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

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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。

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

Hana Kimura, Terrace House, Reality TV, Wrestling, Suicide, Online Abuse

Text Type

Translation of Weekly Magazine Shukan Bunshun

Today we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

Original Article from Shukan Bunshun

自ら命を絶った木村花さん(享年22)の母・響子さん(43)が、7月15日、BPO(放送倫理・番組向上機構)に対し、放送による人権侵害があったとして審議を申し立てたことが、「週刊文春」の取材で分かった。
自殺の原因となったのは3月31日にNetflixで配信された第38話「コスチューム事件」。花さんが同居人の帽子をはたくシーンが流れ、花さんのSNSに誹謗中傷が殺到した。配信当日、精神的に追い詰められた花さんが自殺未遂を起こしたにもかかわらず、フジは5月14日にYouTubeで「コスチューム」事件の続編(未公開映像)を3本立て続けに公開し、5月23日には地上波で本編を放送した。その5日後の5月23日、花さんは自ら命を絶つ。
響子さんは「週刊文春」の取材に対し、「コスチューム事件」の撮影において、スタッフから花さんに対し「ビンタしたらいいじゃん」などとやらせ指示があったことを証言。それを裏付ける花さんのLINEメッセージも携帯電話に多数残されていた。また、帽子をはたかれた同居人の小林快さんも、生前の花さんから「(帽子をはたいたのは)本心からではなくスタッフに煽られた行為だった」と謝罪を受けていたことを明かし、やらせの常態化も告発した(7月9日発売号)。
花さんら出演者がスタッフからの理不尽な要求に従い続けた背景には、フジ側と交わした「同意書兼誓約書」の存在がある。28項目ある誓約書の中には「演出指示に従うこと」をはじめ、「途中リタイアしないこと」「写真週刊誌などの雑誌に口外しないこと」「(制作側に)SNSのアカウント情報を開示すること」などという文面が並び、これらの誓約条項に違反し、放送・配信が中止になった場合は、出演者が放送回分の制作費を無条件に賠償すると記載されていた。
パワハラや名誉棄損問題に詳しい大城聡弁護士が指摘する。
「台本はなく、自由に共同生活を送っているかのように放送しているが、巨額の損害賠償の可能性をちらつかせた現代の“奴隷契約”とも言える誓約書兼同意書によって出演者個人の意思が制作側に制限される強い支配構造があったといえる。制作側による演出の態様によっては、憲法13条の自己決定権が奪われていたことになる。また、凶暴な悪役という虚像が本当の人格として視聴者に結びつけられ、SNSの炎上は生まれた。この点から放送によって人格権も侵害されていたともいえる。BPOではやらせがあったかどうかの放送倫理の問題だけでなく、人権侵害があったかどうかも審議されるべきです」
フジは7月3日の社長会見で、「無理強いはしていない」「感情表現をねじ曲げるような指示はしていない」「花さんと話し合った上で撮影や配信を行った」と主張。また、社内調査中だとし、検証結果は遺族感情を踏まえながら公表するとしている。
こうしたフジの説明に不信感を抱く響子さんは7月15日付でBPOの放送人権委員会に申し立てを行い、「週刊文春」の取材に次のように答えた。

「花や共演者、スタッフの証言から分かってきたのは、フジテレビさんが花を人間として扱ってはいなかったということ。フジ側はあたかも制作側と花が対等かのように説明していますが、これはイジメやパワハラの論理と同じです。2度と同じ悲劇が起きないようにするためにも、フジは花の死にきちんと向き合って欲しい」

English Translation

As outlined in the Weekly Bunshun magazine, Kyoko (43), the mother of Hana Kimura who took her own life at the age of 22, lodged a request with the Broadcast Ethics and Program Improvement authority on the 15th of July to examine whether human rights infringements had occurred in Fuji Television’s Terrace House broadcasts.

The cause of the suicide is the “Costume incident” that aired on the 31st of March on the 38th episode of the Netflix program. In the episode, Hana is seen to strike the hat off one of her housemates, leading Hana Kimura’s social media accounts to be flooded with abusive comments. Paying no heed to the desperate mental state that led to Kimura’s failed suicide attempt  on the day of the broadcast, Fuji Television released 3 videos on youtube on the 14th of May featuring unreleased footage continuing the “costume incident” theme and then put to air a larger program on the 23rd of May. Five days later, Kimura took her own life.

In coverage by the Shukan Bunshun magazine, Kyoko Kimura stated that production staff had instructed Hana to “go ahead and give him a slap”. This statement is backed up by numerous messages in the Line app on Hana’s phone. Further, the house mate Kai Kobayashi who had his hat struck off has made clear that he received an apology from Hana saying “I never wanted to hit your hat off. I was made to do it by production staff.” and that “fake” scenes had become the norm on the show.

Behind the unreasonable demands that Hana and other participants continuously bowed to was the Letter of Consent cum contract that they had entered into. In the 28 items of the contract were a parade of statements that included (the participant must) “obey performance instructions”, “must not give up during production”, “must not communicate with weekly photographic magazines”, and “must inform production staff of all social media account information”. In the event of contract violation and broadcast cancellations participants were required to make recompense of the production costs of broadcast episodes.

According to one lawyer well acquainted with matters of Power Harassment and defamation, Oshiro Satoru

While creating an appearance of housemates freely going about their lives unscripted, we can say there was a compelling structure of domination controlling participants by holding the possibility of a large scale compensation claim over them, amounting to a modern “contract of slavery”. The terms set out relating to performance from the production staff stole the participants right to self determination as set out in clause 13 of the Constitution. In being presented as a violent villain, Kimura’s true character was entwined with a false image in the eyes of the viewer, leading to a social media explosion. In this way, we can say that the broadcast was in violation of Kimura’s personal rights. The BPO should consider not just the ethical implications of whether or not there was false staging, but also whether there was a violation of human rights.

