Kimetsu No Yaiba meaning – The full story behind Demon Slayer’s Japanese Name

Kimetsu No Yaiba meaning - The full story behind Demon Slayer’s Japanese Name 鬼滅の刃

What does the Japanese name of the cult Japanese anime Dragon Slayer, Kimetsu no Yaiba kimetsu 鬼滅の刃 mean?

Simply translated, Kimetsu no Yaiba means “Demon Killing Blade”. “鬼 ki” means “demon”, “滅 metsu” means destroy, “の no” means “of” and “刃 yaiba” means “blade”. So to do an extreme literal translation it would be “Demon Destroying, the Blade Of”. 

That doesn’t have much of a ring to it, so the translators wisely opted for something a little more catchy for Kyoharu Gotoge’s homage to zombie-like undead extermination, “Demon Slayer”.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Demon Slayer Opening Theme 鬼滅の刃主題歌 Gurenge 紅蓮華 with lyrics in english translation then look here.

Approx Japanese level

Themes

Are 鬼滅の刃 Kimetsu no yaiba and “Demon Slayer” the same meaning?

At first glance, “Demon Slayer”, makes us think of a person that kills demons. But given the Japanese original meaning of Kimetsu No Yaiba, it is likely that Demon Slayer refers to the blade itself. It is totally natural for “Demon Slayer” to refer as much to an object as a person in English. Think other swords with names, such as “Excalibur” or “Kusanagi No Tsurugi”.

So, if you look at the name this way, it is actually a fairly close translation of the original. 


The series seems well named, given the centrality in the story of swords such as the “日輪刀” Nichirintou、or Blade of the Sun, to the plot. It is the only device capable of truly destroying the “demons”.

Breaking down the words and characters in Kimetsu No Yaiba

刃 Yaiba

The term “Yaiba” is a fairly rare, somewhat archaic sounding, word for blade or sword. It was one of a long list of words that can be used to describe a sword in Japanese. A partial list of words you could choose from to either refer to a sword in more or less generic/specific variations include:

 

剣 Ken

剣 Tsurugi

刀 Tou

刀 Katana

太刀 Tachi

日本刀 Nihonken

刀剣 Token

刃 Yaiba, Jin, Ha

 

And that’s only carving out a small chunk of the options that could be expanded by including more specific words such as:

 

脇差 Wakizashi for a sword you keep close to your “waki”, underarm area, or a 直刀 chokuto, meaning a straight sword.

It is not too long a bow to draw to say that Japanese have a bit of a thing for sharp weapons. 

That being said, the English speaking world also puts up a good fight with words like sword, sabre, cutlass, scimitar, rapier, dagger, hanger, claymore, backsword, broadsword, greatsword.

Maybe it is more accurate to say that humans are a cut above when it comes to knife-talk.

 

Etymology of “Yaiba”

The Yaiba, in Kimetsu no Yaiba, is also interesting in that it is the result of a phonetic change in a composite word 焼き刃 Yakiba. Yaki means, to fire something, such as in a kiln or forge. It can be seen in words like 焼き物 Yakimono for pottery, or more common food words that many non-Japanese people would be familiar with such as 焼き鳥 “Yakitori” for coal roasted chicken skewers or at the end of words like お好み焼き “Okonomiyaki” – which basically means “Fried Whatever-You-Want” (the Japanese equivalent of Bubble & Squeak). 

The 刃 “Ba” part means “blade”, and is pronounced “ha”  whenever not attached to another word. Interestingly, the other thing that is called a 歯 “Ha” are these, our teeth. So the language reminds us either that our teeth are really little slicing blades, or that our swords are extensions of our ability to cut people up with our teeth. 

So Yakiba could be literally translated as a “smelted blade” or “fired blade”. Over time, we can only assume that badass Samurai through the ages just didn’t have time to deal with all those consonants when dealing out hot feudal justice and cut “smelting blade” “Yakiba” to the somewhat sharper “Yaiba”.

The Chinese characters that are used to express the word Yaiba, or “Ha” or “Jin” as it can also be read, shows us connections in the language by being literally just one little dot stroke on one of the other words for sword 刀 katana. I like to think of it as being like a little drop of blood, but maybe that’s just me.

“Yaiba” can be used in a more specific sense to mean the pointed end of the sword, or meaning blade, or more generically as “sword”. As with most of the words for sword in Japanese, there is a lot more fluidity in their range of meanings than our “sword”.

nezuko cosplay

“鬼滅 Kimetsu” Meaning

If you look “Kimetsu” up in most Japanese dictionaries, you won’t find anything. The word is a  creation of the title’s author made by combining the characters for 鬼 “Oni”, roughly translated as “Demon”, and 滅びる “Horobiru” meaning to destroy or “overthrow” in its transitive form or to “die out” or “be extinguished” in it’s intransitive form. Of course, all Chinese characters used in Japanese have their 訓読み Kunyomi readings derived from Japanese, and their totally different 音読み Onyomi readings derived from Chinese, so Oni can also be read as “Ki”, and “Horobiru” as “metsu”. Hence, “Kimetsu” becomes a newly cut coinage destroying demons. Or “slaying”, if you prefer.

It is said that William Shakespeare made up somewhere in the vicinity of 1700 words. One of the cool things about Japanese is that the language makes this process of word creation easy by making it possible to kind of throw together any two characters that people will already know the meaning of to and have them get the gist of what the new word must be. I guess these are the equivalent of nualism portmanteaus in English such as “workcation”, “listicle” or “romcom”.

