Translations of Japanese Songs into English.

Gurenge

Gurenge (Demon Slayer - Kimetsu No Yaiba Opening Song) Translated To English And Explained

鬼滅の刃OP紅蓮華の歌詞を英語に訳して解説

The opening song for Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba, Gurenge by LiSA, is a power punch of determination, grit, darkness and hope. But what’s the Kimetsu No Yaiba OP all about? How were the Gurenge lyrics written? What does it all mean?

These are the things I want to shed light on today. Let me start by presenting my full translation of the song from the Japanese into English, sung by Cake Sullivan and arranged, just for something different, in a kind of latin feel. Then I’ll try and answer the questions about Gurenge’s meaning below.   

鬼 滅の刃の主題歌は紅蓮華という曲ですが 勇気と気合と熱望のパワーパンチのようなものでやや暗い曲と言ってもいいではないでしょうか。

それは何を意味しているのでしょうか?どのように書かれているのでしょうか?それは何でしょう?これらの疑問を、少しでも明らかにしていきたいと思っています。

まず最初に日本語からの翻訳から見ていきます。元の曲を翻訳して編曲してみました。友人のケーキ・サリバンが歌っています。ラテン風のような感じにしました、なんとなく。好き嫌いはあるかもしれませんがこっちの知ったことではありません。

まずは歌を聞いてもらい、それから先ほどの疑問について考えていきましょう。もしこれに気に入ってもらえたらサブスクライブしてください。 ではまた曲の後に。

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

Demons, Responsibility

Text Type

Anime Song

紅蓮華 元の日本語歌詞

強くなれる理由を知った
僕を連れて進め
泥だらけの走馬灯に酔う
こわばる心
震える手は掴みたいものがある
それだけさ
夜の匂いに (I’ll spend all thirty nights)
空睨んでも (Staring into the sky)
変わっていけるのは自分自身だけ
それだけさ
強くなれる理由を知った
僕を連れて進め
どうしたって!
消せない夢も 止まれない今も
誰かのために強くなれるなら
ありがとう 悲しみよ
世界に打ちのめされて負ける意味を知った
紅蓮の華よ咲き誇れ!
運命を照らして
イナビカリの雑音が耳を刺す
戸惑う心
優しいだけじゃ守れないものがある?
わかってるけど
水面下で絡まる善悪 透けて見える偽善に天罰
(Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why, tell me… I don’t need you!)
逸材の花より
挑み続け咲いた一輪が美しい
乱暴に敷き詰められた
トゲだらけの道も
本気の僕だけに現れるから
乗り越えてみせるよ
簡単に片付けられた
守れなかった夢も
紅蓮の心臓に根を生やし
この血に宿ってる
人知れず儚い
散りゆく結末
無情に破れた
悲鳴の風吹く
誰かの笑う影
誰かの泣き声
誰もが幸せを願ってる
どうしたって!
消せない夢も 止まれない今も
誰かのために強くなれるなら
ありがとう 悲しみよ
世界に打ちのめされて負ける意味を知った
紅蓮の華よ咲き誇れ!
運命を照らして
運命を照らして

Gurenge English Lyric Translation

Now I’ve got a reason to be strong
I’m gonna be right her with you, come on
I know it’s only the play of the light
That shines on the dirt that plays tricks on the mind
And it’s only my shaking hands
That have something theyre tring to grab hold of I swear
It’s no use to glare at the sky
When there’s something about the scent of the night
There’s only one thing you can change
And that’s you yourself, don’t need noone to say it
Now I’ve got a reason to be strong
I’m gonna be right her with you, come on

Cause there are
some dreams that you can’t erase
And theres some times you can’t escape
If I’ve found someone who I want to get strong for
I’m going to say thank you for all the hu-rt
It took the world to beat me down, tell you I’ve my lesson now
Crimson Lotus show me how you flower
Light the way

to my fate

The sound of the lightening strike
Pierces my ears, strikes fear in my heart
I know that kindness is not
Not enough by itself to protect what I’ve got
Under the surface joins good and bad
look close and you can see through it
There comes a punishment
It’s not the bouquet its the flower
Grows all alone that is truly fair
You know the
road buried in thorns and strife
Reveals itself to only my
My sacred heart, now watch me as I
Watch me as I rise
My simply folded hopes and dreams
Which I swore I’d hold close to me
See them blooming in the Crimson Lotus
It’s roots in my blood to my heart

In the end Noone knows
The edge it frays
The wind it blows
Your calls into an air that has gone cold
Theres someone laughing in the shadow
Someone crying don’t you know

Everybody wants the same thing

Cause there are
some dreams that you can’t erase
And theres some times you can’t escape
If I’ve got found someone who I want to get strong for
I’m going to say thank you for all the hu-rt
It took the world to beat me down, tell you I’ve my lesson now
Crimson Lotus show me how you flower
Light the way

to my fate

 

Demon slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba Gurenge Background

Now, I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you are aware of the Manga/Anime Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba. I myself was fairly late to the party hearing about it when the term “鬼滅の刃 Kimetsu no Yaiba” appeared on the list of top 30 new words to appear in the Japanese language in 2020. So, you know, you’ve got to be pretty significant to be considered a “new word in a language”.
You’ll already know that the story is about a young man who sets out on an adventure, or more a voyage of salvation and redemption, to save his possessed sister, and kick a lot of demon arse along the way.