 

In a statement on the third of July, Fuji television’s president said “we have not used any compulsion”, “ We have made no instructions to make people change their emotional expression”, “we shot and broadcast in full consultation with Hana”. He further said that the company was conducting an internal investigation, and the results would, in consideration of the feelings of family members,  be released to the public.

Holding suspicions regarding the veracity of these explanations, Kyoko Kimura lodged a statement with the BPO Committee on Broadcast Human Rights on the 15th of July, and told the Shukan Bunshun,”What we have understood from the statements of Hana and her fellow performers is that Fuji Television did not treat Hana as a human being. The Fuji camp is trying to make it out as if the production team and Hana were on a level footing. This is the logic of bullying and power-based harassment. In order for this tragedy to never ever repeat, I want Fuji to properly face up to the death of Hana.

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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。

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

Japan’s Most Famous Anti-War Folk Song? Wataru Takada’s Jieitai Ni Hairo

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

War, Japanese folk music, Japanese anti-war songs

Text Type

Song Lyrics

First let me give you a short background to the song. 

In the late 1960s Western countries weren’t the only ones protesting. There was strong resistance to the Vietnam War in Japan also. A lot of American folk musicians travelled to Japan including Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte. Japan experienced its own golden age of American folk influenced music, with its own distinct flavour. Dylan’s music was huge, but he didn’t get to the country until 1978, when he played the famous budokan hall with a capacity of 10,000 people and sold it out for a record breaking (for foreign artists) eight nights.

One of the central native folk musicians was Wataru Takada. I first heard Wataru when I went to see him play live in Kyoto in 2004, shortly before his death in 2005. He left a big impression, not least by falling asleep half way through his set – which was not uncommon in his later years. Although he was only 56 when he passed away, he looked like a man who’s life had not left him much fuel in the tank.

 

Born in gifu, mother died at 8, father took him to Tokyo without a plan, they lived in a series of unstable situations, including charity housing. His father died by the time he was in middle school.

He was introduced to American folk music in the mid 60s  and was soon so devoted to the music that he had his English teacher write a letter to Pete Seeger saying he wanted to learn from him. A reply from Pete came a couple of months later giving him some word of general encouragement:

 

Dear Wataru Takada: 

 

Thank youfor your long letters ー I’m sorry that my answer must be so brief. 

 

1) You can learn most from me by my writings in Sing Out magazine, and other Oak Publicaitions ー song book, etc, and from my recordings. 

2) But you can learn more from you own neighbors and friends and from your own successes and failures in your activities. 

3) When you learn English, I would be glad to hear from you again.

4)  Meanwhile, learn to make such good music that people will ask to hear you again and again.

 

Best of luck

 

PS – I’m sorry that I cannot write in Japanese.



When Pete toured to Japan a year later, he gave the young Wataru Takada a front row ticket to his show.

In 1968 he took part in the Kansai Folk Camp in Kyoto, and he moved there the next year to be part of what had become the main folk movement in Japan. He became a central part of the scene along with figures such as Tomoya Takaishi and Nobuyasu Okabayashi. He later returned to Tokyo and again became a major force in the folk scene that would come to be known as Kichijyoji-ha Folk 吉祥寺派フォーク.

 

Origins of the song

 

The song 自衛隊に入ろう Jieitai Ni Hairo is based on a song written by Malvina Reynolds and Pete Seeger:

 

I want to go to Andorra, Andorra, Andorra,
I want to go to Andorra, it’s a place I adore,
They spent four dollars and ninety cents
On armaments and their defense,
Did you ever hear of such confidence?
Andorra, hip hurrah!

 

Here’s the song as sung by Pete Seeger.

Malvina Reynolds is probably most well known for this her song Little House. Check out this documentary about this amazing woman and songwriter here.

Wataru took the basic chord structure and melody and made a satirical song about joining the self defence force, using the force’s own sales slogans. It’s pretty clear that the song is sarcastic, but apparently he got called up not long after first performing the song by the Japanese self defence force to ask if they could use the song. Clearly, they hadn’t gotten the joke. Later the song was considered for official banning by the Japanese government. It was never officially banned, because they felt it would never be popular anyway, but the song has long been “unofficially” banned by official media for all intents and purposes.


Takada stopped performing the song not long into his career. He has said that performing songs about everyday experience is a more potent form of anti war protest. But the song continues to live on and has been adapted for modern protests such as the anti-nuclear protests in Japan where it the song became “Why don’t you join Tokyo Electricity”:

Lyrics

みなさん方の中に

自衛隊に入りたい人はいませんか

ひとはたあげたい人はいませんか

自衛隊じゃ 人材もとめてます

 

自衛隊に入ろう 入ろう 入ろう

自衛隊に入れば この世は天国

男の中の男はみんな

自衛隊に入って 花と散る

 

スポーツをやりたい人いたら

いつでも 自衛隊におこし下さい

槍でも鉄砲でも 何でもありますよ

とにかく 体が資本です

 

鉄砲や戦車や ひこうきに

興味をもっている方は

いつでも自衛隊におこし下さい

手とり 足とり おしえます

 

日本の平和を守るためにゃ

鉄砲やロケットがいりますよ

アメリカさんにも手伝ってもらい

悪い ソ連や中国をやっつけましょう

 

