19 Anime Miko, Shrine Maidens and Shinto Priestesses with images

You don’t have to go far to find a bunch of anime about Miko, also called shrine maidens, and Shinto priestesses. In the past, we’ve discussed Shinto’s connection with anime more broadly, and even put together this list of 25 shinto related anime. But here we will hone down even more to look at one of shinto’s most enduring symbols in the anime and manga genres, the Shinto priestess, Miko.

Why are there so many Miko shrine maidens and Shinto priestesses in Anime?

We can identify perhaps three main reasons that the figure of the Miko shrine maiden has become such a trope in anime. These are the miko’s youthful purity, historic perception of divine authority and their ability to adapt well into the supernatural worlds of superpowers often depicted in anime.

  1. Miko shrine maidens are symbols of youthful purity in Japan. 

You will notice that anime are very often, close to exclusively, focused on children or young characters. Miko characters therefore lend themselves very naturally to being a part of this focus.

From this perspective, it is as if the entire anime and manga genres have a preoccupation on the innocent, or pure, side of humanity. More precisely, anime generally focuses on youth’s heroic struggles to overcome a broader evil in the world. 

  1. Miko were powerful keepers of the Shrine in ancient Japan. 

The history of Miko also lends this character to anime, in that Miko were traditionally considered closer to the role of current day Shinto Priests. Miko were the head of the Shrine, the ones bestowed the powers of shamic lore associated with the shrine and kami

It has even been argued that the early history of Japan was largely matriarchal. Today, Japan is seen by most people as being a patriarchal society, but there is a place within the collective psyche of the Japanese people for a mysteriously powerful maiden.

  1. In the anime world of people with supernatural powers and otherworldly abilities, the mysteriously powerful Miko Shrine Maiden is a good fit. 

It makes sense to give a central role to the Shinto priestess in anime and take advantage of these ancient symbols of animistic power. Aside from any amorphous, generalised powers that are ascribed Miko in Japanese culture at large, anime often gives the Shrine Maiden specific powers such as the ability to shoot forces from the hands or the ability to repel magical attacks from the forces of evil.

What is a shrine maiden?

Putting aside the question of the symbolism that Shrine Maidens have in Japanese history, what do Miko do in contemporary Japanese Shrines?

What does a Miko actually do? 

These days, the role of Miko has been altogether downgraded from it’s previous appointment as a shaman responsible for various rites and ceremonies. 

Today you will more often find a Miko manning a gift shop than chanting an incantation. They tend to be fairly low-paid, high school or part time university students. They often have fairly minimal training on the deeper aspects of Shinto practice.

In ceremonial events, such as festivals and weddings, they participate as more of a helper or assistant, than as the main person in charge.

That being said, they may still have roles performing ceremonial dances or chants so their spiritual role has not been totally removed in the modern age. Many of the more outwardly shamanistic and “magical” functions that shrines held were outlawed after the Meiji restoration when Japan embarked on a large-scale scientific modernization project. During this period Shinto became much more mixed with ideas of nationalism. Called “Kokka Shinto” in Japanese, Shinto became something used more to bring the people together on a socio-political level, than a thing to heal them on a mind-body level.

What anime has Miko in it?

We have compiled a list of anime that feature Miko and Shrine Maidens.

List of Miko Anime and the Shinto Priestesses

  1. 君の名は Your Name 

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Mitsuha Miyamizu

  1. 犬夜叉 Inuyasha

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Kikyo 

  1. 神無月の巫女 Kannazuki no Miko Destiny of the Shrine Maiden 

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Himeko Kurusugawa

  1. 温泉幼精ハコネちゃん Onsen Yosei Hakone-Chan

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Hakone (Actually a deity but portrayed like Miko)

  1. RDG レッドデータガール Red Data Girl (RDG: Red Data Girl)

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Izumiko Suzuhara

  1. くまみこ Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Amayadori Machi 

  1. ラブ ひな Love Hina 

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character:Mokoto Aoyama

  1.  かんなぎ Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens (Kannagi)

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Himemiya Chikane

  1. 我が家のお稲荷様 Our Home’s Fox Deity 

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Ko (referred to as a “Mamorime” but presents as a Miko)

  1. ぎんぎつね Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods (Gingitsune)

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Yuuko

  1. かみちゅ! The Goddess is a Middle School Student (Kamichu!)

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Miko Saegusa

  1. 朝霧の巫女 Shrine of the Morning Mist (Asagiri no Miko)

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Yuzu Hieda

  1. ふしぎ遊戯 Fushigi Yugi (Fushigi Yuugi)

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Miaka Yuki

  1. らき☆すた Lucky Star 

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Hiiragi Kagami & Tsubasa

  1. ビッグオーダー Big Order

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Iyo

  1. Blood-C

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Kisaragi Saya

  1. ひぐらしのなく頃に Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Furude Rika 

  1. Steins;Gate

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Urushibara Ruka 

  1. 美少女戦士セーラームーン Crystal Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal

Miko/Shinto Priestess/Shrine Maiden character: Hino Rei

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。

Japanese Folklore & Shinto Mythology in Anime – (Talking in Japanese & English) 神道と民話とアニメの話し(日本語と英語)

Talking about the different Japanese folklore, shinto symbols and mythology in anime. Starting from “What is Shinto”, we look at the most common shinto symbols we have noticed in anime including, trees, mountains, Torii, Miko, Tengu, Tanuki etc.
アニメのさまざまな日本の民間伝承と神道の象徴について話します。 「神道とは」から始めて、木、山、鳥居、巫女、天狗、たぬきなど、アニメで私たちが気づいた最も一般的な神道のシンボルを見ていきます。

Japanese Mythology Anime

Anime has a close relationship with Japanese mythology. Anime can be traced back to the traditional Japanese art and forms such as Kamishibai. It became more popular around the world in the late twentieth century and by the 2000s had evolved into a greater cultural phenomenon.

In Japansese mythology there are many gods, goddesses, demons and monsters that have been depicted throughout time through different mediums such as paintings on scrolls or silk screens on sliding doors.

Anime’s use of symbolism is a reflection of the Japanese Buddhist and Shinto religions. The traditional themes in anime are destruction, rebirth, death and reincarnation. Anime often deals with morality issues such as the consequences of violence, the rightfulness of revenge and struggling against destiny.

Mythology Anime Mentioned in Podcast


もののけ姫 Princess Mononoke
天空の城ラピュータ Laputa Castle In The Sky
ぽんぽこ Pom Poko
トトロ My Neighbor Totoro
千と千尋の神隠し Spirited Away
天気の子 weathering With You
有頂天家族 The Eccentric Family
犬夜叉 Inuyasha
かぐや姫 The Tale of Princess Kaguya
鬼滅の刃 Demon Slayer
くまみこ Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear
デスノート Death Note
君の名は Your Name
我が家のお稲荷様 Our Home’s Fox Deity
ググれコックリさん Gugure Kokkuri-san
温泉幼精ハコネちゃん Onsen Yosei Hakone-Chan
繰繰れ! コックリさん Gugure Kokkuri-San
有頂天家族 The Eccentric Family
境界のRinne Kyoukai no Rinne
神無月の巫女 Kannazuki no Miko

Japanese Mythology Topics Covered in Talk

00:00:00 intro

00:01:30 What is Shinto?

00:02:15 Connection between shinto and buddhism

00:10:50 What does “Do you believe in god mean?”

00:15:40 What is the difference between in yokai and kami?

00:19:21 Miko 巫女

00:24:55 Princesses 姫

00:30:50 Dolls & Robots 人形とロボット

00:34:04 Rocks 石

00:35:00 念 Unfinished business

00:36:00 Wells & Sarayashiki 井戸と皿屋敷

00:37:45 Wells & Inuyasha 井戸と犬夜叉

00:42:15 Trees 木

00:44:20 Mountains 山

00:46:05 Tanuki たぬき

00:47:20 Ghibli, Miyazaki, environmentalism & Shinto

00:54:00 Foxes 狐

00:55:25 Deer 鹿

00:57:00 Crows カラス

01:01:00 Frogs カエル

01:06:00 Torii 鳥居

01:16:20 Christian imagery

See our list of the top 25 Shinto Anime .
And discussion of Shinto symbols and their meanings here.

Shinto symbols and their meanings in traditional and popular culture

In this article we present a list of a handful of the innumerable shinto-related symbols and look at their meanings. We also show imagery of examples of this shinto imagery appearing in popular culture generally, and in anime in particular.

We have compiled a list of 25 shinto inspired anime here. We also did an entire youtube/podcast talking in Japanese & English about Shinto & Japanese mythology anime here.

What is Shinto?

Shinto is an ancient Japanese belief system that focuses on the natural world and the spiritual values of people’s daily lives. Shinto is rich in symbolism and ritual. Shinto is so ingrained in Japan that it is a worldview that helps tie all Japanese people together, consciously or not.

The word Shinto means “the way of the gods”. Followers of Shinto are devoted to kami, variously, and somewhat inadequately, translated as spirits, deities or gods who are thought to inhabit natural objects, especially mountains, trees and shrines.

Nature as Shinto symbols

Mountains 山

Shinto is all about the natural world, and there is hardly anything more evident in the natural world than the towering mountains. So it is no surprise that mountains are intimately associated with shinto worship. Anyone who has spent any time climbing mountains in Japan will have had several experiences of coming across a Torii gate, or sacred shinto adornments, at particularly beautiful or awe-inspiring points on the slope.

In the Manyoshu, one of the earliest existent collections of Japanese poetry from 759, one poem reads : 

“The lofty peak of Mount Fuji is the kami mysterious who dwells there … the guardian kami of Yamato Province.”

Indeed, even today, you will find Torii gates at the top of Mount Fuji signifying the significance of the site. You will also find there a post office and many vending machines, proving that Japan is not afraid to mix the sacred with the profane.

In popular culture & Anime:

Shinto mixes with environmentalism in the Ghibli film Pom Poko where a group of Tanuki fight to save their mountain from destruction caused by wanton human land development.

