Ii Yu Da Na いい湯だな-英語訳-In English Translation



湯気が天井から ポタリと背中に



ここは北国 登別の湯



誰が唄うか 八木節が



ここは上州 草津の湯



湯気にかすんだ 白い人影



ここは紀州の 白浜の湯



日本人なら 浪花節でも



ここは南国 別府の湯

The water feels so good

Oh it feels so good

I feel a cold drop on my back

As the steam falls from the roof

And it feels so cool

Yes it feels so cool

I’m in the north country

Noboribetsu And it’s gonna gonna get you


The water feels so good

Yes it feels so good

Who is that singing that

Yagibushi, they make it sound so easy

It sounds so sweet

Yeah it sounds so sweet

Here in jyoshu, kusatsu

Getting my body warm through


The water feels so good

Oh it feels so good

Who is that hazy figure

Coming through the white mist

It could be her, it could be yes

It could be her

Oh it could be her

Right here in old Kishu

Hamatsu, maybe there’s someone loves you


But it feels so good

Yes it feels so good

I feel so Japanese

Feels like I should be

Singing naniwa bushi yeah

In a low low groan

In a low low groan

Now I’m in the south country

In beppu in my birthday suit

Forgetting me, forgetting you

Interview about the song & Ken Shimura on RRR Radio


Here’s an interview I did on Melbourne’s RRR radio, Vital Bits Program as part of the Songs In Translation project.

The Drifters Versus Monty Python



彼らはそれぞれどれくらい持続しましたか? 1969年から1974年にBBCで放映されたオリジナルの「モンティパイソンフライングサーカス」テレビ番組に対してザドリフターの番組「8時だョ!全員集合」1985年にTBSでなんと16年間(1971年に6か月の休止期間含む)。どちらのグループも、現在に至るまで何らかの形で継続しており、個々のメンバーが独立してプ番組とコンテンツを作成して、断続的に一緒になって作品を共同制作したりしてきました。それは、半世紀以上にわたる、二つの文化を渡る、二つの笑い組が作る天才的な漫才になります。



In the U.K. there was Monty Python. In Japan there was The Drifters. Such was the influence of the comic group in Japan. Both were skit based comic troupes. Both had a music focus as well as a comic focus. Both became long running cultural institutions that continued to create content, off and on, across not years but decades.

How long did they each last? The original Monty Python’s Flying Circus program aired from 1969 – 1974 on the BBC, and The Drifter’s program 8時だョ!全員集合 (hachi ji da yo! Zenin Shugo – Everyone Roll Up, It’s Eight O’Clock) ran from 1969 – 1985 for a whopping sixteen years (with a six month hiatus in 1971) on TBS. Both groups have continued in some form or other up to the present day, with individual members creating programs and content independently before coming back to create together intermittently. That’s more than half a century of parallel comic genius.

The main difference between Monty Python and The Drifters? The Drifters are funnier.

Ken Shimura teaching English skit

ジョンクリース性教育を教える Jon Clease teaching sex education skit

Notes about the Drifters


The first thing you should know about the Drifters is that they opened for the Beatles on their 1966 tour of Japan. True, their set went for a total of one minute and 15 seconds, but it still counts. How a comic-music act came to be one of the representative bands of Japan to open for The Beatles is less than intuitive. It was a different time. The line between entertainers of all stripes was more porous than it is now. It was twilight years of the variety show where a singer performs beside a magic act who performs before a dancer who performed someone doing tricks with dogs. The main requirement was that you entertained. If you can do all of the above, all the better.