自衛隊じゃ 人材もとめてます

年令 学歴は問いません

祖国のためなら どこまでも

素直な人を求めます

Hello my friends, are there any there amongst you
Who want to join the army, who want to learn to shoot
If there’s any there amongst you who want to make a name
Well the army is recruiting, come and join today

Why don’t you join the army
The army’s where it’s at
For all of you men’s men
The army is your best bet
Why don’t you join the army
And fall with the blossom

If there’s any there amongst you, who want to be a sportsman
Just say yes sir, and I’ll say now you’re really talking
We’ve got the spears, and yes we’ve got the guns
But really it’s your body, that makes the best weapon

If there any there amongst you
Who take an interest in
Guns and tanks and aeroplanes
Well well, well then
The armys always right here waiting
From the top down to the bottom, well teach you everything

To keep the peace, protect the people of Japan
We need the guns and rockets, we need the boys, we need the men
Mr America he needs a helping hand
To get the baddies there in Russia and beat the China Man

The armys on the lookout
For new personal
Age and education
Can both go straight to hell
The only qualifications that you’re going to need
Are a will to fight for fatherland and an appetite for beans

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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。

Black Lives Matter In Japan – A Look At The Language

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

Black Lives Matter

Text Type

Social Media Posts

Black Lives Matter sparked some serious debate in Japanese media and social media. Here are some of the texts we found, both supportive of the movement and critical of the movement. 

Cocoalizzy

Cocoa Lizzy posted a series of insightful video entries on her Instagram. She highlighted several examples of her own experiences of racism in Japan as a black Japanese person in this post

Here is a translation of an excerpt:

 

私も日本にいるころはバイトをしていた時も黒人からものを買いたくないからあの子をやめさせてほしいと言われたこともあるし

When I was doing a casual job in Japan I had someone say “I don’t want to buy stuff from a black person, you should get rid of her”. 

黒人だからお客さん怖がらさせてしまうかもしれないから君はレストランで働けないかなって言われたこともあるし、

At a restaurant someone told me “I don’t think you could work here because you’re black and you may scare the customers”.

でもまだよかった方

But really that’s the least of it

こっちでは肌の色だけで殺されたり捕まっちゃったりとかする人もいて

Over here there are people who are killed or arrested 

もしかして日本人のみんなはこれがただの黒人と白人の戦いと思っているかもしれないだけど、

And Japanese people might just think that’s just some fight between black people and white people

違くてこのこういう人たちこういうブラックの人たちが世界的に弱い立場にいることをどう思いますか。

But, from a distance, what do you think about the fact that black people are in this position of weakness?

という。考えてくれていますか。Are you thinking about these things?

皆はこれが違うって沢山の人が立ち上がっているのね。

There are a lot of people who think things have to change that are standing up.

 

だからあなたが黒人か、白人か、日本人かとかは関係なくあなたはこの状況をどう思いますかっていうこと

So whether you are black, white, Japanese it doesn’t matter, it’s what you think about the situation.

でもし皆の好きな歌手が黒人で皆その人の歌を聞いていて

But if people have a singer that they like and listen to

今もその人が生まれてときから今までもずっと黒人として扱われていて

And that person had been treated as a black person from the moment they had been born

その人達がSOSを出しているとき皆はただ見てみぬフリをするのかそこで私達は一緒の人間だって、

And if that person was putting out an SOS signal, would you act like you had seen nothing or would you acknowledge that they have the same humanity as you.

肌の色で扱いが変わることはおかしいって立ち上がる人がもっともっといてくれていいじゃないか

Wouldn’t  it be great if there were many many more people that stood up to the idea of changing the way you treat people according to the color of their skin?

 

Twittersphere

Across twitter there were a lot of comments. We don’t want to give too much air to people espousing more or less racist views, but it is important to acknowledge the debate that is happening. Here is a selection of some of the posts we saw:

 

Tweet:

日本人は黒人を差別したことはありません。

Japanese people have never been racist towards black people.

 

日本で黒人が殺されたことあるの?

日本で黒人って理由で入店拒否されたことあるの?差別してないよね!

Has there ever been a black person murdered in Japan?

Has there ever been a black person that has beef refused entry to a shop? Really, we don’t racially vilify do we?

 

Melissa Luna:

私たちが受けてきた差別は全部デタラメだったんですね?

いかに自己中心的で盲目なのかが伝わります。これがマジョリティの特権。

So all the racism we have experienced is just a load of rubbish right?

It is clear just how self centered and non-seeing the people writing these comments are. This is the privilege of the majority.

 

Tweet:

日本人がコロナ対策のために『三密』を避けて頑張ってるのに、日本人の命はどうでもいいのでしょうか?

Japanese people are doing everything they can to go social distance and fight the coronavirus. But I guess Japanse lives aren’t worth anything right?

 

宇多田ヒカル Tweet

 

日本で生まれ育った日本人からすると人種差別っていまいちピンと来ないかもしれないけど、今アメリカで起きていることは未来の世界史に載るような歴史的な局面かもしれない…というかそうであってほしい

To people who are born and raised in Japan, racism may seem like they have no connection to. What is happening in America may be a historic moment in the future…it least that’s how I hope this may be.

 

Tweet

ここは日本。

『日本人の命は大切だ!』

明日は土砂降りになりますようにUmbrella with rain drops

This is Japan. Japanese lives matter!

I hope the rain buckets down on you tomorrow.

 

Tweet

都合良く問題を一般化しないでください。ドイツが難民受け入れを「世界の課題」にしてるのと似ている。

Don’t generalise the problem according to your own agenda. This is like how Germany called the need to accommodate refugees a “world problem”.