仮に鬼滅の刃を見たことがあるとします。私がこの番組のことを知ったのはかなり遅かったです。2020年の流行語・新語のリストで初めて知りました。「新語」としてリストに載ることは極めて偉大なことであるに違いありません。

概ねの話の粗筋はご存知だと思いますがある少年が帰宅し 自分の家族が全員虐殺された事に気づいて旅に出ることを決意する。贖罪/救済の旅に。

Who wrote Demon Slayer’s opening theme song Gurenge?

The song was composed by two musicians that have had careers closely aligned to the world of Animation Songs, a world so well defined in Japan that it has its own conjugation, “Anison”.

The words were written by the, somewhat prosaic to the Western ear named LiSA, and the music by Kayuko Kusano with LiSA.

Kayoko Kusano Album Trigger

 

では、この主題歌はこの話とどのように関係があるのしょうか。この曲はアニメソング業界と深い関わりを持つ二人のミュージシャンによって作曲されました。日本で言う「アニソン」ですね。歌詞を書いたのはLiSAさんです。西洋人には 「LiSA]という名前はごく普通の名前に感じられると思いますが日本人にとってなんとなくエキゾチックに感じるのではないでしょうか。そして、彼女は草野華余子さんという作曲家と曲作りをしました。

Lisa got her first big break singing songs for the animation “Angel Beats”. In fact, she provided vocals for a band named Girls Dead Monster that featured within the show. The fictitious band was made up of a group of unliving “jyoshi kousei” type high school girls that were indeed dead, but anything but monstrous. Or at least if they were monsters, they were closer to, say, a kawaii kyary pamyu pamyu style fashion monster than a Godzilla type city-flattening beast.
Angel Beats Comic

Angel Beats DVD

LiSA’s big anime break seems to have somewhat defined her career trajectory, at least in the eyes of the general public, with her going on to work on songs for anime that lethally orbit through other-worlds of reincarnation and ultra-experiential conflict. She continues to be something of a guest of honor at animation related expos around the world.

So where did LiSA come up with the title for the song Gurenge? 

Gurenge literally means red lotus flower. The Gu can also be read as “Kurenai”, a word for a deep red color. You may know the character “Kurenai” from such roles as the 紅 from 紅茶, meaning western tea, which we see as black, but the Japanese see as red. Or if you’re an anime fan you might know 紅の豚, the Ghibli film known to the English speaking world as “Porco Rosso” about a pig who not only “might fly”, but did fly an aeroplane to  fight with pirates of the sky. 

The 蓮 ren, means “Lotus” and the 華 ge means flower. 

 

So literally it is:

紅 Crimson

蓮 Lotus

華 Flower

紅蓮華という題はどこからきたでしょうか?紅蓮華というのは文字通り Red Lotus Flowerの意味しています。つまり「グ」は赤ような、深紅色のような色この字を知っているかもしれません。「紅茶」の紅として良く知られている。洋風のお茶。 西洋では黒いお茶で呼びますが日本では 赤いお茶に見えるようです。
アニメファンなら知っているかもしれませんが、「紅の豚」もある。「クレナイ」は「グ」にもなります。ジブリ映画「ポルコ・ロッソ」

The Role Of The Lotus in Eastern & Buddhist Culture

Now most people interested in Eastern culture will be aware that the lotus is intimately connected with Buddhist culture and philosophy. You often see Buddha, if you see him at all, depicted sitting on his trademark Lotus Throne, looking all together too serene to have a “trademark” anything at all. Probably the main reason that the lotus is such a thing in Buddhism is that it is that the flower is an easily recognisable symbol of transcendence. The Lotus flower grows, almost miraculously, out of the swamps and wetlands to flamboyantly bloom above the water’s surface. It’s the proverbial, “head above the head” that you might hear your guru bang on about from the mount. 

And so the term “Gurenge ” brings with it all of these quasi-religious resonances. On it’s simplest level, the Crimson Lotus in the Kimetsu No Yaiba context is a symbol of our protagonist Tanjiro rising above his circumstances, which is, indeed the main thrust of the song, to use a fencing analogy. It’s also worth noticing that Tanjiro’s signature move in Demon Slayer is to bust a “Mizu no Kokyu” “Breath of water-element” type of magic attack on his foes, so a water flower fits in with that too.

そして「れんげ」は蓮の花。

東方哲学とかに詳しい人はご存知かもしれませんが蓮は仏教と深い関わりがあります。蓮の葉の上にブッダがすわっている像をよく見かけます。

これにはいくつかの理由があります。主な理由としては 世俗的なものを超越した象徴になっているからです。蓮を見たことがあれば沼地に生えていることを知っていると思います。根元は 泥の中にありますが水面から伸びて美しい花をみせます。非常に分かりやすいです。世界に存在しながら世界から離れたところに存在する象徴になっています仏教哲学者が話すのを聞いたことがあるかもしれませんが、「頭の上にある頭」とか 「肩の上の空間」とか顔の裏の顔と言った別世界のような概念が出てくることがあります。蓮はそういったところから来ています。

では、なぜ彼女は この「紅蓮華」を使うことにしたのでしょう。
まず蓮の「超越する花」としてのの文字通りの意味があります。
物語では炭治郎が困難を克服しやがて花を咲かせて英雄になる、ということと繋がっています。また、話に出てくる 炭治郎の「水の呼吸」といったような魔法の動き波打つような、水のような敵を倒す技,そのようなものとも繋がりもあると思います。

But why is it a red lotus in Gurenge, and not a green one, or a blue one, or indeed a vermillion, amaranth of gingerline one?

Well, LiSA has also said in interviews that she had in her mind the term “紅蓮地獄” Guren Jigoku, literally Red Lotus Hell.