The Drifters opening for the Beatles

Beatles 1966 Japan Performance


In many ways, the Beatles and guitar bands were the ones that changed all that. But the Beatles themselves very much had foot on both stages. This recording of the Beatles playing Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport with Ralph Harris is evidence of that 

ビートルズとロルフハリス共演 The Beatles riffing with Rolf Harris

ドリフターズはこの頃までにほぼ10年の間何らかの形で活動続けて来ていたが、ビートルズの前座をしたことで彼らを本格的に日本全国的に有名になりました。 1956年、マウンテンボーイズと東京ウエスタンボーイズの2つのグループが合併して、The Driftersの原始版を形成しました。彼らは笑い中心というよりは音楽グループとして始めました。


この時代の風習は芸能グループしばしばメンバーが変わったりして回転ドアのようなものでした。初期のドリフターズは例外ではありませんでした。ドリフターズの初期版の1つでは坂本九が含まれており、坂本九は後に「向いて歩こう」、日本国外で「すき焼き」というわけがわからない題名で、で初の本格的海外でクロスオーバーヒット果たしました。この曲は、ヨーロッパ以外の言語で、米国のBillboard Hot 100チャートをトップになった最初の曲です。



The Drifters had been going in some shape or form for nearly ten years by this time, but opening for the Beatles was what really brought them to national prominence. In 1956 two groups, the Mountain Boys and the Tokyo Western Boys joined forces to form the primordial version of The Drifters. They started out as more of a music group than playing for laughs. 

Acts in this era often featured something of a revolving door of members coming and going, and the early Drifters was no different. One version of the group included Kyu Sakamoto, who would later have the true Japan-Western cross-over hit of all time with 上を向いて歩こう, strangely marketed under the name Sukiyaki outside of Japan. The song was the first song from a non-European language to top the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States.

Early drifters were known for doing music ranging from kayo 歌謡 songs, to Minyo 民謡 traditional folk songs, comic songs and even military songs. There first big hit was Zundoko-Bushi, which is a somehow-potent mix of Japanese pentatonic melody and Pink-Panther style who-done-it-jazz, tells the story of several stages of love from across a man’s life, several of which seem to hint at an overlap between lover-wife-lover. Here’s them performing it in 1970:

ドリフターズズンドク節 The Drifters Zundoku-Bushi


The group went on to have several top 10 hits in Japan, but turned more towards comedy as time went on. Each of the individual members would continue to produce music outside of the group for much of their careers.

志村けん Ken Shimura

Ken Shimura was the latest Drifter to join the group at the age of 24. He became well known for doing the festive Higashimurayama Ondo. Anyone who has been to a Bon Odori will recognise the hypnotic, thudding rhythmic style of this one.




彼の死でさえ日本人の最後の奉仕となりました。 2020年3月20日に彼は肺炎で入院しました。 3月23日、けんさんCovid-19陽性であることが世界に発表されました。彼は3月29日までにこの世を去ってしまいました。


それはMonty Pythonが受け取ったがない不幸な賞ではあります。

After a world beating, okay, maybe Japan-beating, period doing live performances and TV with the drifters, he went on to create highly successful alter-ego characters including バカ殿様 (Baka Dono Sama – Sir Idiot) and 変なおじさん (Henna Ojisan – Weird Old Guy). He went on to create other popular shows such as 志村けんのだいじょうぶだぁ (Shimura Ken no daijyoubudaa – Ken Shimura’s It’s Okay).

Ken Shimura, along with his Drifters companions, was truly a people’s hero in the same way that many members of Monty Python went on to be in the U.K. 

Even his death served as a final service to the Japanese people. On the 20th of March 2020 he went to hospital with lung inflammation. On the 23rd of March, it was announced to the world that he had Covid-19. He was dead by the 29th of March. 

In a Japan that was seeing steadily rising, but relatively low numbers of Covid infections, Ken Shimura’s death came as a major shock to the Japanese people. Ken Shimura was the funny guy  that three generations of Japanese had grown up with. Now the sickness had taken someone they knew. Now the sickness was real. Ken Shimura’s death represented a major turning point in Japan’s awareness of the coming crisis. On the writing of this article, it is the 8th of April and Japan has just announced a state of emergency. Ken Shimura’s final act was to be the canary in the coal mine of the Japanese psyche. 