 Anyway, I hope that gives you a bit more of a deeper sense of what Kimetsu no Yaiba actually means. I actually first heard of the phrase, and the anime and manga, in 2020 when it appeared on the list of the 30 most popular words in Japanese for that year. You can listen to the original discussion I had with fellow Youtuber Moshi Moshi Yusuke at the time.

You may also be interested in our Demon Slayer Costumes and Cosplay page here or my Japanese language learning resource list here.

Follow Japanoscope on Socials For Latest Content!

Moshi Moshi Yusuke Conversation Transcript

The next one is 鬼滅の刃

 

ですね。

 

刃、はい。鬼滅の刃 これはアニメですね。

 

見ましたか。

 

ええと見ていないです。今映画館でやってるみたい

なんでそろそろ観に行こうかなとは思ってます。

 

映画館でやってるんですか。

 

映画館でもやってるしテレビもやっていないですか。

 

テレビもやってますよね。

 

英語では何て言うんですか。

 

Demon Slayerでした。

 

昨日ちょっと

 

これだけは、ちょっと見ました。 1 話2 話ぐらい見ました。

結構面白そうと思いました。

 

そうですね。

これはすごく人気があって。

 

これからもたぶん人気続くんじゃないかなと思いますね。

 

これは人気があるのは映画にもなって映画館でもやってるんで。

 

特に今これが話題になってるんで流行語に入ったんだと思います。

 

昨日ちょっと見てみて

 

映像がものすごくきれいと思いました。

アニメとしてのアニメーションはすごいなと思いました。

 

おそらく進撃の巨人よりも絵がきれいだと思いますね。

 

そうかもしれないですね。

 

この言葉自体なんですけどはいこの

 

刃って初めて聞いたんですけど刀のことですね。

 

そういうことですね。刃は刀のことです。

 

刃を聞いて改めて思ったんですけど日本では刀を表す単語多いですね。

 

そうですねやっぱり刀を使っていた時代が長いですから多いですよね。

 

剣とか刀とか

 

そうそう。

 

特に刃っていうのは

 

刀があったら刃の部分を言う場合が多いですね。

 

鼻部分を言う場合が多い、刃だったら

 

刃というのは鼻部分言うことが多い。

 

刀というと持つところがあって刀を入れるケース鞘と言うんですけどそれを

 

全部含めて刀なんですけど刃というと鼻部分だけを言う場合が多いですね。

 

尖っている先っぽ

 

そう、切れるところ特にそういうふうに言う場合が多いですね。

 

刃でなんとなくなんというかな。やまと言葉っぽい気はしますけど。もともと日本

 

にあった昔からあった言葉っぽい感じはしますけどどうですか。

 

どうなんでしょうね。語源に関してはちょっとなんとも言えないですけど

どうどうなんでしょうね。あまり考えたことないですね、それは。

 

 

刃で、この

 

鬼滅も初めて聞いたんですけど。

 

辞書で、僕が持ってる辞書で調べたときは出てこなかったですね。

 

当然出てこないですね。おそらくこれはある種の造語だと思いますね。

 

日本人は鬼滅と言われてこの漢字を見させられれば内容

が分かるからこのタイトルにしたんだと思うんですね。

 

鬼滅というのは鬼を滅する、つまり鬼を倒すという意味ですね鬼を倒す。

 

の刃ですから鬼を倒す刀。

 

という意味ですね。

 

この「滅」は絶滅の滅?

 

そう滅亡の「滅」

 

じゃちょっと英語

 

の説明しましょうか。

 

So this is Kimetsu no Yaiba which has been translated into English as “Demon Slayer”, it’s a very popular anime. I guess we should take a look at what it looks like for people that haven’t come across this yet. So it’s an anime about people fighting “Oni” which is…

 

鬼ですよね, この「鬼」「鬼ですね」

So another reading for “oni” is “ki” and “metsu” being to…”destroy”ですかね、「滅」or “kill”.

 

And “Yaiba”,being sword. And we’re talking about how this is one of the many words for “sword” in Japan. They seem to have a lot of them including “Ken”, “Tou”, “Katana”, so there’s a lot of words that seem to mean sword. We’re saying that the “Yaiba” is particularly used about the end of the sword, the part, so not like the hilt of the sword or the sheath of the sword but the actual sword itself, and especially the end, the point of the sword. So “ki” being “oni”, “metsu” being “destroy”, “The Sword That Destoys the Oni”. でこの番組を見たときこの鬼は結構ゾンビー的な感じでした。

鬼ではないですよね、これ。

 

ね、でも何かそれが新鮮

 

な感じはしました

 

。So that’s something that has become very popular in Japan this year.

The next word we are looking at is

 

Kimetsu no Yaiba.

 

Yaiba, yes.

Demon Slayer.

 

This is an anime.

 

Did you see it?

 

No, I haven’t seen it.

 

I heard it’s playing in theaters now,

so I’m thinking of going to see it soon.

 

Oh, it’s in the movie theaters?

 

Yes’ it’s in theaters…

 

It’s not on TV?

 

It’s also on TV? How do

you say it in English?

 

Demon Slayer.

I watched a little bit of this yesterday.

 

I watched one or two episodes.

 

I thought it looked pretty interesting.

Yes, it is.

 

It’s very popular.

 

I think it will probably continue

to be popular in the future.

 

It’s so popular that it’s even been made

into a movie and played in theaters.

 

It’s especially popular now,

 

so

I

 

think that’s why it made it into the list

of the most popular words.

 

I watched it yesterday and I thought

the images were really beautiful.

 

I thought the animation was amazing.

