Japanoscope Translations Podcast #1 An Abridged English Translation of Chichan no Kageokuri (Chii and the shadow game) ちいちゃんのかげおくり英語訳

An abridged version of the classic story chichan no kageokuri for Japanese Reading Practice

About The Author

Kimiko Anma

Kimiko Anma lived in China as a child during WWII. She returned to her country at the age of 19, after Japan’s defeat.

Several of her works are featured in elementary school textbooks in Japan and are thus read by millions of Japanese children every year. Her stories combine Japanese cultural sensibilities with a nod to classic children’s storytelling from around the world. Her stories are influenced by authors such as Kenji Miyazawa.

Chichan’s Shadow Game is the tragic and deeply moving tale of child’s view of the hardships of war. It is told in a matter-of-fact, quasi-objective way that somehow makes the tragedy all the more moving.

When I came across this in my child’s reading book when he was in grade 3 at Japanese school, I was truely shocked by the somewhat brutal, though deeply touching, nature of the story I was being asked to read my child. I have noticed that there no shortage of such dark, lest-we-forget, type tales in the literature being taught Japanese children. The Japanese are less squeemish about this than much of the English speaking world.

Japanese Reading Difficulty

3/12 Approximately Elementary Grade 3 level in Japan


War, children, short stories

9784251030115: Chii-chan no kageokuri











































































Chii’s Shadow Game

By Kimiko Anma

Translated and abridged by Peter Head

Chii first learnt about the game called  “Kageokuri” from her dad.

The day before her father’s deployment to war, Chii’s Dad took Chii with her brother, and her mother, to visit the ancestral graves. On the way, he looked up at the blue sky and muttered. “This is the perfect sky for doing Kageokuri”

“Kageokuri”, repeated Chii’s brother.

“What’s Kagekuri?”, asked Chi.

“Well, you stare at shadow for a while, you count to ten and then look in the sky. You’ll find that the shape of the shadow you have been looking at is projected in the sky before your very eyes.” explained the dad.

“Your mum and I used to play when we were kids.”

The mother interjected, “Hey. Why don’t we all try it now!”

With that, the four joined hands, with Chii and his brother on the inside, and everyone stared down at their shadows.

“Don’t blink!”, said the mother.

“We won’t”, replied the children.


“One, two, three”, said the father.

“Four, five, six”, joined in the mother.

“Seven, eight, nine”, chimed in Chii and her brother.



The family turned their eyes to the sky and saw four white shapes projected there.


Said Chii’s brother.

“Wow!” said Chii.

“Well, that will be today’s commemoration photo” said the father.

The next day, sent off by the waving of the rising sun flags and with a white cord strung diagonally across his body the father boarded a train.

Chii’s ears were close enough to hear her mother say, “I can’t believe even my weak husband now has to go and fight”

Chii and her brother came to play kageokuri regularly. They played kageokuri as they sent their father off, swinging their arms in the sky to “Banzai!”. 


One night in early summer, Chii’s household was awoken by an air-raid siren.
“It’s time to move”
Chii heard her mother’s voice.

Outside, many red flames were already rising in the night sky.
Chii’s mum took Chii and her brother’s hands and ran.

But Chii was overtaken by other’s running, bumping into her, and overtaking her once again. She was separated from her mother.

“Mum, mum.”, she yelled.
Chii was alone.
That night, she slept amongst a crowd of strangers.
Morning came. The appearance of the town had changed completely. Smoke lingered here and there. Where is home?

The house was fallen and gone.
That night, Chii ate a little bit of dried rice from a duffel bag. She slept in a dark air-raid shelter.
“I’m sure my mum and brother will come back”
The cloudy morning came, the day went by, and the dark night came. Chii took a few bites of her dried rice and once again slept in the broken air raid shelter.