ぽんぽこ Pom Poko – Mountain

Mountains feature prominently in the opening of anime Onsen Yosei hakone-Chan

温泉幼精ハコネちゃん Onsen Yosei Hakone-Chan – Mountain and Torii Gate

Trees 木

Trees are an essential part of Shinto and Japanese folklore. Trees provide shelter, give shade, and provide fruit to humans who live in the area. They also provide wood for building materials and paper for writing.

Shinto belief grants special significance to old and large trees. Often these trees and their environs are nominated as Himorogi, dwelling places of Kami. Sacred trees that are considered to be inhabited by spirits or life-force are called shinboku.

Different shrines have different types of wood that they consider to be the most sacred. So the Kasuga Shrine has Sasaki, Inari Shrines have cedar and Hiyoshi Shrines consider Laurel to be the most significant.

But the undisputed most famous tree in shinto belief is the Sakaki. Indeed, it was a Sakaki and a mirror that the prominent Fujiwara clan had transported to Kyoto to demonstrate the authority of their new shrine in the newly nominated capital of Japan.

In popular culture & Anime:

トトロ My Neighbor Totoro – Tree

千と千尋の神隠し Spirited Away

Rocks 石

Stones are often worshipped in Japanese Shinto belief and mythology. Interestingly, there was an ancient belief that stones actually grow over time. This can even be seen in the words of Japan’s national anthem of the present day, which uses words that originally appeared in the Kokinshu of 905:

Rule on, my lord, till what are pebbles now

By age united to mighty rocks shall grow

Unusually shaped rocks and stones throughout Japan can often be found draped in various forms of shinto regalia. Perhaps the most famous example may be the Meoto Iwa,  or “wedded rocks”, seen off the coast of Ise, in Mie prefecture. These are considered to be vehicles of sun worship, and of the kami Amaterasu.

Shintoistic worship of rocks has also blended with Buddhist religion over the years in the often seen wayside statues of Jizo, Dososhin or Sai-no-kami.

In popular culture & Anime:

我が家のお稲荷様 Our Home’s Fox Deity – Stone

Animals as Shinto symbols

Foxes 狐

繰繰れ! コックリさん Gugure Kokkuri-San – Fox

Foxes feature heavily both in popular and traditional Japanese culture. They are associated with the wide spread “Inari” shrines in Japan. They are considered to be envoys for the Inari deity Ukanomitama-no-kami. The Inari kami is a kami of food, especially Japan’s staple food rice. Fox masks are often seen in Japanese festivals. 

The symbolic meaning behind foxes in Japan can vary from region to region. In some regions, foxes are seen as a good luck symbol while in others they are seen as a bad luck symbol. For example, in some parts of Japan, foxes are considered to be an auspicious symbol while in other parts of the country they are viewed as an ominous symbol.

In popular culture & Anime:

我が家のお稲荷様 Our Home’s Fox Deity

Tanuki (Raccoon-dog) たぬき

The Tanuki is a folkloric animal that is known for their ability to shape-shift and copy the movements of other animals. The creature has been well documented in Japanese culture and folklore, and they are said to be a mischief maker who can turn invisible.

A Tanuki is also a real animal in Japan. It gets called by several names in English. It gets referred to as any combinations of “raccoon” “dog” & “badger,” or an Asian species of canine. 

The tanuki in Japan is commonly associated with good fortune and happiness, or with mysticism more generally.

In popular culture & Anime:

有頂天家族 The Eccentric Family – Tanuki

ぽんぽこ Pom Poko – Tanuki

Deer 鹿

Deer are considered sacred creatures as being messengers or emblematic of the Kami Kasuga. Deer are especially closely associated with the Shrines in the city of Nara, where emperor Nimmei called for a new shrine to be built there to help solidify its status as the new capital.

 In Japanese folklore, deer are believed to have a supernatural power. They are a symbol of good luck. In Shinto, the deer is associated with the goddess Amaterasu and its antlers represent masculine power.

Deer may be seen as a paradoxical animal in that it is both revered and hunted in Japan. In Shinto hunting ritual, deer meat is offered to the gods while priests perform rituals to ensure the health of the animals’ spirit after their death.

In popular culture, Deer like figures can be seen in anime such as Miyazaki Hayao’s Princess Mononoke. In this context, the quasi-deer beast is presented as the ancient giver of life force for the forests and all that live within.

In popular culture & Anime:

もののけ姫 Princess Mononoke

Doves 鳩

Doves in Japanese Shinto tradition are associated with Hachiman shrines. The hachiman deity is tied to both agriculture and war. Given that doves are considered to be the embodiment of Hachiman, they can play widely different roles in Japanese folklore. Doves, for example, appear in Heike Monogatari from circa 1185 a soldier bows down to the doves as a show of respect on a battlefield.

Crows カラス

Crows are closely associated with the numerous Kumano Shrines throughout Japan. It is believed that this relationship began when a crow appeared as a guide to Japanese Emperor Jimmu on a military campaign at Kumano.

In popular culture & Anime:

Crows have appeared in Japanese popular culture in the anime Demon Slayer, where they appear as the mysterious talking-bird messengers of the Demon Slayer Corps. We have written about Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba meaning here.

鬼滅の刃 Demon Slayer

Frogs カエル

Frogs are associated with some of Japan’s earliest creation myths. 

In the ancient “Kojiki” text for example, The frog-deity Taniguku is seen as one of the pillars that holds up Ashihara no Nakatsukuni, which is an older name for Japan.

Frogs are seen as messengers for the deity Sarutahiko at the Futamiokitama Shrine, near Ise in central Japan.

The Japanese word for frog “Kaeru” is also a homonym for words such as “return” and “change”, so the animal can be seen as a symbol for returning home or changing a situation. They are sometimes also associated with wealth.

In popular culture & Anime:

Frogs appear in popular culture in anime such as The Eccentric Family, where a Frog lives in the bottom of a well (another common mystical symbol) and acts as a sympathetic ear for the main character.

有頂天家族 The Eccentric Family – Frog

Other Shinto common shinto animals:

Given that there are really no limits on where kami can reside in the world in the Japanese worldview, all sorts of animals are often depicted as being representations of Kami. Some of the more common ones are: herons, hens, pheasants, eagles, deer, monkeys, rats, foxes,

boars, bees, tortoises, eels, carps and Phoenixes.

People

Miko 巫女

Miko are not just priestesses of Shinto, they are the caretakers of the natural world encompassing crops, trees, mountains, rivers and other natural resources. They were often seen as a bridge between the gods and people. They are also responsible for maintaining the purity of human society by purifying people’s minds and souls through rituals, ceremonies and other activities.

Interestingly, in a patriarchal society such as Japan, there is much evidence that women in Japan’s history held positions of power. The post of Miko, reserved women, is illustrative of this.

The word itself is a shortening of Kamu no ko, literally meaning “child of the deity”. This name shows just how close to the central wellspring of power Miko were considered.

With the decline of the matriarchal system in Japan, the power associated with the post of Miko has lessened. Today they are generally more seen as ceremonial helpers or assistants.

The traditional outfit of a miko is called a miko-himo which includes a yukata-style robe (a casual summer kimono), a hakama (a long split skirt) or kilt-like garment that is usually pleated on both sides.

In popular culture & Anime:

Miko, as well as characters wearing Miko-like outfits, have often been depicted in anime including 神無月の巫女 Kannazuki no Miko, 温泉幼精ハコネちゃん Onsen Yosei Hakone-Chan and 我が家のお稲荷様 Our Home’s Fox Deity.

くまみこ Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear – Miko

我が家のお稲荷様 Our Home’s Fox Deity

温泉幼精ハコネちゃん Onsen Yosei Hakone-Chan

Hime 姫 

In the same way that Miko are symbolic of an earlier matriarchal Japanese society, there is a crossover with women and girls that called hime, usually translated as something close to “Princess”.  

Miko have sometimes been considered as actually being kami. In this case, they have been referred to as hime-gami.

In popular culture & Anime:

Characters referred to as hime frequently appear in anime, such as in もののけ姫 Princess Mononoke and かぐや姫 The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

かぐや姫 The Tale of Princess Kaguya 

もののけ姫 Princess Mononoke

Monsters, Spirits & Yokai

Tengu 天狗

Tengu are Japanese creatures that are said to be spiritual beings that live in the mountains. They can fly, have long noses, and eat raw fish. Tengu dress in red and carry a sword with them.

In popular culture & Anime:

有頂天家族 The Eccentric Family

Celestial Bodies

Sun 日

The sun is a common symbol in many cultures and religions. The sun has been worshipped as a divine force to give life, warmth and energy to the earth. In Japan, the Sun is associated with the mythical creator goddess Amaterasu.

In Shintoism, Amaterasu was also worshiped as the protector of Japan and all living things on earth. The sun’s importance in Japanese mythology can be seen through its inclusion in many stories.

Moon 月

The moon has always been of great significance to the Japanese people. It is considered the home of many Shinto kani, and also symbolizes fertility, rebirth, and enlightenment.

In Shinto lore, it is believed that the moon was created by Izanami, one of the Japanese deities. She had a romantic relationship with her brother Izanagi, but after they pulled her out of a heavenly body called Takamagahara which she had given birth to him through her nose. When she became pregnant with his child again, he refused to let her go back up because he was afraid she would give birth to another child like herself who would be more powerful than himself. Izanagi cut down on his head with his sword, creating an 8-shaped wound; from this wound emerged Amaterasu.

In popular culture & Anime

:

The Moon in かぐや姫 Kaguya Hime

Man Made Structures

Shrines 神社

Shinto shrines are significant because they are the physical representation of the god or spirit that is worshipped there. Shrines can also be seen as places for people to come together and reconnect with their spirituality.

Torii Gates 鳥居

There is great variety in the structure of torii.

