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。

Japanese Reading Difficulty

12/12 Could be read easily by 12th year level student in Japan

Themes

Demons, Responsibility

Text Type

Anime Song

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。

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

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,

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »
Songs In Translation

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

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。

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 Difficulty

11/12 Could be understood easily by 11th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Japanese alternative music
Japanese bands

Text Type

Informal chat

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.

 

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

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,

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »
Songs In Translation

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

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

Japanese Reading Difficulty

4/12 Could be read by 4th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Love, City Pop

Text Type

Song Lyrics

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

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.

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,

Read More »

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

Read More »

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 »
Graded Japanese Reading Practice

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,

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »
Songs In Translation

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

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。

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.

Japanese Reading Difficulty

6/12 Could be read by 6th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Individuality

Text Type

Song Lyrics

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

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”.

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,

Read More »

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

Read More »

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 »

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

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,

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »
Songs In Translation

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

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。

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

Japanese Reading Difficulty

9/12 Could be read by 10th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Impernance

Text Type

Folk Song

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?

And didn’t they look just like this?

Or maybe my mind plays tricks

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

And vanish before your eyes

What is Midnight Diner Shinya Shokudo?

Shinya Shokudo is originally a Manga. It has appeared in the Big Comic Original in serialized form since 2006. It was later turned into serialised and movie screen adaptations.

Where Can I Read Shinya Shokudo in English?

Many editions of the comic have been translated here on the Internet Archive.

Where can you buy shinya Shokudo Comics?

Shinya Shokudo are available in the original Japanese from Amazon Japan here.

Where Can You Watch Midnight Diner Shinya Shokudo?

You can watch Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories on Netflix, or you can buy it out right on Bluray here:

Are there Midnight Diner Cook Books?

There’s not an official Midnight Diner Cook Book available at the moment, but there are several books that feature similar recipes:

Or if you can read Japanese you could try these:

Hungry for Midnight Diner Merch?

Cool, a t-shirt of the sign on the Midnight Diner restaurant ”めしや” “Meshiya”, which is a colloquial term for “restaurant”. Simple & understated. Nice.

Or give the Midnight Master some love.

I’ve also done manga & anime related translations/investigations of songs such as Gurenge from Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba, and Laputa Castle in The Sky Theme Song or visit my Youtube channel here.

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

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,

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »
Songs In Translation

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

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。

Translating Kiyoshiro Imawano’s Slow Ballad

Kiyoshiro Imawano, King of Japanese Rock

Many musicians have been appointed as rulers of a given musical domain. Sinatra was the chairman, Elvis was the King, Bowie was the Duke, Springteen the boss, and there have been many more fathers and godfathers than there have been mothers and godmothers similarly anointed to go around.

Well, other countries have their own musical monarchs too. Japan may be lorded over by an Emperor, but realm of rhythm is ruled by a King of Rock. His name is Kiyoshiro Imawano and he inhabits are persona somewhere between Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Van Morrison.

 

Today I’ve translated his song “Slow Ballad”, which was released as the 6th single for Kiyoshiro’s band RC Succession.

Japanese Language Difficulty

5/12 Could be easily understood by 5th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Love

Text Type

Songs In Translation

About RC Succession's "Slow Ballad"

The song is a meta-power ballad about a young man hearing a slow song on the radio while he’s sleeping in the car with his girlfriend. Slow Ballad has a soul feel that would not sound out of place sung by, say, Otis Redding, replete with horns provided by American group Tower Of Power, who happened to be touring in Japan around the time the song was recorded. But the song is made by Kiyoshiro’s passionately, impained, rasp of a vocal that is on the edge, often over the edge, of losing control. 

Nicholson Baker once wrote that to write a poem all you have to do is describe the most significant moment of your day. Slow Ballad is right on cue. Kiyoshiro’s moment is of two people on a frigid night, in a municipal car park, in a sedan, wrapped in a blanket sleeping while the tunes play. The strength of the song is in the fact that it never tries to break out of the instant. And yet, you still get the sense that the moment is part of some larger inexorable, and most probably darker, pulse of time. 

Released six years after the band’s first single, Slow Ballad appeared at a time when few people were buying the band’s music or coming to shows. And it would not be until the release of their 9th single another four years later that the band would see large-scale success. Kiyoshiro himself would ultimately go on to eclipse the band and have cross-over mainstream success another two years later after collaborating with Ryuichi Sakomoto on the track Ikenai Rouge Magic.

 

 

But the song Slow Ballad has lodged itself in the popular consciousness of Japan, as a record of the humbler and leaner days of the man who would go on to become rock royalty. From the municipal ground car park, kiyoshiro would claim his own country’s mantle of the King of Rock, and take his own throne at the table of the international council of dionysian lords of song.