 

I think the pictures are probably

better than Attack on Titan.

 

I think you might be right.

 

This is the first time I’ve

heard the word “Yaiba”,

 

but it refers to a sword right.

 

That’s correct.

 

A Yaiba is a sword.

 

When I heard “Yaiba”,

I thought again that there

 

really are a lot of words

for swords in Japan.

 

Yes, there are a lot of them because

swords were used for a long time.

 

Words like “Ken” and “tou”.

Yes, yes.

 

Especially, “blade” often refers to

 

the blade part of the sword.

 

Often say the nose part,

if it was a blade.

 

The blade is often referred

to as the blade part.

 

A sword has a place to hold it

and a case to put the sword in.

 

The pointed tip?

 

Yes, the cutting part

 

is especially associated with Yaiba.

 

Yaiba.

 

I feel that it sounds like a Yamato word.

 

It sounds like a word that has

existed in Japan for a long time.

 

I don’t know about that.

 

As for the etymology of the word,

I can’t say for sure,

 

I wonder.

I’ve never really thought about it.

 

Yaiba

 

Yaiba

 

And this is the first time

I’ve heard of this “Kimetsu”.

 

When I looked it up in the dictionary,

which I have, it didn’t come up.

 

It

 

‘s only natural that it would not come up.

 

I think this is probably some

kind of newly created word.

 

I think that Japanese people can

understand the the meaning from looking

 

at the kanji characters for “Kimetsu”,

 

and that’s whey they chose the title.

kimetsu means to “mesu” the “Oni”, meaning

 

to defeat the demon.

 

It is referring to a sword

that can defeat the demon.

 

Is this “annihilation” the annihilation

that can be find in the word “extinction”?

 

Yes, the same one that is in

“annihilation”.

 

So let me explain a little

bit about English.

 

So this is Kimetsu no Yaiba which has been

 

translated into English as “Demon Slayer”,

 

it’s a very popular anime.

 

I guess we should take a look at what it

 

looks like for people that haven’t

 

come across this yet.

 

So it’s an anime about people fighting

 

“Oni”. This “Ki” is “Oni” right?

 

That’s correct.

 

So another reading for “oni” is “ki” and “

metsu” being to” It’s “destroy” or “kill”.

 

They seem to have a lot of them including

 

“Ken”, “Tou “We’re saying that the “Yaiba”

is particularly used about the end

 

of the sword, the part, so not like the

hilt of the sword or the sword itself.

 

We’re saying that the “Yaiba” is

 

particularly used about the end

of the sword, the part,

 

so not like the hilt of the sword or

the sheath of the sword but the actual

 

sword itself, and especially the end,

the point of the sword.

 

So “ki” being “oni”, “metsu” So “ki” being

 

“oni”, “metsu” being “destroy”,

“The Sword That Destoys the Oni”.

 

So when I saw this show,

 

this I thought the demons were

pretty zomby-ish.

 

They’re not really “oni” are they?

 

So that’s something that has become

very popular in Japan this year.

Culture

Japanese Storage

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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

Read More »
Happi Coats

Happi Coats Guide 2021

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

The 30 New Japanese Words of 2020 日本の新語・流行語2020について日本語と英語で話す

Each year the Japanese company U-Can put out a list of 30 new Japanese Words, called 流行語 ryukogo or 新語 shingo, that have entered the Japanese language. 

In the audio/video/text presented here, I have a conversation with youtuber Moshi Moshi Yusuke about these Japanese words, and the Japanese social trends they are connected with.

今日は今年の新語・流行語について話します。友達の「もしもしゆうすけ」さんと話して今年どういう言葉が流行ったか、日本社会においてどんなことが あったか、そういう話、日本語と英語でします。



リストの全体を見て第一印象とか、そういうのはありますか。どう思いましたか。

そうですね第1印象は知らない言葉が結構あるんだと思いました。

結構あったんですか。

そうですね。

まあ多分流行語っていうのは、日本全体に広く行き渡ったものもあるし、中にはピンポイントのもの、例えば子供達にだけヒットした言葉、

あるいはアニメが好きな人だけにヒットした言葉とかそういうのが入ってるんで 

まあ僕 の知識 が全然 足りない 僕 の 知識 がない ものも ありますね。

うーん、まあ、そうでしょうね。こう社会ってもうみんな が同じというわけでもないしね。あのコミュニティの中にいろんなコミュニティが あるからね。

そうですね

一緒じゃないですから。まあ当たり前でしょうね。 えー1回ちょっと英語で説明しましょうか。

So we’re just looking at the what’s called the 流行語 which means words that have become popular popular words, so these are new words that have been added to the lexicon this year, so each year this is a list that put together.

 

これは毎年出てくるんですよね、こういうリスト。

そうです毎年出てますね。

で誰々が作ってるかわかりますか。 

ええと、ユーキャンという会社がやってるそうです。 

ユーキャン。

教育関係の会社だと思いますね。

なるほど。確かあの辞書を作る会社、どこの会社だったかなのMerriam Websterという 会社でも英語でもこうこういうリストを毎年きっと作っていたと思います。そういうのは聞いたことありますか。

いや、聞いたことなかったですね。

 

Yeah, so we’re looking at this list of words that have been chosen by the “U-Can” as being the words that have particularly taken hold in Japan as being, yeah, important to the culture for that year.

