I came across an interesting passage about the origin of the word 黄昏 (tasogare) today. It’s not enough for a proper lesson chapter and I have no idea what topic to dump it under, so I’ve decided to create a brand new section: Japanese Titbits! How exactly does this differ from Katamari, I have no idea. Just accept it. So anyway…
Japanese Titbit #1
According to WWWJDIC, The word 黄昏 (tasogare) is defined as “dusk” or “twilight”. It’s a word that you don’t see much in normal usage outside of poems and songs. The normal word used to refer to evening is 夕方 (yuugata).
Some examples of it being used: .hack//Legend Of The Twilight is known in Japanese as 「.hack//黄昏の腕輪伝説」 (.hack//tasogare no udewa densetsu). See-Saw has a song titled 「黄昏の海」 (tasogare no umi) in its Dream Field album. I looove that song.
The origin of tasogare is pretty interesting.
Long ago, there were no street lights and evening was a time where you couldn’t really make out the faces of other people. It was bright enough that people didn’t need to carry lanterns or lamps but just dark enough to mask any details.
And when you couldn’t tell who was heading your way, you would ask 「誰そ、彼は？」 “taso, kare wa?“, an archaic expression that means 「誰だあれは」 “dare da are wa” or “Who’s that person?”.
taso kare wa
Somehow along the way, “taso kare” got turned into one word and became “tasogare“, which is then used to refer to evening. The kanji 黄昏 (which also means evening in Chinese) was added on later.
たそかれ → たそがれ
Just like 今日 (kyou), 明日 (ashita) and 浴衣 (yukata), 黄昏 is a kanji compound that is being used for its meaning rather than its reading. (Edited for factual error)
The reading of tasogare should technically be “koukon” following the on-readings of 黄 and 昏, but it takes on the reading of “tasogare” because of the similar meaning. Therefore, “tasogare” is neither the kun-reading nor the on-reading.
(Editied for additional information)
I forgot to add that tasogare conveys a feeling of loneliness and melancholy when used in songs and poems today. Listen to See-Saw’s “Tasogare no Umi” and you’ll see what I mean.