Lyrics

昨日はクルマの中で寝た
あの娘と手をつないで
市営グランドの駐車場
二人で毛布にくるまって
 
カーラジオからスローバラード
夜露が窓をつつんで
悪い予感のかけらもないさ

あの娘のねごとを聞いたよ
ほんとさ 確かに聞いたんだ
 
カーラジオからスローバラード
夜露が窓をつつんで
悪い予感のかけらもないさ
ぼくら夢を見たのさ
とってもよく似た夢を

Last night I slept in a car
Hand in hand with a girl neath the stars
In the carpark at the municipal ground
With a warm warm blanket wrapped around us

And the radio played a balad so slow
As the night dew shimmered on the wind screen window
And I didn’t have a single bad feeling no no

And I tell you I heard her talk in her sleep
But what she said is a secret I’m gonna take with me
And the radio played a balad so slow
As the night dew shimmered on the wind screen window
And I didn’t have a single bad feeling no no
And the two of us dreamed a dream
So alike, that just one it may well have been

 

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,

Read More »

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »

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

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。

Record Collecting Japanese Vinyl

Japan is a collector’s dream. Whether its toys, comics, or video games, there are stores filled with everything you want. What’s more, CD’s never really went out of fashion in Japan so there’s still large music stores such as Shibuya’s Tower Records which has seven levels divided by genres and themes.

I spoke with two record collectors about their hobby and what makes Japanese records and CD’s stand out from the rest.

I first spoke with Dave from djshadowreconstructed.com , a collector from the UK whose passion is DJ Shadow. So how did Dave get hooked?

“I guess I’ve always been a bit of a collector. I started to buy a lot of CD’s and things in my teenage years, and then my actual DJ Shadow collection probably [wasn’t started] until 2006…What started it was, I was getting more and more into Shadow and I was looking to try and track down every track its physical form, whether it be on vinyl or CD. So that started me on the road to buying multiple versions of things like a different copy of Endtroducing for example for the In / Flux bonus track.”

The bonus track appeared on the Japanese edition of DJ Shadow’s debut album Endtroducing from 1996, and at the time it was one of the few places to hear it on CD. This helped make the Japanese edition of the album highly sought after by collectors.

I next spoke to Brian from Australia who also goes by the name AstroBboy. With a nickname like that it will come as no surprise that Brian collects Hip Hop and Astro Boy merchandise. Or at least he did, because as he told me he no longer collects. So what happened?

“When it comes to records, I guess it started when I was 15 or 16. I was really into the Beastie Boys and a second hand CD/record store near my school had a copy of She’s On It. That single wasn’t released on Licensed To Ill so I needed that song to complete my collection at the time. So when I purchased this single it was just for that one song, and I was pretty happy…but then after collecting 500 Beastie Boys records it got a bit out of control. [Later] I was moving a lot and as you can imagine records weigh a lot. It was also getting to a point where it was more about collecting than the music, so I sold off the collection.”

What Is Special About Japanese Releases On Vinyl

While CDs and records are pressed all over the world, Japanese pressings are sought after by collectors for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there may be different artwork or bonus tracks, but an added curiosity is the obi strip. The obi is a piece of paper which is wrapped around one side of a CD or record packaging and they often contain information on them such as price, translated titles, and advertisements for other releases. The obi is uncommon outside of Japan leading to people sometimes throwing them away, which means collectors will often pay more for an item with an obi than without. Especially if they’re a completist.

Japanese Record With Obi Strip

Japanese Exclusive Songs and Albums

Part of the fun of collecting is finding interesting items, and Japan is full of them. While the unique artwork and obi strips can be cool, for me the main attraction is the bonus tracks, and Brian told me about one I had never heard.

In 2005 Beastie Boys released a compilation titled Solid Gold Hits which featured a remix of their song Right Right Now Now exclusive to Japan. The remix is titled RRNN: Straight Outta Shibuya and features a rap in Japanese by Takagi Kan. Kan is part of the Major Force group who released several Hip Hop records in Japan during the 1980’s and 1990’s. We previously wrote about his song Last Orgy, and how his TV show with Hiroshi Fujiwara inspired BAPE’s Nigo.

But Straight Outta Shibuya wasn’t the first time Takagi Kan collaborated with the Beastie Boys, as he actually contributed Japanese linear notes to some Japanese editions of Beastie Boys albums, including Licensed To Ill in 1986. Straight Outta Shibuya was later collected on a special digital deluxe edition of Beastie Boys To The 5 Boroughs album meaning more people have the opportunity to hear it now.

While “exclusive to Japan” may have once meant you were unlikely to find something outside of Japan at all, these days thanks to the internet and websites such as eBay or Discogs, you can get just about anything delivered to your door. So what exclusive items should I look out for? Dave gave some suggestions for a potential collector:

“There’s a few Mo’ Wax compilations which feature DJ Shadow, like Build & Destroy, Mo’ Groove, Ape Shall Never Kill Ape box set. Mostly the [interesting DJ Shadow] Japan stuff is promotional variations with unique artwork or track listings.”

I also asked Brian about Beastie Boys items and he told me about some “cute” 3” mini CDs. While CDs are generally 5”, in the 1980’s and 1990’s some bands released songs on 3” CDs, including the Beastie Boys’ Japan exclusive Get It Together single. Then in 2005 the band played with size again when they released a copy of their Licensed To Ill album on CD, but in a 12” packaging, replicating a vinyl release. Again, this was exclusive to Japan.

Keeping Track Of Your Collection

It’s hard to imagine ever keeping track of so many unique releases, and both Dave and Brian have found different ways to solve this by using the internet. 

Brian helps run Beastiemania, a fan website dedicated to everything Beastie Boys. But the collection on Beastiemania doesn’t all belong to Brian, and it’s instead been put together by a huge list of fans from all over the world, making it the most complete and detailed Beastie Boys discography online.

