The Ancient Poem Built Into Your Browser

The いろは (Iroha)

(The Ancient Poem That's Built Into Your Browser)

Did you know that there is an ancient poem that is (probably) built into your browser? If you're using one of the many two modern browsers that exist today, your browser has an old Japanese poem hardcoded into it somewhere.

The "Iroha" is an old Japanese poem that is the equivalent of the English "Quick brown fox" sentence; in other words it uses all of the available Japanese phonetic characters. Unlike the "quick brown fox" sentence, the Iroha poem uses each Japanese phonetic character only once each!

What this means is that sometimes this poem is used as a way to list a specific order of things in Japanese, like how we would order things with letters in alphabetical order in english. One notable example I've found is that musical notes in Japanese can be referred to by the first few characters of the Iroha poem! (Although I have seen the solfège system used more commonly)

Because of the poem's occasional usage as a list ordering system, there is a built-in CSS list-style-type that allows for the usage of the Iroha poem on <li> elements on web pages. ... At least in any browsers that support it.

Using the ~POWERS OF CSS~ we can display the poem right here without having to actually write it out. Check the HTML source of this page to verify it!

(The poem is read top-to-bottom, right-to-left)


Want to learn more about the poem? Well, I'm not a historian! Read up on it yourself!