 

で僕の第1印象は、あのう 新しい言葉というより、何かの作品の名前とか、人の名前とか結構多い。。。そうなんですよね。おっしゃるとうりで新語・流行語大賞と言っているにもかかわらず新語でもないし人の名前が入ってたりちょっとその審査基準は 曖昧ですね。

そうですね。

今までのリストをどれだけ覚えてぽ言ってるかわからないんですけど、だいたいこんな感じですかね。

そうだいたいこんな感じですね。人の名前が入ったり、ちょっと曖昧ではあるんですけど、もうただ実際によく使われるようになった言葉だと思うんで、流行語は 流行語で間違いないと思います。

でこの中に、まあ、11つちょっと見に行きたいと思うんですけど、パッと見みて、 結構面白いと思ったのはどれですか。何かありましたか。これが。。。

そうですね、まず 今回はやっぱりコロナ関係が圧倒的に多いですよね。

うんそうですね。5、6っこぐらいがありそうですね。

もうちょっとあるかもしれないですね。 あの逆にピーターさんがこれを見て 全くわからないものって あります?半分くらいわからないんじゃないかなと思うんですけど。。。

半分くらいわからなかったですね。一応軽くいくつかちょっと調べたんですけど、まあ、あまりちゃんと調べてなんですけど、多分半分ぐらいわからなかったですね。でも半分くらいは英語から来てる気がするから まあそういうのは全部分かったんですけど。 こういうのとか「なんなんでしょう」と思ってます。香水とか。

説明しましょう。

じゃあそこから行きましょうか。

はい、15番香水 これは日本で流行った音楽のタイトルですね。 

ええ、バンドのパフュームじゃなくて?

パフュームでではないですね。。 

関係ありそうだけど関係ないですね。 ただ僕はこの音楽実はよく知らなくて 

曲名ですか。

曲名だそうです。で流行っているというのは聞いたことがあったんですけど ええ流行語に入るほど流行ってるっていうのはこのリストに乗って初めて知りました

So, I might just put in a bit of explanation here. So we’re just talking about our overall impressions of the list. We have said that we think that there’s quite a few here that have something to do with Corona. And we got talking about this number 15, which is 香水, which is perfume, which seems like it does have something to do with music, I thought maybe it had to do with the band perfume but Yusuke-san says it’s not that it’s actually the name of a song.

1回これをgoogleに入れてみましょうか. 何が出るか。

あ、出ましたね。

こういう人ですね。名前は何ですか。

瑛人

今年流行ったんですね。

流行ったらしいです。ごめんなさいよくわからないですね。これは。

 Tiktokで話題の香水になってますね。

らしいですね。

Tik Tokは若い世代ですね。僕がやるものじゃないですね。

そうですね。なんか踊ったりする。

そうそう。

うちの息子がちょっとやっているというか、みている。 あの1時的に アメリカで使えなくなるという話がありましたね。トランプ。。。

今使えるんですか。 

えーとまだ使えていると思います。 僕はアメリカにいないからよくわからないんですけど。なんかティックトックとwechatもそうですよね。

そうですね。日本、日本じゃなくて中国と関係しているから、関係しているというか、中国の会社が待ってるから禁止しますというのは出てでもその後、買われなかったですか。他のアメリカの会社に。 

うん、あそうかもしれない。ティックトックは買収されたかもしれないですね。ただWe Chatに関しては 中国の会社ですよね。今でもね。 

そうですね。でティックトックってまだ日本で 使えているでしょうね。まだ人気ありますか。

うん若い世代には人気ありますね、今でも。 

結構人気出ていますね。

そうですね。

じゃ香水。他のをみましょう、結構あるから。

そうですね。

1番上からいってみましょうか。

はい

愛の不時着 第4次韓流ブーム。

かんりゅうあるいははんりゅう、 どっちでもいいですかんりゅうでもはんりゅうでも大丈夫です。

 は何ですか。わかりますか。

わかります。これは愛の不時着という韓国ドラマですね。 ええと、ネットフリックスだけで放送されていた韓国ドラマだそうです。実際日本では 韓国ドラマを強烈に好きな人がいるんでおそらくこれが入ったんだと思うんですけど、ただ僕の周りでは韓国ドラマ見てる人は全然いなくて 愛の不時着っていう名前を聞いた時に まあ韓国ドラマ だったような気がするっていう程度でほとんど、みんな知識がなかったですね。だからこれがノミネートされたのは ちょっと驚きでしたね。 

ゆうすけさんはみましたか。見てないんですか。

全く見てないです。

僕も見てないです。多分、あの、こちらでは、さっきタイトル調べたんですけどねネットフリックスでも、こっちのネットフリックスでも載ってましたcrash landing on you。

So this is this number one is is the Japanese translation of 不時着 is the “crash landing” part of it and 愛being love, yeah so this is a Korean TV show that’s taken off in Japan on Netflix.

この英語の題名みたらCrash Landing On You というのが結構不思議な運感じはします。

で文法的にこれはあっているかどうかちょっと 疑問に思うんですけど日本語の方はどうですか。

そうですね、変な感じはしますね。 愛の 不時着まあちょっと不自然なタイトルではあると思いますね。 

でこの第4次韓流ブームというのは4かいこういう韓流 は来ているということですね。

そうですね。

4次というのは4回目ということですね。

123は何だったかわかりますか。 

冬のソナタっていうのがありましたね。

あれは多分第1次だと思います。

その後第2次第3次はわかりません。

でも結構前から韓国のドラマとか音楽でもそうだと思うんですけど、 まあ特にドラマが日本で人気ありますね。

そうですね。特にええと年齢の高い人たちが韓国ドラマが好きな傾向があると思いますね。 はいそういうことでした。

So this one is a Korean drama and we’re saying that it’s the 4th wave I suppose of Korean drama becoming popular in Japan.