Meanwhile, Dave runs an Instagram page @thedjshadowcollection, which he uses to share his collection with the world. Through his page Dave shares regular posts with updates of new or interesting items, some of which are extremely rare. This has led to him meeting other collectors from around the world, and Dave is currently collaborating with some other fans on a new DJ Shadow fan site, DJ Shadow Reconstructed.

With so many people collecting now you would almost expect there to be nothing of interest left in stores. But when I was recently in Japan, I was struck by how well stocked their record stores are. It seemed I could find anything if I was willing to spend enough time digging through crates. 

Why Do People Like Japanese Vinyl

While I was impressed by all of the stock in Japanese record stores, I was even more impressed by how the CDs and records were all in such amazing condition, and often looked brand new. As a final question, I asked Dave and Brian about why they thought this was, but neither were too certain. While this aspect of collecting must remain a mystery, they both did agree that even if you’re buying something online from Japan it will always arrive with utmost care.

It seems that the reason people like Japanese records comes down to the following:

-Exclusive artwork

-Bonus tracks

-Obi Strip and Inserts (Lyrics Sheets, Linear Notes, Poster)

-Second hand items that look brand new

-Items which are posted to you undamaged

So, while you may not be able to visit Japan right now, it is perhaps the perfect time to start saving for your next trip so you can experience firsthand Japan’s exclusive records and CDs, and fill up the gaps in your collections. Even if you collect something other than Beastie Boys or DJ Shadow, Japan will surely have what you need tucked into a crate somewhere for a few hundred yen.

Where To Buy Japanese Vinyl Records

While there’s record stores all over Japan, here’s some of our favourites.

Tower Records Tokyo

The Shibuya store is a massive 7 floors, and the Shinjuku store has a great vinyl only floor filled with almost anything you could want. These stores are great if you want to find some new CD’s or records, but beware of the price!

Their website gives you an idea of their stock, and provides services to ship worldwide. http://tower.jp

Disc Union Tokyo & Osaka

These stores are spread all over Tokyo. Their main Shinjuku store is 8 floors, while they also have smaller stores dedicted to Jazz, Metal, and Soul. Disc Union are the best place to find second hand records and CDs, and some even sell cassette tapes. There website has a handy map of all their stores, and there’s even an English version. https://diskunion.net/st/shop/

Marking Records Matsumoto

A beautiful store, Marking sell new records, CDs, cassette tapes, and zines. Their focus is on Alternative music so take a look at their website to get an idea of what to expect. https://shop.markingrecords.com/ 

 

Time Bomb Osaka

Recommended by AstroBBoy, a great collection of second hand records across various genres. They also ship overseas if you buy online. https://timebomb.co.jp/en

Jet Set Kyoto

This store sells every genre of music, as well as books, magazines, and DVDs. They have a selection of new and used records to browse, and you can also buy online with international shipping.

https://www.jetsetrecords.net

Yahoo Auctions

This is the #1 place to buy random stuff from Japan if you’re overseas. It’s similar to eBay so there’s magazines, merchandise, and book alongside CDs and records, and a lot of Japan Exclusive items are available here. It can be complicated to use if you’re not in Japan, but you can use a service like Buyee to buy things on your behalf. https://auctions.yahoo.co.jp

Mercari

Similar to Yahoo Auctions, Mercari is filled with exclusive Japan Only items like records and magazines. Just like Yahoo Auctions, they use Buyee to allow international purchases. 

https://buyee.jp/mercari/ 

Contributor

James Gaunt is an Australian writer who published his book Making Psyence Fiction in 2020. James previously lived in Tokyo, Japan but has recently returned to Melbourne, Australia. He maintains a keen interest in Japanese music, and publishes regularly on Medium http://medium.com/@jimmyjrg

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,

Read More »

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »

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

Read More »

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 »

Imjin River by the Folk Crusaders In Japanese and English

Japanese Reading Difficulty

4/12 Could be read and understood by 4th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Partitioning of Korea

Text Type

Songs In Translation

Lyrics

イムジン河水清く とうとうと流る
水鳥自由にむらがり 飛び交うよ
我が祖国南の地 想いははるか
イムジン河水清く とうとうと流る

北の大地から 南の空へ
飛び行く鳥よ 自由の使者よ
誰が祖国を二つに 分けてしまったの
誰が祖国を 分けてしまったの

    

イムジン河空遠く 虹よかかっておくれ
河よ 想いを伝えておくれ
ふるさとをいつまでも 忘れはしない
イムジン河水清く とうとうと流る

The imjin river flows so clear

It flows so strong, it flows so deep oh yes my dear

And the water fowl form flocks and fly

To and fro to and fro

My heart lies in the south

My hope lays at rivers mouth

And the imjin river flows so clear

It flows so strong it flows so deep oh yes my dear

 

From the northern continental planes

The birds they fly in flocks they fly in waves

And Like messengers from freedoms shore

make their way make their way

Who was it that cut our land in two

Gave half to me and half to you

And do they even know just what they’ve done

And do they watch the same great imjin river run

 

Down the imjin river way off far

Theres a rainbow forming in the air

Oh Imjin river tell my love

Look above look above

And tell them that I still know the road

That leads back to my home

Cause the imjin river flows so clear

 

It flows so strong it flows so deep oh yes my dear

Today for we’re looking at a song called イムジン河 Imjin River.