In buddhism, there is the altogether un-placidity inducing idea of the 8 cold hells, called 八寒地獄 Hakkan Jigoku in Japanese, and which are situated a respectably far enough distance away from the 8 Hot Hells.
Image: Eight Hells

Now, you may think that ending up in one of the cold hells is a step up from the hot hells, but the Cold Hell which the Guren Red Lotus Hell takes its name from is named that way because it is so cold that it causes your skins to peel off and your blood to rush out, making you look like a rather disturbing, but nicely colored, flower.
LiSA has said that it struck her that this was a good metaphor for Tanjiro in Demon Slayer as he sets out on his quest for salvation amidst the carnage and gore of the massacre of his family.
「紅蓮には “紅蓮地獄”っていう紅色の蓮花が咲いたように血が噴き出す地獄を表現した言葉もある。心情を表す比喩表現としてすごくピッタリだなって。」
“The Crimson Lotus is also related to the term “Crimson Lotus Hell”, the hell where people’s blood spouts out from them, like a red lotus in bloom. It just felt like the perfect metaphor for expressing the emotions of the story.”

The Crimson Lotus is the flower that blooms in the very bud of the greatest pain.

しかし、LiSAさんはインタビューで 「紅蓮地獄」というのも関係していると言っていました。”グレン “はあの赤い蓮で 「地獄」はhellです。
仏教には 八寒地獄 と八熱地獄という概念があります。八寒地獄は 熱い方よりはマシと思うかもしれませんが八寒地獄の中にあるものの一つは「紅蓮地獄」と呼ばれている。なぜそう呼ばれるかというと 皮がむいてしまうほど寒いためが出てきて、いたるところに血が噴き上がったりする

気持ち悪いですが、それがまるで紅蓮の花ののように見えてしまうからだそうです。

インタビューでLisaさんは、これは炭治郎の話のいい喩えになると言っていました。彼は 残忍な血まみれの大虐殺により家族をなくしたことを乗り越えて成長していきました。

Gurenge’s Connection To LiSA’s Life

So you can see that the song has many clear references to the show. By all accounts, the lyric writing process was very much an all-in affair, with show producers routinely involved in vetting and vetoing certain words in the lyric writing process.

But LiSA has also described it as a very personal song, written as much in response to the circumstances of her one life as to those of the fictional story she was soundtracking. In interviews, LiSA talks about herself in the third person, 

“I feel like I can’t let people down, I can’t give up, I can’t stop. I can’t just stop living, and I can’t die, I can’t give up on being LiSA, I just have to keep going, and that includes an element of something that is frankly very hard. But I still want to continue to blossom.”

It was as if rather than just writing from Tanjiro’s perspective, it was like she had taken Tanjiro into herself, allowing herself to be possessed, like Nezuko in the story, and then written as LiSA.

She has said the central line in the song is 世界に打ちのめされて/負ける意味を知った, which a literal translation of would be “the world beat me down, and I came to know the meaning of defeat”.

Intriguingly, she has also spoken about how it is possible for any person to become a demon in the real world saying,

 

A person who disavows responsibility and refuses to defend what they should be defended may become a demon. A person who uses their own weakness as an excuse and thinks of everyone as an enemy can become a demon. A person who succeeds in discarding, or betrays, what they want to protect, may become a demon at any moment. I believe a person who holds onto a moral, to a belief that this is not who I am, to this is who I want to be, will not become a demon. In our world, there’s a lot of demons. But I read in Kazuo Koike’s book that you have to ignore the demons. Kazuo Koike’s book “If there’s no hope, then run! 225 words of advice to help relieve you of yourself” is like my own personal talisman. 

Kazue Koike

 

LiSA is a fan of the prominent writer and creator of the comic Lone Wolf And Cub 子連れ狼. Aside from his work on his comics that have been described as some of the authentic landmarks in graphic fiction, he also had a massive Twitter following where he would dispense pithy pieces of life advice, including his advice about avoiding “Demons”. This is another element that has an influence on the song Gurenge.

Lone Wolf And Cub Comic

このため彼女は緑色の蓮でも青い蓮でもなく、紅色の蓮にしたそうです。ということで、この歌はっきりと本編の話の内容と密接に関係しています。しかし、LiSAさんによりますと、この曲はまた彼女にとって非常に個人的な曲でもあるそうです。また、音楽・番組制作側からかなり細かく作品に関しての指示があったようです
「この言葉を入れてはいけない」とか「この言葉を省いてください」とか。

こうして多くのやり取りを経て作られたそうです。

しかし、彼女はまた、それが 自分にとってとても個人的なものだと言っています。

彼女がこの詩を書いたのは30歳の誕生日を迎えて間もない頃だったそうで世の中の悲しいことに 音楽の世界では女性は30歳を過ぎると「もう終わった」とみなされる。彼女が言うには この頃から自分に自信がなくなり苦しい時期だったそうです。

だからこの曲は、彼女が乗り越えようとしている困難についてでもあります。

「強くなれる理由を知った」というセリフから曲が始まりますが 彼女が言うには、自分と自分のキャリアのために「強くなれる理由」は彼女を支えてくれるたくさんのファンがいたという事実だったそうです。

しかし、この曲はその考えとは真逆の 「責任」というテーマもあります。彼女のインタビューの訳文 から引用を読んでみます。

「わたし自身が裏切れない、やめられない、止まれない生きることをやめられないし、死ねない。要するに、LiSAであることをやめられないやっていかなくちゃいけないっていうやっぱりその時点の素直な苦しかった気持ちも含めてます。だけど、自分がそれでもまだ咲きたい」。