It varies all the way from the simple Shimmei to the MyOjin, Itsukushima Miwa Torii and Miwa

In popular culture & Anime:

繰繰れ! コックリさん Gugure Kokkuri-San – Torii

千と千尋の神隠し Spirited Away

Wells 井戸

Wells were often central points for community to gather and exchange information in traditional Japan. The water that they contain is vital for life and also intricately related to the central ideas of purity and cleanliness in shinto belief. As such, wells often became places of worship or dwelling places for kami.

Examples of well-deities include Mizuhanome no Kami or Suijin. Fish, such as carp, were sometimes placed in the wells so that people knew that the water was pure enough to sustain life. Sometimes the fish in the well would come to be considered as a kami and many rituals and taboos would come into place.

Wells were seen as gateways to the underworld.

In modern Japanese culture, the well often features as a gateway to another world or dimension. This can be seen in anime such as Inuyasha, where a young girl falls down a well to find herself transported to the ancient world.

Sarayashiki by Hokusai – Well

In popular culture & Anime:

犬夜叉 Inuyasha – Well

Crests

Similar to noble families in Japan, there is a long tradition of Japanese shrines having there own crests similar to these:

There is more detailed information about crests in this academic paper.

Sacred Objects

Shide

Shide are a type of talisman that have been used in Shintoism for centuries. They can be made from a variety of materials, notably paper and wood.

In popular culture & Anime:

繰繰れ! コックリさん Gugure Kokkuri-San – Shide and Shimenawa

Shimenawa

The shimenawa is a straw rope that is hung around sacred places in Shinto. It signifies purification, and it is believed to be warding off bad energy.Shimenawa are often seen in entrances of Shinto temples

The shimenawa has two purposes: one, to signify purification, and two, to ward off evil spirits. It is considered taboo for visitors of the temple to touch the shimenawa

Goshiki-no-hata

Goshiki-no-hata means “five colored flag.”

Five colors are used in the goshiki-no-hata: white, black, red, yellow and blue. These five colors represent the five elements of Buddhism. The white represents the air element; black is for water; red is for fire; yellow is for earth; and blue is for space (or void).

Shimpu & Ofuda

The Shinto shrines often use talismanic “cards” or “tags”referred to as ‘Shimpu’. They are sometimes referred to as o-fuda. They can be fastened on god-shelves, on door posts, attached to various structures or put in fields as symbols of the kami. They can be objects of worship that protect from evil influences or bring good fortune.

Charms, small in size, which are worn on the person in close contact with the body, are called o-mamori. They are considered by people, to this day, as having great power, bestowed by Kami. 

Other Shinto Symbols to look out for:

There is a long list of other Shinto symbols that could be added and are often seen in both traditional and modern popular culture including Mirrors , swords , Jewels, Kamidana, Mikoshi.

How Does Shinto Symbolism Intersect With Other Religious Symbology?

Japan is a country that is known for having mixed religions. Most notably, Shintoism and Buddhism have a long history of intimately coexisting in Japan. They are not considered to be exclusive to one another. Indeed, the merging of these two religions is one of the things that makes Japan so unique.

This flexibility in religious view sometimes extends towards other, non mono-theistic religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Some examples of other religious imagery in anime can be seen below.

Buddhism

In popular culture & Anime:

Christianity

In popular culture & Anime:

神無月の巫女 Kannazuki no Miko

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。

Japanese Wells & Their Meaning In Japanese Folklore

Traditional Japanese Well
Traditional Japanese Well

Wells around the world are at once familiar and mysterious places. 

Water is central to human life. Throughout much of human history, it was necessary to dig a hole nearby to attain it. But a well is hard to dig and construct. So they often became one of the central communal spaces in the village.

Indeed, in Japanese there is an expression used to describe exchanging rumors as an “井戸端会議 Idobata Kaigi” or a “well-side meeting”. 

Wells are the proverbial “water cooler” of the pre-modern world.

As well as being familiar, everyday meeting points for the community, wells are also often seen as portals to another world. Given their subterranean nature, mostly as portals to the underworld.

Japan is no different. In this article, we will take a look at several examples of where wells have featured in Japanese storytelling and Japanese mythology, from the ancient to the modern.

The Legend of Ono No Takamura, who used the wells of Kyoto to work the night shift in hades

 Rokudouchinnouji Well
Rokudouchinnouji Well

Rokudouchinnouji Temple in the Higashiyama region of Kyoto, there is a well called the “Kosengaeri”, which means the “underworld-return”. Any named well is worthy of further attention in my books, but “Underworld Return” screams out for investigation.

Today the Higashiyama area is a tourist Mecca, where people wander around with soft-serve ice creams and extend selfie sticks to get their smartphones above the throng to get the perfect shot of a particularly Japanese-looking piece of ancient architecture, but in the Heian period, Higashiyama was not so crash-hot.  Called Toribeno, the Higashiyama area was used for cremating and burying the dead. It came to be seen as a boundary region between the other world and this world. If kyoto had a wrong side of the tracks, this was it.

So the story goes that in these environs, Ono no Takamura, a nobleman of the time, used the temple well to go back and forth between our world above and the netherworld beneath. What’s more, given the frequency he was said to have done this at, he seems to have moved as conveniently through there as, say, a Super-Mario riding some kind of mechanised elevator through a tube.

According to posterity, our protagonist Takamura was said to have worked as a government official at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto during the day, while moonlighting in the fires of hell at night. By all accounts, he seems to have been little more than a bureaucratic assistant in both the world above and the world of darkness below. 

To be precise, it is recorded that Takamura would shimmy down the well of Rokudouchinnouji Temple, take a round trip to the hot place, and scuttle back up via the well of Fukusho-ji Temple in Saga. 

Whether the devilishly officious Ono No Takamura took time out for a nap between any of these administrative and bureaucratic appointments is not recorded, but I believe I may have met him at my local council front office at several times in the past…

Japanese Wells in Traditional Ghost Stories

Bancho Sarayashiki 

 Bancho Sarayashiki Woodblock Print by Hakusai
Bancho Sarayashiki Woodblock Print by Hakusai

There is a genre of Japanese scary stories that go by the generalized name of Bancho Sarayashiki. The story is about a woman who refuses a man’s advances and who is accused of having lost or stolen one plate from a set of ten. The woman is eventually thrown down a well in punishment.

The woman becomes a ghost who haunts the well, night after night counting at nine plates, reliving the story that led to her demise.

In some ways, this Japanese ghost story is an ancient tale of extreme domestic violence in Japan, and the generational pain it can cause. All set at the bottom of a well.

Japanese Wells in Noh Theatre

Izutsu Text
Izutsu Text

There is a well-known noh theatre piece by Zeami called Izutsu. The play is based on an older story that appeared in the 10th century in the Ise Monogatari.

The story revolves around the relationship between a boy and girl who grow up together and eventually form romantic feelings. As they grow up, they measure their heights against the local well.

Eventually they marry, but the man finds a lover in a town on the other side of a mountain. He visits his new lover so often that he can no longer keep the relationship a secret. He tells his wife, but she makes no great protest. He concludes that she too must have a lover.

On one stormy night as he sets out to see his lover, he decides to turn back and spy on his wife to see if he can find out who her lover is. He finds her pining for him, and worrying for her husband in the foul weathered night. He realises her fealty to him and decides to change his ways and return his heart to her.

Wells in Modern Japanese Stories, Films and Anime

In relatively recent times, the well has featured in Japanese storytelling as not just a place to descend into the underworld but more as a portal to a different dimension. In this way, ancient folklore storytelling has mixed with the sci-fi penchant for exploring parallel worlds and alternate universes.

Some examples include

Japanese Wells in Anime

犬夜叉 Inuyasha 

Inuyasha Well

In this anime, the opening episode shows a young girl who ventures down to a basement well to help her brother who believes he has seen something. The girl is half-pulled, half falls into the gaping abyss at the top well. When she reaches the bottom, she finds herself in an olden-world Japan where agrarian, shinto worshipping townspeople live amongst yokai and mystical beings that do battle.

イド:インヴェイデッド Id:Invaded

In this archetypal story of a Japanese well as a portal another world ID: Invaded revolves around the concept of an “id well”  as a mental plane that can be entered to collect clues regarding a killer’s victims, crime scenes, and motives.

The sights and actions of a person as they move through an id well are projections of the real world for investigators to analyze in real-time. Everything within an id, including people and locations, can only be temporarily put together by someone who is investigating the id well, since a person’s unconscious thoughts are rarely organized. id wells can only be entered by people who have been killed. 

Japanese Wells in Film & Novels

リング The Ring 

The well in Ring

In Japanese folklore, wells are a frequent device used in ghost stories. They appear in many Japanese horror films and urban legends. In the world of The Ring, a well is a place where people go to die. It is the place of death for those who have been pulled into the well by Sadako’s long hair, which can grow to a length of up to 2 kilometers (6,562 ft) or more.

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。

Pokemon in Japanese writing

Pokemon is written in Japanese as:

ポケモン

Where did the word “Pokemon” come from?

The word “pokemon” was made by joining and shortening the English words “pocket” and “monster”. 

It is very common practice in Japanese to take the first two syllables of English words, as they are pronounced in Japanese, and make combine them to make a word that is shorter and easier to say in Japanese.

Foreign words in Japan are written in the script called Katakana. The words “Pocket Monster” are written in Katakana as: 

ポケットモンスター. 

If you translate these sounds back into Roman Alphabet, you get

Po-kke-to Mo-n-su-ta-

Which is actually quite a mouthful to say. So it is no surprise that the word came to be shortened to Pokemon.

Japanese scripts and how the relate to Pokemon

The Japanese language uses three different scripts: Hiragana, Kanji and Katakana. The first two scripts are used to write native Japanese words and the latter is used to write loanwords. As the word Pokemon comes from a foreign word, it naturally uses Katakana when written in Japanese.

Are there any Kanji for the Japanese word for Pokemon?

As Pokemon is made up of English loan words, there are no Kanji used for writing the word in Japanese.