Imjin River runs between North and South Korea, through the ironically named demilitarised zone, where two armies eyeball eachother off across one of the most heavily armed borders on earth. The song about the river was original called Rimjingang and was composed in Korea in 1957 by Ko Jonghan to a poem by Pak Se-yong song. Rimjingang is banned in North Korea, as it uses the Imjin River as a symbol of freedom, flowing with the river north to south. 

The song found its way to Japan in the 1960s, with the Korean diaspora, where it was heard by a young writer in Kyoto names Takeshi Matsuyama. With the help of his Korean friends, Matsuyama translated some of the original lyrics and added two verses of his own. Late 60s Japan was heavily influenced by the folk music movement that was happening in America. A large number of folk acts, mixing Japanese and western folk elements were born, including a group called the Folk Crusaders in Kyoto. The group has some similarities with folk groups such as Peter, Paul and Mary. 

Matsuyama taught his version of the Korean song to group member Kazuhiko Kato. Both thought it was a long-standing Korean “traditional” song, rather than a fairly recently composed song with definite authors. The group arranged it into something quite new and attempted to launch it as their follow up song to the break out, and extremely odd, novelty single 帰ってきたよっぱらい Kaete Kaete Kita Yopparai.

Nagsa Oshima later made a somewhat experimental film of the same name, which you can see here.

Unfortunately, Imjin River was deemed too political by the Japanese government and was effectively banned in that country too.

The song, however, remains popular both in its original Korean form, and its modified Japanese form. It is a powerful statement of the pain felt by the partitioned people of the Koreas. The Japanese version also functions as a symbolic gesture by Japanese youths of the 1960s trying to break down the barriers that were often, and continue to be, placed around Korean communities in that country. Here is the Japanese version of the Folk Crusaders singing Imujin-Gawa.

 

Check out some more Japanese songs in translation here.

This song was translated as part of the Songs in Translation segment on RRR radio program Vital Bits.

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

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,

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »
Songs In Translation

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

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。

New Japanese Indie Music Platform Minna Kikeru

Japanese Reading Difficulty

10/12 Could be read by 10th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Japanese Indie Music
Japanese alternative Music

Text Type

Band Bios

Japan’s New Indie Label Music Platform “Minna Kikeru” みんなきける

https://youtu.be/mA0tPc2dIpw


It’s not all bad news in Covid 19, 2020. 

Take the new indie, alternative Japanese music platform that has come on line, called “Minna Kikeru”. It’s got around 100 releases there to stream and download by artists that, up until about a month ago, you would have been hard vinyl-pressed to find anywhere else. 

.


The platform was initiated by one of my all time favourite artists in Japan, Tenniscoats (which we’ve written about here), and the Majikick label they run. In the interests of full disclosure, this is also the label that puts out the music I make in Japan, so I have a connection.

It’s not a one man band though. There are releases from labels including kuchikuchi, Tomoaki Saito Records, Alien Transistor, haptic perception (via nagoya), Sweet Dream Press, Pong-Kong Records, kurumi kadoya (via nagoya), Mrs.triangle, Basic Function, Is College Collective.


The innocent directness of the name, Minna Kikeru meaning “Everyone can listen”, breezily sums up the platform. It’s for people to get access to all this music they never would have found before, but sorely deserves to be.


I’ve been doing some translations for them so I’ll read you a couple of things I’ve done in Japanese and English.


Here’s the blurb they wrote about the site in Japanese and English.


Minna Kikeru Overview


Minna Kikeru は、majikick recordsと篠原敏蔵、モトの協力により、2020年にスタートします。

以前より計画は進めていましたが、奇遇にもこういった時期に巡り合わせました。

現状、手に入りにくい日本のインディミュージシャンの音楽にそれぞれアクセスし、楽しむことが出来、また、マージンをできるだけ少なくし、様々なアーティストやインディレーベルの自立を助けることを指針としています。


楽しんで、良いインスピレーションを得られますよう願っております。


Minna Kikeru was started by majikick and Toshizo Shinohara in collaboration with Moto in 2020.

Planning for the site had been happening for some time and it seemed almost fatalistic that the Covid-19 crisis would come and speed up the need for its completion.

The aim of the site is to provide access to Japanese independent music, which has been relatively hard to find, and to help a range of artists and independent labels create a sustainable future.

It is our hope that people enjoy the site and find some positive inspiration from what they find!


Tenniscoats


プカプカブライアンズから派生し、1996,7年辺りから録音を始め、さやが歌うように植野とつくったバンド。サイドギターに小野悟、ドラマーは久順。大学の部室に、8トラックオープンリールとミキサーを持ち込み録音、テープが伸びる寸前まで作業を重ねた。フレーズの立体感、初期の弾けるような新鮮さと熟考が混ざった不思議さのあるポップ。出した方がいいよ、と背中を押す久順の言葉でリリースと相成った。


After starting PukaPuka Brians, somewhere around 1996-97, Saya started singing with Ueno and together they created the band Tenniscoats. In a room of their University, they set up an 8 track real-to-real machine and a mixer where they would record, overdubbing to the point of making the tape stretch. 


They created a pop that combined equal parts freshness and careful consideration. Satoru Ono (E.Gtr), Hisatoshi (Drums) and a selection of friends joined in to realise the album.The album sat unreleased for some time, with Saya not feeling confident enough to go ahead, until So Hisatoshi gave them a gentle nudge with a “stop your worrying, you’ve just got to put this out”.


