Aphasics and Tanka

by an'ya

(published in moonset literary newspaper)

This subject is especially interesting to me because at present I caregive full-time for two stroke survivors (one whose language center was affected), and I thought others whose language center was affected), and I thought others also would enjoy reading a little about the latest therapy being used in Japan today, insofar as the way it relates to tanka.

Definition of Aphasia: Tsuneo Taguchi (1983) defined "aphasia" in the follow manner based on its most fundamental characteristics.

"Aphasia (or dyspasia) is a disturbance of language function caused by relatively selective cerebral injury, resulting in dysfunction of regions of the brain dealing with language symbols, which is often accompanied by other brain injury syndrome manifestations in addition to impairment of language function."

Katsumi Okabe, Ph.d/Professor and Chairman, Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Disorders, Institute of Special Education, University of Tsukuba, and his talented wife Toshiko Okabe, R.N., MSN Professor, School of Nursing, the Tokyo Metropolitan University of Health Sciences, have just recently joined the Tanka Society of America. Katsumi and Toshiko are presenting an example of work taking the form of tanka poetry writing, reading, and appreciation in their truly amazing 2 books entitled Educational Rehabilitation and Nursing for Aphasics in Japan: An Interdisciplinary Model. Through the effective use of these materials, they hope to contribute to very good relations between the United States of America and Japan, and really look forward to developing this relationship to the mutual benefit of the Tanka Society of America.  

These two books are dedicated to their parents, and these authors uniquely include, throughout thheir treatise, many traditional tanka for their speech rehabilitation purposes. The following are even some examples sent by the wife of a deceased patient (Mr. T) 4 years, 11 months after treatment began:


on the movements

of the doctor's mouth

my husband's unblemished heart

beginning to gain

conversational skills

my husband's temperament

grows mellow

words of every kind