2行きましょうか。新しい生活様式 new normalどうですかこれは?

そうですねたぶん ピーターさんわかりますよね、なんとなく。 これはコロナに関してですね。 

そうですねどちらの方がよく使われているんですか、新しい生活様式がNew Normal?

新しい生活様式の方が多いですね。まあこれに関してはよくニュースで 聞きますね。あの、今までのように生活して マスクをして距離をとって 新しい生活様式で生活して行きましょうということですよね。まあこれはもうコロナ関係ですよね。

そうですね。日本で何が1番変わったんですか何がNew Normal,新しい生活様式になったんですか。

ええととマスク、で1番変わったのは働き方だと思いますね。 もちろんみんな働いているわけではないんで主婦の人もいるし、学生の人もいるけれども、1番変わったら働き方ですね。 今まで日本ではまあ会社によるんですけど 仕事が多ければ残業して当たり、前仕事がたくさんあればそれはありがたいことだから土曜日日曜日に仕事して当たり前という雰囲気の会社がすごく多かったんですけども やっぱりコロナが流行って体調管理最も大切な事になった時に うーん、土曜日曜はしっかり休む。 残業しない。体調を1番に考えるという スタイルにほとんどの会社が変わったこれが この新しい生活様式で日本が1番変わったところだと思いますね。 

じゃ残業が少なくなったと言うことですか。

そう、まあ、会社によると思うんですけど、 残業が少なくなったのもあるし、 うーんまあ 交代で平日休んだり有給休暇を使いやすくなったりというのはあったと思います。がちなみに僕が働いている会社では有給休暇あまり採りやすくなかったんですけど 。。。

それよくある話ですね

よくありますね。ただ結構今取りやすいですね。 

取りやすくなったんですか。

ゆうすけさんは今家から仕事していないですか。もう普通に会社に行って。。。

そうです。 

会社に戻っている人が多いんですか。

会社にいる人多いですね。あの交代で休んだりはしてますけども えっと基本的には会社に通勤するというスタイルに戻ってます。

どうですか戻って良かったですか。

よくないです。

もっと家にいたかったんですか。

 あの僕は電車で通勤してるんですけどえっとやっぱり電車って結構中に人がいますよね。

ちょっと怖いですね。

何となく怖いですね。

ただ、まあ、海外に関して今どんな状況か分からないですけど まあ日本人はもともとマスクをする習慣があるんで。

そうですね。

なので、まあ、ほとんど全員マスクをしていますし、マナーの悪い人はあんまりいないんで、特に心配はしてないですけど、ただ電車で通勤するのあんまりよくないですね。

何となく怖いですね、こっちでも。ちなみに オーストラリア、僕が住んでいるビクトリア州というんですけど、今週毎日感染者0でした。

素晴らしいですね。

もうすごく減りました。3ヶ月ぐらい前に1気に増えてっ 1番多い時に1日800人くらいだったかな。。。になって、でそこから結構、都市封鎖まで言うかな、まあ結構ロックダウン的な状態になってもうやっと この1週間ゼロになりました。

うーん、まあ、特にオーストラリアはこれから夏なんで温度湿度が上がってくると自然に感染症ってのは減ってくるのかなと思いますね

まあそれは少しあるかもしれないですね。

でもヨーロッパの状態とかアメリカの状態とか 結構ひどい、ひどくなっていってるところがあって、もう日本のニュースを見てこの2か月ぐらいずっと数値が横ばいしてるような感じですね。それがすごい 不思議な気がしますね。こっちは、もう、頑張って頑張って、まあ、0になったんけど、

いや、頑張っていないですよ。 

だから何で増えないですか

なんででしょうね。あのーまあ それは後になってわかることだと思うんですけどまず日本人はハグしない それからキスする挨拶もしない

もともと据わったりする習慣はあまりないですね。

そう、後、握手もほとんどしないですね。はじめて会った人だと握手する人もいますけどそうでない限りは握手もしないですし、あと声が小さいんで 飛沫感染

飛沫、なるほど

後もう1つ、家に入る時は必ず靴を脱ぐ。おそらくそういう生活習慣の中に感染しにくくする要素があるんじゃないかなと思うんですね。

うん、そうですね。まあ日本人は結構きれい好きですね。もう何でもきれいにする習慣はしっかりあって そういうのも

ただ日本人が綺麗好きというのはたぶん日本は夏湿度が高くてうんえっとまあばい菌が発生しやすいっていうのもあるのかもしれないですね。で昔からの習慣で特に夏、 まあ夏前に6月ぐらいに ええ梅雨という雨の季節があるんですけどそれぐらいから、大体それぐらいから病気が発生したりとか、感染症が発生したりというのがあるんで、 ええ、まあそれはわかってるんで事前にできるだけきれいにするという習慣がついているんだと思いますね。

いや、もううまいこと、まあ減っていないんですけど、うまいこと横ばいの数字を保っているように見えますね。

そうです。あともう一つ 2011年夏に東京オリンピックがあってそこで東京に一気に人が集まってくると 東京で 問題が起きるかもしれないですね。

ね、どうなのでしょうね。 でニュースで握手する習慣はあまりないとおっしゃったんですけどえーとニュースでよく日本の政治家こういう挨拶してるのを見かけるんですけど、うん、それはどういう意味があるか ちょっと意味不明と思うんですけどね。手と手触ってるんじゃないですか。それはすごく不思議に思います。ええ、はい、新しい生活様式。。。あ、英語全然喋っていない。