In China, foreign words are routinely used to write foreign words. So there are Chinese characters for the word Pokemon in China:  宝可夢

Other common Japanese words that use abbreviations

There are literally thousands of words such as this that have been shortened in Japanese. To list just a few examples:

Radiohead: レディへ [redihe]

Red Hot Chili Peppers: レッチリ [recchiri]

Sexual Harrassment: セクハラ[sekuhara]

Working Holiday: ワーホリ[waahori]

Personal Computer: パソコン [pasokon]

And it’s not just foreign loan words that get the shortening treatment. This also happens with Japanese words such as:

おはようございます: オス [osu, Good Morning]

イケている 面: イケメン [ikemen, cool guy]

How common Pokemon Characters are written in Japanese Writing

Pikachu ピカチュウ

Onix イワーク

Mewtwo ミュウツー

Eevee イーブイ

Gengarゲンガー

Mew ミュウ

Snorlax カビゴン

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。

How to use a hibachi grill – Real experiences for beginners!

Hibachi cooking

Ever since I first set foot in Japan more than 20 years ago, I’ve been impressed with Japanese BBQs on Hibachi grills. Now, living in a mixed Japanese & Western family, it made sense to invest in a Hibachi and figure out how to cook Hibachi at home.

At first, it can be a little tricky to figure out how to get started with knowing how to cook Hibachi steak, or whatever you are trying to cook on your hibachi grill.

Hopefully, this article will give you an idea of how to use and cook on a hibachi grill. But first thing’s first. Let’s get clear on what we are talking about here:

What is Hibachi?

Hibachi is a Japanese device or vessel used for cooking or heating. Most often, a Hibachi uses open hot coals as the main heat source. 

In Japan, Hibachi have been used for more than a thousand years to cook, boil water and heat the house. 

Though traditionally these were heat-resistant braziers, bowls or receptacles capable of holding hot charcoal, modern Hibachi look more like this: 

A modern hibachi grill
A modern hibachi grill

Technically, a Hibachi that is used for cooking is called a “Shichirin”.

The term “Hibachi” can refer both to the actual cooking apparatus or to the style of cooking.

What isn’t an hibachi?

It is worth noting that many people in the west confuse Hibachi with Teppanyaki, which is a different style of Japanese cooking. Teppanyaki literally means “cooking on a metal plate”, and usually refers to the large metal hotplates you see at certain Japanese restaurants. 

Hibachi is different from Teppanyaki in that it refers to cooking directly over hot coals, as opposed to a gas or electric Teppanyaki frypan.

This confusion has been further fueled by many Western restaurants branding themselves as “Hibachi” restaurants to cater to what people already understand.

keywords: Hibachi grill, Hibachi grill history, Japanese cooking

How does a hibachi grill work?

Hibachi work by simply heating whatever sits on a basic metal mesh placed above coals in a receptacle. Modern versions will generally have vents on them that allow you to control the amount of air circulation and, thus, the heat. 

Hibachi grill ventillation
Hibachi grill ventillation

Hibachi grills have become popular in recent years because they can be smaller than traditional grills, simpler to cook with, and more portable. They can be used indoors or outdoors depending on the ventilation conditions inside or the weather conditions outside.

The main drawback of hibachi grills is that it can take time and sometimes be difficult to get the charcoal to a sufficient level of heat in the first place.

Hibachi grill from top
Hibachi grill from top

What does hibachi mean in japanese?

In Japanese, “Hibachi” literally means “Fire Bowl”. The two characters that make up the word “Hibachi- 火鉢” translate to:

火 – fire, flame, blaze 

鉢 – bowl, pot, basin

There are several other words in Japanese that refer to the same receptacle including 火櫃(Hibitsu) and 火桶(Hioke), which translate roughly as “Fire-chest” or “Fire-bucket” respectively.

A Hibachi used specifically for cooking is technically called a shichirin. They may also be referred to as a hibachonn. The hibachon typically consist of a small, open metal bowl which is heated from below by charcoal or wood fire.

Hibachi can also refer to an entire meal prepared on this type of grill. 

How To Set Up A Hibachi Grill For Cooking 

Most modern hibachi grills are small and portable, so they don’t require too much prep work before use. 

The main steps in setting up a Hibachi Grill are:

  1. Set up a grill space.

You need to be careful about where you put your grill. Charcoal gives off carbon monoxide when burned, which can kill you. So you need to make sure you’re in a well ventilated space, generally completely outdoors.

You want to make sure there is nothing close to the grill that can catch on fire. At the end of the day, we are dealing with naked embers and flames here!

The bottom of your Hibachi Grill will also be very hot, so don’t put it on top of anything that is easily damaged by heat.

The hibachi needs to be on something stable, no wonky tables. You don’t want hot coals coming down on you or onto something that could catch fire.

You also want to put the Hibachi BBQ at a height that is going to be comfortable for you to work on it.

  1. Light up the charcoal.

There are a few methods you can use to light your charcoal, as listed below.

  1. Cook!

Make sure your coals are sufficiently hot. If you have a dual chamber Hibachi grill you can have very hot coals on one side, and less hot coals on the other for meat you want to cook more slowly. 

Place the grill on top of the coals and allow it to heat up for about 20 minutes – 30 minutes before you start cooking. 

What do I need before I do Hibachi at home?

What You Need:

A Hibachi Grill

Charcoal

Metal Tongs (Preferably two sets, one for moving charcoal, one for cooking)

Gloves

A plate to put cooked items on

For lighting the Hibachi grill:

Long-form lighter

Fire lighters

Optional:

Fire chimney

Blowtorch

Pan for heating charcoal on stovetop

What fuel to use in Hibachi Grill?

Binchotan is the preferred charcoal used in Japan. It is generally harder than other types of charcoal and produces less smoke.

How to ignite a hibachi grill?

There are four main methods of lighting the charcoal you will use in your Hibachi grill; heat them on a stovetop, heat them in an external vessel such as a “fire chimney” with firelighters, heat them inside the actual hibachi grill itself, use a blowtorch.

Stovetop Method:

  1. Place charcoal in a pot or pan
  2. Light stove and put pan with charcoal on top.
  3. Heat coals until they are red on the bottom half, then use a pair of tongs to turn them over. 
  4. Carefully move the hot coals from the pan to the hibachi grill
  5. Add any additional charcoal if you want a larger heat. These will be heated up by the initially added charcoal.
  6. Give the charcoal 5-10 minutes for the heat to settle in the hibachi grill

Fire Chimney Method:

  1. Place charcoal in fire chimney
  2. Place fire chimney on a fireproof surface with paper or firelighters placed beneath (chemical based firelighters can give an unpleasant flavor, so are best avoided)
  3. Light paper or firelighters
  4. Wait for the firelighters to light charcoal
  5. Transfer charcoal to Hibachi

In-Hibachi Method:

Put charcoal in chamber

  1. Add firelighter or starter to charcoal in various locations
  2. Light the firelighters with a lighter or igniter
  3. Wait 10-20 minutes for coal to ignite

Blowtorch Method

  1. Fill the Hibachi grill halfway with charcoal
  2. Wave blowtorch of coal evenly
  3. Repeat process adding coal as required

How to Cook hibachi?

How to cook hibachi steak on Hibachi Grill

When cooking hibachi steak, make sure that they are cut into bite sized pieces. Japanese BBQ meat, called yakiniku, is usually very thinly sliced. You can get these cuts from Asian butchers.

For larger western style cuts, it is best that the meat be  seasoned with salt and pepper.

Put them on top of the grill over direct heat for about 4-5 minutes per side. When you flip them, only turn once!

How to make hibachi vegetables

Making hibachi vegetables is an easy and healthy dinner option. Vegetables often cook very quickly, in 1-2 minutes per side, so you need to be careful not to burn them.

Popular vegetables to cook on a hibachi grill include:

Corn, mushrooms, onion, peppers/capsicum, eggplant etc.

How To Keep your Hibachi Grill In Good Condition 

  • Don’t pour water on a hot hibachi grill – the rapid change of temperature can break the hibachi.
  • Wait until hibachi is fully cooled before storing
  • Store in a weatherproof area, don’t leave it outside in the elements after use!
  • Keep the hibachi grill dry
  • Use the right type of fuel
  • Clean your hibachi grill after each use
  • Always keep your hibachi grill out of the reach of children

Types of Hibachi Grills

keywords: hibachi grills, hibachi maker, japanese grill

Different Types of Hibachi Grills

The most common types of Hibachi grills are tabletop Hibachi grills, outdoor or patio Hibachi grills, and portable Hibachi grills.

Tabletop Hibachi grills are smaller in size and can be used indoors or outdoors (always consider ventilation). They can be conveniently placed on any table or countertop. 

Outdoor or patio Hibachi grills provide a more sophisticated look to your outdoor living space with their sleek design that is often made of cast iron or stainless steel. 

Portable Hibachi grills provide an easy way to cook your food outside while camping, at the park, etc…

How Much Does it Cost to Use a Hibachi Grill? 

Hibachi grills are not all that expensive to use. 

Hibachi grills generally cost about $99 to $500, depending on the size and brand.

What can you cook on a hibachi grill?

A hibachi can be used for cooking different types of food, such as yakiniku, yakitori, vegetables, chicken fillets, steak or shrimp.

Tips for Using a Hibachi Grill

The type of meat you are grilling should also be taken into consideration when it comes to the best way to cook on a hibachi grill. Thin cuts like marinated ribeye, flank steak, and skirt steak should be cooked at medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes on each side. Thick cuts like pork chops, chicken breast, or leg of lamb should be cooked at medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes per side.

If you want to add flavor without adding too much fat like oil or butter, then try adding spices such as garlic powder or paprika before cooking.

Best Utensils to Use With a Hibachi Grill

Metal tongs, wooden skewers, and metal spatulas are all useful for cooking with a hibachi grill. Tongs allow you to move the food from the grill to the plate without burning yourself. They also help you flip food on the grill more easily than a spatula will. 

