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Kaibun

Kaibun (回文; lit. circle sentence) is a Japanese equivalent of palindrome, or in other words, a sentence that read the same from the beginning to the end or from the end to the beginning. The unit of kaibun is mora since the Japanese language uses syllabaries, hiragana and katakana.

Single word palidromes are not uncommon in Japanese. For example, Ku-ku (九九 9x9 matrix), Shi-n-bu-n-shi (新聞紙 newspaper), etc. So kaibun usually refers to a palindromic sentence, but a passage can be a kaibun too.

The topic marker "wa" (は) can be treated as "ha" and small kana ゃ,ゅ and ょ are usually allowed to be interpreted as big kana や, ゆ and よ. In classics, diacritic marks are often ignored.

Famous Kaibun

  • Ta-ke-ya-bu ya-ke-ta (竹薮焼けた) - A bamboo grove has been burned.
  • Wa-ta-shi ma-ke-ma-shi-ta-wa (私負けましたわ) - I have lost.
  • Na-ga-ki yo-no to-ho-no ne-bu-ri-no mi-na me-za-me na-mi-no-ri-bu-ne-no o-to-no-yo-ki-ka-na (長き世の 遠の眠りの 皆目覚め 波乗り船の 音の良きかな) Tanka



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