So we’re saying 新しい生活様式 and talking about the new normal in Japan. Yeah I guess 新しい生活様式 is pretty much direct translation I suppose it’s probably come from there. It means basically the same thing. And we’re talking about how Japan has been able to have numbers that are basically going, moving along in a parallel line rather than moving up. Here in Australia we’ve been able to do a lock down over the last couple of months especially where I am here in Melbourne, in Victoria. We’ve gone from about 800 cases down to, we’ve had one week of 0 cases now. So we’ve been able to really lock everything down and get on top of the virus here at this stage. But in Japan they seem to be relatively…have freedom of movement, and that sort of thing, and still just have this parallel line of the last two months or so of somewhere between 500 to 1000 cases per day. And we’re saying that we think that that’s probably because of the fact that Japan has, I guess, a longstanding tradition of being very clean about the way they go about their life anyway, in terms of coming home and washing hands and, yeah, that sort of thing. And wearing masks has obviously been a thing in Japan for a long time. Ao yeah it’s interesting that while a lot of the world is sort of seeing the numbers just drastically increase, in America and Europe, Japan just sort of has this parallel line. It’s quite interesting.

次行きましょうか

あつ森

あつ森って何ですか。これはゲームです。任天堂が出したゲームです。

集まれどうぶつの森 でしたっけ?

そうですね。これは特に話すこともないですね。 

はなすことないすか。なんでですか。

ゲームですからね。ゲームが流行るっていうのはいつの時代、もねえ、ありますよね。

やったことありますか、ゆうすけさんは

ないです。

あまり興味ないですか。

そうですね。

まあ、子供の間で流行ってるのかな、まあ、大人もやってる人がいるかもしれないですけど。結構人気あるみたいですね、このゲーム。

そうですね。

ほとんど知らないですけど。でも任天堂ってすごいですね。もう長年わたって結構強いですね、任天堂。

そうですね。ゲームはね、今までは日本のゲーム結構人気ありましたけど これからどうでしょうね。あの、結構中国も新しい面白いゲーム出しているみたいですし。

ねェ、いやでも任天堂はすごいと思いますね。京都の会社だから自分の妻が京都の人だからちょっと勝手に誇りに思っています。 全然京都の 人じゃないですけど。でもこのあいだ友達と話したんですけど日本でものすごく古い会社が多いんですね。日本ニンテンでもでも100年以上の歴史があると思うんですけど。それもまた凄いですね。 古くからやってるあの会社が多いというのは。

そうですね。日本で新しい会社が育ちにくい環境にあるというのも、もう1つの理由としてあるのかもしれないですね。

で任天堂はもともと花札を作っていた会社らしいですね。 

そういうボードゲームとか作ってた会社ですよね。

昔いろんなことやったみたいですね。この前ちょっと任天堂の歴史の本を読んだんですけど、 ええと、ラブホテルとか経営やってた時期もあったらしいです。

いろんな事やってますよね。で花札とかそういうのは結構かけ、ギャンブルとかにあのまあ昔からちょっと関わっている。 ことだったから、 結構そういう闇の世界と繋がったり。。。

そうですね。まあ、日本ではギャンブル基本的に合法ではないですから。そうですね。

まあ、任天堂はすごいです。もう、長年にわたって新しいゲームがヒットしてもう感心します。

はいあつ森でした。 

4番アベノマスク。

これは結構面白いですね。アベノマスク、アメリカでは 笑いものにされてましたけど、オーストラリアではどうですか。聞いたことありました?

聞いたことはなかったです。聞いたことなかったですか。 僕はアベノミクスは聞いたことあったんですけど、多分ほとんどの人 アベノミクスでさえ 聞いたことないと思います。

僕は日本に関心がある人だから聞いたことあったんですけどアベノマスクは初めて聞きました。

本当ですか。

まずアベノミクスに関してはレーガノミクスのパクリですね。言葉としてね。でまあ 2020年9月に退任した安倍総理大臣が 自分の 経済政策をアベノミクスと言ったんですよね。 でそのアベノミクスを流行らそうとしたんですよね。まあ実際まあ経済効果があったんですけどまあそれは別の話でこれもこれが関係の話になるんですけど、 コロナになってほかの国では どんどんいろんな経済政策をやっていたんですけど、安倍総理がなかなか経済政策始めなくて1番最初にやったのが国民全員にマスク2枚を配るだけということやったんです。で みんな大批判ですよね。あのーまず真っ先にお金を配るっていうのが普通の政策だと思うんですけど

そうですね、マスクじゃなくてお金欲しいですね・

 マスク2枚じゃ何もできないっていう。。。

マスクの中に5万ぐらい入ってなかったですか。

入ってなかったですね。僕の家にもマスク2枚届きましたけど 使ってないですね。だってそこら辺にマスクいっぱい売ってますからね。それを、まあ、いわゆるそのアベノミクス に アベノミクスという言葉を基本とした造語ですよね。されたということだと思いますね。それで阿倍野マスクと言ってまあバカにされたわけですよね。

うん馬鹿にする言葉でした。

そうマスク2枚を阿部さんが配ったことに対してそれを批判する言葉で表す句という言葉が流行ったんですねええ。

面白いですね、この言葉。

面白いです。この言葉ちょっと好きになりました。 使うことはないと思うんですけど。

回答使いたくなりましたけど使おう という道はないですね 

でも配られたマスクアベノマスクと名付けられたんでみんな面白くて使わないで家にとってありますよ。 

うーん、そうか記念として?