 

Tweet

ここ数日で黒人に対する見方が本当に変わったわ。黒人とは関わらないようにしよう。

In these past few days my opinion of black people has really changed. I’m going to do my best to not associate with black people.

 

私は、日本で生まれ育った日本人ですが、日本に人種差別がない、なんて小学生の頃から思っていませんでした。近くに在日コリアンの方々がいたし、朝鮮学校もあったし。彼等もずっと差別の中にいると思う。その環境を作ったのは私達日本人。差別は許されない。

I was born and raised in Japan and I’ve never thought for a moment from elementary school onwards that Japan is a country without racism. Around me there were members of the Korean diaspora, and a Korean school. I believe these people have been the subject of ongoing racism. It is us Japanese that have created that environment. There is no place for racism.

 

https://news.yahoo.co.jp/byline/daisukekawasaki/20200607-00182173/

Blogs

 

川崎大助 | 作家 Yahoo

 

この問題は、対岸の火事ではないのだ。遠く離れた大陸での出来事かもしれないが、しかし「日本人だから」という理由で無視していい問題ではない。「日本人も人類の一員」ならば、無視はできない。

This problem isn’t “a fire on the far coast”. This may be something that is happening on a far away continent, but “I’m Japanese” isn’t an excuse to ignore the problem. If Japanese people are just one people within a larger human race, then there is no excuse to turn a blind eye.

 

Ruru Ruriko ピンク 55 Telling Asahi 55

今まで差別について考えたことがなかったり、経験がない人は差別をされる人の気持ちを想像するのは難しいでしょう。そして、日本人が黒人の気持ちや経験を理解することは不可能です。しかし、わからない、知らないでは、このまま一生状況は変わりません。

疑わずに、まず当事者の言葉に耳を傾けてください。

For people who have never had occasion to think about racism, or have never been racially vilified, it is probably difficult to imagine what it must be like to be the subject of racism. But if we keep saying “I don’t understand” or “this is not something I know about” the situation will never change. 

When in doubt, start by lending your ears to those directly affected.

 

Cocoa Lizzy (Part 2)

We’ll end this look at the language around BLM in Japan with 2nd entry by Cocoa Lizzy

白人の特権とみんなの特権 #BLACLIVESMATTER Understanding own privilege

 

さて今日はホワイトwhite privilege (白人の優遇)と私達それぞれのprivilageについて話していきます!最近ドールテストの動画をストーリーに上げたりして、みんなも興味を持ってくれました。沢山の人はまだ肌の色だけで、”怖い” ”強そう” ”危なそう”などのステレオタイプ(思い込み、先入観)があると思います。でもそのステレオタイプを政府や世間、警察に持たれた黒人はアメリカでどのような扱いをされているか考えたことはありますか?黒人である私達は、肌の色のせいだけで、政府から悪いイメージをずっと持たれ、今も普通の生活をしたいだけでも他の人種の人と比べられて公平な支援やサポートをしてもらえません。

Today I would like to go ahead and talk about White privilege, and all of our own privilege. Recently I added a Doll Test video to my story, and people were kind enough to show some interest. I believe there are a lot of people who see black skin and, through stereotyping, think “they look scary” or “ they look strong” or “they look dangerous”. But have you ever thought about how black people in America are treated by a government, a society or a police force that hold this stereotype. For a black person such as myself this means I am looked down on by the government just for the color of my skin. Even now, all I want to do is lead a normal life, but I am compared to people from other ethnic backgrounds and am not offered the same backing or support.

 

逆に私はアジア人だけど、黒人だからイエローとかコロナって呼ばれない。それは私の特権の1つ。1人ずつそれぞれ人種のことから、家族構成、生活において特権や社会的地位は変わってきてしまう。それを当たり前に思い、その特権を持っていない人に対して攻撃する人、政府がまだ世界には沢山あります。自分も気づかずにしているかもしれません。

 

Conversely, I am Asian, but I am black so people don’t call me “yellow” or say “Corona” to me. That is one of the ways that I am privileged. Each person, has their own ethnic background, family make up, way of living that, that can’t help but come to influence their social status. There are still many people, and governments, in the world that believe that this is only natural and are willing to attack others as a result. I may even be guilty of doing the same thing without even being aware of it.

 

人間はすべての人達が同じ権利を人間として持つはずなら、性別、出身地、外見、家族の事だけで下に見られたり、チャンスが無かったり、比べられることは無いはずなのに。私達が自分の特権で今この不公平な世界を作っていて、自分の特権を見つめる事で悲しむ人に寄り添って力になる事ができると思います!

 

If humans are supposed to all have the same human rights, then there shouldn’t be such a thing as drawing comparisons or losing opportunity according to gender,  place of birth, appearance or family background. All of us create this unequal world out of our own place of privilege. But I believe that through gazing into our own privilege, we are able to draw closer to those experiencing hardship and become a force for good.

 

Some Japanese words around racism:

有色人種 ゆうしょくじんしゅ People of Color

人種差別主義者 じんしゅさべつしゅぎしゃ Racist person

黄色人種 おうしょくじんしゅ asian “yellow” race

特権 とっけん privilege

優遇 ゆうぐう privilege

対岸の火事 たいがんのかじ Fire on the far coast

 

See also this videothat aired on NHK during this period that was widely criticised, and later withdrawn, because of it charicaturing of African Americans:

https://youtu.be/WqmII4DuJO0

Which has been abley translated by Japanse For Morons here:

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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。

Samurai or CEO

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

CEO quotes, Samurai Quotes

Text Type

Quotes

Who said which quote?! Samurai or CEO?! 誰がどの名言を言ったか?!!侍か社長 ?!