Yuko Ikema

SSW, 池間由布子のセルフリリースによる、2015年リリースの2ndアルバムです。majikickハウスの4トラックカセットMTRで録音されました。素朴て温かい由布子の人柄のように、その歌声も初めて会うのにどこか懐かしく、不思議さがあります。糸を紡ぐように導かれる「拝啓、朝」に始まる曲たちは瑞々しく、身近でいて美しい。植野隆司とさやが参加。

Singer song writer, Yuko Ikema released her 2nd album in 2015. This album was recorded with using a 4-track cassette MTR at majikick house. Just like Yuko’s personality, which is simple and warm, her singing voice is nostalgic and mysterious for the first time. The songs that begin with “Dear Morning”, guided by spinning threads, are fresh, familiar, and beautiful. Takashi Ueno and Saya joined in.


My Pal Foot Foot

竹下慶(ギター、コーラス)と河野ゆうこ(ボーカル、ギター)によるバンド。


彼らの初めてのレコーディングは、春の畑の中に位置するグロプチンのスタジオにmajikickの機材を持ち込み行われた。


飾らず真っ直ぐなゆうこのボーカルと竹下の楽曲は素のままで十分に魅力的。明るくてポップで、いつまでも瑞々しい。


ゲスト:植野(ギター)、さや(ドラム)、グロプチン、つびーが参加。


Kei Takeshita (Gtr, Chorus) and Yuko Konno (Vocal, Grr) are the main members.


The band’s first recording took place amongst the fields in springtime at the Gloptin Studio, on Majikick equipment. Yuko’s straight ahead singing style and Kei’s unadorned songs & guitar have all the charm you would need, just as they are. This record features eternal vivacious, sunny pop.

 

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

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,

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »
Songs In Translation

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

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。

Nigo & James Lavelle 1997 Japan Interview Translated

Japanese Reading Difficulty

7/12 Could be read by 7th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Japanese Street Culture, Japanese Hip Hope

Text Type

Magazine Article

You may know the Japanese clothing designer and DJ Nigo from his work with his clothing brand BAPE or his associations with artists such as Kanye West or Pharrell Williams. You may also know James Lavelle from his work as a musician and label owner working with the likes of DJ shadow, Mike D and Thom Yorke.

We’ve written about the general history of Bape, Major Force label, Tiny Punks/Panx here. Today we’ve translated an interview that Nigo and James did in a Japanese magazine in 1997.

SCENE 1:ウェンディーズ前。
NIGOとジェームス・ラヴェル。 かたや東京でいちばん刺激的なウェア・ブランド、 ベイジング・エイプの。かたやロンドンでいちばん 完激的なレーベル、モ・ワックスの。2人は若きジ ニネラルである。そんな2人が同じテーブルについ て話し始める―いったい何を? 経営をめぐる社対談? そうではない。これから始まるのは、2 人のルーツをめぐる対話。この8月から本格的に日 本国内でのディストリビューションを開始したモ・ ワックスからユニークな企画盤がリリースされるの知っているだろうか。『APE V.S. MO’WAX』。 NGOとジェームス・ラヴェルが各自モ・ワックスの 音源からチョイスした計20曲が、“NIGO’S DISC” “JAMES’S DISC” という形にまとめられた2枚のコンピレーションCDだ。まったく違うジャンル のプロフェッショナル同士の、思わぬ形での共演。
こうした作業を可能にしたのは、やはり2人の間に 共通する何かがあるからに違いない。それはいった い何なのか?
エイプの立ち上げとモ・ワックスの立ち上げっ ていうのは、ほぼ同時期ですか? . NIGO「いや、多分ね、ジェームスのほうが1年以上 早い。僕は原宿にノーウェアを開いたのが93年の4 月。で、ベイジング・エイプっていうブランドを始 めたのが93年の9月」
ジェームス「いや、僕は92年のクリスマスにモ・ワ ックスを作った。今年の12月で丸5年」
その頃から、お互い知ってました?
NIGO「うん、知ってましたよ。初めて会ったのは4 年くらい前? なんかちょっと意見が食い違うんで すけど(笑)」
ジェームス「最初に会ったのはロンドンなんだよ」
NIGO「覚えてない(笑)」 ジェームス「それはね、ほんとにパッと一瞬だけし か顔を合わせなかったせいだよ」
NIGO「僕が覚えてるのは東京で。いきなり彼が僕 の携帯を鳴らして、で、会おうと。すぐ近くのウェ ンディーズの前で待ち合わせして(笑)」
ジェームス「うん、そう(笑)。日本に行ったら絶対 にNIGOの服が買いたかったから」
NIGO「あげましたけど(笑)」。

ジェームスさんは、どうしてNIGOさんのこと を知ってたんですか?
ジェームス「ロンドンで服のディストリビューショ ンをやってる友達がエイプのTシャツを見せてくれ たんだよ。そしたらそこに“LAST ORGY”って書 いてある。『おい!! “LAST ORGY” って言ったらタイニーパンクスのレコードの名前じゃないか! 何だこれは!?』って。もう絶対に欲しいと思った。 とにかく僕はメジャーフォースのレコード全部持っ ていたから」
僕らは興味の対象が似ている。だから とにかくNIGOと何か作りたかったんだ。