She awoke to a bright light on her face.
“It’s so bright”
Chii felt a strange combination of hot and cold. Her throat was badly parched. Somehow, the sun had risen high in the sky.
At that moment, she heard her father’s voice from somewhere above her, as if he was calling to her from the sky.
“This is the perfect sky for doing Kageokuri”


“Why don’t we do it all together?”, joined in her mother’s voice from the sky too.
Chii stood up with shaky legs, and started counting, staring at a single shadow.

“One, two, three, four.” 
Before she knew it, she could hear her father’s low voice joining in. 

“four, five, six”

Next, the higher voice of her mother joined in.

“7, 8, 9”

The soft voice of her brother joined too.
Chii looked to the sky. She saw there are four distinct white shadows outlined above her. 
“Dad!”, she cried.
“Mum, brother”.

In that second, she found that her body was becoming see through, as if it was being absorbed in the sky. 
Everything was the colour of sky. She stood in a flower garden the colour of sky. Around and around, all she could see was flowers.

The story in song

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ペイヴメントのRange Lifeは90年代の二つのオルタナティヴバンドの20年間に渡る諍いのきっかけになった曲です。 歌詞の中に「スマッシングパンプキンズ」が出てきますが、スマッシングパンプキンズのビリー・コーガンはこの曲を聞いてとても怒りました。 ビリー・コーガンは1994年のロラパルーザに出演の際、もしペイヴメントが出るならスマッシングパンプキンズは出ないと主張し、ペイヴメントが出演出来なくなったということがありました。 問題になった歌詞を後ほど紹介します。 Range Life 和訳 After the glow, the scene, the stage 白熱、シーン、舞台の後 The sad talk becomes slow 悲しい話は遅くなる But there’s one

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洋楽 和訳

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“Losing my religion”を直訳すれば「宗教・信仰心を失いかけている」ですので、 当然この歌を聞けば「宗教についての歌だろう」と思いがちですね。 でも実際は違うようです。 本人曰く、宗教・信仰とは関係ないそうです。 Losing my religion和訳 Oh life is bigger 生きることは偉大だ It’s bigger than you 君より偉大だ And you are not me 君は僕じゃない

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パール・ジャムの「アライブ」はグランジを代表する大変盛り上がる曲です。しかしあまり知られていないのですが、この盛り上がりとは裏腹に実は非常に暗い内容が詰まっています。ライブでは多くのファンは「I’m alive!」「俺は生きている!」と勢いよく叫びます。 それはそれでいいのですが、この歌詞を書いたエディ・ヴェダー本人が言うにはこのサビの一行は「呪い」のようなものだそうです。 アライブ歌詞和訳 Son she said 息子よと彼女が言った Have I got a little story for you あなたにちょっと話があるの What you thought was your daddy あなたが父さんだと思っていた人は、 Was

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洋楽 和訳


音楽は魔法です。現実に存在する魔法だと僕は思っています。 一つの究極な例としてはThe BandのThe Weightを挙げれると思います。 これほど神秘的で不思議な力がある曲はあるでしょうか。 今日はその謎に満ちた歌の歌詞の意味について話したいと思います。 The Weightの概要 まずこの歌の軸になっている、核心的意味を言い切るのはすごく困難だと思います。 大雑把に言えば「自分の重荷を捨てて楽にしましょう」という意味だと思います。 「The Weight」「その重み」というタイトルもその真意を案じているでしょう。 その「重み」というのはどういうものか後で考えて行きたいと思います。 The Weightの固有名詞 この歌で何が印象的かと言うと、固有名詞がやたら多いということです。 名前、地名などなどどんどん出てきます。 しかもその名前、地名は聖書に因んだものがほとんどです。 聖書との関わり ナザレ まず第一行に出てくるナザレです。 世界中でイエスキリストが生まれたとして知られている町の名前ですね。 「この歌の主人公がイエスかよ」と思わせるような歌詞の出だし。 でも実はアメリカにもナザレという街があります。 Pennsylvania州にある6000人余りが住むような小さな街です。

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Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).