There’s one credit no Monty Python member has ever had the misfortune to claim.


いい湯だな Ii Yu Da Na

60年代初頭、ラジオのアナウンサーであり作家である永六輔と作曲家の泉拓はかなり野心的で、ひょっとして楽しいアイデアがありました。彼らは日本中を旅し、あらゆる地域についての歌を書くことしました。その半世紀後ぐらいに、インディーのソングライターであるSufjan Stevensは、彼と似たようなプロジェクトに着手していることを世界に発表しました。それはアメリカのすべての州をうたったアルバムを書くことです。 前述と後述の2つのプロジェクトの主な違いは、スフジャンは50枚の州のアルバムを執筆するというの中でミシガン州とイリノイ州の経った2枚のディスクでやる気がなくなり、エイとタクのプロジェクトでは、日本の47都道府県ごとに1曲ずつ、さらに5曲追加して、見事に完成しました。






「いい湯だな」は、ご当地ソングのシリーズから生まれました。この曲は、19年回の紅白歌合戦に演奏されました。 「日本の歌」サイクルの他の曲も、17、20、22回目の紅白に登場しました。それはかなりの偉業です。






In the early 60s radio announcer and writer Rokuseke Ei and composer Izumi Taku had  a pretty ambitious, and potentially very fun idea. They would travel all over Japan and write a song about every area. Half a century later, indie-orchestral songwriter Sufjan Stevens would announce to the world he was embarking on a similar project – to write an album for every state in America. The main difference between the two projects was that Sufjan’s motivation to write 50 state albums lasted for two discs, Michigan and Illinois, and that Ei and Taku’s project produced 42 songs, one for each prefecture of the 47 prefectures in Japan, plus a few for good measure. 

They weren’t pulling the idea out of nowhere. There is a whole genre of songs in Japan called ご当地ソング (gotochi song), which are songs about different local regions. Of course, writing about your home and the places you know is pretty much a no brainer. Woody Guthrie struck the string in the right place when he urged people to just “write what you see”. And what you see is where you live. Yet, Japan is a place with particularly pronounced differences between towns, areas and regions, for language, food and culture.  You can see how it could easily sustain a whole subsection of popular and folk music devoted to paying homage to the local. America has Homeland Rock, Japan has hometown folk. 

Japanese culture also has a penchant for creating series in their arts -think Hokusai’s 36 views of Mount Fuji or Hiroshige’s Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō.

Ii Yu Da Na started out its life as one of these songs. This song featured at the iconic 紅白歌合戦 kohaku uta gasen, song competition, in it’s 19th year.  Other songs from the “Songs of Japan” cycle also appeared at the 17th, 20th and 22nd song competition. That’s quite a feat.

Originally, the song was sung by the Duke Aces.

Later the Drifters took it on, and would close their “Roll Up It’s 8 o’clock” show with a modified version of the song every week. The song infiltrated the lounge rooms of 100 million Japanese, weekly for a decade and half. There’s not many songs that get that kind of opportunity to commune with the masses.


Japan was also producing some very strange and wonderful guitars during this period of history. We’ve written about some of them here.

Japan was making pretty cools guitars like this one around this time

翻訳ノート Notes On Translation

表面的には「当地」に焦点を当てている曲の割に、いい湯だなのメッセージは普遍的なものです。リフレインの「いい湯だな」とは単純に「お湯が気持ちいい」という意味です。温かいお風呂のぬくもりを味わう感覚とは無縁の人は世界でも少ないでしょう。しかし、この歌の表現は明らかに日本的です。日本語には英語で2つの単語が必要となる一言はあります。「湯」です。元の日本語は単純であるためこそ、英語に翻訳するのが難しくなります。私は「お湯」の「暖かい」意味を放棄することを選択し、「waterはとても気持ちがいい」にしました。お風呂で「the water feels so good」といった時に、事情からwaterの温度はどんな感じか言わなくても分かるでしょう。