SCENE 2: メジャーフォース!
キーワードはメジャーフォース。88年、東京で高 木完と藤原ヒロシのタイニーパンクス、中西俊夫、 工藤昌之、屋敷豪太の5人によって設立され、12イ ンチを中心としたリリース、さらに海外のヒップホ ッパーとの交流など独自の活動を展開したレーベル。 ちなみに「LAST ORGY」とはレーベル第1弾作品 としてリリースされたタイニーパンクスのシングル。 雑誌『宝島』で同じく「LAST ORGY」という連載 を持っていたタイニーパンクスであるが、前述のジ ェームスの発言は、このシングルのことを指してい ると、以上が概略。メジャーフォース”。その存 在が2人をつなげる直接のきっかけになったのだ。
ーNIGOさんはもちろんメジャーフォースのレコ ードは当たり前に買ってたんですよね。
NIGO「もちろん。高2、高3とかそのくらいかな。 隔週ペースで東京に来たりして買ってましたね」
でも、ロンドンにいるジェームスさんはどうや ってメジャーフォースのことを知ったんですか?
ジェームス「僕は学校をやめて15歳ぐらいからレコ ード・ショップで働いてたんだけど、当時ロンドン で人気のあったローニン・レーベルに友達がいたん だよ。で、ある時ローニンのスタッフがDJツアー で日本に行って、たくさんレコードを買って帰って きたんだ。それが友達経由で僕のところに回ってき た中に、何枚か入ってたんだよね、メジャーフォー スのレコードが。それがファースト・コンタクト。 もう、すぐに魅了されたよ!! どれも驚くほど素晴 らしかった。もともと僕はカラテとかカンフーをや ってたせいもあって……」
―え!?(笑)
ジェームス「小さい頃からやってたんだけど(笑)、 とてもアジアの文化に興味があったからね。そうい ったこともあって、なんとかしてメジャーフォース のレコードを手に入れようとしたんだ」
ジェームス「僕は16歳から“オネスト・ジョンズ” っていうレコード・ショップで働いてたんだけど、 そこは当時ロンドンでいちばんいい店で、よく日本 人のバイヤーがレアなファンクとかソウルを買い付 けにきてたんだ。そういう連中をつかまえては“メ ジャーフォースのレコードとトレードしよう!”っ て言ってた。とにかく片っ端から言ってた」
それが意外な出会いへとつながっていくのだから 面白い。
ジェームス「ある日、店に入ってきた2人の日本人 にタイクーントッシュ(中西俊夫)の12インチ を探してるんだ”って言ったんだ。そしたら片方の 男がさ、“オレがタイクーン・トッシュだ”って言っ たんだよ(笑)。トッシュとクドー(工藤昌之)だっ たんだ。もう信じられなかったね! 慌ててレコー ドをくれって頼んだら“あいにく持ってないんだ” って言われちゃったんだけど。でもそれが縁で、 日本に行った時にファイル・レコードの人を紹介し てもらったりした。いつもレコードくれ!”って 言ってたから嫌がられてたみたいだけど(笑)」
現在はメジャーフォース・ウェストとしてロンド ンを拠点に活動する中西俊夫と工藤昌之とのいささかできすぎた出会いが、ジェームスと東京とを結び 付け、やがてはNIGOとの出会いにまでつながって いく。まさにルーツとしてのメジャーフォース”。 直接的な出会いのきっかけとしても、感覚的な部分 でも、2人にとってその存在は大きい。では2人が 選ぶメジャーフォースのベスト・トラックは?
NIGO「うーん、なんだろ。『LAST ORGY』かな」 ジェームス「RETURN OF THE ORIGINAL ART FORM』。すべてのレコードの中でベストの1 枚だよ。それに当時イギリスのアンダーグラウン ド・シーンでこの曲は爆発的にヒットしたんだ」
ジェームス「僕らは興味の対象が似ているし、 NIGOにはこのCDを作ることで“キミもモ・ワック スの一員だ”って言いたかった。NIGOが僕をエイプ の一員とみなしてくれるように」 NIGO「僕ら、けっこう似てるかなって気はしますね」
どちらも今では再発CDで容易に聴くことができ る。ぜひトライしてみてほしい。