彼女が言うには 諸刃の剣のようなファンとのの関係、そして自分自身との関係があるということであり、 また、おもしろいことに

他人事のように自分自身のことを「Lisa」と第三称で呼んでいます。自分のイメージを常に作り出し世に送り出していかないといけないということです。そしてその「Lisa」というイメージに対して感謝している 一方でそのお陰でまたとてつもなく辛い思いもするということ。

これが曲全体の核心を突いている部分だと思います。私たちにはこのようなとても困難な責任がありますが、いざそれから逃がれようとすると
Lisa曰く「実際に鬼になる」そうです。興味深いですね。
彼女が話しているのは 現実の世界ですが、彼女は、人間は実際に悪魔になることができる、といっています。
では、もう一つの彼女のインタビューの引用を読ませてください。

「責任や守るべきものを放棄できた人は、鬼になれる。自分の弱さを言い訳にして、すべてを敵だと思える人は、鬼になれてしまうんですね。人は、守りたいものを捨ててしまえば、裏切ってしまえば、いつでも鬼になれる。モラルや、自分の中に「こうはなりたくない」っていう信念、「こういう人でいたい」っていう理想があったら、鬼にはならないんだろうなって思います。

世の中には、鬼がいっぱいいるんです。でも、そういう鬼のことを気にしたらダメって、小池一夫さんの本に書いてあった。小池一夫さんの『だめなら逃げてみる(自分を休める225の言葉)』っていう本が、わたしのお守りなんですけど。」

彼女の発想は興味深いですね。現実世界には鬼が実際にいる、鬼にならないためには 責任逃れをしないしなければならないのは責任の中に含まれているいろんな課題に向き合ってそれを強さに変えてしまわないといけない
感謝の気持ちを持たないといけない。

歌の中で 「ありがとう 悲しみよ」という言葉が出てきますがこれは陰と陽的な考えでもあると思います。彼女は、苦しみのない幸せはないとも言っている。苦労せずに幸せはない、と。
もしそうだとしたら苦労に感謝しなければなりません。
責任にも感謝しないといけない、ということです。 諸刃の剣なのだから。このような点から、この歌には非常に深いメッセージが含まれている、といえると思います。表面的な部分から汲み取る以上に。

そして、二つの意味が重なっていて、実際の話である炭治郎のレベルと彼女自身の個人的な話。禰豆子が鬼に取りつかれるのとと同じように
自分が丹次郎に取りつかれたかのように
丹次郎を自分の中に取り込み、リサとして吐き出しています。
また、彼女にとってこの歌の一番中心的な歌詞は
「世界に打ちのめされて負ける意味を知った」という部分だそうです。
それを直訳すると “I’ve been beaten down by the world and I’ve come to know what
it is to be defeated”
その歌詞を思いついた時に作りかけていた歌詞の全てを一度投げ捨てこの1行を中心に再び全ての歌詞を書き直したそうです。
「全世界から叩きのめされてしまった。 でも今はそれが何なのか分かった。

LiSA draws a distinction between simply dreaming, and having a sense of responsibility towards dreaming. She talks about the privilege of having a mission, with all the weight that that entails.

In LiSA’s case, she says that it is her responsibility to her fans, her team and her staff that gives her strength, and it’s this that she is referring to in the opening line of Gurenge “I’ve found a reason to be strong”.

She had various reasons to need a source of strength. She had just passed that threshold out of youth age of 30. This age is, sadly, an especially significant one for a female singer working in an industry that consistently frowns upon age. She has said:

「30代を迎えることに恐怖も感じていた。30歳になって次の10年をどうやって生きていくか―、想像した時に何も見えなかった。できる限り走って行って、終わってしまえば、その時が燃え尽きた時だって。すごく苦しかったです」

I was feeling a great fear as I neared the age of 30. How on earth would I live the next ten years after the age of the 30? If I tried to imagine it, there was just nothing I could picture. It’s like I had ran my heart out, reached the finish line, and now I was burnt out. I was truly in pain”.

 

It was a time of great uncertainty about her future, her artistic direction, which way her quest would lead her next. In her own words,

 

「それまで、不安要素が多いところをみんなにたくさん見せてしまっていたので、今の自分の気持ちをちゃんと伝えなくちゃって思ったのが“紅蓮華”です。」

“I had demonstrated to everyone the things that I was feeling uncertain about. Gurenge was an attempt by me to actually convey a message about how I am feeling now.”

In this context, Gurenge becomes an anthem of self-motivation where LiSA draws on the strength of her fans, and embraces her responsibility to them to flower.

Kayoko Kusano’s Role in the making of Gurenge

Gurenge also represented a turning point for composer Kayoko Kusano. An alumni of the Kansai University 軽音部, or “Band Club” that has managed to spawn several notable musicians, Kayako had spent the last decade or so making music as a solo singer songwriter under the Name of Kayako. In 2019, two months before the release of Gurenge, she changed her name, switching to using her full name of Kayako Kusano, this time written in Kanji as opposed to the heretofore Katakana. She was undergoing her own journey of self discovery, or rediscovery.

On her blog she wrote

カヨコとしての自分と

そもそもの自分の差異が無くなり

完全にひとつになったこと

そして、やっと認め愛せるようになった

現在のありのままの自分を今まで以上に音楽で体現し

世界に産み落としていく為の決意表明として、

親から与えられた世界にひとつしかない大切な本名で

自分が信じる音楽をたくさん創り出していけたらなと思い

改名する運びとなりました

The gap between The “KAYOKO” that was me

And the me that had existed in the beginning disappeared

And was completely united

I came finally to acknowledge a love

And to experience now more than ever, through music, the unadorned me that now exists

As a statement of determination born into the world

With the single precious name that has been bequeathed to me by my parents

My wish is that I can create a large body of work that I myself can believe in

And so, a new name came into being

It almost seemed like there was a hand of fate at work when LiSA presented to her a song title name that even included one of the Kanji characters “華” in it. 

