Japanese Storage

From my earliest years of going to Japan as a teenager, I was struck by the way that Japanese people used space. Showers & bath units squeezed efficiently into the space of a broom closet, Oshiere storage spaces that are deep yet unobtrusive, multi layered shoe racks. When you’ve got less space to work with it makes you get creative, and efficient. This page is my little homage to Japanese Storage Ideas.

Japanese Storage Ideas

Here’s a traditional thatched-roof house in Miyama. I liked the simple way that they had made a storage space in the roof.

Traditional Japanese Roof Storage

The house didn’t look too bad from the outside either:

Kayabuki House Miyama Kayabuki-no-sato
The House From Outside

So, I thought I’d have a bash at making my own storage space in my garage. The garage already had an iron frame holding up the metallic outsides. So I grabbed a bunch 

of long pieces of wood and metal that I had lying around and ran them between the garage frames. Then I got some plasterboard and put that on top of the rods to create a crude platform.

It’s not much to look at, but this near instant little hack doubled the amount of storage I have in my garage. I use the space gained to store camping gear, and things that I don’t use that often, such as the Christmas tree.

The brand Yamazaki has some great storage options:

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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 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.

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。

Gurenge

Gurenge (Demon Slayer - Kimetsu No Yaiba Opening Song) Translated To English And Explained

鬼滅の刃OP紅蓮華の歌詞を英語に訳して解説

The opening song for Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba, Gurenge by LiSA, is a power punch of determination, grit, darkness and hope. But what’s the Kimetsu No Yaiba OP all about? How were the Gurenge lyrics written? What does it all mean?

These are the things I want to shed light on today. Let me start by presenting my full translation of the song from the Japanese into English, sung by Cake Sullivan and arranged, just for something different, in a kind of latin feel. Then I’ll try and answer the questions about Gurenge’s meaning below.   

鬼 滅の刃の主題歌は紅蓮華という曲ですが 勇気と気合と熱望のパワーパンチのようなものでやや暗い曲と言ってもいいではないでしょうか。

それは何を意味しているのでしょうか?どのように書かれているのでしょうか?それは何でしょう?これらの疑問を、少しでも明らかにしていきたいと思っています。

まず最初に日本語からの翻訳から見ていきます。元の曲を翻訳して編曲してみました。友人のケーキ・サリバンが歌っています。ラテン風のような感じにしました、なんとなく。好き嫌いはあるかもしれませんがこっちの知ったことではありません。

まずは歌を聞いてもらい、それから先ほどの疑問について考えていきましょう。もしこれに気に入ってもらえたらサブスクライブしてください。 ではまた曲の後に。

Approx Japanese level

Text Type

紅蓮華 元の日本語歌詞

強くなれる理由を知った
僕を連れて進め
泥だらけの走馬灯に酔う
こわばる心
震える手は掴みたいものがある
それだけさ
夜の匂いに (I’ll spend all thirty nights)
空睨んでも (Staring into the sky)
変わっていけるのは自分自身だけ
それだけさ
強くなれる理由を知った
僕を連れて進め
どうしたって!
消せない夢も 止まれない今も
誰かのために強くなれるなら
ありがとう 悲しみよ
世界に打ちのめされて負ける意味を知った
紅蓮の華よ咲き誇れ!
運命を照らして
イナビカリの雑音が耳を刺す
戸惑う心
優しいだけじゃ守れないものがある?
わかってるけど
水面下で絡まる善悪 透けて見える偽善に天罰
(Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why, tell me… I don’t need you!)
逸材の花より
挑み続け咲いた一輪が美しい
乱暴に敷き詰められた
トゲだらけの道も
本気の僕だけに現れるから
乗り越えてみせるよ
簡単に片付けられた
守れなかった夢も
紅蓮の心臓に根を生やし
この血に宿ってる
人知れず儚い
散りゆく結末
無情に破れた
悲鳴の風吹く
誰かの笑う影
誰かの泣き声
誰もが幸せを願ってる
どうしたって!
消せない夢も 止まれない今も
誰かのために強くなれるなら
ありがとう 悲しみよ
世界に打ちのめされて負ける意味を知った
紅蓮の華よ咲き誇れ!
運命を照らして
運命を照らして

Gurenge English Lyric Translation

Now I’ve got a reason to be strong
I’m gonna be right her with you, come on
I know it’s only the play of the light
That shines on the dirt that plays tricks on the mind
And it’s only my shaking hands
That have something theyre tring to grab hold of I swear
It’s no use to glare at the sky
When there’s something about the scent of the night
There’s only one thing you can change
And that’s you yourself, don’t need noone to say it
Now I’ve got a reason to be strong
I’m gonna be right her with you, come on

Cause there are
some dreams that you can’t erase
And theres some times you can’t escape
If I’ve found someone who I want to get strong for
I’m going to say thank you for all the hu-rt
It took the world to beat me down, tell you I’ve my lesson now
Crimson Lotus show me how you flower
Light the way

to my fate

The sound of the lightening strike
Pierces my ears, strikes fear in my heart
I know that kindness is not
Not enough by itself to protect what I’ve got
Under the surface joins good and bad
look close and you can see through it
There comes a punishment
It’s not the bouquet its the flower
Grows all alone that is truly fair
You know the
road buried in thorns and strife
Reveals itself to only my
My sacred heart, now watch me as I
Watch me as I rise
My simply folded hopes and dreams
Which I swore I’d hold close to me
See them blooming in the Crimson Lotus
It’s roots in my blood to my heart

In the end Noone knows
The edge it frays
The wind it blows
Your calls into an air that has gone cold
Theres someone laughing in the shadow
Someone crying don’t you know

Everybody wants the same thing

Cause there are
some dreams that you can’t erase
And theres some times you can’t escape
If I’ve got found someone who I want to get strong for
I’m going to say thank you for all the hu-rt
It took the world to beat me down, tell you I’ve my lesson now
Crimson Lotus show me how you flower
Light the way

to my fate

 

Demon slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba Gurenge Background

Now, I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you are aware of the Manga/Anime Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba. I myself was fairly late to the party hearing about it when the term “鬼滅の刃 Kimetsu no Yaiba” appeared on the list of top 30 new words to appear in the Japanese language in 2020. So, you know, you’ve got to be pretty significant to be considered a “new word in a language”.
You’ll already know that the story is about a young man who sets out on an adventure, or more a voyage of salvation and redemption, to save his possessed sister, and kick a lot of demon arse along the way.

仮に鬼滅の刃を見たことがあるとします。私がこの番組のことを知ったのはかなり遅かったです。2020年の流行語・新語のリストで初めて知りました。「新語」としてリストに載ることは極めて偉大なことであるに違いありません。

概ねの話の粗筋はご存知だと思いますがある少年が帰宅し 自分の家族が全員虐殺された事に気づいて旅に出ることを決意する。贖罪/救済の旅に。

Who wrote Demon Slayer’s opening theme song Gurenge?

The song was composed by two musicians that have had careers closely aligned to the world of Animation Songs, a world so well defined in Japan that it has its own conjugation, “Anison”.

The words were written by the, somewhat prosaic to the Western ear named LiSA, and the music by Kayuko Kusano with LiSA.

Kayoko Kusano Album Trigger

 

では、この主題歌はこの話とどのように関係があるのしょうか。この曲はアニメソング業界と深い関わりを持つ二人のミュージシャンによって作曲されました。日本で言う「アニソン」ですね。歌詞を書いたのはLiSAさんです。西洋人には 「LiSA]という名前はごく普通の名前に感じられると思いますが日本人にとってなんとなくエキゾチックに感じるのではないでしょうか。そして、彼女は草野華余子さんという作曲家と曲作りをしました。

Lisa got her first big break singing songs for the animation “Angel Beats”. In fact, she provided vocals for a band named Girls Dead Monster that featured within the show. The fictitious band was made up of a group of unliving “jyoshi kousei” type high school girls that were indeed dead, but anything but monstrous. Or at least if they were monsters, they were closer to, say, a kawaii kyary pamyu pamyu style fashion monster than a Godzilla type city-flattening beast.
Angel Beats Comic

Angel Beats DVD

LiSA’s big anime break seems to have somewhat defined her career trajectory, at least in the eyes of the general public, with her going on to work on songs for anime that lethally orbit through other-worlds of reincarnation and ultra-experiential conflict. She continues to be something of a guest of honor at animation related expos around the world.

So where did LiSA come up with the title for the song Gurenge? 

Gurenge literally means red lotus flower. The Gu can also be read as “Kurenai”, a word for a deep red color. You may know the character “Kurenai” from such roles as the 紅 from 紅茶, meaning western tea, which we see as black, but the Japanese see as red. Or if you’re an anime fan you might know 紅の豚, the Ghibli film known to the English speaking world as “Porco Rosso” about a pig who not only “might fly”, but did fly an aeroplane to  fight with pirates of the sky. 

The 蓮 ren, means “Lotus” and the 華 ge means flower. 

 

So literally it is:

紅 Crimson

蓮 Lotus

華 Flower

紅蓮華という題はどこからきたでしょうか?紅蓮華というのは文字通り Red Lotus Flowerの意味しています。つまり「グ」は赤ような、深紅色のような色この字を知っているかもしれません。「紅茶」の紅として良く知られている。洋風のお茶。 西洋では黒いお茶で呼びますが日本では 赤いお茶に見えるようです。
アニメファンなら知っているかもしれませんが、「紅の豚」もある。「クレナイ」は「グ」にもなります。ジブリ映画「ポルコ・ロッソ」

The Role Of The Lotus in Eastern & Buddhist Culture

Now most people interested in Eastern culture will be aware that the lotus is intimately connected with Buddhist culture and philosophy. You often see Buddha, if you see him at all, depicted sitting on his trademark Lotus Throne, looking all together too serene to have a “trademark” anything at all. Probably the main reason that the lotus is such a thing in Buddhism is that it is that the flower is an easily recognisable symbol of transcendence. The Lotus flower grows, almost miraculously, out of the swamps and wetlands to flamboyantly bloom above the water’s surface. It’s the proverbial, “head above the head” that you might hear your guru bang on about from the mount. 

And so the term “Gurenge ” brings with it all of these quasi-religious resonances. On it’s simplest level, the Crimson Lotus in the Kimetsu No Yaiba context is a symbol of our protagonist Tanjiro rising above his circumstances, which is, indeed the main thrust of the song, to use a fencing analogy. It’s also worth noticing that Tanjiro’s signature move in Demon Slayer is to bust a “Mizu no Kokyu” “Breath of water-element” type of magic attack on his foes, so a water flower fits in with that too.