 

We’ve translated quotes of famous CEOs and Samurai leaders from hundreds of years ago and mixed them up. Can you tell which said which?

Spoken in English and Japanese.

 

社長と昔の侍の名言を訳して混ぜました。どっちがどっちを言ったか分かりますか。

日本語と英語で話します。

Samurai or CEO?

Answers

Graded Japanese Reading Practice
peterjosephhead@gmail.com

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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。

What does it mean to be “Ugly” In Japan

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

Beauty, depression, cosmetic surgery.

Text Type

Social Media Posts (Twitter & Youtube)

What does it mean to be “busu” 「ブス」or “minikui” in Japan?

In a world that worships at the altar of kawaii 「可愛い」, at saucer sized eyes and at double skinned eyelids. What is it like to feel like you don’t live up? And how can you live a life so that it doesn’t overwhelm you.

Twitter writer and Youtuber “Todoron” painfully, graphically and courageously lays bear her experiences of this situation for all to see on Twitter, and later Youtube. Her first tweet was a single Hiragana character. Her third tweet got 150,000 likes and 30,000 retweets. 

She seems to having something that resonates with contemporary online Japanese society. She mixes simple-truth observations of the state of the world, and her own inner state. Topics she tackles include her history of cosmetic surgery, concepts of beauty and mental health.

Today I want to have a look at the language she uses around the issues.

 

A translation of Todoron's first tweets

Through repeated rounds of cosmetic surgery, you can turn yourself into something that you believe to be beautiful. But turning yourself into something the world believes is beautiful remains impossible to do forever. Beauty is talent. It all depends on whether you are able to bring this beauty out, or you choose to deny it. Even people who show the world that they have achieved beauty through effort are only keeping an appointment with their own natural born talent.

Feelings that only ugly people can understand

・ The fear of the group photo

・ The fear of catching your own image reflecting back at you from panes of glass throughout the city

・ The fear that Snow will not be enough to make you beautiful

・ The feeling of guilt at being attracted to a hot guy

・ The philosophical regret of “Why did I have to be born as myself when I could have just as easily been born as someone like Nozomi Sasaki”

 

I love girly things like frills and lace. It makes me sad that I am so scared of people denying the femininity of the “me covered in those things” that I act like I don’t even like them in the first place.

People always seem to think that people who go public with their cosmetic surgery say to themselves “Cosmetic surgery is making an effort! Please acknowledge how much work I’ve put in! Tell me I’m beautiful” out of some kind of need for acknowledgment of self or urgent need for recognition. But really, I think that the vast majority of people are actually saying to themselves “If I try and hide the fact I’ve had some work done, people will still talk, so I may as well just be open about it. People can choose not to accept what I’ve done if they like, no one is forcing them to stick around if they don’t want to”.

A translation of Todoron's first Youtube clip

こんな醜い感情で生きていてもいいですか

Is it good enough to live life with these kind of ugly feelings?

はじめましてとどろんと申します。初投稿です。

Pleased to meet you, I’m dodoron this is my first video.

本日は東京新潟間を背景に整形経験者である私の話をして行こうと思います。

Today, with the scenery between Tokyo and Niigata as my background, I’m going to talk about myself and my experiences as someone who has had cosmetic surgery.

整形経験者

Person who has had cosmetic surgery  

東京駅から発射します。楽しみです。

Launching out from Tokyo. This is going to be fun.

自分語りになりますがこうして外に出られるようになったのは整形してからです。

I fear I will be talking all about myself, but going out like this is only something I have been able to do since having surgery.

ブスは外に出るのも許されない。

Ugly people aren’t allowed in public.

日々顔を非難される経験を積めばそういう思考になります。

If you have experience of having your face criticized on a daily basis over a long period of time, that’s how you come to think.

恐怖。

Fear.

評価。

Criticism.

新潟に出発です。電車や新幹線の音っていいですね。

Leaving Niigata. Don’t you love the sound of the train and the shinkansen?

ガラスがなければ自分の顔を見なくていいし最高なのになあ。

If only there was no glass here to reflect my face everything would be perfect.

朝食を食べ損ねた弁当を買いました。

I missed breakfast, so I’ve bought a bento.

余談ですが美人て財布を出すふりが上手いですよね。

To digress a moment, beautiful people are great at making like they are pulling out their wallet aren’t they?

やっぱりおごられなれているのでしょうか。

I suppose it’s because they are so used to having others pay the bill.

ていうか今気がついたけど服のシワやばいですね。

Never mind that, I’ve just realised the wrinkles in my shirt are next level.

こういうところがブスなんですよね。ごめんなさい。

I guess this is one of the hallmarks of being ugly. I apologize.

美人は服がシワシワでもだらしない美人なのにブスは「そんなんだからブスなんだよ」と言われるの理不尽だよね。

If a beautiful person wears wrinkled clothes they are just a beautiful person in wrinkled clothes. But if an ugly person wears wrinkled clothing, people say “that’s the reason you’re so unattractive”. It makes no sense.

いただきます。おいしそう。

Bon appetite. Looks good.

さて再出発です。雪だー!綺麗!

And, we’re off again. Look at the snow. It’s beautiful!

整形前はきれいなものを見ても素直に口に出せませんでした。

Before having cosmetic surgery, I was unable to speak freely about beautiful things.

ブスがはしゃいでると思われるのが恥ずかしかったからです。

I felt that people would just think that I was an ugly person shooting her mouth off.