Wooden skewers are great for cooking meat on the grill because they don’t get too hot or lose their shape like metal skewers do. Metal spatulas are good for flipping things on the grill and removing foods from it as well.

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。

Hoshi To Hana Lyrics – Professional Translated with background

What do the Hoshi to Hana Lyrics Mean?

The lyrics to the theme song to anime Yuki Yuna is a Hero (結城友奈は勇者である – Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru) was written by lyricist Kanata Nakamura. 

Hoshi To Hana means “Stars and Flowers” and contrasts the world above (星 Hoshi) and our terrestrial world (花 hana). 

The song is dominated by floral imagery in the first half, and by stellar imagery in the second. 

One interpretation of the song is to see it as a conversation between the sky and the ground, or between beings inhabiting each of these realms. There is a tradition of songs between people from different worlds, such as Tom Waits’ Bird and Whale about love between creatures of the air and sea.

There is a strong suggestion in the first half, at least, of Hoshi to Hana that the flowers are being sung to:

静けき森の中 いま目覚めた花たちよ

Oh you flowers, who awaken in the quiet forest

And in lines like:

咲き誇れ(咲き誇れ) 想いのままに

Bloom in all your grandeur, without a second thought

From the 2nd half of the song we get frequent references to light and shining in lines like: 

輝けよ(輝けよ) 眩いほどに

Shine out, to the point of bedazzlement

And 

(ヒカリを)ヒカリまとって走れ

Clad in Light, run.

It as if the focus has shifted from the earth to the heavens.

How does Hoshi to Hana relate to Yuki Yuna is a Hero?

One interpretation of the song is that the song is written from the perspective of the Shinju (神樹, “Divine Tree”) of the anime series, singing to the heroes (勇者 Yusha) from the Hero Club. In this reading of the song, the Divine Tree takes the perspective of the Stars, looking at the Flowers, urging them first to bloom, and then to shine.

This perspective is reinforced by way the lyrics imply that whoever is being sung to is immortal:

いかなる時も生きて

In every era, live.

Other interpretations of the song see it as being about the Vertex and the heroes, although this interpretation is harder to pull out specific lines to support. In this reading the Hoshi (Stars) represents the “Vertex,” and Hana (flowers) represent Tomona and friends.

Who wrote and Recorded Hoshi to Hana?

Lyrics: Kanata Nakamura

Music composed and arranged by: Tetsuichi Okabe (MONACA)

Singers: Sung by the cast who play the “Sanshu Junior High School Hero Club”. 

Haruka Terui 

Suzuko Mimori 

Yumi Uchiyama 

Tomoyo Kurosawa 

Juri Nagatsuma

“Yuki Yuna is a hero” is a Japanese novel series written by Takahiro and illustrated by BUNBUN.

Information about Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Yuki Yuna is a Hero is an anime series which was released in 2014. 

A 12-episode anime adaptation aired between October 4 and December 28, 2014 on MBS TV’s “Animeism” programming block; episodes were directed by Takaomi Kanasaki and animated by Studio Gokumi

The show follows the life of three middle school friends – Mimori Kizuki, Fu Inubozaki and Itsuki Inubozaki – who are chosen by the Shinju-sama, Divine Tree, to fight against the flood of dark creatures known as “Vertex”.

The story begins with Fu’s sister, Kanna, being captured by a Vertex. The following day, when Fu arrives to meet up with Yuna and Itsuki at their usual meeting spot near the train station, they find that she has been taken by Vertexes. The two friends quickly find themselves defending Kanna from Vertexes attacking her. 

The story revolves around the title character, Yuki Yuna. The story’s protagonist, she is one of the “Hero Club” members at middle school who spends her days solving problems in her town.

Where Was Hoshi to Hana used?

Hoshi to Hana was used as the opening theme song of all 12 episodes of the televised anime, and as the ending theme to episode 1. It was also used as the opening song in part two of the omnibus “Hidamari”.

Hoshi to Hana Lyrics in Japanese, Romaji & Professionally Translated English

ホシトハナ Hoshi to Hana Lyrics In Japaneseホシトハナ Hoshi to Hana Lyrics In Romajiホシトハナ Hoshi to Hana Lyrics In English
サカラバ サア
静けき森の中 いま目覚めた花たちよ
この世に何を思い 何を感じてる
ああ 真実ほど人を魅了するものはないけど
ああ 真実ほど人に残酷なものもないのだろう
咲き誇れ(咲き誇れ) 想いのままに
この瞬間(この瞬間) 全てを賭けて
無限の星すらも霞むように
勇気 心に溢れ
(いかなる)いかなる時も生きて
花びらひとひらに 情熱宿しはじめた
瞬くその瞳 何を映してる
ああ 土に埋めた小さな種 密やかに割れて
ああ 芽を出したらやがて空と向かい合っていくのだろう
輝けよ(輝けよ) 眩いほどに
一瞬に(一瞬に) 思いを込めて
その願いが世界を導く
カラダに力満ちて
(ヒカリを)ヒカリまとって走れ
咲き誇れ 想いのままに
この瞬間 全てを賭けて
無限の星すらも霞むように
勇気 心に溢れ
輝けよ(輝けよ) 眩いほどに
一瞬に(一瞬に) 思いを込めて
その願いが世界を導く
カラダに力満ちて
(ヒカリを)ヒカリまとって走れ
サカラバ サア
saka raba sā
seike ki mori no naka ima mezameta hanatachiyo
konoyo ni nani o omoi nani o kanjiteru
ā shinjitsu hodo hito o miryō suru mono hanaikedo
ā shinjitsu hodo hito ni zankokuna mono mo nai nodarō
sakihokore ( sakihokore ) omoi no mama ni
kono shunkan ( kono shunkan ) subete o kakete
mugen no hoshi sura mo kasumu yō ni
yūkishin ni afure
( ikanaru ) ikanaru toki mo ikite
hanabira hito hirani jōnetsu yadoshihajimeta
mabataku sono hitomi nani o utsushiteru
ā do ni umeta chīsana tane hisoyaka ni warete
ā me o dashitara yagate sora to mukaiatteiku nodarō
kagayakeyo ( kagayakeyo ) mabayui hodo ni
isshun ni ( isshun ni ) omoi o komete
sono negai ga sekai o michibiku
karada ni chikara michite
( hikari o ) hikari matotte hashire
sakihokore omoi no mama ni
kono shunkan subete o kakete
mugen no hoshi sura mo kasumu yō ni
yūkishin ni afure
kagayakeyo ( kagayakeyo ) mabayui hodo ni
isshun ni ( isshun ni ) omoi o komete
sono negai ga sekai o michibiku
karada ni chikara michite
( hikari o ) hikari matotte hashire
saka raba sā
Oh you flowers, who awaken in the quiet forest
What do you think about, what do you feel in this world?
Oh, there is nothing in this world that mesmerizes us like the truth
And there is nothing in this world so cruel to us either
Bloom in all your grandeur, without a second thought
Bet everything on this moment
Clouding out even the infinitesimal stars 
Let your heart overflow with courage

In every era, live
A passion has come to lodge in a single petal
In the blinking eye, what is reflected?

Oh, little seed hidden in the soil, crack.
Oh, as you put forth your buds, surely you will come to be face to face with the sky
Shine out, to the point of bedazzlement
Put every thought into the instant
And your wish will guide the world
With a body full of force
Clad in Light, run.
Bloom in all your grandeur, without a second thought

Bet everything on this moment
As even the infinitesimal stars that cloud the sky do
Let your heart overflow with courage

Shine out, to the point of bedazzlement
Put every thought into the instant
And your wish will guide the world
With a body full of force
Clad in Light, run.

.

Hoshi to Hana Lyrics Line by Line

サカラバ サア

静けき森の中 いま目覚めた花たちよ

Oh you flowers, who awaken in the quiet forest

この世に何を思い 何を感じてる

What do you think about, what do you feel in this world?

ああ 真実ほど人を魅了するものはないけど

Oh, there is nothing in this world that mesmerizes us like the truth

ああ 真実ほど人に残酷なものもないのだろう

And there is nothing in this world so cruel to us either

咲き誇れ(咲き誇れ) 想いのままに

Bloom in all your grandeur, without a second thought

この瞬間(この瞬間) 全てを賭けて

Bet everything on this moment

無限の星すらも霞むように

Clouding out even the infinitesimal stars 

勇気 心に溢れ

Let your heart overflow with courage

(いかなる)いかなる時も生きて

In every era, live

花びらひとひらに 情熱宿しはじめた

A passion has come to lodge in a single petal

瞬くその瞳 何を映してる

In the blinking eye, what is reflected?

ああ 土に埋めた小さな種 密やかに割れて

Oh, little seed hidden in the soil, crack.

ああ 芽を出したらやがて空と向かい合っていくのだろう

Oh, as you put forth your buds, surely you will come to be face to face with the sky

輝けよ(輝けよ) 眩いほどに

Shine out, to the point of bedazzlement

一瞬に(一瞬に) 思いを込めて

Put every thought into the instant

その願いが世界を導く

And your wish will guide the world

カラダに力満ちて

With a body full of force

(ヒカリを)ヒカリまとって走れ

Clad in Light, run.

咲き誇れ 想いのままに

Bloom in all your grandeur, without a second thought

Bet everything on this moment

無限の星すらも霞むように

As even the infinitesimal stars that cloud the sky do

勇気 心に溢れ

Let your heart overflow with courage

輝けよ(輝けよ) 眩いほどに

Shine out, to the point of bedazzlement

一瞬に(一瞬に) 思いを込めて

Put every thought into the instant

その願いが世界を導く

And your wish will guide the world

カラダに力満ちて

With a body full of force

(ヒカリを)ヒカリまとって走れ

Clad in Light, run.

サカラバ サア


You can see more lyrics on the Japanoscope Japanese Lyrics page.