そして「れんげ」は蓮の花。

東方哲学とかに詳しい人はご存知かもしれませんが蓮は仏教と深い関わりがあります。蓮の葉の上にブッダがすわっている像をよく見かけます。

これにはいくつかの理由があります。主な理由としては 世俗的なものを超越した象徴になっているからです。蓮を見たことがあれば沼地に生えていることを知っていると思います。根元は 泥の中にありますが水面から伸びて美しい花をみせます。非常に分かりやすいです。世界に存在しながら世界から離れたところに存在する象徴になっています仏教哲学者が話すのを聞いたことがあるかもしれませんが、「頭の上にある頭」とか 「肩の上の空間」とか顔の裏の顔と言った別世界のような概念が出てくることがあります。蓮はそういったところから来ています。

では、なぜ彼女は この「紅蓮華」を使うことにしたのでしょう。
まず蓮の「超越する花」としてのの文字通りの意味があります。
物語では炭治郎が困難を克服しやがて花を咲かせて英雄になる、ということと繋がっています。また、話に出てくる 炭治郎の「水の呼吸」といったような魔法の動き波打つような、水のような敵を倒す技,そのようなものとも繋がりもあると思います。

But why is it a red lotus in Gurenge, and not a green one, or a blue one, or indeed a vermillion, amaranth of gingerline one?

Well, LiSA has also said in interviews that she had in her mind the term “紅蓮地獄” Guren Jigoku, literally Red Lotus Hell.

In buddhism, there is the altogether un-placidity inducing idea of the 8 cold hells, called 八寒地獄 Hakkan Jigoku in Japanese, and which are situated a respectably far enough distance away from the 8 Hot Hells.
Image: Eight Hells

Now, you may think that ending up in one of the cold hells is a step up from the hot hells, but the Cold Hell which the Guren Red Lotus Hell takes its name from is named that way because it is so cold that it causes your skins to peel off and your blood to rush out, making you look like a rather disturbing, but nicely colored, flower.
LiSA has said that it struck her that this was a good metaphor for Tanjiro in Demon Slayer as he sets out on his quest for salvation amidst the carnage and gore of the massacre of his family.
「紅蓮には “紅蓮地獄”っていう紅色の蓮花が咲いたように血が噴き出す地獄を表現した言葉もある。心情を表す比喩表現としてすごくピッタリだなって。」
“The Crimson Lotus is also related to the term “Crimson Lotus Hell”, the hell where people’s blood spouts out from them, like a red lotus in bloom. It just felt like the perfect metaphor for expressing the emotions of the story.”

The Crimson Lotus is the flower that blooms in the very bud of the greatest pain.

しかし、LiSAさんはインタビューで 「紅蓮地獄」というのも関係していると言っていました。”グレン “はあの赤い蓮で 「地獄」はhellです。
仏教には 八寒地獄 と八熱地獄という概念があります。八寒地獄は 熱い方よりはマシと思うかもしれませんが八寒地獄の中にあるものの一つは「紅蓮地獄」と呼ばれている。なぜそう呼ばれるかというと 皮がむいてしまうほど寒いためが出てきて、いたるところに血が噴き上がったりする

気持ち悪いですが、それがまるで紅蓮の花ののように見えてしまうからだそうです。

インタビューでLisaさんは、これは炭治郎の話のいい喩えになると言っていました。彼は 残忍な血まみれの大虐殺により家族をなくしたことを乗り越えて成長していきました。

Gurenge’s Connection To LiSA’s Life

So you can see that the song has many clear references to the show. By all accounts, the lyric writing process was very much an all-in affair, with show producers routinely involved in vetting and vetoing certain words in the lyric writing process.

But LiSA has also described it as a very personal song, written as much in response to the circumstances of her one life as to those of the fictional story she was soundtracking. In interviews, LiSA talks about herself in the third person, 

“I feel like I can’t let people down, I can’t give up, I can’t stop. I can’t just stop living, and I can’t die, I can’t give up on being LiSA, I just have to keep going, and that includes an element of something that is frankly very hard. But I still want to continue to blossom.”

It was as if rather than just writing from Tanjiro’s perspective, it was like she had taken Tanjiro into herself, allowing herself to be possessed, like Nezuko in the story, and then written as LiSA.

She has said the central line in the song is 世界に打ちのめされて/負ける意味を知った, which a literal translation of would be “the world beat me down, and I came to know the meaning of defeat”.

Intriguingly, she has also spoken about how it is possible for any person to become a demon in the real world saying,

 

A person who disavows responsibility and refuses to defend what they should be defended may become a demon. A person who uses their own weakness as an excuse and thinks of everyone as an enemy can become a demon. A person who succeeds in discarding, or betrays, what they want to protect, may become a demon at any moment. I believe a person who holds onto a moral, to a belief that this is not who I am, to this is who I want to be, will not become a demon. In our world, there’s a lot of demons. But I read in Kazuo Koike’s book that you have to ignore the demons. Kazuo Koike’s book “If there’s no hope, then run! 225 words of advice to help relieve you of yourself” is like my own personal talisman. 

Kazue Koike

 

LiSA is a fan of the prominent writer and creator of the comic Lone Wolf And Cub 子連れ狼. Aside from his work on his comics that have been described as some of the authentic landmarks in graphic fiction, he also had a massive Twitter following where he would dispense pithy pieces of life advice, including his advice about avoiding “Demons”. This is another element that has an influence on the song Gurenge.

Lone Wolf And Cub Comic

このため彼女は緑色の蓮でも青い蓮でもなく、紅色の蓮にしたそうです。ということで、この歌はっきりと本編の話の内容と密接に関係しています。しかし、LiSAさんによりますと、この曲はまた彼女にとって非常に個人的な曲でもあるそうです。また、音楽・番組制作側からかなり細かく作品に関しての指示があったようです
「この言葉を入れてはいけない」とか「この言葉を省いてください」とか。

こうして多くのやり取りを経て作られたそうです。

しかし、彼女はまた、それが 自分にとってとても個人的なものだと言っています。

彼女がこの詩を書いたのは30歳の誕生日を迎えて間もない頃だったそうで世の中の悲しいことに 音楽の世界では女性は30歳を過ぎると「もう終わった」とみなされる。彼女が言うには この頃から自分に自信がなくなり苦しい時期だったそうです。

だからこの曲は、彼女が乗り越えようとしている困難についてでもあります。

「強くなれる理由を知った」というセリフから曲が始まりますが 彼女が言うには、自分と自分のキャリアのために「強くなれる理由」は彼女を支えてくれるたくさんのファンがいたという事実だったそうです。

しかし、この曲はその考えとは真逆の 「責任」というテーマもあります。彼女のインタビューの訳文 から引用を読んでみます。

「わたし自身が裏切れない、やめられない、止まれない生きることをやめられないし、死ねない。要するに、LiSAであることをやめられないやっていかなくちゃいけないっていうやっぱりその時点の素直な苦しかった気持ちも含めてます。だけど、自分がそれでもまだ咲きたい」。

彼女が言うには 諸刃の剣のようなファンとのの関係、そして自分自身との関係があるということであり、 また、おもしろいことに

他人事のように自分自身のことを「Lisa」と第三称で呼んでいます。自分のイメージを常に作り出し世に送り出していかないといけないということです。そしてその「Lisa」というイメージに対して感謝している 一方でそのお陰でまたとてつもなく辛い思いもするということ。

これが曲全体の核心を突いている部分だと思います。私たちにはこのようなとても困難な責任がありますが、いざそれから逃がれようとすると
Lisa曰く「実際に鬼になる」そうです。興味深いですね。
彼女が話しているのは 現実の世界ですが、彼女は、人間は実際に悪魔になることができる、といっています。
では、もう一つの彼女のインタビューの引用を読ませてください。

「責任や守るべきものを放棄できた人は、鬼になれる。自分の弱さを言い訳にして、すべてを敵だと思える人は、鬼になれてしまうんですね。人は、守りたいものを捨ててしまえば、裏切ってしまえば、いつでも鬼になれる。モラルや、自分の中に「こうはなりたくない」っていう信念、「こういう人でいたい」っていう理想があったら、鬼にはならないんだろうなって思います。

世の中には、鬼がいっぱいいるんです。でも、そういう鬼のことを気にしたらダメって、小池一夫さんの本に書いてあった。小池一夫さんの『だめなら逃げてみる(自分を休める225の言葉)』っていう本が、わたしのお守りなんですけど。」

彼女の発想は興味深いですね。現実世界には鬼が実際にいる、鬼にならないためには 責任逃れをしないしなければならないのは責任の中に含まれているいろんな課題に向き合ってそれを強さに変えてしまわないといけない
感謝の気持ちを持たないといけない。

歌の中で 「ありがとう 悲しみよ」という言葉が出てきますがこれは陰と陽的な考えでもあると思います。彼女は、苦しみのない幸せはないとも言っている。苦労せずに幸せはない、と。
もしそうだとしたら苦労に感謝しなければなりません。
責任にも感謝しないといけない、ということです。 諸刃の剣なのだから。このような点から、この歌には非常に深いメッセージが含まれている、といえると思います。表面的な部分から汲み取る以上に。

そして、二つの意味が重なっていて、実際の話である炭治郎のレベルと彼女自身の個人的な話。禰豆子が鬼に取りつかれるのとと同じように
自分が丹次郎に取りつかれたかのように
丹次郎を自分の中に取り込み、リサとして吐き出しています。
また、彼女にとってこの歌の一番中心的な歌詞は
「世界に打ちのめされて負ける意味を知った」という部分だそうです。
それを直訳すると “I’ve been beaten down by the world and I’ve come to know what
it is to be defeated”
その歌詞を思いついた時に作りかけていた歌詞の全てを一度投げ捨てこの1行を中心に再び全ての歌詞を書き直したそうです。
「全世界から叩きのめされてしまった。 でも今はそれが何なのか分かった。

LiSA draws a distinction between simply dreaming, and having a sense of responsibility towards dreaming. She talks about the privilege of having a mission, with all the weight that that entails.

In LiSA’s case, she says that it is her responsibility to her fans, her team and her staff that gives her strength, and it’s this that she is referring to in the opening line of Gurenge “I’ve found a reason to be strong”.

She had various reasons to need a source of strength. She had just passed that threshold out of youth age of 30. This age is, sadly, an especially significant one for a female singer working in an industry that consistently frowns upon age. She has said:

「30代を迎えることに恐怖も感じていた。30歳になって次の10年をどうやって生きていくか―、想像した時に何も見えなかった。できる限り走って行って、終わってしまえば、その時が燃え尽きた時だって。すごく苦しかったです」

I was feeling a great fear as I neared the age of 30. How on earth would I live the next ten years after the age of the 30? If I tried to imagine it, there was just nothing I could picture. It’s like I had ran my heart out, reached the finish line, and now I was burnt out. I was truly in pain”.