Gurenge was not the first song that Kayoko and LiSA had worked together on. They had notable success with collaborations on tracks like Adamas.

 

The process here was different though. LiSA, this time, presented a blueprint for the song with some chords and an outline of the words. She just needed a killer melody to make it really sing. It needed a melody capable of slaying a Demon.

Gurenge’s Final Message

So Gurenge is a combination of fiction and reality, of Tanjiro and LiSA. It celebrates the underdog. Those that have been cut up, but keep on going. But, deeper than that, it celebrates the fact that responsibility brings with it great sacrifice, and that there is a happiness that is only available to those who have been willing to accept that sacrifice. It says that we should pay thanks to hardship, because it is the yin that makes the yang of achievement possible. It asks us to see every circumstance as a gift, as a source of gratitude and strength. Just as the lotus takes its strength from the mud that it grows from to be the flower that blooms above. 

So LiSA, and Tanjiro, say thankyou for the pain, and we should say thankyou to them for reminding us that we should do the same.

そこから進んで、かつての自分よりも大きくなることができる。」と。すなわち、紅蓮華という歌は作り話と現実の融合だと言えます。負け犬を称えていたり、躓いたり、倒されたもの、叩きのめされたものをを称えています。
しかし、それ以上に自分の苦労に感謝するべきだというメッセージがあります。
自身の責任に対しても。そうすることによって自分を更に一つ上のレベルに上げることができるということです。蓮の花が日常世界の泥の中から生えてきて美しい花になるのとと同じように。そうやって、私たちは 人生を生きていかなければなりません。
それから逃れることはできません。それから逃れようとすると あなたは鬼になります。

だから、私のアドバイスは、鬼になるなということと、

LiSAの美しい「紅蓮華」という歌を楽しむことです。

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

Gurenge

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

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More »
Songs In Translation

Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

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

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

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 time. 

Here’s Yumbo songwriter Shibuya Koji playing the song with his Sendai hometown band of Eternal Calamity.

Shibuya Koji 澁谷浩次 of Yumbo & Eternal Calamity

鬼火が
わたしの戸口に灯っている
夜明けまで
酒のなかでちらついている

鬼火が
触れた猫を家来にして
防波堤で
飽きることなく遊んでいる

鬼火よ
わたしをもとに戻せ
鬼火よ
家具のような重さへ

鬼火が
燃やし尽くした街角は
切り分けられた魚のように
とても静かだ

鬼火が
ちぎれた言葉で話しかける
毎日を
くさった舞台で演じている

鬼火が
優しい歌を濁らせる
絵に描かれた電車のなかで
歌い続ける

鬼火よ
わたしのそばにおいで
鬼火よ
無知な心のように

鬼火が
わたしの戸口に灯っている
夜明けまで
酒のなかでちらついている

Oh will-o-wisp, 

your light is glowing through my front door

Till the break of dawn

You flicker through, my alcohol

Oh will-o-wisp 

The cat is a servant when your light touches it

On the breakwater

You turn and you play and never get bored

 

Oh will-o-wisp return me to myself

Oh will-o-wisp make me heavy like house furniture…

 

Oh will-o-wisp

The burnt out street corner

Like a cut piece of fish, it’s so quiet, so quiet

 

Break

 

In torn language, you speak, speak

The Everyday, you play on a rotten stage

Oh will-o-wisp,

With a gentle song you make a haze

On a train, a train in a picture you sing on and on

 

Oh will-o-wisp

Won’t come and sit down by my side

Oh will-o-wisp

With your na na na naive heart

 

Oh will-o-wisp, your light is glowing through my front door

Till the break of dawn you flicker through my alcohol



Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records.

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

The Story Of Miki Matsubara & Mayonaka No Doa – Stay With Me

Today we’re looking at Miki Matsubara and her debut 1979 Japanese City Pop song Mayonaka No Doa 真夜中のドア – Stay With Me. We have an English translation of the song and performance sung by Cake Sullivan, and then we’ll jump into the background. I track the history of the song from the 1979 original version, through to the Rainych Youtube cover, to Mayonaka blowing up on TikTok in 2020

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

Love, City Pop

Text Type

Song Lyrics

Japanese Lyrics

To you, yes my love to you



私は私 貴方は貴方と

昨夜言ってた そんな気もするわ

グレイのジャケットに

見覚えがある コーヒーのしみ

相変らずなのね

ショーウィンドウに 二人映れば

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

帰らないでと泣いた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

口ぐせを言いながら

二人の瞬間を抱いて

まだ忘れず 大事にしていた

 

恋と愛とは 違うものだよと

昨夜言われた そんな気もするわ

二度目の冬が来て

離れていった貴方の心

ふり返ればいつも

そこに 貴方を感じていたの

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

心に穴があいた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

淋しさまぎらわして

置いたレコードの針

同じメロディ 繰り返していた…

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

帰らないでと泣いた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

口ぐせを言いながら

二人の瞬間を抱いて

まだ忘れず 暖めてた

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

帰らないでと泣いた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

口ぐせを言いながら

二人の瞬間を抱いて

まだ忘れず 暖めてた

 

Stay with me…

真夜中のドアをたたき

帰らないでと泣いた

あの季節が 今 目の前

Stay with me…

English Translation

My love, I send to you my love

Send to you my love

 

I am me and you are you

Last night I heard you talking

I swear it’s true

I saw on your grey jacket

A coffee stain that I’m sure I’d seen before

I thought, isn’t that just like you dear?

 reflecting in the shop window, right there I saw

 

Stay with me

Till the dark night turns into morning light

I was knocking on your door and crying with the seasons changing

Right before my eyes

Stay by my side

Stay with me

These words, how many times must I repeat?

