The deep mountains of karma

“The deep mountains of karma” is one of the verses of the Iroha, perhaps the most perfect pangram ever composed: a text that uses each character of an alphabet — in this case, the Japanese syllabary — exactly once. My thanks go to my kind friend Wim who taught me about it.

*”Gently calligraphed in India ink on the two pieces of washi papers. Meiji-Taisho period, early 20th century, Japan. Attached with with acrylic frame. Missing the last phrase of *’e-hi-mo-se-su-n’. Some stains and aging degradation as seen”.*

Also interesting to me is that the Iroha had been initially attributed to Kūkai, the founder of the Shingon Esoteric sect of Buddhism in Japan, whose life and thought I have recently got acquainted to thanks to Massimo Raveri's book Il Pensiero giapponese classico (ISBN 9788806165871).

An absolute must-read: Massimo Raveri's book Il Pensiero giapponese classico.

Wikipedia kindly provides the English translation by Professor Ryuichi Abe:

Although its scent still lingers on the form of a flower has scattered away For whom will the glory of this world remain unchanged? Arriving today at the yonder side of the deep mountains of evanescent existence We shall never allow ourselves to drift away intoxicated, in the world of shallow dreams.

I don't know how it is for you, o Reader, though the above lines evoke in me the verses of “Perhaps One Day” by Eugenio Montale... and that sentence, “the form of a flower”, is it not a magical reference to Umberto Eco's “The Name of the Rose”?

“The deep mountains of karma” is also a Grundgestalt available on

It begins with a piano solo, then enters uduhachi, followed by congas; bass and percussions follow; then baya suwuk, and finally African percussions. The various instrument then exit one by one, as actors in a play, until only the first and the last one remain on stage and conclude the piece. I don't really know why, though rather than a Japanese piéce I'm thinking now of Luigi Pirandello...

Composed on July 26, 2020. ©Eidon ( All rights reserved. desrever sgnorw llA