 

It was a time of great uncertainty about her future, her artistic direction, which way her quest would lead her next. In her own words,

 

「それまで、不安要素が多いところをみんなにたくさん見せてしまっていたので、今の自分の気持ちをちゃんと伝えなくちゃって思ったのが“紅蓮華”です。」

“I had demonstrated to everyone the things that I was feeling uncertain about. Gurenge was an attempt by me to actually convey a message about how I am feeling now.”

In this context, Gurenge becomes an anthem of self-motivation where LiSA draws on the strength of her fans, and embraces her responsibility to them to flower.

Kayoko Kusano’s Role in the making of Gurenge

Gurenge also represented a turning point for composer Kayoko Kusano. An alumni of the Kansai University 軽音部, or “Band Club” that has managed to spawn several notable musicians, Kayako had spent the last decade or so making music as a solo singer songwriter under the Name of Kayako. In 2019, two months before the release of Gurenge, she changed her name, switching to using her full name of Kayako Kusano, this time written in Kanji as opposed to the heretofore Katakana. She was undergoing her own journey of self discovery, or rediscovery.

On her blog she wrote

カヨコとしての自分と

そもそもの自分の差異が無くなり

完全にひとつになったこと

そして、やっと認め愛せるようになった

現在のありのままの自分を今まで以上に音楽で体現し

世界に産み落としていく為の決意表明として、

親から与えられた世界にひとつしかない大切な本名で

自分が信じる音楽をたくさん創り出していけたらなと思い

改名する運びとなりました

The gap between The “KAYOKO” that was me

And the me that had existed in the beginning disappeared

And was completely united

I came finally to acknowledge a love

And to experience now more than ever, through music, the unadorned me that now exists

As a statement of determination born into the world

With the single precious name that has been bequeathed to me by my parents

My wish is that I can create a large body of work that I myself can believe in

And so, a new name came into being

It almost seemed like there was a hand of fate at work when LiSA presented to her a song title name that even included one of the Kanji characters “華” in it. 

Gurenge was not the first song that Kayoko and LiSA had worked together on. They had notable success with collaborations on tracks like Adamas.

 

The process here was different though. LiSA, this time, presented a blueprint for the song with some chords and an outline of the words. She just needed a killer melody to make it really sing. It needed a melody capable of slaying a Demon.

Gurenge’s Final Message

So Gurenge is a combination of fiction and reality, of Tanjiro and LiSA. It celebrates the underdog. Those that have been cut up, but keep on going. But, deeper than that, it celebrates the fact that responsibility brings with it great sacrifice, and that there is a happiness that is only available to those who have been willing to accept that sacrifice. It says that we should pay thanks to hardship, because it is the yin that makes the yang of achievement possible. It asks us to see every circumstance as a gift, as a source of gratitude and strength. Just as the lotus takes its strength from the mud that it grows from to be the flower that blooms above. 

So LiSA, and Tanjiro, say thankyou for the pain, and we should say thankyou to them for reminding us that we should do the same.

そこから進んで、かつての自分よりも大きくなることができる。」と。すなわち、紅蓮華という歌は作り話と現実の融合だと言えます。負け犬を称えていたり、躓いたり、倒されたもの、叩きのめされたものをを称えています。
しかし、それ以上に自分の苦労に感謝するべきだというメッセージがあります。
自身の責任に対しても。そうすることによって自分を更に一つ上のレベルに上げることができるということです。蓮の花が日常世界の泥の中から生えてきて美しい花になるのとと同じように。そうやって、私たちは 人生を生きていかなければなりません。
それから逃れることはできません。それから逃れようとすると あなたは鬼になります。

だから、私のアドバイスは、鬼になるなということと、

LiSAの美しい「紅蓮華」という歌を楽しむことです。

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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).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、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。

Japanese Band Musician Chat

A chat with some of my favorite Japanese musicians: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema & Sota Tateishi テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太とのおしゃべり

I had a chat with some of my favorite musicians ( Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota from John No Son) on the Minna Kikeru podcast a few weeks ago which they  posted here. I’ve made a video version with English translation and Japanese subtitles here. 

We discuss things like the Japanese music scene through covid, the difference between the pandemic situation in Japan and Australia, Saya’s new album “New Home” and how Yuko Ikema got her start in music.

Check out some of the amazing music on Minna Kikeru – the best place for listening to Japanese music.

Japanese Transcript

I am Saya

from Tokyo

I don’t feel the distance to Melbourne now すごい

You don’t feel the distance? That’s a good thing.

いいじゃないですか。

そういう距離感があんまり感じないということですね

そう。Very close.

I got the…

hello

こんばんは

Sorry for being late, Peter.

That’s okay, no worries.

あ、良かった。

That was good, Sota is in time.

はい

行きましょう

はい

きけるラジオ

今ツアーから帰ってきたところですか。

そうそうそう

関西から帰ってきた

関西、ええ

関西のどこに?

大阪

奈良の高野山

コーヒーフェスティバルというのを

面白いの見ててその後大阪の今宮とか西成とかちょっと近い難波とか近い大黒町とか行って。

途中で京都に一日だけ。

鴨川とか吉田山とか

行きました。

鴨川行きたいな

いうと思った

いいな

全部全部で何回やりましたか。

ライブ?

5 個ぐらいやりました。

5個ぐらい?

じゃ、1 週間くらい行っていた?。あそうそう。1週間

この

コロナの時期にさ何かそういうのとかをやってるとすごく

変といえばなんだけど

まあ、なんか

その中でもやれることをやってるなという感じでやってるから

でもすごいですね。

こんな時期にそういうふうに自由に動ける

のはすごいですね。

こっちから見ったら。
うん。

たまたまなんだけどね。なんか2つは野外で

やる

やったイベントだし

ひとつはすごく小さい場所。

個人経営の小さいお店だから本当 20 人。

限定

じゃ、イベントとかライブとかそういうのは結構開催
されているということですかね。

小さいのはやっているよね。

少ないけどね少ないけどあるね。

数が前に比べてね

少ないかもしれない

何か一つ一つをすごい大事に思えるという点では良かったところ

もある。

そっちは

メルボルンはどうですか。

いや、こっちはだいぶ収まりましたね

ほぼなくなったまで言わないけど。

メルボルンは 1 ヶ月以上感染者ゼロですね。

あ、そう

そんなんだ

オーストラリア全体だっと

少しいる?

少しはいるかもしれないけど、でもう1桁ですね

多分全国

国の規模でも

そこはやっぱり季節の差があるのかもね。日本と。

それは

それは少しはあるかもしれないけどいやめちゃ頑張ったというのは

頑張ったんだやっぱり

ロックダウンすごい長かったじゃん

メルボルン 3 ヶ月間ぐらい

都市封鎖というか

結構出れない時期は

あってみんな苦労して大変でした。めちゃ大変でした。

でやっとこの 1 ヶ月

0になりました。みんなちょっとほっとしています。

一番多い時は 1 日 800 人くらいだったかな。

一番のピークの時。

すごいね

まあそういう風に島国でそうやって飛行機とか制限しつつ

ロックダウンも頑張ればそうなるということなんだね。

みたいですね。

僕もびっくりしているんですけど。

こうなると思わなかったですね

もう800 になってもうダメだと思っていましたからね

1 人ひとり増えた。

一人増えた。

一番暗い話のとき増えましたね

だれ?

おお、ゆうこさん

ゆうこです。

久しぶり

おはようございます。

おはよう。

ひさしぶりです。

ゆ うこなんて今起きたぐらいじゃないの。

え、そんな

すいませんなんか話の途中で入っちゃって

いや、何かしんみりした話をしていて

うん、よかった。
今暗くなってきたから

あそうだね。

元気ですか。

元気。

久しぶり。

久しぶり。

元気ですか。

はい、僕は元気です。

本当?

よかった。

結構よくライブ多かったから。

はい

どう?

今何かいいと思っていますよ

そうかなって思ったの

ゆうこは SNS やってないし。

はい。

それこそライブにしなかったら生存かかり

そうですよね。だからメールとか

うん、メールとか

あとみんなきけるには

作品を載せてくれたしね。

はい、そう。ありがとうございました。

あのね、立石くん

最初ねゆうことラジオをしやろうとたんだよね。

はい

ラジオ番組を二人で撮ったんです

あ撮ったまでやった?。そこまで行ったんだ

そう。

で聞き返してこれはちょっとねと言って。

何か二人で切り返してえ、なんかここカットでここカットでって

全部カットみたいになっちゃって。

お蔵入りしてなんかどうしようかなと思ったらさやさんが

じゃやったと言って

立石さんとやっていると思って

仲良すぎるから大変なんかな

そう、こんな感じでずっと笑っている

特になんか。そうそう。。。

だからよかったね。夢がかなった

はい

本当に良かったです。でも出て出てほしいけどね

出てほしいけど

出ているじゃん。

池間さん

今まだ出てない感じですか、私は

ちょくちょく

あ、ちょくちょく

本当?ありがとうございます。

そうそうそれできけるラジオを聴いてますから。憾みをこめてちゃんと聴いています。

じゃ手紙とか出してほしいな。

あ、確かに

うそうそ、素直に聞いています

じゃさあ、今度さあ

そのボツになったやつからちょっと厳選して

流そう、流してもいいかな。

あ、まだ残ってるんだ。

あるあるある

はいちゃんとさやさんの家にある

ダットでしだっけ?

すごいちゃんとした録音で音楽の録音みたいに撮ったやつ

そう、音楽もやりながらライブ形式で

あ、そうでした

そうだね。途中から入ってなんですけどピーターはオーストラリアにいるんだよね。

うんオーストラリアにいます

ずっとその話していたけどライブとかこっちは

まだ復活してないです。

ああ、こっそりみたいな。身内みたいなのもない。

いや、あんまりないと思います。僕は聞いてないな。

もしかしてどっかでやっているかもしれないけど

0人になったんだって

一ヶ月間も0人なんだって発症が。なのにやらないっていうのはすごいね。

だから国の対応全然違うなと

思いますね。

だいぶ

どっかでやらなきゃいけないかもね日本もね

いやでもみんなライブできてるのはすごい
いいと思います。みんなの励ましにもなるでしょうし。

でもさやさんのアルバムのお話を聞きたいな

New Home

めちゃくちゃよかった

ほんとう?

めちゃくちゃいいアルバムですね。

結構僕の友達もいいと言ってるよ

ああそう。

あれいいねって

大傑作じゃないですか

なんか。あれだってさ3年前ぐらいかなからやっていてね。

何かほっとおいっちゃったというかさ

座礁したり

書いてありました。

そうそう

だからなんか今出すのもなって思ったんだけどね。

最近の曲じゃないですね

なんかホームって故郷という意味もあるよね。

あるよね。

あるね。

だから

その新しい故郷っていう言葉は

福島からね

移住をしたという広島の方に人とたまたまあって

何かその人とも話したりしたんだけど

いろいろな意味が入っている。

新しい故郷という言葉。

他人の話ということですか。

自分にも関わってくるし

いろんな人にも関わることだし。

もっと軽い意味にもとれるし、というので

なんかそうだ。全部の曲にニュウがついている。

ね、ほとんどついている。でも全部じゃないですよ。今見ているけど

鳥とかひまわりとかあるよ

なんででニュー鳥にしなかったんですか

言いづらい

でも英語はニューバードになっている

ゆうこ聞いたの?