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。

アインシュタインよりディアナ・アグロン Einstein Yori Dianna Agron (Forgot about Einstein, How about Dianna Agron) lyrics

Einstein yori dianna agron was released as one of the added extra “coupling” songs to idol group HKT48’s 2016 single 74億分の1の君へ 74 Okubun no 1 no Kimi e (To you, who are one in 7.4 billion).

 74 Okubun no 1 no Kimi e debuted at number one on the Oricon CD singles chart in April 2016. But the accompanying song, Einstein Yori Dianna Agron, has received widespread criticism for its unabashed sexist portrayal of the song’s female protagonist as a vacuous airhead. Japanese online publishers that have lined up to call out the lyrics have included Litera, Toyokeizai and Keisen University. AKB administration seems not too enamoured with the criticism either, threatening legal action against the Litera blog site for posting an article outlining why they believe the lyrics were sexist.

Who wrote Einstein Yori Dianna Agron?

The words to Einstein Yori Dianna Agron were written by AKB48 founder, lyricist and mastermind Yasushi Akimoto. Akimoto has a history of writing songs with questionable portrayals of women stretching back to at least the 80s with songs like Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanai de (please don’t take off my sailor uniform)

He has continued penning decidedly un-woke women’s roles for his songs right up until 2021 with songs such as Kimi Ni Shikarareta.

So what’s the big problem with the Einstein Yori Dianna Agron lyrics?

In the post #metoo age, the glaring problems with the Einstein Yori Dianna Agron will be self-apparent to many who cast their eye over them.  The song doesn’t waste any time in setting out it’s worldview of girls’ place within society:

難しいことは何も考えない

頭らっぽでいい

Don’t try and think of anything demanding

Being empty-headed is just fine

By line three, the song is holding the women in a barely veiled contempt, giving them a little passive-aggressive praise for managing to “walk on two legs”, presumably comparing them to quadrupeds:

二足歩行が楽だし

There’s enough comfort in just bipedal walking,

The song also does a good job of reinforcing long standing stereotypes about what a girl should look like:

女の子は

可愛くなきゃね

Girls, 

They’ve got to be pretty, right?

The song makes clear that the young female student shouldn’t be concentrating on learning:

学生時代は

おバカでいい

When you’re a student,

It’s best to be dumb

The song has also been criticized for its appropriation of the American show Glee, which features a diverse cast that aims to break down the very stereotypes that Einstein Yori Dianna Agron seeks to perpetuate. Dianna Agron’s character in the show, far from spurning all academic pursuits, achieves success by writing an essay that gets her an invitation to study at a prestigious University. 

If nothing else, the lyrics to Einstein Yori Dianna Agron show how far Japan has to go towards achieving a true sense of equality between the sexes.

アインシュタインよりディアナ・アグロン Einstein Yori Dianna Agron (Forgot about Einstein, How about Dianna Agron) lyrics in Japaneseアインシュタインよりディアナ・アグロン Einstein Yori Dianna Agron (Forgot about Einstein, How about Dianna Agron) lyrics in Englishアインシュタインよりディアナ・アグロン Einstein Yori Dianna Agron (Forgot about Einstein, How about Dianna Agron) lyrics in Romaji
難しいことは何も考えない頭らっぽでいい二足歩行が楽だしふわり軽く風船みたいに生きたいんだ

女の子は可愛くなきゃね学生時代はおバカでいい今 一番 大切なことは そうキャピキャピと

アインシュタインよりディアナ・アグロンテストの点以上瞳(め)の大きさが気になるどんなに勉強できても愛されなきゃ意味がないスカートをひらひらとさせてグリーのように

世の中のジョーシキ 何も知らなくてもメイク上手ならいいニュースなんか興味ないしたいていのこと誰かに助けてもらえばいい

女の子は恋が仕事よママになるまで子供でいいそれよりも重要なことは そうスベスベのお肌を保つことでしょう?

アインシュタインってどんな人だっけ?聞いたことあるけど本当はよく知らない教科書 載っていたようななんか偉い人だった好きなのはディアナ・アグロン

もっともっともっと輝きたい人は見た目が肝心だってだって内面は見えない可愛いは正義よチヤホヤされたいアインシュタインよりディアナ・アグロン

テストの点以上瞳(め)の大きさが気になるどんなに勉強できても愛されなきゃ意味がないスカートをひらひらとさせてグリーのように
Don’t try and think of anything demanding
Being empty-headed is just fine
There’s enough comfort in just bipedal walking,
Soft and gentle
I want to live my life like a balloon

Girls, They’ve got to be pretty, right?
When you’re a student,
It’s best to be dumb
The thing that matters most for the time Is to be bubbly
Forgot about Einstein
How about Dianna Agron
I’m more worried about the size of my eyes
Than the marks on my exam
It doesn’t matter how much you study
If nobody loves you
Like the fluttering skirts in Glee

You don’t need to know anything about common knowledge
You just have to be good at doing make-up
I couldn’t give a damn about the news
Whatever happens,
Someone or other will come to your rescue

Love, is a woman’s job
Until you’re a mum,
Just stay a child
Instead of all that
You should just have to make sure you have nice skin

Who was Einstein again?
I think I’ve heard of him
I don’t really know
He was, like, some great dude
In some textbook
But I like Dianna Agron
I want to sparkle
More and more
The way you look to others is important
Because, you know,
What is inside can’t be seen
Cuteness is righteousness!
I want to be pampered

Less like EinsteinThan Dianna Agron
I’m more worried about the size of my eyes
Than the score on my test
It doesn’t matter how much you study
If nobody loves you
Like the fluttering skirts in Glee
muzukashī koto wa nani mo kangaenaiatamara ppode īni soku hokō ga rakudashifuwari karukufūsen mitai ni ikitai nda

onnanoko wakawaikunakyanegakusei jidai wao bakade īkon ichiban taisetsuna koto wa sōkyapikyapi to

ainshutain yoridiana agurontesuto no ten ijōhitomi me ) no ōki sa ga ki ni narudonnani benkyō dekite moaisarenakya imi ga naisukāto o hirahira to sasetegurī no yō ni

yononaka no jō shiki nani mo shiranakute momeiku jōzunara īnyūsu nanka kyōmi naishitaitei no kotodare ka ni tasuketemoraeba ī

onnanoko wakoi ga shigotoyomama ni naru madekodomode īsore yori mo jūyōna koto wa sōsubesube noo hada o tamotsu kotodeshō ?

ainshutain ttedonna hitodakke ?kīta koto arukedohontōha yoku shiranaikyōkasho notteita yōnananka erai hitodattasukina no wa diana aguron

motto motto mottokagayakitaihito wa mitame ga kanjindatte dattenaimen wa mienaikawaī wa seigiyochiya hoya saretaiainshutain yoridiana aguron

tesuto no ten ijōhitomi me ) no ōki sa ga ki ni narudonnani benkyō dekite moaisarenakya imi ga naisukāto o hirahira to sasetegurī no yō ni

Who Are HKT48?

HKT48 is a Japanese idol girl group from Japan. THe “HKT” comes from Hakata-ku, an area in the city of Fukuoka. The group was founded in 2011 as the sister group of AKB48 and has its team center in Fukuoka, in the southern Kyushu island of Japan.

The members are divided into 3 teams: Team H, KII, and TIV – with each team representing one letter of the group’s name.

The group is a franchise of the “48” groups of girl groups with many members, originally created by Yasushi Akimoto. The group currently consists of 26 members:

Nana Okada, Shizuka Oya, Ayaka Uchida, Yuna Egozi, Hina Kawaei, Sakura Miyawaki, Rino Sashihara, Karen Iwata, Mina Oba, Mai Shiraishi, Maho Tomita, Kanna Hashimoto,Yuri Nakano.

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。

セーラー服を脱がさないで sailor fuku wo nugasanaide (don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform) lyrics & background

Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide Front Single Cover
Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide Front Single Cover

The song Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide, sung by Onyanko Club, represented a new stage in the evolution of the Japanese idol group. It was an early iteration of the large-number-of-young girls concept, engineered by producers such as Yasushi Akimoto, that would ultimately lead to the AKB48 and 48 franchise groups.

Who Are Onyanko Club?

Onyanko Club was a 14-member girl group that appeared as part of a popular evening TV show. The show was called 夕やけニャンニャン Yuyake Nyan Nyan and was a Fuji Terebi television program that aired every weekday between five and six pm, between the years 1985-1987.

The show had a segment called アイドルを探せ (Idol Search!). High school girls would audition. If they passed they could be part of the group that would be featured on the show. The group took their name from the name of the show and became Onyanko Club.

Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide Back Single Cover "Hayasugiru Sedai"
Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide Back Single Cover “Hayasugiru Sedai”

What does the name Onyanko Club mean?

Onyanko is a cute name for “cat” or “pussycat” in Japanese. “Nyan” is equivalent to the word “meow” and is the sound a cat makes. So the name could be translated as something like “The Meow-Girls Club”.

About the show 夕やけニャンニャン Yuyake Nyan Nyan

An episode of Yuyake Nyan Nyan

Yuyake Nyan Nyan grew out of another pre-existing Fuji Terebi program called オールナイトフジ (All Night Fuji). This show was a live-to-air, late night television show that featured female university students singing, dancing, often in a fairly sexually explicit way, mixed variety and comedy entertainment. 

In 1985, All Night Fuji show did a special feature called 『オールナイトフジ女子高生スペシャル』All Night Fuji High School Girls Special. The program was aimed at school aged boys and proved to be successful enough to spawn a stand alone program.

The Significance of Yuyake Nyan Nyan, All Night Fuji and Onyanko Club

The opening of an episode of All Night Fuji

All Night Fuji had turned female university students into fetish in Japan. With the creation of Yuyake Nyan Nyan, this fetishism was turned towards an even younger age group, the High school girl. In this way, Yuyake Nyan Nyan, and Onyanko Club, contributed greatly to the outrageously fetishsed image of the Jyoshi kosei (JK) image of the high school girl which remains popular to this day.