I remember way back when how you would treat

Treat me so sweet

 

Love and affection

Are not the same thing

Last night I think

That’s what you said to me

And when the 2nd winter came

Seemed like our love just blew away

It’s only now I look back that I see

I always knew when you were right there with me

Stay with me

Till the dark night turns into morning light

I need something to help me fill this hole inside

And the seasons they change

Right before your eyes

Stay with me

Take my mind off how I get so damn lonely

Put the needle on that record

Play that melody

Over and over

And over on repeat

Why Did Miki Matsubara’s Stay With Me Blow Up In 2020?

The internet has a strange habit of regurgitating cultural artifacts up from the bubbling & voluminous ooze of human history. In this way, curios that have been previously looked over, passed on, loved in parallel worlds or inhabited worlds partially loved, somehow find new life. Matsubara Miki’s Mayonaka No Doa – Stay With Me, meaning “Midnight Door – Stay With Me”, is one such piece of shimmering flotsam to have surfaced on the digital tide.

The song started doing the rounds on Tic Toc in the dying months of the annus mirabilis of 2020. In an unprecedented year, it was an unexpected cover of the song by Indonesian-Muslim artist Rainych that set the spark of the viral fire that spread to social media, by uploading a cover of the song to Youtube on the 29th of October 2020. 

Flawlessly sung in Japanese by an Indonesian with almost no ability to speak a word of Japanese, the song perhaps represents a new watermark in the globalization of culture.

But who can really say why these things take off? I like to see it as an act of nature, or divinity, or divine nature, like a cyclone or an earth tremor, or a large wave. Perhaps it was the infamous hand of god, guided by the then only recently deceased maradona.

The internet is a surging ocean.

Whatever the providence, some of the appeal must have come from the cheesy, yet undeniably soaring, melody, performance and arrangement. Mayonaka occupies a late 70s, early 80s style jazz fusion, America-meets-rising-sun world, with a combo locking into a funky groove, in consummate session muso fashion. It’s got layers of muted horns, shimmering keys and extended harmony inflected strings. 

It also has a perfectly twinkling  Matsubara eye film clip if you watch one of the most prominent selections doing the rounds on Tik Tok. 

Hey, it was the year of the plague, so you can forgive the greater online diaspora for frothing for a little razzle dazzle.

Miki Matsubara & The Rise of Japanese City Pop

Of course, the song is placed in a larger wave of ironic nostalgia that has been rippling across the globe ever since Japanese and Western DJ’s started spinning the so called – Rare Grooves in the 90s. This was the music of the late economic bubble era 80’s Japan, one part of what had, rather uninspiringly been given the moniker of “New music”. Loosely tied up into an amorphous subgenre mirror ball called “City Pop”, people started seeking out this music deeply influenced by American AOR, Adult and Album Orientated Rock, depending on who you believe, which favored sophisticated, jazz and funk inflected grooves with a smooth, upbeat vibe. This music formed a soft rebellion against the more heart on your sleeve, socio-political movement-orientated folk and raucous rock that had taken hold in the mid 60s. The new music was all about personal fortune and misfortune, the world be damned. Musicians, such as Haromi Hosono and his band Happy End, who I looked at in my last Songs In Translation Video, and, even more characteristically, Sugar Babe, symbolised the start of the change in Japan.

By the time Miki Matsubara released the song in 1979, aged 19 and a year out of high school, the City Pop genre was just starting to launch into full flight.

Who Wrote Miki Matsubara’s Mayonaka 真夜中のドア No Doa Stay With Me?

The music and words to the Mayonaka No Doa Stay With Me were written by two jobbing hit makers Tokuko Miura and Tetsuji Hayashi, both of whom have enough song writing credits listed on their wikipedia pages to give you Carpal Tunnel just trying to scroll through them. Tokuko is perhaps best known as the behind the scenes wordsmith to pen many of Pop megastar Seiko Matsuda’s early hits. Mayonaka no Doa was the only song she worked with Matsubara on.

 

Many of the people Matsubara worked with describe her as being something special. Indeed,she was one of those people that was good at everything. At school, she was a top student, did well at sport, had a charismatic personality that everyone was drawn to. Everyone expected her to go on to a prestigious university. To her local community’s surprise at the age of 17, she courageously set out to the big smoke of Tokyo to pursue another of her many talents – singing. Within a year she was scouted after jumping on stage for an impromptu performance at a bar, and was promptly armed with some hit material and sent to the studio.

Miki Matsubara in Mid-Career

But she wasn’t just an object being acted on. She was serious about her music. From the start there was something mature, adult, about her. She didn’t fit the kawaii sugar puff idol mold. She was undeniably beautiful, but had something of the femme fatale about her. 

A guitarist from her band would later say in an interview that her attitude to music, that “you have to unflinchingly attack it head on”, had changed his life. In short, she was a pro.

At the age of 25, she started seeing many female singers around start to recede into the background, retire, as if being on the downhill side of one’s 20s was the time for a woman in music to quietly step down. Instead, Matsubara doubled down. She also began adding new strings to her bow. She started a band, Dr. Woo. She honed her skills as a songwriter and composer. She wrote theme songs, and anime soundtrack music. In this way, she spent the next decade and half not just as a singer, but as a productive music industry creator.