もちろん ですよ、何を、もう

もうずっと聞いてますから

そうだ

さっきまで聞いた

なんかね

本当ですよ

ちょっと関係ないんだけど。

昨日ねきけるみーチングの2回目の企画を 10 人のお客さんと

高円寺のコクテイルというところでやったんだけど

沼田佳命子ちゃんという子がね初めて一人で自分の曲をそうやって

演奏するのは初めてだったんですけど

わー

また、わーって

フレッシャー的な企画しちゃったかなって思いながらもやってくれて。

それを見ていたねゆうこが初めて

ああ

演奏したときのことを思い出しました。

本当だ

そう私もさやさんにウンドラという合唱隊が何、 5 年以上前ですかね

さやさんからテニスコーツにまじえてやっていたときに

私もそこにま縁がまぜてもらって。

あれ 5 年前とかじゃないよ。

もっとですかね

10 年前くらいじゃない?

いていですね

それでゆうこも、私も

何かやりたいんだったらライブ組むから曲作ってきてと言われて。

それでさやさんが、こう、

前のマジキックの事務所の所でライブを組んでくれて。

やりましたよね。そのために私はそこからスタート。

 

English Transcript

I am Saya

from Tokyo

I don’t feel the distance
to Melbourne now Amazing

You don’t feel the distance?
That’s a good thing.

It’s nice.

So you don’t feel that distance too much.

Yes, very close.

I got the

hello

good evening

Sorry for being late, Peter.

That’s okay, no worries.

Oh, good.

That was good, Sota is in time.

yes

Let’s go.
yes

listenable radio

Have you just come back from the tour?

oh, yes!

I just got back from Kansai.

Kansai, yeah.

Where in Kansai?

Osaka

Koyasan, Nara

It’s called the Coffee Festival.

I was watching something interesting and
then I went to Osaka, Imanomiya,

Nishinari, a little closer to
Namba, closer to Daikokucho.

Only one day in Kyoto on the way.

Kamogawa River, Yoshida Mountain

I went.

I want to go to the Kamogawa.

I knew you’d say that.

Nice.

How many times did you
do all of them in total?

Live?

I did about five of them.

About five?

So you were there for about
a week? Oh, yeah, a week.

this (something or someone close to the

speaker (including the speaker),
or ideas expressed by the speaker)

You know, during Corona when you’re
doing something like that…

Call me crazy, butWell, something.

I feel like I’m doing what I
can within that context, so

But it’s amazing.

At a time like this, you’re
free to move like that.

is amazing.

Look at it from here.
Yeah.

It just so happens that Something
like two of them are outdoors.

do to a great distance

It’s an event we did.

One is a very small place.

It’s a small, privately owned
shop, so really 20 people.

limit

So there are many events and live
performances events and live performances?

You’re doing a small one.

It’s not much, but it’s there.

Not as many as before.

Maybe less.

The good thing about it is that every

single thing seems to be
incredibly important.

There are also.

that way (direction distant from
the speaker, close to the listener)

How about Melbourne?

No, it’s pretty much settled over here.

I won’t say until it’s almost gone.

Melbourne has had zero
cases for over a month.

Oh, yeah.
That’s what I’m talking about.

Australia as a whole.

You need some?

There might be a few, but it’s
already in the single digits.

perhaps the whole country

Even on a national scale.

Maybe there is a difference in season.

Japan and.

that is

There may be a little bit of that, but I
don’t want to say that I stopped trying.

I did my best.

The lockdown was so long.

Melbourne About 3 months

It’s more like a city blockade.

When you can’t get out quite as much.

It was very difficult for everyone.

It was very hard.

In barely a month

It’s now zero.

We’re all a little relieved.

I think the largest number
was about 800 people a day.

At its peak.

That’s great.

Well, that’s how it is in an island

country, with restrictions
on airplanes and so on.

So that’s what lockdown does
if you try hard enough.

It’s like.

I’m surprised, too.

I didn’t see this coming.

I was already 800 and
I thought I was done.

One more person.

One more person.

It’s the darkest part of the story.

Who?

Oh, Yuko.

I’m Yuko.

it’s been a while (since I
last saw, mailed, etc., you)

Good morning.
Good morning.

It’s been a long time.

Yuko just woke up, didn’t she?

Oh, no.

I’m sorry for interrupting.

No, we were just talking
about something sobering.

Yeah, good.

It’s getting dark now.

Oh, yeah.

How are you?

Vigor.

Long time no see.

Long time no see.

How are you?

Yes, I’m fine.

Really?

Good.

I used to do a lot of gigs.

yes

How’s that?

I’m thinking something good right now.

I thought you might.

Yuko’s not on social media.
Yes.

That’s what it takes to survive
if you don’t make it live.

That’s right.

So, you know, e-mails and stuff.
Yeah, like texting.

And for everyone to hear

And you put your work on it.

Yes, yes.
Thank you very much.

You know what, Tateishi-kun?

At first, I was going to
do a radio show with Yuko.

yesWe filmed a radio show together.

Did you go as far as you took
it? That’s as far as I got.

Yes.

And I asked him back and
said, “This is a little bit.

We were cutting back and forth,
like, “Cut here, cut here.

It’s like everything was cut.

I was wondering what I was going to do

with it when it was put
in storage, but then Saya

Then tell me you did it.

I thought you were working
with Tateishi-san.

I guess we’re too close for comfort.

Yeah, they laugh all the time like this.

Something in particular. Oh, yeah

So I’m happy for you.

A dream come true.
yes

It was really good.

I hope you get out and get it though.

I want you to get it.

You’re out.

Mr. Ikema

Do you feel like you’re
not out yet? I’m not.

now and then

Oh, it’s so often.

Really? Thank you.

Because I listen to the radio
that can listen with it.

I listen to it with regret.

Then I hope you’ll send
a letter or something.

Oh, sure.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I’m listening to you honestly.
Come on, next time.

I’m going to be a little
selective with the rejected ones.

Let’s flush it.
Let’s flush it.

Oh, it’s still there.

It’s possible

Yes, it’s at Saya’s house.
Was it Dutt?

It’s a really neat recording,
shot like a music recording.

Yes, I’ll be doing music as
well, but in a live format.

Oh, yes.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m sorry to

interrupt, but Peter is
in Australia, right?

Yeah, I’m in Australia.

I mean, we’ve been talking about it
for a while, but live and over here

It’s not back yet.

Yeah, like secretly.

It’s not like we’re related.

No, I don’t think so much.

I haven’t heard that myself.

Maybe you’re doing it somewhere else.

I heard we’re down to zero.

The onset says there’s
been zero for a month.

So it’s amazing that they don’t do it.

That’s why I thought the country
handled it so differently.

I think so.
a lot

Maybe we have to do it
somewhere, and so does Japan.

No, but it’s great that
everyone’s getting gigs.

I think it’s great.

It’ll be an encouragement for everyone.

But I’d love to hear about Saya’s album.

New Home

It was so good.

Really?

It’s a crazy good album.

Pretty much all my friends say it’s good.
Oh, yeah.

He said it was nice.

It’s a masterpiece.
lie

Something like that.

I’ve been working on that
since about three years ago.

I feel like I’ve been left alone.

Or run aground.

It was written.
that’s right

That’s why I thought it would be
a good idea to release it now.

That’s not a recent song.

Something like home also
means hometown, right?

There is, isn’t there?

Yes, there is.

therefore

That word “new home”

From Fukushima.

I happened to meet someone from
Hiroshima who had moved to the area.

I’ve been talking to him and everything.

It has a lot of meanings.

The word “new home”.

You mean other people’s stories?

It’s all about me.

It’s something that
involves a lot of people.

It can also be taken to
mean something lighter, so

It’s something like that.

All the songs have nu.

Hey, it’s almost on.

But not all of them.

I’m looking at it right now.

There’s birds and sunflowers and stuff.

Why didn’t you make it a new bird?

difficult to speak about

But English is the new bird.

Yuko, did you hear that?

Of course. What are you doing?

I’ve been listening to you all day.

That’s right.

I heard you earlier.

something or other

It’s true.

It’s kind of unrelated.

Yesterday, we held the second Nekiru
Meaching event with 10 people.

We did it at a place
called Kokutair in Koenji.

For the first time, a girl named Numata

Yoshimiko wrote her own
songs by herself like that.

It was my first time to play.
oh! (startled)

Also, wow.

I thought I had done a fresher
project, but he did it.

I was watching that when
Yuko first came to me.

Ah!
It reminded me of the time I played.

It’s true.

Yes, I was also told by Saya that there

was a choir called Undora,
what, more than five years ago?

When I was playing with the
Tennis Coats, Saya-san told me

I’m there, too.

That wasn’t five years ago or anything.
More, sir.

Wasn’t it about ten years ago?

grandfather’s daughter

So Yuko and I

He said, “If you want to do something,

I’ll put together a live show for
you and you can write a song.

And then Saya-san said, like

They set up a gig at my
old Magikick office.

We did it, didn’t we?
That’s why I started there.

 

Culture

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Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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Info about those groovy, colorful happi coats and traditional Japanese jackets you see in Japan. Different types of jappi jacket, where to buy and more.

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Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

Deniさんがデヴィッド・ボウイの曲「スペイス・オディティ」を日本語に訳しました。
その歌を翻訳するにあたって難しかったところ、また日本語と英語の歌詞の違いなどについて話をしました。
Ever wondered what Bowie’s Space Oddity lyrics would be in Japanese? Probably not. But we tell you anyway.
We go through and translate the song line by line, and discuss what it all means – in Japanese.

Read More »

Japanoscope is a registered affiliate with several online shops and may receive a commission when you click on some of the links within content.

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).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、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。

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.