About セーラー服を脱がさないで sailor fuku wo nugasanaide (don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform)

Onyanko Club performing Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide on Japanese TV

The lyrics to Sailor fuku wo nugasanai de were written by Yasushi Akimoto, who would later become the producer mastermind behind AKB48 and the 48 franchise of mega-girl-groups. We’ve done a post, youtube & podcast about Yasushi Akimoto’s lyrics here.

It expresses a school-age girl’s blossoming, but uncertain and conflicted, desire to explore her sexuality.  The song opens with the protagonist exhorting a potential lover not to undress her – at least for the time being.

セーラー服を脱がさないで

今はダメよ 我慢なさって

セーラー服を脱がさないで

嫌よダメよ こんなところじゃ

Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform

Not now! Please be patient

Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform

I don’t want you to, no, not in a place like this

But by the third stanza of the song, we see the protagonist making something of an about face to express an unabashed desire to have sex:

友達より早く

エッチをしたいけど

キスから先に進めない

憶病すぎるの

I want to have sex

Before my friends do

But I’m just so timid

That I find it hard to get past kissing

But even here, there is some ambiguity in the use of the word エッチ ecchi.

エッチecchi can mean sex. But it can also mean “fooling around” or “playing” in a sexual way. 

Further, it has been argued that in 1985 the term エッチ ecchi, which is a Japanisation of the English letter “H”, was even more ambiguous term at the time. Indeed, this song seems to have lodged it further in the public consciousness as a word that fairly explicitly refers to intercourse.

Either way, it is fairly clear that the song is about a young girl’s sexual urges being expressed in the context of her innocence and larger social context.

The fact that the song is written by a male much older than the imagined protagonist, to be used on a show that revelled in the fetishisation of the school girl, make the lyrics uncomfortable in the post #metoo era. 

Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide Lyrics in Japanese and English

セーラー服を脱がさないで sailor fuku wo nugasanaide Japanese lyricsセーラー服を脱がさないで sailor fuku wo nugasanaide lyrics in Englishセーラー服を脱がさないで sailor fuku wo nugasanaide Romaji lyrics
セーラー服を脱がさないで今はダメよ 我慢なさってセーラー服を脱がさないで嫌よダメよ こんなところじゃ

女の子は いつでも“MI・MI・DO・SHI・MA”お勉強してるのよAh- 毎日

友達より早くエッチをしたいけどキスから先に進めない憶病すぎるの

週刊誌みたいなエッチをしたいけど全てをあげてしまうのはもったいないから…あげない

セーラー服を脱がさないでスカートまで まくれちゃうでしょセーラー服を脱がさないで胸のリボン ほどかないでね

男の子はその時どうなるの?興味津々 しちゃうのよAh- 不思議ね

デートに誘われてバージンじゃ つまらないパパやママは知らないの明日の外泊

ちょっぴり恐いけどバージンじゃ つまらないおばんになっちゃう その前においしいハートを…食べて
Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform
Not now! Please be patient
Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform
I don’t want you to, no, not in a place like this

Girls are always 
Mi mi do shi ma (acting like they know all about sex)
Everyday

I want to have sex
Before my friends do
But I’m just so timid
That I find it hard to get past kissing

I want to have sex
Just like the weekly magazines
But going ahead and giving it all to you
Just seems such a waste. So I won’t.

Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform
You’re going to even lift up my skirt, aren’t you?
Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform
Don’t untie the ribbon on my breast

How do boys get at times like these?
I get so intrigued!
It’s such a mystery

It’s such a bore to be a virgin
When someone asks you on a date
Mum and Dad don’t know
About where I’m staying tomorrow night
I’m a slightly scared
But it’s such a bore to be a virgin
I’m going to be an old maid!
Before I do
Eat out my tasty heart
sērāfuku o nugasanaideima wa dameyo   gaman nasattesērāfuku o nugasanaideiyayo dameyo   konna tokoro ja

onnanoko wa   itsu demo“ MI MI DO SHI MA ”o benkyō shiterunoyoAh -  mainichi

tomodachi yori hayakuecchi o shitaikedokisu kara saki ni susumenaiokubyō sugiruno

shūkanshi mitainaecchi o shitaikedosubete o ageteshimau no wamottainaikara … agenai

sērāfuku o nugasanaidesukāto made   makurechaudeshosērāfuku o nugasanaidemune no ribon   hodokanaidene

otokonoko wa sono tokidō naru no ?kyōmishinshin   shichaunoyoAh -  fushigine

dēto ni sasowaretebājin ja   tsumaranaipapa ya mama wa shiranainoashita no gaihaku

choppiri kowaikedobājin ja   tsumaranaio ban ni nacchau   sono mae nioishī hāto o … tabete

Who Sang on Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide?

The solo singers on sailor fuku wo nugasanaide comprised four people:

Eri Nitta 新田恵利 (Group member number 4) 

Miharu Nakajima 中島美春 (Group member number 5) 

Satomi Fukunaga 福永恵規 (Group member number 11)

Kazuko Utsumi 内海和子 (Group member number 13)

Who Wrote & Produced Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide?

Lyricist: Yasushi Akimoto 秋元康

Composer:Hitoshi Sato 佐藤準 (keyboardist/arranger)

Producers: Hiroshi Ishida and Kazuji Kasai  (笠井一二)

Arranger: Hitoshi Sato(佐藤準) 

Who played on Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide?

bass guitar and electric bass guitar:

Shigeru Okazawa (岡沢茂)

drums:

Jun Aoyama (青山純)

electric guitar:

Masaki Matsubara (松原正樹)

keyboard:

Hitoshi Sato (佐藤準)

Vocabulary used in Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide

セーラー服 (セーラーふく)

sailor suit; middy uniform

脱がす (ぬがす)

to strip someone; to help someone remove (clothes)

(いま)

now; the present time; just now; soon; immediately; (one) more

駄目 (だめ、ダメ)

no good; not serving its purpose; useless; broken; hopeless; wasted; in vain; purposeless; cannot; must not; not allowed

我慢 (がまん)

patience; endurance; perseverance; tolerance; self-control; self-denial

為さる (なさる)

to do

(いや、や)

disagreeable; detestable; unpleasant; reluctant

こんな (こんな)

such (about something or someone close to the speaker (including the speaker), or about ideas expressed by the speaker); like this

(ところ、とこ)

place; spot; scene; site; address; district; area; locality; one’s house; point; part; space; room; whereupon; as a result; about to; on the verge of; was just doing; was in the process of doing; have just done; just finished doing

じゃあ (じゃあ、じゃ)

then; well; so; well then; combination of ‘de’ and ‘wa’ particles; plain copula

女の子 (おんなのこ、おんなのコ、おんにゃのこ)

girl

何時 (いつ)

when; how soon

勉強 (べんきょう)

study; diligence; discount; reduction

毎日 (まいにち)

every day

友達 (ともだち)

friend; companion

より (より)

than; from; out of; since; at; on; except; but; other than; more

早い (はやい)

fast; quick; hasty; brisk; early (in the day, etc.); premature; (too) soon; not yet; (too) early; easy; simple; quick

(エッチ、エイチ)

H; h; indecent; lewd; frisky; sexy; sexual intercourse; copulation

キス (キス、キッス)

kiss

進める (すすめる)

to advance; to promote; to hasten

臆病 (おくびょう)

cowardice; timidity

過ぎる (すぎる)

to pass through; to pass by; to go beyond; to pass (i.e. of time); to elapse; to have expired; to have ended; to be over; to exceed; to surpass; to be above; to be no more than …; to be excessive; to be too much; to be too …

週刊誌 (しゅうかんし)

weekly publication; weekly magazine

全て (すべて)

everything; all; the whole; entirely; completely; wholly; all

上げる (あげる)

to raise; to elevate; to do up (one’s hair); to fly (a kite, etc.); to launch (fireworks, etc.); to surface (a submarine, etc.); to land (a boat); to deep-fry; to show someone (into a room); to summon (for geishas, etc.); to send someone (away); to enrol (one’s child in school); to enroll; to increase (price, quality, status, etc.); to develop (talent, skill); to improve; to make (a loud sound); to raise (one’s voice); to earn (something desirable); to praise; to give (an example, etc.); to cite; to summon up (all of one’s energy, etc.); to arrest; to nominate; to give; to offer up (incense, a prayer, etc.) to the gods (or Buddha, etc.); to bear (a child); to conduct (a ceremony, esp. a wedding); (of the tide) to come in; to vomit; to do for (the sake of someone else); to complete …; to humbly do …

勿体ない (もったいない)

impious; profane; sacrilegious; too good; more than one deserves; unworthy of; wasteful

(まで)

until (a time); till; to; up to; to (a place); as far as; to (an extent); up to; so far as; even; only; merely

捲れる (まくれる、めくれる)

to be (get) turned up (inside out)

(むね、むな)

chest; breast; breasts; bosom; bust; heart; lungs; stomach; heart; mind; feelings

リボン (リボン)

ribbon

解く (ほどく)

to unfasten; to untie; to unwrap (e.g. parcel)

男の子 (おとこのこ、おとこのコ)

boy; male child; baby boy

成る (なる)

to become; to get; to grow; to be; to reach; to attain; to result in; to prove to be; to consist of; to be composed of; to succeed; to be complete; to change into; to be exchanged for; to play a role; to be promoted; to do …

興味津々 (きょうみしんしん)

very interesting; of absorbing interest; having a keen interest (in); being immensely curious (about)

不思議 (ふしぎ)

wonder; miracle; strange; mystery; marvel; curiosity

デート (デート)

date; go on a date

誘う (さそう、いざなう)

to invite; to ask; to call (for); to tempt; to lure; to induce

バージン (バージン)

virgin

詰らない (つまらない)

dull; uninteresting; boring; tedious; insignificant; unimportant; trifling; trivial; worthless; absurd; foolish; silly; stupid; useless; pointless; disappointing

知る (しる)

to be aware of; to know; to be conscious of; to cognize; to cognise; to notice; to feel; to understand; to comprehend; to grasp; to remember; to be acquainted with (a procedure); to experience; to go through; to learn; to be acquainted with (a person); to get to know; to concern

明日 (あした、あす、みょうにち)

tomorrow; near future

外泊 (がいはく)

spending night somewhere else (usu. away from home); sleepover; sleep over

ちょっぴり (ちょっぴり、ちょぴり)

very little bit; just a smidgin; wee bit

怖い (こわい)

scary; frightening; eerie; dreadful; (I’m) afraid

美味しい (おいしい、オイシイ)

delicious; tasty; sweet

ハート (ハート)

heart

食べる (たべる)

to eat; to live on (e.g. a salary); to live off; to subsist on

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。

Sexist Lyrics in Japan: translating 3 songs by AKB48 Mastermind Yasushi Akimoto 日本の性差別的な歌詞秋元康の歌詞の翻訳

A country’s lyrics say a lot about where that country is at culturally. Whether it is American lyrics that call out Japanese designers as a way of expressing socio-economic superiority, or Japanese lyrics about the pre & post-Olympic Tokyo, it’s always interesting to see what is causing people to break into song.