言語の翻訳で最も楽しくてやりがいのあるところは、日本語の地名を英語で韻を踏むことでした。 2つの言語の韻を踏むことは、いやらしい感じしました。いい意味で。寝室でいたずらにするような感覚で。


Yet, for a song that ostensibly focuses on the local, it’s message is simultaneously parochial and universal. The refrain いい湯だな means something like “the hot water feels so good”. There are few people in the world that cannot relate to the simple sensation enjoying the warmth of a hot bath. Indeed, here at Japanoscope, we are big bath people and have given our opinions about how to get a Japanese bath into your home. But the way it is expressed here in song is distinctly Japanese. It is telling that the Japanese language has a word that takes two in English. 湯 yu. The simplicity of the original Japanese presents a problem for translating into English. I chose to relinquish the “hot” part of “hot water” and went with just “the water feels so good”. If you’re in a hot bath exclaiming how great the water feels, hot is probably going to be clear from context.

The most fun and challenging part of translating the language was rhyming the Japanese place names with English. Rhyming two languages feels perverse. In a good way. It’s the linguistic equivalent of getting naughty in the bedroom. 

The fact that English has so many fewer syllables than Japanese also gives you opportunity when you translate songs. You can get a lot more information in a shorter time. Which means you’ve got time to play with. In this song, I used this “extra time” to take a few liberties.


ここは北国 登別の湯  

「ベツ」と「Get you」を韻を踏みました。私は登別に行ったことありませんが、居間まで行った日本の温泉のほとんどが僕の心をゲットしました。

I’m in the north country Noboribetsu, And it’s gonna gonna get you

I rhymed betsu with “get you”. I haven’t been romanced by Noboribetsu, but just about every hot spring I’ve been to in Japan hasn’t failed to “get me”.

ここは上州 草津の湯 の湯  

Here in jyoshu, kusatsu

Getting my body warm through

Threw this one, we had the space so why not?

ここは紀州の 白浜の湯

「誰かが愛しているかもしれない」は前の詩の意味を拡張したもので、「湯気にかすんだ 白い人影あの娘かな」の延長です。あの娘は誰なのかわからないがきっと誰かお母さんとかではないでしょう。

Right here in old Kishu

Hamatsu, maybe there’s someone loves you

“Maybe there’s someone loves” extends out the meaning of the previous verse, which has hinted at seeing a “figure in the white mist” and wondering if it is “that girl”. Who that girl is we don’t know. I’m pretty sure it’s not your mum.


ここは南国 別府の湯

元の曲には「Birthday suit」のような言及がないこと認めます。「Birthday suit」とは俗語的な言葉で「生まれつきの服」としての意味で「裸」という意味です。なんとなく「別府」と響きが似ていてついに韻を踏んでしまいました。別府に恐れの気持ちでいっぱいです。
オリジナルには「Forgetting me, forgetting you」、「あなたを忘れて、私も忘れられる」というものもありません。しかし、この曲に、一人でお風呂に行って、次回行った温泉でもやの中でお風呂に入っている女を見て、希望を抱き、恋に失敗して、結局お風呂の温もりに戻ったといった誰かの物語が埋もれているではないかと僕は解釈しました。エイとタクが承認してくれるでしょうか。

In beppu in my birthday suit

Forgetting me, forgetting you

Okay, so the original doesn’t have a reference to “birthday suit” and I guess I owe the whole region of Beppu an apology for rhyming that one with them. Sometimes these things just come out in the process. 

The original doesn’t have the “forgetting me, forgetting you bit” either. But I feel this gives the song a bit more of a story arc of someone that has maybe gone to a bath alone, then seen someone at a bath in the haze, got their hopes up, failed in love, and gone back to the hot bath for solace once again. Hopefully Ei and Taku would approve.


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, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).