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。

The Story Of Miki Matsubara & Mayonaka No Doa – Stay With Me

Today we’re looking at Miki Matsubara and her debut 1979 Japanese City Pop song Mayonaka No Doa 真夜中のドア – Stay With Me. We have an English translation of the song and performance sung by Cake Sullivan, and then we’ll jump into the background. I track the history of the song from the 1979 original version, through to the Rainych Youtube cover, to Mayonaka blowing up on TikTok in 2020

Approx Japanese level

Japanese Lyrics

To you, yes my love to you



私は私 貴方は貴方と

昨夜言ってた そんな気もするわ

グレイのジャケットに

見覚えがある コーヒーのしみ

相変らずなのね

ショーウィンドウに 二人映れば

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

帰らないでと泣いた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

口ぐせを言いながら

二人の瞬間を抱いて

まだ忘れず 大事にしていた

 

恋と愛とは 違うものだよと

昨夜言われた そんな気もするわ

二度目の冬が来て

離れていった貴方の心

ふり返ればいつも

そこに 貴方を感じていたの

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

心に穴があいた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

淋しさまぎらわして

置いたレコードの針

同じメロディ 繰り返していた…

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

帰らないでと泣いた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

口ぐせを言いながら

二人の瞬間を抱いて

まだ忘れず 暖めてた

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

帰らないでと泣いた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

口ぐせを言いながら

二人の瞬間を抱いて

まだ忘れず 暖めてた

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

帰らないでと泣いた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

English Translation

My love, I send to you my love

Send to you my love

 

I am me and you are you

Last night I heard you talking

I swear it’s true

I saw on your grey jacket

A coffee stain that I’m sure I’d seen before

I thought, isn’t that just like you dear?

 reflecting in the shop window, right there I saw

 

Stay with me

Till the dark night turns into morning light

I was knocking on your door and crying with the seasons changing

Right before my eyes

Stay by my side

Stay with me

These words, how many times must I repeat?

I remember way back when how you would treat

Treat me so sweet

 

Love and affection

Are not the same thing

Last night I think

That’s what you said to me

And when the 2nd winter came

Seemed like our love just blew away

It’s only now I look back that I see

I always knew when you were right there with me

Stay with me

Till the dark night turns into morning light

I need something to help me fill this hole inside

And the seasons they change

Right before your eyes

Stay with me

Take my mind off how I get so damn lonely

Put the needle on that record

Play that melody

Over and over

And over on repeat

Why Did Miki Matsubara’s Stay With Me Blow Up In 2020?

The internet has a strange habit of regurgitating cultural artifacts up from the bubbling & voluminous ooze of human history. In this way, curios that have been previously looked over, passed on, loved in parallel worlds or inhabited worlds partially loved, somehow find new life. Matsubara Miki’s Mayonaka No Doa – Stay With Me, meaning “Midnight Door – Stay With Me”, is one such piece of shimmering flotsam to have surfaced on the digital tide.

The song started doing the rounds on Tic Toc in the dying months of the annus mirabilis of 2020. In an unprecedented year, it was an unexpected cover of the song by Indonesian-Muslim artist Rainych that set the spark of the viral fire that spread to social media, by uploading a cover of the song to Youtube on the 29th of October 2020. 

Flawlessly sung in Japanese by an Indonesian with almost no ability to speak a word of Japanese, the song perhaps represents a new watermark in the globalization of culture.

But who can really say why these things take off? I like to see it as an act of nature, or divinity, or divine nature, like a cyclone or an earth tremor, or a large wave. Perhaps it was the infamous hand of god, guided by the then only recently deceased maradona.

The internet is a surging ocean.

Whatever the providence, some of the appeal must have come from the cheesy, yet undeniably soaring, melody, performance and arrangement. Mayonaka occupies a late 70s, early 80s style jazz fusion, America-meets-rising-sun world, with a combo locking into a funky groove, in consummate session muso fashion. It’s got layers of muted horns, shimmering keys and extended harmony inflected strings. 

It also has a perfectly twinkling  Matsubara eye film clip if you watch one of the most prominent selections doing the rounds on Tik Tok. 

Hey, it was the year of the plague, so you can forgive the greater online diaspora for frothing for a little razzle dazzle.

Miki Matsubara & The Rise of Japanese City Pop

Of course, the song is placed in a larger wave of ironic nostalgia that has been rippling across the globe ever since Japanese and Western DJ’s started spinning the so called – Rare Grooves in the 90s. This was the music of the late economic bubble era 80’s Japan, one part of what had, rather uninspiringly been given the moniker of “New music”. Loosely tied up into an amorphous subgenre mirror ball called “City Pop”, people started seeking out this music deeply influenced by American AOR, Adult and Album Orientated Rock, depending on who you believe, which favored sophisticated, jazz and funk inflected grooves with a smooth, upbeat vibe. This music formed a soft rebellion against the more heart on your sleeve, socio-political movement-orientated folk and raucous rock that had taken hold in the mid 60s. The new music was all about personal fortune and misfortune, the world be damned. Musicians, such as Haromi Hosono and his band Happy End, who I looked at in my last Songs In Translation Video, and, even more characteristically, Sugar Babe, symbolised the start of the change in Japan.

By the time Miki Matsubara released the song in 1979, aged 19 and a year out of high school, the City Pop genre was just starting to launch into full flight.

Who Wrote Miki Matsubara’s Mayonaka 真夜中のドア No Doa Stay With Me?

The music and words to the Mayonaka No Doa Stay With Me were written by two jobbing hit makers Tokuko Miura and Tetsuji Hayashi, both of whom have enough song writing credits listed on their wikipedia pages to give you Carpal Tunnel just trying to scroll through them. Tokuko is perhaps best known as the behind the scenes wordsmith to pen many of Pop megastar Seiko Matsuda’s early hits. Mayonaka no Doa was the only song she worked with Matsubara on.

 

Many of the people Matsubara worked with describe her as being something special. Indeed,she was one of those people that was good at everything. At school, she was a top student, did well at sport, had a charismatic personality that everyone was drawn to. Everyone expected her to go on to a prestigious university. To her local community’s surprise at the age of 17, she courageously set out to the big smoke of Tokyo to pursue another of her many talents – singing. Within a year she was scouted after jumping on stage for an impromptu performance at a bar, and was promptly armed with some hit material and sent to the studio.

Miki Matsubara in Mid-Career

But she wasn’t just an object being acted on. She was serious about her music. From the start there was something mature, adult, about her. She didn’t fit the kawaii sugar puff idol mold. She was undeniably beautiful, but had something of the femme fatale about her. 

A guitarist from her band would later say in an interview that her attitude to music, that “you have to unflinchingly attack it head on”, had changed his life. In short, she was a pro.

At the age of 25, she started seeing many female singers around start to recede into the background, retire, as if being on the downhill side of one’s 20s was the time for a woman in music to quietly step down. Instead, Matsubara doubled down. She also began adding new strings to her bow. She started a band, Dr. Woo. She honed her skills as a songwriter and composer. She wrote theme songs, and anime soundtrack music. In this way, she spent the next decade and half not just as a singer, but as a productive music industry creator.

 

Then, shortly after the turn of the millennium, and entering her early forties, she sent an abrupt and startling email message to her friends. She told them she was cutting ties. Getting rid of her home phone, cancelling her mobile phone contract, closing her email account. Those that replied to the email got nothing in return. To many, it was like she just disappeared.

And she stopped making music.

In a message to her brother she said “I’ve got a favour. Please forget about the years of my life singing and making music.” 

To her close family only she confided the reason for the sudden change. Her message to her brother continued “I can’t help but feel that the way I have been living my life has brought about my sickness…I must find a way to reset myself.”

How Did Miki Matsubara Die?

Matsubara died of uterine cervix cancer on October 7 2004. In 2001, she had made a clean and complete break from music, and from her community to devote herself completely to battling her illness. She was an all-or-nothing person. A perfectionist. Her new life mission was life itself. Now she was a warrior fighting disease.

In the words of Tom Waits, it was a train that took her away, but a train couldn’t bring her home.

 

She was given 3 months to live.

Miki Matsubara Final Years and Legacy

In the end, she proved herself, as in all things, above average even as a patient. From the time of her withdrawal from the world, to the time of her ultimate passing, a span of 3 years passed.

In her last days she confided in her father “There are still so many things I want to do. I don’t want to die”.

He would later say, “she had always been independent, but in the last six months of her life, it was almost as if she became a baby, craving her parent’s love.”

On the 7th of October, she rapped one last time on midnight’s door and was admitted for the final time.

But her music has not so much lived on, as reincarnated. The music of the time has gone on to hold a strange fascination for many people throughout the world. Most notably, the sounds of City Pop have been championed, if not fetishised, by the proponents of Vaporwave (perhaps most characteristically in the Macintosh Plus album Floral Shoppe), that reference the stylised sounds of the early eighties, the more exotic the better, through filters, quotation and varying degrees of irony.

But before she was a meme, Matsubara was a human. Before she was a femme fatale, she was a talented daughter. Before she was a sparkling eye, she was an insightful mind.

And no matter whether she comes knocking on our door in the dead of night or not, she deserves to stay with me and you.

Stay With Me General And Buying Info

What Album did 真夜中のドア Stay With Me appear on?

Stay With Me first appeared as Miki’s debut single on the 5th of November 1979. It would go on to appear on her debut album “Pocket Park” on the 21st of January 1980, on vinyl and cassette. A CD version of the album in 1990 and was reissued in 2009.

The song has also appeared on several best of and compilation albums below.

Differences Between Album and Single Versions of Stay With Me

The intro section of the single version of Stay With Me features Miki’s vocals, while the album version only has back up singers. The album version of Stay With Me is also around 15 seconds longer than the single version, due to the inclusion of an extra chorus.

How Many Times Has Stay With Me been covered?

There are 28 cover versions of the song listed on the the Japanese version of Wikipedia. There have been countless other renditions of the song since it became popular on social media.

Miki Matsubara Soundtracks

Miki Matsubara wrote theme songs and contributed to the sound tracks for animations including Dirty Pair and Gundam 0033.

These are still available on DVD and Bluray:

Miki Matsubara Merch

Miki Matsubara Posters

Miki Matsubara T-Shirts

Other Miki Matsubara Stuff

City Pop Stuff

Vaporwave Stuff

Follow Japanoscope on Socials For Latest Content!

Japanoscope uses affiliate links. Which means we may receive commisions when you click on some product links. We only link to products we believe in, use ourselves or think are genuinely good. This helps us keep all of the content on the site free of charge. As Monty Python once said, “We’re selling records in the foyer. Some of us have gotta eat too you know”.

If you liked this translation & exploration of Mayonaka No Doa Stay With Me, you might like my translation of Demon Slayer Opening Theme 鬼滅の刃主題歌 Gurenge 紅蓮華 with lyrics in english translation.

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

Deniさんがデヴィッド・ボウイの曲「スペイス・オディティ」を日本語に訳しました。
その歌を翻訳するにあたって難しかったところ、また日本語と英語の歌詞の違いなどについて話をしました。
Ever wondered what Bowie’s Space Oddity lyrics would be in Japanese? Probably not. But we tell you anyway.
We go through and translate the song line by line, and discuss what it all means – in Japanese.

