no guchi

It’s hard to translate exactly, but it plays on the popular “yokai watch” theme’s refrain “yo deru yo deru”, meaning, (the monsters) come out a lot. In this case, what’s coming out a lot is his wife’s complaints.

2015 Silver Sarasen, by “Shonan-Ojin”


In romaji -

Tsuma yori yasashii
Furo no koe

This one says the bath has boiled or is ready, and that the electronic female voice that beckons you (a fixture in households in Japan), is “kinder than my wife’s.” What’s with all the wife-bashing?

2015 Gold Sarasen, by “Isono-ke”


In romaji -

Hika Shibo
Shigen ni dekireba
No-beru shou

The winner this year is a middle-aged man (me?!) lamenting about all his subcutaneous fat. “If only I could convert it to a natural resource, I’d probably win a Nobel.” He was probably told during an annual health check to lose weight and be more active. Burning “hika shibo” is big in Japan, and there are a lot ads about it, and talk about it.

Bonus Sarasen

Here’s one by me.


In romaji -

Katori senko!
Kaya no soto…

My imaginary middle aged guy imagines his wife yelling at him to bring out some katori senko (mosquito coil), but he himself is “outside the mosquito net”. Kaya no soto is an expression meaning, you’re on the outside, subject to all the biting mosquitos, whilst others are safe inside the net.

Not that that ever happens to me. :-)