Japan's salarymen wax poetic about economy

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As work disappears
My vacation days
increase
There's no home
for me

-- Freeloader

Japan's salarymen -- its lifetime white-collar workers who have an image of plodding through life and work -- are bringing out their inner poets in a contest sponsored by an insurance company, and most of of the poems are about economic loss, according to a BusinessWeek story.

The senryu above, as reported in the BusinessWeek story, is one entry for "Best 10 Senryu," a type of humorous verse similar to 17-syllable "haiku" but with a play on words that adds a dark or comic tone, instead of references to nature or seasons.

Submissions have closed, and the sponsor, Dai-Ichi Mutual Life Insurance, plans to announce the winners in May, although it might help to be able to read Japanese to find out who wins.

In previous years, the poems, submitted under pen names, have been on such topics as hit songs, a clueless boss and Nintendo's Brain Age game. This year, of the more than 20,000 entries and the top 100 senryu picked by Dai-Ichi, the overwhelming theme has been the bad economy. Politics has also been popular, according to a Reuters story at Forbes.com.

One contestant, according to the Reuters story, wrote about the growing value of Japan's currency that is hurting the country's exports while making exports cheaper:

"I'd like to enjoy the rising strength of the yen, but I have not yet," the contestant wrote.

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