Read More »

Gurenge

Gurenge (Demon Slayer – Kimetsu No Yaiba Opening Song) Translated To English And Explained 鬼滅の刃OP紅蓮華の歌詞を英語に訳して解説 https://youtu.be/rFbA75b_rlA The opening song for Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba,

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Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

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The Story Of Miki Matsubara & Mayonaka No Doa – Stay With Me

Miki Matsubara 松原みき Mayonaka no doa 真夜中のドア with English Lyrics and translation sung by Cake Sullivan.
I track the history of the song from the 1979 original version, through to the Rainych Youtube cover, to Mayonaka blowing up on TikTok in 2020.
Along the way I answer questions such as how did Miki Matsubara die? How did her music fit into the larger genres of Japanese City Pop and New Music?

Read More »
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Happi Coats

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Info about those groovy, colorful happi coats and traditional Japanese jackets you see in Japan. Different types of jappi jacket, where to buy and more.

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Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

Deniさんがデヴィッド・ボウイの曲「スペイス・オディティ」を日本語に訳しました。
その歌を翻訳するにあたって難しかったところ、また日本語と英語の歌詞の違いなどについて話をしました。
Ever wondered what Bowie’s Space Oddity lyrics would be in Japanese? Probably not. But we tell you anyway.
We go through and translate the song line by line, and discuss what it all means – in Japanese.

Read 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 and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、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。

Japanese Games

Best Ever Japanese Games For Families and Friends

Japanese people may have a reputation for being relatively straight laced, but when it comes to having fun, they get serious. Life’s too short for not many games. Why have just hide-and-seek, when you could also have Keidoro? Why have only Western style playing cards, when you could also have Hanafuda. These are questions as unanswerable as “what is the sound of one hand clapping”. If you are a fan of Japanese culture, you’ve got to find time in your life for Japanese games!

1. Shiritori しりとり (Steal the Ending)

This one takes out the top spot because it is easy, you can do it anywhere, and it doesn’t require anything to play. Shiritori is a simple word game that can be played in Japanese or English. 

How to Play Shiritori

Choose a topic. Eg “animals”, “foods”, “places”. The first player says a word, such as “dog”. The second player has to make a word that ends in the last letter of the word, such as “gorilla”. The third player makes a word with the last letter of that word, such as “antelope”. If anyone says a word that ends with the letter “N” they are out. If they can’t think of a word they are out. The last person left is the winner.

Why you should play Shiritori

 This game is perfect for travelling. It helps with language development by expanding vocabulary and making you think about spelling.

 

2. Suika-Wari スイカ割り(Break The Watermelon)

This is the classic summertime game.

How to play Suika-Wari

Place a watermelon on a sheet on the ground. One-by-one people are given a stick, blindfolded and directed in the general direction of the watermelon, which they must attempt to smash with the stick. It’s kind of like the Japanese version of a pinata. 

Why you should play Suika-Wari

 It’s simple and fun. Everyone gets to eat the watermelon at the end. It’s great as an outdoor summer game. It doesn’t cost you more than the price of a watermelon.

3. Babanuki ババ抜き (Pick the Old Lady)

This is a simple card game that can be played from kids from around 4-5 years and up.

How to play Babanuki

Deal out every card in the deck, including only one joker, to all the players. Each player discards any pairs they have in their hand. Then each person takes it in turns to take a card from the person next to them. If the card they draw makes a pair with something already in their own hand, the player discards the pair. The goal is to get rid of all your cards. The person that is left holding the joker in the end is the loser.

Why you should play Babanuki

 It’s easy enough for most ages to be able to participate, but fun enough for any age. You have the psychological tension of people facing each other while they exchange cards. Bluffing is a feature. All you need is a set of standard cards to play.

4. Jyan-ken じゃんけん Rock Paper Scissors

This one should probably be number one really, considering how much Jyan-ken is an integral part of Japanese society. Any time people want to decide the order of someone doing something in Japan, they use Rock Paper Scissor.

But it’s not the sort of game that you play for more than a few minutes, so I haven’t put it at the top for our purposes.

How to play Jyan-ken

All you really need to know is what beats what:

Here’s a video that takes you through it:

 

Why You Should Play Jyan-Ken

Jyan-Ken is as much as a life skill, used for deciding the order of things, as it is a game!

5. Kei-doro ケイドロ (Cops and Robbers)

This is a simple game for groups of children.

How To Play Keidoro

Players are divided into groups of “Cops” (Kei) or “Robbers” (Doro). At the start of the game the cops count out time while the robbers go and hide. When time is up, the cops go out searching for the robbers. When they find one, they escort the robber to a pre-assigned “prison”. The Robber must stay in the prison until another robber comes to free them. The game ends when all the robbers have been captured.

Why you should play Keidoro

This is a great game for teaching teamwork and for getting children outside and moving.

6. Beigoma ベイゴマ  (Spinning Tops) – Beyblades

A koma is a “spinning top” and begoma is the game of battling tops. 

How to play Beigoma

Mark out a playing area. Each player launches their spinning top into the area. The winner is the person who’s spinning top spins the longest or knocks out the opponent’s spinning top from the playing area.

Why you should play Beigoma

For the sheer fun of the beautiful symmetry of a spinning top in motion!

7. Karuta かるた 

Karuta is a card game that is great for teaching kids Japanese hiragana, and for getting a basic familiarity with Japanese poetry.

How to play Karuta

The cards are placed face up on the ground. A reader reads out the text on a card from the deck. Players race to find and claim the card that features the text that the reader has read.

Why you should play Karuta

Karuta is great for Japanese language development, improving memory and reflexes. The cards themselves are often works of art.

8. Hanafuda 花札 (Flower Cards)

Hanafuda is much more complex than the other games on the list, so is best for families with older children. Once again, the cards themselves are often beautiful works of art.

How to Play Hanafuda

Video instructions can be found here

Why you should play Hanafuda

Hanafuda is a bit more challenging than some of the other games on the list. You will be playing a traditional game with a long history. Nintendo started out making Hanafuda games, and they seem to know a thing or two about gaming..

Japanese Game Items

Japanoscope uses affiliate links. Which means we may receive commisions when you click on some product links. We only link to products we believe in, use ourselves or think are genuinely good. This helps us keep all of the content on the site free of charge. As Monty Python once said, “We’re selling records in the foyer. Some of us have gotta eat too you know”.

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.

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。

Demon Slayer Cosplay Costume Gallery 2021

Nezuko Cosplay! "DSCF9147" by f999999_key C0 1.0

Every year Japan creates a list of new words that have entered the Japanese language. In the 2020 list the word “kimetsu no yaiba” made an appearance. Such was the rise in popularity of anime “Demon Slayer”.

I’ve written a bunch about Demon Slayer Opening Theme 鬼滅の刃主題歌 Gurenge 紅蓮華 with lyrics in english translation.

And I’ve gone in to the nuts and bolts around what the Japanese name of Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba means here. 

Amongst other things, the program is notable for the striking kimono patterns worn by many of the characters. It didn’t take long for the show to take off internationally and for Cosplayers to Tanjiro-style sniff a costuming opportunity.

With that in mind, here is a gallery of some of our favourite Demon Slayer cosplay options.

"Shooting Demon Slayer Kimetsu no yaiba - Zenitsu Agatsuma - Jardin Japonais - Toulouse -2019-12-01- P1955797" by esby.photo is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
"Shooting Shinobu Kocho - Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba - Asami - Sospel -2020-07-05- P2166650" by esby.photo is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Demon Slayer juggernaut looks set to roam the world of the undead for some time. The Kimetsu-tai is going to need recruits for some time. It may be time to don your colorful haori to go in search of some tortured souls to destroy!

Japanoscope uses affiliate links. Which means we may receive commisions when you click on some product links. We only link to products we believe in, use ourselves or think are genuinely good. This helps us keep all of the content on the site free of charge. As Monty Python once said, “We’re selling records in the foyer. Some of us have gotta eat too you know”.

Japanese Storage

From my earliest years of going to Japan as a teenager, I was struck by the way that Japanese people used space. Showers & bath

Read More »

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

What’s the difference between “trying to make people smile” and “trying to make people not want to criticize you”? Find out in this translation of Japanese essay by Inazo Inamoto.

Read More »

Happi Coats Guide 2021

Info about those groovy, colorful happi coats and traditional Japanese jackets you see in Japan. Different types of jappi jacket, where to buy and more.

Read More »

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

Deniさんがデヴィッド・ボウイの曲「スペイス・オディティ」を日本語に訳しました。
その歌を翻訳するにあたって難しかったところ、また日本語と英語の歌詞の違いなどについて話をしました。
Ever wondered what Bowie’s Space Oddity lyrics would be in Japanese? Probably not. But we tell you anyway.
We go through and translate the song line by line, and discuss what it all means – in Japanese.

Read More »

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Ponponpon Lyrics in English and Japanese

Ever wondered what the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Yasutaka Nakata’s PonPonPon lyrics are all about? I did too. So I’ve done translated the song into English. While I was at it I did a thorough research into the background of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Yasutaka Nakata, and the history of the song.

First of all here’s my translation, then you’ll find all the background info below.

Approx Japanese level

Themes

ぽんぽんぽん歌詞

Ponponpon Japanese Lyrics

あの交差点で みんながもしスキップをして
もしあの町の真ん中で 手をつないで空を見上げたら
もしもあの町のどこかで チャーンスが掴みたいのなら
まだ泣くのには早いよね ただ前に進むしかないは イヤ イヤ

 

 

 

ポンポン出して しまえばいいの
全然しないの つまらないでしょ?
ヘッドフォーンかけて リズムに乗せて
ウェイウェイ明けて 私の道を

 

 

ポンポン進む 色々のこと
どんどん聞いてる あなたの気持ち
ポイポイ捨てる 悪い子はだれ?
そうそういい子 アアYOU MAKE ME HAPPY!

EVERYDAY ポン!

EVERY TIME IS ポN!
MERRYーGOーROUND乗りたいの!
EVERYDAY ポン!
EVERY TIME IS ポN!
多分、そんなんじゃ だめでしょ・・・

ポンポン出して しまえばいいの
全然しないの つまらないでしょ?
ヘッドフォーンかけて リズムに乗せて
ウェイウェイ明けて 私の道を
ポン・ポン・ウェイ・ウェイ・ウェい
ポン・ポン・ウェイ・ポン・ウェイ・ポン・ポン
ウェイ・ウェい・ポン・ポン・ポン
ウェイ・ウェイ・ポン・ウェイ・ポン・ウェイ・ウェイ

ぽんぽんぽん英訳

Ponponpon English Lyrics

Tell me what it would be like
If everyone just started skipping round at the street lights
And won’t you tell me
Would it just be alright
If we all held hands and looked up at the sky
Right here in the middle of the busy city
Maybe there’s a chance right here for you and me
And don’t you think that maybe it’s too soon to cry
All we really can do is keep moving, you and I

Go go, oh my love, let it out, let it out
Don’t don’t keep it in, sing it loud, sing it loud
Put on those headphones and let the rhythm carry you
Clear clear the way, we’re coming through, we’re coming through

Keep, keep going on, whatever it is you want
Hear hear, hear that song, feel it coming on so strong
Throw throw it all away, if you’re the bad guy who’s to say?
The whole damn world is sad maybe
But you make me happy

Every day you’re gone
Every time you’re gone
riding on that merry go round
Every day I’m gone
Every time I’m gone
But listen out, can you hear that sound?

