IrohaThe iroha (いろは) is a Japanese poem most likely written sometime during the Heian era (794-1179AD). Authorship is traditionally ascribed to the Heian era Japanese Buddhist priest and scholar kuukai (空海) (774-835).
The text of the poem in hiragana (with archaic ゐ and ゑ) is:
いろはにほへと ちりぬるを わかよたれそ つねならむ うゐのおくやま けふこえて あさきゆめみし ゑひもせすThe text of the poem in kanji and kana is:
色は匂へと 散りぬるを 我が世誰そ 常ならむ 有為の奥山 今日越えて 浅き夢見し 酔ひもせすThe poem exhibits the 7-5-syllable repeated verse structure.
The iroha is unique in that it uses each and every kana precisely once (with the exception of ん [-n], which was added to the syllabary later). For this reason, the poem was used as an ordering of the Japanese syllabary until the Meiji era reforms in the 19th century.
The iroha is used as an indicator of sound changes in the spoken Japanese language in the Heian era.
The word いろは (iroha) can also be used to mean "ABC's" or "The basics" in Japanese.