記念として。

あとサイズが結構合わなかったりする話。。。 

あのサイズが小さいんですよ。 あの普通のマスクだとだいたいそのまあこの辺ですね鼻からアゴ下にかけて覆うマスクなんですけどアベノマスクは鼻の頭から唇の下ぐらいまで結構小さいマスクで これ使えないよねっていう話でまあそれも含めて笑い話ですね。 

この言葉を検索したら何が出てくるか

間違いなくマスクが出てくると思います。

阿部さんとマスクが出てくると思います。

出てきました。つけようとしている写真が面白いですね。

そうですね。ちょっと小さいんですよね。 まあちなみにこの 日本の政治家の中で安倍マスクをつけていたのは安倍さんだけですね。 

阿部さんがつけてるのはアベノマスク。これですか。このまん中の?

そうです

このマウスが動いてるのは写ってますか。写っていますよ。

このマスクはアベノマスクですね。

そうですね。

そうか、そういうこといつもニュースを見ているときに なんか阿倍野マスク小さいなーと思っていました。 

あのどれが小さいかというと安倍さんがあのマスクを付けて喋るとだんだん口が見えてくるんですよね。 

そういうことでした。勉強になりました。

So we’re just talking about this, this word “Abe-no-mask”, which is basically taken from, so, Prime Minister Abe, who recently retired, and so he was famous for having his “Abenomics”, which is a portmanteau of Abe and economics. So his style of economics was called abenomics, so people have started using this word Abe-no-mask because Abe gave out these masks at the start of Corona, when Corona hit, to encourage people, everyone to wear a mask. But it was kind of a bit ridiculous for everyone because, for a couple of reasons, because you could just go down to the shop and buy one of these anytime. And rather than giving people a mask, a lot of people would have liked to have been given some money to support them through this crisis that was happening. So this is kind of a word to poke fun at Abe and his policy which people felt was, well some people felt, was a bit ridiculous. And there was also the fact that the mask itself was very small, so we talked about how the only one that actually wore the Abe-no-mask was Abe himself and that’s why whenever you saw him on the news he would have this really small mask, because yeah he was wearing the Abe-No-Mask.

あつ森英語をしなかったかな。

Just to go back to “Atsumori”,  that was, we talked about how that’s a game released by Nintendo this year, which looked kinda like this, probably, I think it’s been very popular around the world so I’d say a lot of people…

あ、選挙のやつもありますね。

これ、実際日本の政治家が 選挙活動に使おうと思ってまあ売名行為ですね。選挙活動に使おうと思ったんですけど結局選挙に使ってはいけないということになって使えなかったんですよあ、そうですか。

So that’s the Atsumori, alright, so let’s cheque out the next one shall we.

行きましょうか。 5番アマビエ

アマビエ知っていますか。うんアマビエ軽く聞きました。あの守り神ですか。

そうですね。妖怪ですね。

妖怪。

アマビエは150年くらい前に日本にいた妖怪と言われています。 実際いなかったと思いますけど、まあ、疫病を事前に しらせてくれてアマビエの絵を書いてみんなに 見せることによって 疫病封じ込める妖怪だそうです。

So we’re saying that the Amabie is, I’m going say…

妖怪なんと訳したらいいかな。モンスターかな。

モンスター。。。

なんでしょう。

Amabie is a mythical figure that is meant to Ward off viral diseases.

ちょっと1回これをあの グーグルにに入れましょうか。

はい。

たぶんが絵出てくると思いますね。

はい、あ、これですね。

こんな感じの絵、妖怪。 

で、この妖怪なんで 出てきたんですか。

ええとね、これがなぜ出てきたのかはみんなよくわからないんですね。

みんなよくわからない。

ただネットで徐々に広まっていって これを絵に書いて ハッタリ いろんな人に見せたりすると 疫病が抑えられる。まあ、つまりこれもコロナ関係の話題だと思うんですけども、 まあコロナは流行っているので これも流行ったんでしょうね。なぜこれが突然出てきたのかは、みんな理由がよく分からないですね。

ゆうすけさんこのコロナかの前にアマビエ知っていたんですか。

知らなかったです。おそらくほとんどの日本人は知らなかったんじゃないかなと思うんですよね。そんなに有名な妖怪ではないですね。

So we’re saying yeat, this is a yokai that’s only just recently started to become well known in Japan and Yusuke doesn’t know, he’s not aware of this, or wasn’t aware before the Corona thing happened that this guy even existed.

で、これが出てきてなんで妖怪か、ちょっとわからないんですけど、僕最初守り神と言っちゃったんですけどうん よく日本のお寺とかではお守り とか売ってますね。そうですね。

そういう感じですか。それと関係ないですか。

関係ないですね。 Talisman. 誰なんて言うから英語では 違うのかな。その日本のお守りって言うとまたちょっと違うんですね。でもやっぱりモンスターと近いと思いますね。

うんモンスターが守ってくれるというのが不思議に思いますね。

そうですね。 

結構いろんなところに貼っていますか、今でも。あまり見かけないですか。

あまり見かけないです。今これが流行ってる、まあ実際はネットでこれを貼り付けている人がいると聞いたことがあるんですけど、まあ僕はそんなにネットを見てるわけじゃないんで、 うーんあんまり見ないですね。

じゃ普通に道を歩いてそんなに見かけることがそんなにないということですか。

無いですね。多分1時間歩いても全く観ないと思いますね。でももしかしたら東京の 混んでるところまあ渋谷とか原宿とかそういうところに行けば当たるかもしれないですね。

で貼っている人はそれが実際に効果があると思っているんですか。

それともまあ、どういう気持で

面白くてやってるんじゃないですか。 後はその今暗い話題が多いのでやっぱりこういう何ていうのかなこういう面白いキャラクターが出てきて少しでも世の中が明るくなればいいなという気持ちでやってるんじゃないかなと思いますけどうんなるほど。

So we’re saying that we think that rather than so we’re saying you don’t actually see so many of these around the streets of Japan generally it’s, it’s probably something that appeared more online than anything else. And so I was asking Yusuke if the people that do have these displayed think that it has, like, a genuine power to Ward off Corona virus. And we’re saying that we think the people probably don’t actually think that, and it’s more of a, I don’t know like, it’s something to a fun sort of thing, I suppose, to lift people’s spirits maybe or to…yeah just have a bit of fun I suppose.