Keep, keep going on, whatever it is you want
Hear hear, hear that song, feel it coming on so strong

The Story of PonPonPon

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, PonPonPon and The Simpsons

Recently, I’ve come to use the Simpsons as a tool to measure fame. I needed to find a way of measuring notoriety when my son reached the age of 11 and became suddenly obsessed with wanting to know exactly how famous each musician he heard was. Let’s call it a “streaming media generation problem”. 

Concert attendance, youtube plays, Spotify monthly streams, there are a lot of ways you could measure something like that. But, I’ve found it’s simplest to use the metric of “They’re famous, but are they appear-on-The-Simpsons-famous”.

Though it is obviously a western-culture centric measure, one artist that qualifies as “appear on The Simpsons famous” is Japan’s Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Indeed, she was famous enough to soundtrack a love-montage scene of the character of comic book store owner geek Jeff, in a Simpsons episode from 2014. 

Now let’s contextualise this by saying Japanese musicians don’t have a strong history of crossing over to America. It has been more than half a century since a Japanese song has been number one on an American music chart. You have to go back to 1963’s ue wo muite aruko (bizarrely released under the title of Sukiyaki in the States) by Sakamoto Kyu. 

 

So the Simpsons nod to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is significant.

So how did Kyary make her way to the animated streets of Springfield from the anime saturated streets of Tokyo?

 

Early Years of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

In many ways, Kyary is one of those “plucked from the streets and catapulted to fame” stories we love to fetishise. Through the naughties, magazines featuring photos of people snapped on the streets, especially around the Harajuku district in Tokyo, were huge. The shots captured the outlandish outfits of the socially hoi paloi but fashionably ooh la la types. These glossies are testament to the explosion of color, creativity and kawaii cutesiness that spilt out like rainbow coloured acrylics across Japan at the time. 

Harajuku Cuteness

Cuteness has been a thing in Japan for a long long while, but in the naughties it was as if someone took all the pink, all the pouting, all the high pitch and cranked it, in the immortal words of Spinal Tap, up to 11. 

But it wasn’t just straight-out cuteness. It was cuteness put through a sausage grinder, twisted, manipulated, mixed with the grotesque, the aesthetic of the street, the plain ridiculous. It was pretty cute, but the cute wasn’t always pretty.

In some ways, there are even parallels with the Flower Power hippy movement of the 60s, which has sadly come to be thought of in retrospect as somewhat vacuous, naive, even facile, but which at the time was counter-cultural, courageous and deeply confronting. 

Though kawaii and Japanese decora is not as overtly political or heart-on-your sleeve let’s-change-the-world as the summer of love, there is something about a massively oversized glowing polka dot bow ribbon matched with, say a torn skull themed top and a riot of colour too-too below, which issues an aesthetic challenge all of its own. Cuteness was elevated to an artform.

Akamoji-kei 赤文字系 and Aomoji-Kei 青文字系 Japanese fashion

Kyaray Pamyu Pamyu is considered representative of the fashion style of Aomoji-kei.

Emoji-kei means “red letter style”. It refers to the magazines that are popular with female office workers that often had red lettering on their covers. Titles have included “JJ”, “CanCam”, “Vivi”, “Ray” and “JJ”. They are characterised by fashions that are more “aware of the male gaze” and more traditionally “feminine or cute in the eyes of men”.

To differentiate the fashion styles that were happening in Harajuku, the term “Aomoji-kei”, “blue letter style”, started to be used to refer to fashions that were less overly playing up to this male concept of female beauty. These fashions often introduced more boyish elements, such as street wear or trousers. They were less afraid to be “off-the-wall”, and brazenly colorful. 

It is ironic that Kyary, who in many ways is the poster child of “cuteness”, is also the poster child of a fashion movement that is actually associated with being less feminine or “cute”. Although Kyaray is undeniably interested in the idea of cuteness, it is not the sort of pure, male centric, cuteness that is characterised by Akamoji-kei.

There is a Japanese article with pictures here

Kyary Pamyu "Street Snaps"

The first key moment for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu personally was when she had her photo taken on the streets of Shinjuku in 2009 by the magazine Kera. From there, she would go on to appear regularly in street photos, in increasingly adventurous clothing, and later in more staged pics in magazines such as Zipper and HR. Her Cinderella story from street to weirdoid bubblegum idol, to full blown music-fashion monster had begun.

 

But in other ways, the street Cinderella narrative isn’t quite right. From the start, Kyary was also an auteur, a net based omni creator with a blog and a suite of social media channels. She was an influencer before that was even a thing. In 2010, while still in high school, her blog on the popular Ameblog platform had 2 million hits a day. This is the equivalent of your niece appearing at the academy awards every day after coming home from school.

 

When Kyary Pamyu Pamyu talked about, say, a certain lotion, or beauty cream, the manufacturers would notice a rise in sales. In 2012, her twitter account was ranked the number one celebrity account in Japan. She had her own online channel to publish her self produced videos. She even wrote a manifesto outlining her world view. She may have been a Cinderella with a glass shoe, but she was also a Cinderella with a self made online production apparatus.

 

 

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu meets Yasutaka Nakata

The 2nd key moment for Kyary came at a nightclub in 2010. She was still in her final year of high school but had already started DJing at clubs. It was there that she had a chance meeting with Yasutaka Nakata.

 

In her own words,  “I working as a DJ at the TAKENOKO, a club event for minors, and the organizers got Nakata Yasutaka to handle the production. I talked to him a number of times and in no time he started to handle my production. I first met him at the “Harajuku Style Collection”, and at that time he had black hair for some reason, so I didn’t recognize him. He often keeps me up to date with gourmet news. He is very knowledgeable and always has an answer for my questions. He is like a fun big brother to talk to. “

Yasutaka is perhaps the ultimate Faceless Man hitmaker of the Japanese music world. There are obvious parallels with a figure like Phil Spector in the sixties guiding a revolving door of mostly female singers to stardom, backed by signature walls of sound that tended to dwarf the sculpted pretty young things toplining the tunes out front.  

If anything, Nakata is more of a one-man-show than was Spector. Nakata generally does absolutely everything involved in the creation of a piece of music, he writes the song,  he writes the words, and then does all the engineering and production. 

Where Spector worked with the songwriting factory of the Brill building of New York, Yasutaka’s 1619 Broadway is in his own small personal studio consisting of a computer, a keyboard, and an embarrassingly small vocal booth around the size of a broom closet. Considering the sounds that come out of there, it is the musical equivalent of a Tardis. And rather than a revolving door, it’s probably more accurate to say that camp Nakata is more like an ever growing tent with a flap in a constant state of unzipping. 

 

The Tardis
Yasutaka Nakata's Studio

Many artists never leave the tent. His relationship working with the trio Perfume has seen him steer the group to hits across two decades. His production relationship with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has lasted several olympic game cycles. To mash up metaphors, Nakata’s tent is a tardis, and the Tardis is a Hotel California from which you can check out but never leave.

 

This is also testament to the fact that, in contrast to Spector, Yasutaka understands the first fundamental rule of showbiz, don’t shoot the talent.

 

About PonPonPon Lyrics

The song that we’re looking particularly at today, Pon Pon Pon, is a Nakata masterpiece. Or perhaps an abomination, depending on which way you look at. But that’s probably true of most things that make a bold statement. Visually, the video clip and aesthetic that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu brings is equally masterful.

The first thing that personally  struck me when I heard the song was the nonsensical refrain. Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom may be one kind of genius, but it takes another kind altogether to craft pop gold out of two monosyllables, pon and wei. Though neither of these sounds strictly has any meaning, they are both rich in association. The sound “pon” in Japan is often used as an onomatopoeic word to describe something that is bursting or being struck and is actually similar enough in both sound and meaning to be something of a distant cousin of our own English word “pop”, separated as it is by a single alphabetic flick of the fingers. I smell a linguistic conspiracy. 

The other sound, “wei”, is related to the English word way, but is also close to the exclamatory sound “yay”, which has been incorporated into the Japanese vernacular sounding more like “iei” .This lends the wei a care-free fun vibe. 

The song lyrics themselves are a somewhat garbled take on the need for a person to find their own “way” in life. If only Frank Sinatra had lived long enough to put a version of this song into his set as a medley with “I did it my way”.  Surely, there’s a mash up waiting to happen. 

 

The lyrics certainly can’t be described as deep, but they can’t be written off as shallow either. Yes, the main protagonist in the song wants to skip through the streets, and ride on the merry-go-round, and get lost in whatever rhythms are drumming out of the headphones. But she is doing so to keep from crying, as a way of moving on. It is a song of radical defiance, a refusal of depression and a challenge to the listener to find a way to live with meaning in a meaningless world. A wei-pon wei-pon way.

In crafting my translation, I’ve reimagined the words somewhat in places, while trying to remain as true in spirit as I could.

There were some sections I just couldn’t bring myself not to mess with a little. Namely the somewhat ridiculous snippets of cultural appropriation that are the English sections , sections that you so often get in Japanese pop music. Probably the main offender is:

“Everyday is pon, every time is pon, I want to ride a Merry-go-round”.

These I’ve changed to more of a love related motif with, 

“every day you’re gone, every time you’re gone, riding on that merry-go-round”. 

In this context the merry-go-round becomes more of a metaphor for the hurl and burl of life.

Generally though, I’ve tried to keep things pretty close, whilst allowing for a singable, rhyming translation.

My Arrangement of PonPonPon

Musical arrangement-wise, I’ve aimed at a shadow image opposite of the original. Mine is dark. It’s acoustic. I tried to resist using anything electronic as much as I could, but I did allow myself the liberty of a little electric guitar. Creation process wise-it’s not dissimilar to Nakata’s original, in that it’s just me tinkering away from wo to go. Although, in a little suburban tin shed in albion, rather than in a high rise apartment in Tokyo.

I guess you could say I was trying to find my own way to wei pon wei.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Fashion Books

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David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

Deniさんがデヴィッド・ボウイの曲「スペイス・オディティ」を日本語に訳しました。
その歌を翻訳するにあたって難しかったところ、また日本語と英語の歌詞の違いなどについて話をしました。
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We go through and translate the song line by line, and discuss what it all means – in Japanese.