Today we look at three song lyrics by Yasushi Akimoto, polymath producer behind the modern-day mega-girl group idol phenomenon in Japan.

These lyrics show women & girls as being in turn fawning, ditsy and hot for sex. What this says about the Japanese zeitgeist I will leave up to the reader to determine. It’s worth having a look at these though, especially if you are fan of the 48 girl group franchises.

Who is Yasushi Akimoto? 秋元康 Lyrics

Yasushi Akimoto is the man with the midas touch in the Japanese entertainment industry. His activities span the worlds of music, television, novels, anime, even women’s entertainment wrestling. But he’s most well known as the producer, lyricist and co-creator of the outrageously successful “48” groups that started in Akihabara with AKB48 before expanding, rather like a chain of fast-food restaurants, to have franchises across Japan and later across many parts of Asia.

He got his start working as a writer for the broadcaster Nippon Housou in the 70s, and wrote his first lyrics for the pop group The Alfee in the early 80s. He came to greater prominence as producer and lyricist with comedic-sometimes-musical duo Tunnels. 

Yasushi Akimoto enters the “idol” trade

But it wasn’t until 1985 that he was to come across the formula that would be his bread and butter, or perhaps caviar and truffles, for the greatest part of his life, the marketing, production and promotion of young girls. Specifically, he hit upon the idea of creating large groups of cute, largely subservient and more or less sexualised teenage idol groups. Starting with the smash-hit group Onyanko Club, and eventually mutating into the gargantuan, factory-like fun-machine that is the 48 phenomenon.

It was an inspired, and lucrative, modus operandi, that allowed an older, somewhat portly, bespectacled man in a suit to have a potentially indefinite lifespan as a provider of fun times, earworms and entertainment. 

It was as if Yasushi had discovered the pop “fountain of youth” where he could vicariously live through an ever-changing array of hostess bodies. He was parasite and queen bee rolled into one. 

The funny thing was that his product, of the sweet, innocent singing and dancing girl, multiplied by powers of ten, was just what the mostly, but not exclusively, male public needed. 

It was also as if large parts of Japan, later the world, were looking for some kind of idealised body corporate to vicariously live out their lives. 

Kaori Shoji, on the Japansubculture blog, has gone as far as calling Yasushi a “Zegen” 女衒, which was the term used for the middle-men merchant pimps who bought and sold girls into both the sex trade and entertainment industry half a century ago. 

Though I think this characterization goes too far, it is worth looking at, and being aware of, some of the overtly sexist lyrics that he writes and has his girl groups deliver. And we’ll look at three examples today.

セーラー服を脱がさないで (don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform) lyrics

This was the 1985 debut hit for the idol girl group Onyanko Club. The song turned heads at the time with it’s quite straightforward voicing of the somewhat conflicted sexual desires of a school girl – sung as it was by a group of innocent-looking school-age girls. The song voices a “no-means-yes” playing out of women’s sexuality that can still be seen today. 

The song is probably more of a cultural phenomenon than its top ranking at number 5 on the Oricon charts might suggest.

セーラー服を脱がさないで

今はダメよ 我慢なさって

セーラー服を脱がさないで

嫌よダメよ こんなところじゃ

Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform

Not now! Please be patient

Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform

I don’t want you to, no, not in a place like this

女の子は いつでも

“MI・MI・DO・SHI・MA”(耳年増)

お勉強してるのよ

AH- 毎日

Girls are always 

Mi mi do shi ma (acting like they know all about sex)

Everyday

友達より早く

エッチをしたいけど

キスから先に進めない

臆病すぎるの

週刊誌みたいな

エッチをしたいけど

全てをあげてしまうのは

もったいないから…あげない

I want to have sex

Before my friends do

But I’m just so timid

That I find it hard to get past kissing

I want to have sex

Just like the weekly magazines

But going ahead and giving it all to you

Just seems such a waste. So I won’t.

セーラー服を脱がさないで

スカートまでまくれちゃうでしょ

セーラー服を脱がさないで

胸のリボン ほどかないでね

Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform

You’re going to even lift up my skirt, aren’t you?

Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform

Don’t untie the ribbon on my breast

男の子はその時

どうなるの?

興味津々 しちゃうのよ

AH- 不思議ね

How do boys get at times like these?

I get so intrigued!

It’s such a mystery

デートに誘われて

バージンじゃ つまらない

パパやママは知らないの

明日の外泊

ちょっぴり恐いけど

バージンじゃ つまらない

おばんになっちゃう その前に

おいしいハートを…食べて

It’s such a bore to be a virgin

When someone asks you on a date

Mum and Dad don’t know

About where I’m staying tomorrow night

I’m a slightly scared

But it’s such a bore to be a virgin

I’m going to be an old maid!

Before I do

Eat out my tasty heart


アインシュタインよりディアナ・アグロン (Forgot about Einstein, How about Dianna Agron) lyrics

Amongst Yasushi Akimoto’s canon of lyrics, these ones written for HKT48 are the reigning kings of portraying women as a bunch of right royal dimwits. The song rightly drew a lot of flak from both international and domestic Japanese media on it’s release. 

難しいことは何も考えない

頭からっぽでいい

二足歩行が楽だし

ふわり軽く

風船みたいに生きたいんだ

Don’t try and think of anything demanding

Being empty-headed is just fine

There’s enough comfort in just bipedal walking,

Soft and gentle

I want to live my life like a balloon

女の子は

可愛くなきゃね

学生時代は

おバカでいい

今 一番 大切なことは そう

キャピキャピと

Girls, 

They’ve got to be pretty, right?

When you’re a student,

It’s best to be dumb

Thing that matters most for the time being

Is to be bubbly

アインシュタインより

ディアナ・アグロン

テストの点以上

瞳(め)の大きさが気になる

どんなに勉強できても

愛されなきゃ意味がない

スカートをひらひらとさせて

グリーのように

Forgot about Einstein

How about Dianna Agron

I’m more worried about the size of my eyes

Then the marks on my exam

It doesn’t matter how much you study

If nobody loves you

Like the fluttering skirts in Glee

世の中のジョーシキ 何も知らなくても

メイク上手ならいい

ニュースなんか興味ないし

たいていのこと

誰かに助けてもらえばいい

You don’t need to know anything about common knowledge

You just have to be good at doing make-up

I couldn’t give a damn about the news

Whatever happens,

Someone or other will come to your rescue

女の子は

恋が仕事よ

ママになるまで

子供でいい

それよりも重要なことは そう

スベスベの

お肌を保つことでしょう?

Love, is a woman’s job

Until you’re a mum,

Just stay a child

Instead of all that

You should just have to make sure you have nice skin

アインシュタインって

どんな人だっけ?

聞いたことあるけど

本当はよく知らない

教科書 載っていたような

なんか偉い人だった

好きなのはディアナ・アグロン

Who was Einstein again?

I think I’ve heard of him

I don’t really know

He was, like, some great due

In some textbook

But I like Dianna Agron

もっともっともっと

輝きたい

人は見た目が肝心

だってだって

内面は見えない

可愛いは正義よ

チヤホヤされたい

アインシュタインより

ディアナ・アグロン

I want to sparkle

More and more

The way you look to others is important

Because, you know,

What is inside can’t be seen

Cuteness is righteousness!

I want to be pampered

Less like Einstein

Than Dianna Agron

テストの点以上

瞳(め)の大きさが気になる

どんなに勉強できても

愛されなきゃ意味がない

スカートをひらひらとさせて

グリーのように

I’m more worried about the size of my eyes

Than the score on my test

It doesn’t matter how much you study

If nobody loves you

Like the fluttering skirts in Glee


君に叱られた

This is the newest entry in Yasushi’s unflattering portrayals of women. It was written for Nogizaka 46 and reached number 1 on the Oricon charts. Full lyrics of kimi ni shikarareta are here, but here are a couple of excerpts.

“ずっと素直になれなくてごめん

言い負かされて悔しいけれど

一人きりじゃ 何もできない

言葉が 言葉が刺さってるのに

反論しても無駄な抵抗だ

プライドなんかどうでもいいよ

それより僕は 君に叱られて嬉しい

Though it hurts to be talked down to

I can’t do anything on my own.

For some reason, even though our words as so piercing

Even if I try and argue, it’s just a hopeless resistance

Who cares about pride?

Rather than that, it makes me happy when you set me straight”

“愛は甘えられるもの 許してくれるもの

だからいつだって 一方的だった

やりたいようにやっては 誰か傷つけて来たのか

例えば世界にたった一人の君には

叱ってもらいたい

Love is being spoilt rotten, and being forgiving

And for that very reason, it’s been so one-sided

Doing whatever I want, maybe I was always hurting someone?

Even though there is only one of you in this world

I want you to scold me.”

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 doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

僕の音楽はBandcampで聞けます。