楽しいことことで呼んだらいいかな。このくらい場をちょっと明るくしましょうという気持ちですかね。

そうだと思いますね。

面白いですね。

これは面白いですね。

So I hope that was of interest, we’ll come back, we’ve done some more talk around the rest of the words on the list, we’ll do that next time. Hit subscribers if this is of interest to you and catch you next time.

またリストに残っている単語いくつかあるからまた次回でやります.

よかったらサブスクライブしてまた聞いてください。 バイバイ。

Language Learning Program Reviews

Culture

Japanese Storage

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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

Read More »
Happi Coats

Happi Coats Guide 2021

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Ponponpon Lyrics in English and Japanese

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

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

Approx Japanese level

Themes

ぽんぽんぽん歌詞

Ponponpon Japanese Lyrics

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

EVERYDAY ポン!

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

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

ぽんぽんぽん英訳

Ponponpon English Lyrics

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

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

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

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

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

The Story of PonPonPon

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, PonPonPon and The Simpsons

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

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

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

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

 

So the Simpsons nod to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is significant.

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

 

Early Years of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

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

Harajuku Cuteness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a Japanese article with pictures here

Kyary Pamyu "Street Snaps"

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu meets Yasutaka Nakata

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

The Tardis
Yasutaka Nakata's Studio

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

 

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

 

About PonPonPon Lyrics

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Arrangement of PonPonPon

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

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

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Fashion Books

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”.

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

Gurenge

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

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

Culture

Japanese Storage

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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

Read More »
Happi Coats

Happi Coats Guide 2021

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

Midnight Diner Theme Song Omoide by Tsunekichi Suzuki Translated and Explained

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

But first thing’s first…

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

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

Zeigo Tsunekichi Suzuki Album

Approx Japanese level

Themes

Background To Midnight Diner Song Omoide and Tsunekichi Suzuki

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

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

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

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

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

Tsunekichi Suzuki and Midnight Diner

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

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

Midnight Diner Soundtrack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post-Ikaten Tsunekichi 

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

Omoide’s 18th Century Irish Folk Origins

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

A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow Lyrics

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

It was on a fine summer’s morning

The birds sweetly tune on each bough

And as I walked out for my pleasure

I saw a maid milking a cow

Her voice was so enchanting, melodious

Left me quite unable to go

My heart, it was loaded with sorrow

For the pretty maid milking her cow

Then to her I made my advances

“Good morrow most beautiful maid

Your beauty my heart so entrances”

“Pray sir do not banter,” she said

“I’m not such a rare precious jewel

That I should enamour you so

I am but a poor little milk girl,”

Says the pretty maid milking her cow

The Indies afford no such jewel

So bright, so transparently clear

I do not add things to my funeral

Consent but to know me my dear

Oh, had I the Lamp of Aladdin

Or the wealth that gold mines can bestow

I’d rather be poor in a cottage

With the pretty girl milking her cow.

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

Tsunekichi’s reworking of the Irish tune

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

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

Omoide Lyrics and Translation

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

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

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

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

君が吐いた白い息が

 

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

See your pale breath floating over there

As it slowly drifts off in the air

See it billow into the clouds in the sky

And vanish before your eyes

See the white clouds reaching out there hands

In the sky so far above the land

Breathing in the air you breathed out

Rolling on, Rolling On, Rolling On

And do you remember

The clouds streaming by ‘bove the river?

And didn’t they look just like this?

Or maybe my mind plays tricks

And do you remember the glaring sun

And the dog sleeping there ‘neath the eaves

And all of these memories

Fade into the sky as they leave

On the other side of the sky

There’s another sky there so blue

There’s not a single soul or a sound

But there’s a rolling, rolling cloud

And do you remember

The clouds streaming by ‘bove the river?

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.

Follow Japanoscope on Socials For Latest Content!

Language Learning Program Reviews

Culture

Japanese Storage

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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

Read More »
Happi Coats

Happi Coats Guide 2021

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

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.

Approx Japanese level

Themes

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

 

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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

Read More »

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

Imjin River by the Folk Crusaders In Japanese and English

Approx Japanese level

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

Culture

Japanese Storage

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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

Read More »
Happi Coats

Happi Coats Guide 2021

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

New Japanese Indie Music Platform Minna Kikeru

Approx Japanese level

Text Type

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

It wasn’t 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

Culture

Japanese Storage

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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

Read More »
Happi Coats

Happi Coats Guide 2021

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

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

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

Culture

Japanese Storage

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

Japanese Essays – Inamoto

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

Read More »
Happi Coats

Happi Coats Guide 2021

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

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading & Listening Practice

David Bowie Space Oddity 和訳 in Japanese

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

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).

ピータージョセフヘッドです。3年間京都市立芸大の大学院として、一年間ワーキングホリデーとして日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。