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Gurenge

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The Story Of Miki Matsubara & Mayonaka No Doa – Stay With Me

Miki Matsubara 松原みき Mayonaka no doa 真夜中のドア with English Lyrics and translation sung by Cake Sullivan.
I track the history of the song from the 1979 original version, through to the Rainych Youtube cover, to Mayonaka blowing up on TikTok in 2020.
Along the way I answer questions such as how did Miki Matsubara die? How did her music fit into the larger genres of Japanese City Pop and New Music?

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Japanese Storage

From my earliest years of going to Japan as a teenager, I was struck by the way that Japanese people used space. Showers & bath

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Japanese Essays – Inamoto

What’s the difference between “trying to make people smile” and “trying to make people not want to criticize you”? Find out in this translation of Japanese essay by Inazo Inamoto.

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Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

Deniさんがデヴィッド・ボウイの曲「スペイス・オディティ」を日本語に訳しました。
その歌を翻訳するにあたって難しかったところ、また日本語と英語の歌詞の違いなどについて話をしました。
Ever wondered what Bowie’s Space Oddity lyrics would be in Japanese? Probably not. But we tell you anyway.
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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).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、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。

Japanese Courtyard

Bluestone Crazy Paving wiht Greenery

Being fans of all things Japanese, we decided to incorporate many Japanese ideas into our backyard to create a small Japanese courtyard. We weren’t trying to recreate a complete authentic garden, just trying to take inspiration from some of things we’ve seen in Japanese gardens.

Espalier Plum Tree
Espalier Plum Tree
Tree and Wooden Shed
Bamboo Edging

Midnight Diner Theme Song Omoide by Tsunekichi Suzuki Translated and Explained

Today I present a translation into English of the opening theme song from Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories (Shinya Shokudo) soundtrack, Omoide, by Tsunekichi Suzuki. I give a background on the songwriter, translate the lyrics, present the song in Japanese and English, and give a commentary on the translation.

But first thing’s first…

Who sings the theme song on Netflix Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories?

The opening song for Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories (深夜食堂 Shinya Shokudo) is the song Omoide 思ひで by Tsunekichi Suzuki. It was first released on his 2006 album ぜいご Zeigo.

Zeigo Tsunekichi Suzuki Album

Approx Japanese level

Themes

Background To Midnight Diner Song Omoide and Tsunekichi Suzuki

In 2015, Japanese singer-songwriter Tsunekichi Suzuki wrote on his blog about how he left his home country at the age of 61 to go on an adventure to China. The trip was one of a handful of international music tours he made in his life, a life which would end just five years later in 2020. 

Tsunekichi’s blog describes how, after a soundcheck for one of his Chinese tour dates he went to have a cigarette on the street and a youth waiting outside asked him “is this where Tsunekichi Suzuki is playing tonight?”

Tsunekichi told him it was. The young person asked “is Tsunekichi Suzuki famous in Japan, like he is in China?”

Tsunekichi just mumbled ineffectually. He didn’t really know what to say.

Later, on his blog, Tsunekichi said “I should have just told the young man straight out, no Tsunekichi Suzuki is not famous in Japan…None of the people waiting outside the gig knew it was me they had come to see. I thought it had been suspicious when people told me I was popular in China”.

Tsunekichi Suzuki and Midnight Diner

But the truth is, he had become kind of big in China, and in Korea, and in several other countries to boot. He had achieved this level of international notoriety because of a TV show called Shinya Shokudo in Japan but you may know the show by it’s Netflix international release name “Midnight Diner”. 

Midnight Diner uses several of his songs in its soundtrack . If you don’t know the show, it’s set in a wood-paneled Tokyo bar, that caters to a midnight to morning clientele of colourful fringe dwellers. 

Midnight Diner Soundtrack

The show opens with a long sequence of the bright downtown lights of Tokyo, sans street noise. The footage is strikingly off-set to Tsunekichi’s gentle acoustic Irish Folk influenced song “Omoide” or Remembrance. 

This was the proverbial 2nd wind for the singer. A significant time had passed since Tsunekichi had first experienced a fairly short, but intense, few weeks in the national spotlight in 1989. His band, Cement Mixers, had appeared on the TV show “Ikasu Bando Tengoku”. They sounded like this:

Tsunekichi Suzuki & Cement Mixers on Ikaten (いかすバンド天国)

The TV show’s title Ikasu Bando Tengoku いかすバンド天国 translates as “Cool Band Heaven”, and it was kind of like bandstand meets battle of the bands meets eurovision, but read right to left, Japanese style. 

This show was a phenomenon in Japan and coincided with what came to be known as the バンドブーム “Band Boom”, where young groups playing guitars wrested prominence for a time from the studio manufactured “idols” that dominated the charts of the second biggest music market in the world. 

The Ikasu Bando Tengoku show even got it’s own shortened nickname いかてん“Ikaten”, which had particular out of left field resonance with the word “Ikaten” also meaning “Deep fried Tempura Squid”. Many of the bands grew out of the 歩行者天国Hokosha Tengoku “pedestrian paradice” scene of Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku district where 100s of bands would perform on the street on the weekends. This scene had its own nickname too, the “Hoten”. The two “tens” Ikaten and Hoten became inexorably entwined. Now all the record indie execs had to do to scout their next big thing was to take a trip down to the swinging parklands of Tokyo and literally pick a band off the street.

The whole thing didn’t last though, because the good residents of Harajuku didn’t take so well to their neighbourhood becoming a default outdoor live band arena where the music and wacky fashion raged 24/7. The Ikaten program was taken off the air at the end of 1990 and the bands were largely turfed out of the streets of Harajuku. In 1991, the bubble of the Japanese economic post war miracle came to an end and ushered in what is now known as the 失われた10年 “Ushinawareta 10 nen”, or the lost decade.

You can watch a 2007 television program looking back at the Ikaten program here:

Post-Ikaten Tsunekichi 

It seems Tsunekichi’s hopes of superstardom were also lost somewhere along with those ten years, after his band released one album on a major label, to some critical acclaim, and promptly broke up. He formed another band つれれこ社中Tsurereko Shachu, which managed to release one album later that decade, in 1997. Tsunekichi wasn’t to reappear greatly in the public consciousness again until his 2006 solo album ぜいご Zeigo, which was lauded by one of the songwriters I’ve translated here in the past 高田渡 Wataru Takada. The album was ultimately picked up to form the raw materials of the soundtrack to the Midnight Diner tv show many have now watched on Netflix around the world.

Omoide’s 18th Century Irish Folk Origins

One of the strange circularities of this story is that the song Omoide, featured in the opening scenes, is itself based on an 18th century folk song from another island people half way across the world. It is essentially a re-working of the catchily, and perhaps pastorally racily, titled  Irish folk song “A pretty girl milking her cow”. Judy Garland made the song world famous by singing it in the 1940 movie “Little Nellie”.

A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow Lyrics

The English version is attributed to Thomas Moore (1779–1852)

It was on a fine summer’s morning

The birds sweetly tune on each bough

And as I walked out for my pleasure

I saw a maid milking a cow

Her voice was so enchanting, melodious

Left me quite unable to go

My heart, it was loaded with sorrow

For the pretty maid milking her cow

Then to her I made my advances

“Good morrow most beautiful maid

Your beauty my heart so entrances”

“Pray sir do not banter,” she said

“I’m not such a rare precious jewel

That I should enamour you so

I am but a poor little milk girl,”

Says the pretty maid milking her cow

The Indies afford no such jewel

So bright, so transparently clear

I do not add things to my funeral

Consent but to know me my dear

Oh, had I the Lamp of Aladdin

Or the wealth that gold mines can bestow

I’d rather be poor in a cottage

With the pretty girl milking her cow.

An interesting aside about this song for Australians is that this song was apparently sung by Jack Jones,  teenage son of Anne Jones the publican of the Glenrowan Inn (Victoria, Australia) while it was under siege by the famous Ned Kelly Gang bushrangers.

Tsunekichi’s reworking of the Irish tune

Tsunekichi gives the song about girls milking cows a much more ethereal feel, and an ephemeral theme. Here it becomes a Japanese musing on the impermanent nature of things, as the song’s protagonist muses on such questions as what becomes of a breath once it is exhaled, and if you pierce through the sky and the clouds, do you find another sky and clouds waiting there beyond?

I’ll let you ponder those questions as you listen to these Japanese and English versions of the song Omoide, or “Remembrance”.

Omoide Lyrics and Translation

君が吐いた白い息が
kimiga ha i ta shiroi i kiga
今ゆっくり風に乗って
ima yuku ri kazo notte
空に浮かぶ雲の中に
sorani ukabu kumo no nakani
少しずつ消えてゆく
sugo shi zuttsu kiete yuku

遠く高い空の中で
tōku takai sorono naka de
手を伸ばす白い雲
tewo no ba su shiroi kumo
君が吐いた息を吸って
kimiga ha i ta ikio sute
ぽっかりと浮かんでる
pok karito ukan deru
ずっと昔のことのようだね

zutto mukashino kotono yō da ne
川面の上を雲が流れる
kawa mono u e o kumo ga naga re ru
照り返す日差しを避けて
teri kae su hizashi o sa ke te
軒下に眠る犬
noki shita ni memoru i nu
思い出もあの 空の中に
omo i de mo a no sora no nakani
少しづつ消えてゆく

sugo shi zuttsu kiete yuku
この空の向こう側には
ko no sorano mukō-gawa ni wa
もうひとつの青い空
mō hitotsu no aoi sora
誰もいない空の中に
daremo i na i sorano nakate
ぽっかりと浮かぶ雲
pok karito ukanbu kumo
ずっと昔のことのようだね
zutto mukashino kotono yō da ne
川面の上を雲が流れる
kawa mono u e o kumo ga naga re ru

君が吐いた白い息が

 

kimiga ha i ta shiroi i kiga
今ゆっくり風に乗って
ima yuku ri kazo notte
空に浮かぶ雲の中に
sorani u ka bu kumo no nakani
少しずつ消えてゆく
sugo shi zuttsu kiete yuku
少しずつ消えてゆく
sugo shi zuttsu kiete yuku

See your pale breath floating over there

As it slowly drifts off in the air

See it billow into the clouds in the sky

And vanish before your eyes

See the white clouds reaching out there hands

In the sky so far above the land

Breathing in the air you breathed out

Rolling on, Rolling On, Rolling On

And do you remember

The clouds streaming by ‘bove the river?

And didn’t they look just like this?

Or maybe my mind plays tricks

And do you remember the glaring sun

And the dog sleeping there ‘neath the eaves

And all of these memories

Fade into the sky as they leave

On the other side of the sky

There’s another sky there so blue

There’s not a single soul or a sound

But there’s a rolling, rolling cloud

And do you remember

The clouds streaming by ‘bove the river?