ブスって捻くれてる人が多いと思うんですがそういった複雑な感情も影響していると思います。

Ugly people are often a little twisted I think that it must be the result of experiencing such complex emotions.

よし帰りましょ。

Well, time to head for home.

新潟でも撮ろうと思ったのですが無理だったのでお土産を紹介します。

I wasn’t able to shoot in Niigata, as I’d hoped, so I’ll just show you my souvenirs.

のどぐろ茶漬け

Nodo Guro cyatuke

 

嫉妬

Jealousy

 

これは自分用。夜食に食べたら死ぬほど美味しい絶対

This is for me. This would be the bomb to have as a late night snack.

 

可愛い女の子がおっさん臭いもの好きをアピールするのがウザいと思うのは私だけでしょうか。ギャップがいいとか言うけどだいたいだれでも好きだわ。

Am I the only one that gets annoyed at beautiful people trying to make a big thing out of how they love eating the sort of snacks a middle aged man might like. People say “it’s such a lovely contrast”, but let’s face it, who doesn’t like that stuff?

そしてこちらは家族へのお土産

I got these for my family

笹団子です

Bamboo shoot balls

 

ブスだけど見た目可愛いものは好き

I may be ugly, but I like cute stuff.

 

そしてジャスミンティー

And, jazmine tea

 

なんか凹んでるんだけど

Looks a bit dinted but

パンを食べる、うめぇ

Time for a pastry. Man, that’s good.

おいしいという感覚は美醜に関わらず平等に与えられた最高の快楽ですね。

Deliciousness is the greatest sense that people of beauty or ugliness have received equally.

ごちそうさまでした。

That was good.

帰りは雨で景色がよく見えませんでした。

I couldn’t see the scenery on the way back because of the rain.

今日の動画はここで終わりです。初投稿いかがでしたか。

I’ll finish up my video here. How did you like my first post?

ぜひご意見ありましたらコメント欄までお願いいたします。

If you have any thoughts please let me know in the comments.

では、ありがとうございました。

Thank you very much.

さようなら

Goodbye.

 
Graded Japanese Reading Practice
peterjosephhead@gmail.com

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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。

What are the words that killed Hana Kimura?

What happened to Hana Kimura?

Words are knives. On the 23rd of May 2020 we saw that in the tragic death of Hana Kimura, Wrestler and star of reality TV show Terrace House.

So what were the linguistic weapons that killed her? And what are the words that tried to come to her rescue? And how can we dodge the knives when they are thrown at us? Today I would like to tackle these questions by translating and analysing some of the comments made on Japanese social networks before and after her death.

I’ve divided these comments into the supporters of Hana, and the haters of Hana. And her own voice.

I want to start with the famous soccer player Keisuke Honda. He released a long audio commentary on the incident where he shared his own approach to dealing with online bullying. I will come back to the details of exactly what he does at the end, and hopefully that will help anyone that is listening if they ever have to deal with online abuse. First of all let’s look at one of his twitter comments.

 

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

Hana Kimura, Suicide, Online bulllying

Text Type

Social Media Posts

Supporter

Honda Keisuke

Famouse Japanese soccer player.

弱い人を狙うな。
Don’t target the weak people.
誹謗中傷はやるなって言ってもなくならないし、なのでやってもいいからちゃんと強い人を狙うこと。
Even if I say “quit hating online”, online bullying won’t go away. So I’ll just say, go ahead and bully, but target the strong.

「結論」
俺んところに来い。そして末長く誹謗中傷のプラットフォームとして使用してください。

Conclusion
Bring your bullying my way, and you can use your platform to troll me to your heart’s content.

Hater

テラスハウス史上、いやテレビ史上1番気色悪いです。
You are the most disgusting thing that has ever appeared on Terrace House, no, on Television.
ほんとにお願いだから目立たないでください。
Please just do us a favour and pull your head in.
プロレスもだれも応援してません。
No one is barracking for you, even as a pro-wrestler.

Supporter

長与 千種 Chigusa Nagayo
Wrestler
心がザワザワして苦しい。
My heart is heaving in pain. 
ありえん ありえん ありえん ありえんぞ、許せない 言葉は時に鋭利過ぎるナイフになって人の心の奥深くを 無残に切り裂き荒らす。
It’s impossible, impossible, impossible. It’s unforgivable. Sometimes words are over-sharp knives that cut cruelly, deep inside a person and sever the heart in two.

観たままの姿は基本キャラクターとしての偽りの姿。

If you only saw the face she (Hana) presented, you were seeing a fictitious character. 
本当の姿を出さずに生きる彼女はプロとして。
She lived without showing her true self, she was a professional.
長与千種の知る本来の持つ顔は清純なのに
The Hana that Chigusa Nagayo knew was a pure soul. 

Hater

テラハ見ていて初めて気持ちが悪くなりました。
For the first time, watching Terrace House made me sick.

テラハ大好きだったのに花さんのせいで嫌いになりました。早く卒業してください。大嫌いです。
I loved Terrace House until Hana came on. Please leave the show soon. I hate you.

お前が早くいなくなればみんな幸せなのにな。まじで早く消えてくれよ。
If you were gone, everyone would be so happy. I’m serious, just disappear.

Supporter

岡田結実さん

「人の言葉って刃物だっていうのが、人が亡くなってからわかるっていうのがすごく悔しいですし、そんなことあっちゃいけない」

「芸能人だから、顔を合わせない人だからっていって叩いてくる人多いじゃないですか

Celebrity and actress Yui Okada

The fact that people don’t realise that words are knives is just tragic. This sort of thing just shouldn’t happen.