 

Then, shortly after the turn of the millennium, and entering her early forties, she sent an abrupt and startling email message to her friends. She told them she was cutting ties. Getting rid of her home phone, cancelling her mobile phone contract, closing her email account. Those that replied to the email got nothing in return. To many, it was like she just disappeared.

And she stopped making music.

In a message to her brother she said “I’ve got a favour. Please forget about the years of my life singing and making music.” 

To her close family only she confided the reason for the sudden change. Her message to her brother continued “I can’t help but feel that the way I have been living my life has brought about my sickness…I must find a way to reset myself.”

How Did Miki Matsubara Die?

Matsubara died of uterine cervix cancer on October 7 2004. In 2001, she had made a clean and complete break from music, and from her community to devote herself completely to battling her illness. She was an all-or-nothing person. A perfectionist. Her new life mission was life itself. Now she was a warrior fighting disease.

In the words of Tom Waits, it was a train that took her away, but a train couldn’t bring her home.

 

She was given 3 months to live.

Miki Matsubara Final Years and Legacy

In the end, she proved herself, as in all things, above average even as a patient. From the time of her withdrawal from the world, to the time of her ultimate passing, a span of 3 years passed.

In her last days she confided in her father “There are still so many things I want to do. I don’t want to die”.

He would later say, “she had always been independent, but in the last six months of her life, it was almost as if she became a baby, craving her parent’s love.”

On the 7th of October, she rapped one last time on midnight’s door and was admitted for the final time.

But her music has not so much lived on, as reincarnated. The music of the time has gone on to hold a strange fascination for many people throughout the world. Most notably, the sounds of City Pop have been championed, if not fetishised, by the proponents of Vaporwave (perhaps most characteristically in the Macintosh Plus album Floral Shoppe), that reference the stylised sounds of the early eighties, the more exotic the better, through filters, quotation and varying degrees of irony.

But before she was a meme, Matsubara was a human. Before she was a femme fatale, she was a talented daughter. Before she was a sparkling eye, she was an insightful mind.

And no matter whether she comes knocking on our door in the dead of night or not, she deserves to stay with me and you.

Stay With Me General And Buying Info

What Album did 真夜中のドア Stay With Me appear on?

Stay With Me first appeared as Miki’s debut single on the 5th of November 1979. It would go on to appear on her debut album “Pocket Park” on the 21st of January 1980, on vinyl and cassette. A CD version of the album in 1990 and was reissued in 2009.

The song has also appeared on several best of and compilation albums below.

Differences Between Album and Single Versions of Stay With Me

The intro section of the single version of Stay With Me features Miki’s vocals, while the album version only has back up singers. The album version of Stay With Me is also around 15 seconds longer than the single version, due to the inclusion of an extra chorus.

How Many Times Has Stay With Me been covered?

There are 28 cover versions of the song listed on the the Japanese version of Wikipedia. There have been countless other renditions of the song since it became popular on social media.

Miki Matsubara Soundtracks

Miki Matsubara wrote theme songs and contributed to the sound tracks for animations including Dirty Pair and Gundam 0033.

These are still available on DVD and Bluray:

Miki Matsubara Merch

Miki Matsubara Posters

Miki Matsubara T-Shirts

Other Miki Matsubara Stuff

City Pop Stuff

Vaporwave Stuff

Japanoscope uses affiliate links. Which means we may receive commisions when you click on some product links. We only link to products we believe in, use ourselves or think are genuinely good. This helps us keep all of the content on the site free of charge. As Monty Python once said, “We’re selling records in the foyer. Some of us have gotta eat too you know”.

If you liked this translation & exploration of Mayonaka No Doa Stay With Me, you might like my translation of Demon Slayer Opening Theme 鬼滅の刃主題歌 Gurenge 紅蓮華 with lyrics in english translation.

Gurenge

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

Read More »

Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

Read More »

The Story Of Miki Matsubara & Mayonaka No Doa – Stay With Me

Miki Matsubara 松原みき Mayonaka no doa 真夜中のドア with English Lyrics and translation sung by Cake Sullivan.
I track the history of the song from the 1979 original version, through to the Rainych Youtube cover, to Mayonaka blowing up on TikTok in 2020.
Along the way I answer questions such as how did Miki Matsubara die? How did her music fit into the larger genres of Japanese City Pop and New Music?

Read More »
Graded Japanese Reading Practice

Gurenge

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

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More »
Songs In Translation

Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

Read More »

Who is behind this site?

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

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

Hosono House Background and Translation of Boku Wa Chotto

Hosono House Album Themes

Hosono Haruomi’s debut solo record is all about being at home. So much so that he called it “Hosono House”. It was recorded shortly after he returned from a West Coast Tour of the United States,  a country which was as much his spiritual home as the one listed in his passport.

「当時の僕は終末感にさいなまれ、その上、ある精神的なショックのフラッシュ・バックなどもあって、身も心もズタズタに分裂してしまうような状態に落ち込んでいた。」 "At the time, I was struck by a premonition of some kind of apocalypse. On top of that, there was a flashback mental shock. I was depressed to the point of my body and mind being shattered."

Where was the “Hosono House”?

