My Relationship With Japanese Music & Song Lyrics
Over my years of playing music and touring through Japan, I’ve come across many Japanese songs, lyrics, and artists that I’ve come to love. Since around 2019 I’ve been actively making English language translations of some of these. I’ve also been recording English versions of the translations. So many of these are “singable” translations. This means that often the translations are not “literal” as some people might make them.
What I am trying to do is to create a fairly accurate impression, or one possible interpretation, of what I believe the original song is trying to achieve. Ultimately, I believe there is always an element of interpretation in any good translation. Doing a so-called “word for word” translation often doesn’t reveal a true and meaningful rendition.
My musical philosophy is also based on interpretation. Even in a standard, non-translating cover version, I prefer versions that take the original to an entirely different place. Why recreate the wheel?
Tranlsating Japanese Music Hits
Since 2021, I’ve been doing regular translations of the top songs on the Japanese Oricon charts. Song lyrics form an intriguing insight into a culture’s norms, values, and dreams. Song lyrics are a direct vein leading to a culture’s heart. People sing about the things that they can’t say. Songs make the soundtrack to the ever-evolving zeitgeist.
A-Z List of Japanese Song Lyrics
With that in mind here’s a list of some of the lyrics I’ve translated. I’ve also presented research on the background to many of them.
The songs range from the very old, to very new, from popular to underground. They are all either songs that I personally like or find interesting, or songs that there has been a large amount of demand from others to have translations done of.
|Romanised Title||Title in Japanese||English title translation||Composer||Lyricist||Artist||Song Type||English Language Performance made?|
|Ai Wo Tsutaetai Da To Ka||愛を伝えたいだとか||I need to Communicate My Love To You||Aimyon||Aimyon||Aimyon||Pop||N|
|Chi, Ase, namida||血、汗、涙||Blood, Sweat and Tears||BTS||Boy Band||N|
|Boku wa chotto||僕は一寸||I’m a little…||Haruomi Hosono||Y|
|Einstein Yori Dianna Agron||アインシュタインよりディアナ・アグロン||Forgot about Einstein, How about Dianna Agron||Fireworks||Yasushi Akimoto||HKT48||Idol Pop||N|
|Gurenge||紅蓮華||Crimson Lotus Flower||LiSA/草野華余子 Kayoko Kusano||LiSA/草野華余子 Kayoko Kusano||LiSA||Anime Song (Demon Slayer)||Y|
|Hoshi to Hana||ホシトハナ||Stars & Flowers||Tetsuichi Okabe||Kanata Nakamura中村彼方||Sanshu Junior High School Hero Club||Anime Song(Yuki Yuna is a Hero)結城友奈は勇者である||N|
|Ii Yu Dana||いい湯だな||The Water Feels So Good||The Drifters|
|Imjin-gawa||イムジン河||Imjin River||高宗漢Kazuhiko Kato||朴世永Pak Se-yong松山猛Takeshi Matsuyama||The Folk Crusadersザ・フォーク・クルセダーズ||60s Folk||Y|
|Kaze Wo Atsumete||風をあつめて||Gather up the wind||Haruomi Hosono||Takashi Matsumoto||Happy End||70s Folk-Rock||N|
|Kimi Ni Shikarareta||君に叱られた||Told Off By You||Yasushi Akimoto 秋元康||Nogizaka 46||Pop (No. 1 Sep 2021 Oricon)||N|
|Kimi Wo Nosete||君をのせて||Ride With Me||Joe Hisaishi久石 譲||Miyazaki Hayao宮崎 駿||Azumi Inoue 井上杏美||Anime Song (Laputa Castle In The Sky)||Y|
|Korin||光輪||Halo||Takashi Ueno植野隆司||Takashi Ueno植野隆司||Tenniscoatsテニスコーツ||Indie||Y|
|Mayonaka No Doa (Stay With Me)||真夜中のドア (Stay With Me)||At Your Door In The Middle of the Night (Stay With Me)||Miki Matsubara||City Pop||Y|
|Omoide||思ひ出||Remembrances||Tsunekichi Suzuki||Acoustic FolkSoundtrack (Midnight Diner)||Y|
|Pon Pon Pon||ぽんぽんぽん||Pon Pon Pon||Kyary Pamyu Pamyu||Pop||Y|
|Sailor Fuku Wo Nugasanaide||セーラー服を脱がさないで||don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform||Hitoshi Sato|
|Yasushi Akimoto 秋元康||Onyanko Club||Idol Pop||N|
|Shukujitsu||祝日||Day Off||Kaneko Ayano||Alt-folk||Y|
|Slow Ballad||スローバラッド||Slow Ballad||Kiyoshiro Imawano||Rock||Y|
|Suki Suki Daisuki||好き好き大好き||I love you, love you, really love you||Jun Togawa||80s Alt-Pop||Y|