Because someone is famous, and you don’t ever have to come face to face with them, a lot of people just think it’s okay to take pot shots.

Supporter

Hater

テラハに出なければ今頃底辺プロレスで地味にしかし平和に過ごせてたものの、
If you hadn’t gone on Terrace House, about now you would be a low-grade wrestler living a regular, yet peaceful, life.
あなたの性格ゆえに完全に人間として終わりましたね。
But because of your personality, you basically have lost all value as a human being. 
これで彼氏欲しいとか、DV絶対するからやめてください。
Because of that, don’t say things like “I want a boyfriend”. I’m sure you would be prone to domestic violence, so just don’t.
それともそういう家庭で育ったのかもですね。育ちは怖いですね。
I guess maybe you were raised in a household like that. How you are raised is a scary thing.

Supporter

メンタリストDaiGo @Mentalist_DaiGo

テラスハウスの木村花さんの訃報fuho見てやはり思うけど、芸能事務所とかは、ネットの誹謗中傷に対して、【情報開示請求】ちゃんとやって訴訟soshoしたらいいと思う。
On hearing of Terrace House Hana Kimura’s death, it made me think, yet again, that entertainment agencies need to step up, lodge information disclosure requests and sue.

アンチに容赦yoshaなど不要。損害賠償だけでなく、勤務先の会社にも内容 証明送りつけて【社会的に抹殺masatsu】すべき。
Haters need no leniency. And it shouldn’t stop at compensation for damages. People need to have their places of work sent evidence of what has transpired, these sort of actions need to be obliterated from society.

Hater

In response to Hana’s cat photo post

猫にも暴力ふるってんのー
Are you even being violent towards cats?

Supporter

Smiley Kikuchi – Commentator

ネットの誹謗中傷の書き込みをされて傷ついている人に「たかがその程度で」と考える人もいます。
There are people that think that being abused online is “no big thing”.
程度のレベルを決めるのは、やった側ではなく、やられた側が決めます。
But what is and is not a big thing isn’t decided by perpetrators, but by those that are perpetrated against.
悪戯とか死ぬとは思わなかったでは済まされない。
Saying that pranking around is not deadly does not cut it. 
書き込んだ者は言葉の凶器で命を奪った指殺人の犯人です。もうやめてください。
The people that have used their words as weapons are criminal “armchair murderers” who have stolen a life. Please just stop

Supporter

Kazuya – Youtuber & Commentator

ネットの誹謗中傷の書き込みをされて傷ついている人に「たかがその程度で」と考える人もいます。
There are people that think that being abused online is “no big thing”.
程度のレベルを決めるのは、やった側ではなく、やられた側が決めます。
But what is and is not a big thing isn’t decided by perpetrators, but by those that are perpetrated against.
悪戯とか死ぬとは思わなかったでは済まされない。
Saying that pranking around is not deadly does not cut it. 
書き込んだ者は言葉の凶器で命を奪った指殺人の犯人です。もうやめてください。
The people that have used their words as weapons are criminal “armchair murderers” who have stolen a life. Please just stop

Supporter

Katsube Genki – Social Commentator

@KTB_genki
木村花さんの死去shikyoを受けて、著名人がSNS上の誹謗中傷をどうにかして欲しいという声を上げているけれど、
Since Hana Kimura’s death famous people have been calling for something to be done about online bullying.
誹謗中傷を続けたい人たちが、早速彼等彼女等に誹謗中傷をしている。
That has led to the bullies in turn quickly abusing the people that are calling out the abuse. 
そうやって他の著名人が続かないようにしている。本当にクズだと思う。
That is how the bullies try to bring down the celebrities. They really are no better than garbage.

Hana's own comments

毎日100件近く率直な意見。 
Everyday, nearly 100 frank opinions.
傷付いたのは否定できなかったから。
The reason they cut me up is that I was unable to deny what they were saying. 
死ね、気持ち悪い、消えろ、今まで ずっと私が1番私に思ってました。
“Drop dead”, “you make sick”, “disappear”. These are all words I have told myself, more than anyone else. 
お母さん産んでくれてありがとう。
Mother, thanks for bringing me into this world.
愛されたかった人生でした。
In my life, all I wanted was to feel loved.
側で支えてくれたみんなありがとう。
Thanks to everyone who has been in my corner.

大好きです。 弱い私でごめんなさい
I love you. Sorry for being weak little me.

 

愛してる、楽しく長生きしてネ。ごめんね。

I love you. Have fun, and live long. I’m sorry.

Honda Keisuke's comments

Renowned soccer player Keisuke Honda released an auditory commentary on his Nowvoice platform, where he talked about approaches to online bullying and his own approach to dealing with haters. He has some interesting ideas that are hopefully useful to many people.

 

言葉の暴力ってというのは実際の暴力よりもはるかに時によっては、ダメージを受けるというのは間違いではないと思います。
The violence of language can cause more damage than real violence.
僕自身も誹謗中傷されて、全く平気かといったらそうではないし、それは気にはします。気にしないといったらウソになる。
I, myself, have been the subject of online abuse. To say that it doesn’t phase me would be a lie.
僕の場合は慣れてきたというか逆にそういった誹謗中傷がエネルギー元になってきたというのもあって。
But in my case, I guess you could say I’m used to it. It’s even gotten to the point where you could say that online abuse has become a source of energy for me.
僕は本当なにかおかしいこと言っているとかもしれないですけど誹謗中傷の人いなくなったらそれはそれですばらしい世界でなくなったらいいとん思っているんですよ。なくなるべきだとおもっているしなくなったらいいとおもっているんですけど
I might be saying something strange here, and I really do think the world would be a better place without the bullies, and I do think that bullying shouldn’t happen,
本当にそういった人たちもいるから反骨精神じゃないけどモチベーションになれているといのもあるんですよ。。。そういった意味では感謝している。
but I feel like those people have actually become a kind of motivation for me. Maybe it’s some kind of “rebellious spirit” kind of thing…but, in that way, I’m thankful to them.