どちらも今では再発CDで容易に聴くことができ る。ぜひトライしてみてほしい。
SCENE 3: アンド・ナウ。

そして現在。東京とロンドン、ウェアと音楽。立 っている場所は違えども同じルーツを持つNIGOと ジェームス・ラヴェルの初めての共同プロジェクト が、冒頭で触れた『APE V.S. MO’WAXだ。ここ から見える2人の関係性とは……。
――そもそもこのCDを作ろうっていう話は、どっ ちが言いだしたんですか? NIGO「ジェームスのほうからですね。基本的に、僕 はこれはやらなくてもいいことなんですよ(笑)」 ジェームス「僕はとにかくNIGOと何かがやりたか った。今までにないやつを。このCDはお互いが得 意分野をいかして、その要素をすべて盛り込んだ、 ある意味マッドなプロジェクトだね」
マッドな(笑)。
ジェームス「今回NIGOと1曲共作してるんだけど、 そういうことも含めて今までにないコンピレーショ ンになっていると思う」
NIGOさん、ドラム叩いてるんですよね。
NIGO「まぁ一応(笑)。ロンドンに行って2日間で 録って。本当はもうちょっといたかったんだけど」
やっぱり服作りとは違うところが面白い?
NIGO「いや、なんかね、服を作るのと似てますよ。 昔、チャックDが“サンプリング・スポーツ”って 言葉使ってたじゃないですか。完ちゃんもよく言っ てたし。うん、そういうノリで。服も似てる」
小難しい“引用”ではなく、フィジカルなサン プリング・スポーツ”。ジャンルを越えてNIGOとジ ェームスが共鳴しあうクリエイティビティのスタイ ルを、これほど端的に言い当てる言葉もない。
ジェームス「僕らは興味の対象が似ているし、 NIGOにはこのCDを作ることで“キミもモ・ワック スの一員だ”って言いたかった。NIGOが僕をエイプ の一員とみなしてくれるように」 NIGO「僕ら、けっこう似てるかなって気はしますね」
ルーツをめぐる2人の関係は続く。

Scene 1 At the front of Wendy’s
Nigo and James Lavelle.
One is the most cutting edge clothing brand in Tokyo, Bathing Ape. The other is the most impactful label in London, Mo wax. Each is a Young General. Two people of such stature sit at one table and start to talk. What on earth do they talk about? Do they talk matters of company management? No. What ensues is a discussion of their mutual roots. Let me start by asking, are you aware of the unique record, organised by Mo wax, that is scheduled for major distribution domestically in Japan from August, “Ape V.S. Mo’Wax”? It is a two disc compilation CD, in the form of “Nigo’s Disk” and “James’ Disk”, of their own selections from the Mo’Wax catalogue. It represents an unexpected collaboration between two professionals from completely different fields.
Surely, it can only be a collaboration made possible by some kind of shared common ground between the two. So what is it that they have in common?
Were Ape and Mo Mo’Wax launched around the same time?
Nigo: Well, I think so. James was about a year earlier. I had Nowhere in Shinjuku in April of 1993. Then I launched the Bathing Ape brand in September ‘93.
James: I made Mo’Wax Christmas 92. In December this year it will have been just on five years.
Have you known each other from around that time?
Nigo: Yes, we have. I think we met around four years ago? I think we might have a difference of opinion on that though (LOL).
James: We first met in London.
Nigo: I don’t remember.
James: That’s because we only really crossed paths for a moment.
Nigo: I remember Tokyo. Out of the blue, I get a call from him saying “let’s meet up”. We met up at a Wendys nearby.
James: True. I’d been thinking when I went to Japan I definitely wanted to buy some of Nigo’s clothes.
Nigo: Well, actually I gave you the clothes.
How did you hear about Nigo James?
James: A friend who does clothing distribution in London showed me an Ape T-Shirt. It had “Last Orgy” written on it and I was like “Hey, that’s a Tiny Punks record! What is this?”
I thought, “I have to have this”. After all, I owned all the Major Force records.
The keyword here is Major Force. Major Force is a label begun by five people; Kan Takagi and Hiroshi Fujiwara from Tiny Punks, Toshio Nakaishi, Masayuki Kudo, Gouta Yashiki. Focusing on 12 inch releases, the label was in contact with hip hoppers from overseas whilst carrying on their own original practice. We should add that “Last Orgy” was the name of the first release from the label by the group Tiny Punks. Tiny Punks also had a column of the same name in the Magazine Takarajima but James is referring to the single release in the above. Major Force. That is the force that binds the two together.

Of course you were buying Major Force records also Nigo?

Of course. It would have been around 2nd and 3rd year of high school I think. I was coming to Tokyo every couple of weeks to buy them.

But how did you hear about Major Force in London James?

James: I quit High School around 15 and started working in a record shop. I had a friend who was part of Ronin Label, which was popular at the time. Then one of the Ronin people went to Japan on a DJ tour and came back with a whole lot of records they had bought. They came around to me via a friend. That was my first contact. It had an instant impact. All of them were shockingly good. I also had a background in Karate and Kung Fu.
-What.
James: I had been doing that since I was a kid, because I was really interested in Asian culture. So I really wanted to get my hands on the Major Force records.

James: From the age of 16 I worked in a record shop called Honest Jon’s, which was the best shop in London at the time. Japanese people often came to buy rare funk and soul records. I would pounce on those people and say “do me a trade for some Major Force records”.

That was fun because it would lead to getting to know some unexpected people.

James: One day, a couple of Japanese people came to the shop saying they were looking for a 12 inch of Tycoon Tosh. Then one of them says, “I’m Tycoon Tosh”. That was Tosh and Kudo. I couldn’t believe it. I hurriedly asked if he had any records and he said “Unfortunately, i don’t have any with me”. But through that connection, When I went to japan I was able to get an introduction to File Records. Because I was always asking them for records, I think I got on their nerves though.

Having almost too easily hooked up with Nakanishi Toshio and Kudo who were now based in London, James connected with Tokyo, eventually leading to his meeting Nigo. He had found himself at the very origins of Major Force. Major Force presented the direct opportunity for the two to meet, and an important middle ground of a shared sensibility. So what Major Force track does each choose as their favourite?

Nigo: Hmmm, I wonder. Maybe Last Orgy.
James: Return of the Original Art Form. That is my favorite record of them all. That track was already a smash hit in the London Underground Scene at the time.
Both are easy to find on CD reissue now. We urge you to give them a try.

Scene 3: And Now
And Now. Tokyo and London, clothing and music. Standing in different locations, but having shared roots, Nigo and James Lavelle embark on their first project together – the “Ape V.S. Mo’Wax. What can we see about the two people’s relationship from here?” that we touched on at the start of this article

So who was the one to say “let’s make a CD” in the first place?
Nigo: That was James. Fundamentally, for me this is something we don’t need to do (LOL).
James: I just wanted to do something with Nigo. Something that hadn’t been done before. This CD is a combination of our strengths, a blend of all of those elements. In a way, it’s quite a mad project.

“Mad” (LOL)
James: I’m working on a track with Nigo at the moment, so including things like that, this is a compilation like that nothing that has gone before.
Nigo, you’re playing the drums right?
Nigo: Well, I guess so. I went to London and we recorded in two days. Really, I wanted to go for longer.
I’m guessing making is interesting in that it is different from making clothes?
Nigo: Actually I would say that it’s quite similar to making clothes. In the past Chuck D has talked about “Sampling Sport” right? Kan often said the same thing. So, I guess it’s like that. Clothes are similar.
Not a difficult quotation, but a physical “Sampling sport”. Transcending genre, there is no better phrase to unequivocally use about Nigo and James’ symbiotic creative style.
James: Our interests are similar and with this CD I wanted to say to Nigo “you’re one of the Mo’ Wax family too. And I want Nigo to see me as one of the Ape family too.
Nigo: I feel like we are really pretty similar.
From shared roots, the pair’s relationship continues.

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

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,

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

Recently I had a chat with few of my favourite musicians from Japan: Saya from Tenniscoats, Yuko Ikema and Sota Tateishi from Jon No Son on the radio show “Kikeru Radio”.
テニスコーツのさや、池間由布子, 立石草太と「きけるラジオ」で話をしました。
Here’s a transcription in Japanese & English.
日本語と英語の文字起こしをつけました。

Transcript and pictures here:
https://japanoscope.com/japanese-band-musician-chat/

Original recording of chat appeared on Minna Kikeru Radio here:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:hAWdAge29r

Sayas – New Home
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:WtNBRiFevV

Ikema Yuko 池間由布子 Albums
https://minnakikeru.com/?q=ikema

Japanese music and Albums mentioned in the recording:
Kanako Numata –
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:IY3WS9UdJw

Kohost Sota Tateishi’s 立石草太 album with Jon No Son ジョンのサン:
https://minnakikeru.com/item/al:QmQAX2Cpth

Read More »
Songs In Translation

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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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。

In 1995 there were still new Last Orgy 2 t-shirts produced, as well as a new Last Orgy song.

 

Record on Amazon

In the 1990’s James Lavelle had started the Mo’ Wax record label in England and collaborated with the Japanese label Major Force, eventually re-releasing most of their catalogue to a wider audience. Through his friendship with Major Force, Lavelle soon met Nigo and the pair became friends, with Lavelle soon inviting Nigo to record in the Mo’ Wax studios in London. This collaboration would eventuate in Nigo’s debut album Ape Sounds, a mix of hip hop and rock similar to Lavelle’s own UNKLE project. Nigo also collaborated with Lavelle on the Planet of The Apes inspired song Ape Shall Never Kill Ape, which featured members of Major Force, UNKLE, Nigo, and UK turntablists The Scratch Perverts all on one song.

During this period Lavelle also released a song called Last Orgy 3, which featured Takagi Kan rapping much like on the original Tiny Panx song which had released almost ten years previously in 1988. Last Orgy 3 first appeared in 1997 on a mix CD by Nigo and James Lavelle titled A Bathing Ape Vs Mo’Wax, and was later released on CD and Vinyl with several remixes in 1998.

Last Orgy 4…and beyond.

The final Last Orgy so far, Last Orgy Four was a t-shirt collection released around 2000, and is the only Last Orgy to have been released without an associated magazine column, tv series, or song sharing its title. Around this time Nigo and Jonio were contributing a column titled 4lom to Smart magazine, which was similar to Last Orgy and had begun in 1996 and continued in to the 2000’s, while Nigo also contributed his General’s Seminar columns to Relax magazine for several years in the early 2000’s.

Image: Last Orgy shoe

Alongside the 2009 re-release of the Last Orgy jacket was a Last Orgy shoe which released in 2010. The shoes were a collaboration with Nigo’s BAPE company and featured their Bapesta shoe design. Since then there has been little news of further Last Orgy lines, but the brands close ties to BAPE may be one of the reasons for the draught, as in 2013 Nigo left BAPE and is now working with the Japanese brand Uniqlo. 

But what of the original Last Orgy creators, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Takagi Kan? Both of the original Tiny Panx have continued to work in their respective fields, with Fujiwara regarded as an important part of the Japanese fashion world, with his career recounted in two large English language books from publisher Rizzoli.

Meanwhile Kan continues to release music with Major Force, and in 2020 he has been putting on live performances via his Instagram page while the world has been locked down during the Corona Virus pandemic.

Further Reading:

Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style by Marx, W. David 
Hiroshi Fujiwara: Fragment by Sarah Lerfel and Ino Hidefum