He goes on to talk about how the bullies may have been raised in difficult circumstances themselves, and be projecting their own pain. He tries to identify or humanise them.
He talks about how he has received death threats and all sorts of abuse, but is still alive and well. He goes as far as saying he wants to accept their abuse as a way of helping them heal.
He says he was blessed with a supporting upbringing, but not everyone is like that. As a result
He says people are fundamentally drawn to being mean to each other, and that realistically there is no way to eradicate this human trait.
His answer, then, for himself, is to accept the hatred, and use it like garbage that you turn into rocket fuel. Burn it up, harness its energy. I think that is a really important message for anyone that anyone who is a creator, wants to take part in the arena of ideas, who wants to change the world in any way, or anyone that just has a voice.

Graded Japanese Reading Practice
peterjosephhead@gmail.com

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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。

Learn Japanese Through Death Poems Part 3

Japanese Reading Difficulty

9/12 Could be read by 5th grade level student in Japan

Themes

Poetry, Death, Mortality, nature.

Text Type

Poem, Haiku

About Japanese Death Poems

Today we’re taking our third look at Japanese death poems. Now like the name suggests these are poems that people in Japan have written through the ages just before they die, or on their deathbed, and they’re fascinating little windows into a whole different world across time and space -windows on people reflecting on their lives in their final moments.
These poems have been around since around the 7th century.
I first came across these through this book Japanese death poems by Yoel Hoffman. It’s a fantastic little compendium of these poems and translations. So I thought I’d go through and introduce some of these but also give my own take. I’ll do some of my own translations, because there’s often quite a few different ways that these things can be done.

Death Poem byHiroshi Kuroshiki

A translation of an Instagram post from the artist

香波

Ko-Ha

Died 14 August 1897

Following on from the misty moons, and writers who are dreaming in our previous look at Japanese Death Poems, we have a death poem by Koha 香波. Once again we have somebody with a pretty groovy name. I wish we could all have names as good as these guys. Ko 香 means a “fragrance” or a “smell” and 波 ha means “wave”. So Koha is a fragrant wave. You often hear references to fragrances, and the idea of lotuses and flowers in Buddhist thought. Indeed, if you go to a temple, you often see they put out incense burning to create an otherworldly feeling. Koha died in 1897, so we’re going relatively modern here! His poem goes:

筆投げて

 

月に物言う

 

ばかりなり

 

Fude nagete

 

Tsuki ni mono iu 

 

Bakari nari

 

Now, I hurl my pen

From here on

I talk with the moon.

 
 

Explanation of the poem

筆投げて

I feel like this one has a little bit of that attitude to it. Koha is talking about throwing his pen, or his brush. A bold statement for a writer. I imagine people at this time would have been writing with brushes more than ballpoint pens. So we can take 筆, fude, to mean pen. 

 

月に物言う 

Once again in our Japanese Death Poems we have the 月 つき moon coming in. As most people that have had some experience of Japanese culture will know, we find a lot of reverence for the moon, and doing moon viewing and that sort of thing. 物 means thing and 言う means say, so I’m going to say things to the moon.

ばかりなり

ばかり is “only”, so Koha is saying “all” I’m going to do is speak to the moon. Then again, as many other poems, we’ve got なり nari, which is one more of our 切れ字 kireji, which is there to give an emphasis. People probably know the word なり nari as meaning “to become”, or it’s often a way of saying “is”. I was confused by the word in the past, for example when a waiter would bring an order and say something like “ビールになります”, which sounds strange if you say “this is becoming a beer”. It actually just means “here is a beer”, so it’s just saying this is something. So this “nari” is different to “kana”, which is offering a sense of wonder. Nari is a bit more solid, and saying ばかりなり is really saying “that’s all all I’m doing”, from here here on all I do is talk to the moon.

So let’s just refer back to Hoffman translation which is:

I cast the brush aside –

From her on I’ll speak to the moon

face to face.

An English Parallel

All of this made me think of the Bob Dylan song Tombstone Blues, which isn’t talking about deaths, but it’s still talking about that sense of a writer or somebody that’s involved in the sciences, or the worldly ways reaching the edge of where that can take you. Reaching the end of logical thought and just wanting to “throw it”. It’s that sense of wanting to just throw your tools across the room because they can’t help you anymore. 

Bob Dylan writes in Tombstone Blues, 

The geometry of innocence, flesh on the bone

Causes Galileo’s math book to get thrown

At Delilah who’s sitting worthlessly alone

But the tears on her cheeks are from laughter”

 

Sometimes sentiment can be similar across centuries and continents, people and place. 

Japanese poetry books

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

Hana Kimura, Her Mother’s Petition and The Rigging of Terrace House

we translate an article from the Shukan Bunshun that outlines how Hana Kimura’s mother, Kyoko Kimura, is petitioning Japan’s broadcasting watchdog to examine how the show Terrace House was set up in a way that ultimately led to Hana’s demise.

Along with the text, we read the article in Japanese, then in English, then sentence by sentence in both languages.

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。

  • 1
  • 2
Close Menu
e7319a946f928d455f2a4c9abc7c687c
×
×

Cart