Haruomi’s home in Japan at the time barely qualified as being really in Japan. He was in the “American Village” of the suburban Sayama area, about an hour’s drive north west of Tokyo. American Village, is the remnants of the Johnson Air Base, established by the U.S. occupation after the war, on the site of an earlier Japanese air base from the 1930s. The Johnson Town – American Village is a chunk of America plonked down in the far East. I guess you could say it’s a more militarised version of the Disneylands that you can find utterly unchanged, uncustomized and unrepentantly celebrating The Tales of Tom Sawyer and the Wild West from Hong Kong to Shanghai, except with with more of an emphasis on aerial bombardment than nighttime “Celebrate Imagination” firework displays. It’s a case of soft toys for soft power and hard toys for hard power.

 

The America that American Village celebrates is that of the suburbs. It consists of white weatherboard homes, replete with porches, lawns and picket fences, that huddle along a single bitumen road. You can almost see the American officers lingering around the hot dog stands as they return to their abodes after a long day coordinating fire-raids of Pyongyang in the Korean War. The American Village of Sayama is a glob of burger cheese that has dripped out and stuck to the Kimono sleeve of Tokyo.

Haruomi and the “American Village”

It might seem strange that a young, long haired, social drop-out hippy like Haruomi would choose to settle down in such a historic seat of military activity. But it was cheap. After all, which self respecting Japanese would want to live in such strange abodes, devoid of Tatami mats, sliding doors and genkans. There wasn’t even a space to remove your footwear. The previous residents hadn’t bothered with taking their shoes off. So the area attracted the bohemian types, and a little community of artsy weirdos came to occupy the surreal mickey-meets-military, mini-homesteads on Tokyo’s fringe.
It suited Haruomi. He had spent most of his life obsessing over American music in a way that those around him found unhealthy. His band Happy End had become the progenitor of a rock that was able to fully meld the rhythms of American beats and the Japanese language for the first time. In many ways, he too was a piece of American cheese gunk sullying up Tokyo’s svelte look.

Happy End

Retreating to the Sayama hills, by a patch of idyllic greenery that the Americans had, without a touch of self awareness, referred to as Hyde Park, made sense to Haruomi. He was retreating in more ways than one. The band he led, Happy End, not able to sustain the upbeat promise of its name, was breaking up. He said at the time that he felt like the captain of a ship that had weathered a great storm, but was now stranded in a windless ocean. Listening to anything with a rock beat set him on edge.

Pictures of Hosono House Recording Session

Influences on Hosono House

In his troubled state, he found solace in the soothing sounds of the country revival taking hold in early 70s U.S.A. In his recent tour of the motherland, he had sat in with some production sessions with Van Dyke Parks

「ヴァン・ダイクの『ディスカバー・アメリカ』っていうアルバムを徹底的に聞き込んでいくうちに、あのアルバムをとっかかりにして、ぼくの感覚が過去に戻っていったの。たとえば、ぼくが子供の頃に聞いていたハリウッドの映画音楽とか、そういうノスタルジックな世界を思い出したんだね」 "While listening to Van Dyck's" Discover America "album, I got taken back, it was like I was a kid again. I remembered the Hollywood movie music I was listening to, and that kind of nostalgic world. "

「ロック・ビートがイヤになったんだよ。だから古いカントリーを聴き直したり、シンガー・ソング・ライターものを聴いたりしていたわけだ」 "I didn't like rock beats, so I was re-listening to old country and listening to singer-songwriters."

He could almost see the musicians sitting on the porches when he put on records by Tom Rush, Gordon Lightfoot, John Hartford. Most of all, he was impressed by the big down-home sounds of The Band on Music From The Big Pink.

「ロック・ビートがイヤになったんだよ。だから古いカントリーを聴き直したり、シンガー・ソング・ライターものを聴いたりしていたわけだ」 "I didn't like rock beats, so I was re-listening to old country and listening to singer-songwriters."

Recording Sessions for Hosono House

「自宅でメンバーが合宿状態でレコーディングするということは、正味に使える時間が長いという利点とともに、一つ 間違うとしまりなくダラダラやってしまう危険性とが同居していました。そこで、1時から6時までとレコーディング時間を区切り、三日やったら1日休むとい うやり方にしました。」 "Recording at home, it’s as if you’ve all gone off to some kind of live-in boot camp has the advantage that you can really maximise on those “peak” productive periods. The flip side is that you run the risk of wasting time endlessly faffing around. So we created a routine: 1 o'clock to 6 o’clock and after three days, we took a day off. "

So what is a wounded hippie rocker to do with a broken dream and a crate full of country? Head to the hills in search of the Yamato Appalachia.

At the same time, recording technology was getting smaller. Well, still huge really, but small enough that you could, with the help of a few stout buddies, put it in the back of a light truck. This opened up possibilities. The possibility to get away from the pay-by-the hour pressures of a commercial studio. The possibility to record somewhere where you can spend the afternoon getting the right sound, then sit down to a meal with your bandmates, maybe play some cards. The possibility to combine art-life and home-life.

Hosono House Recording Schedule and Dates

So that’s what Hosono and his buddies did (he even gave them band a name “Caramel Mama”, so the album is perhaps not strictly a “solo album” at all). On the 15th of February 1973, they set up in the bedroom of Hosono’s house, because the living room was too boomy. They recorded from roughly 1-6pm, three days on, two days off for the period of around a month, celebrating the end of the process with a party on the 12th of March 1973.

リビング・ルームにシグマ社製16トラックのミキシング・コンソールが置かれ、演奏には8畳ほどのベッド・ルームが使われた “A Sigma 16-track mixing console was placed in the living room, and a bedroom of about 8 tatami mats was used for the performance.”

The Hosono House Sound

「作品とは思えないわけよね。頭で創ったものじゃあないから。何かもっと、恥ずかしいものだね。作品として客観的に見れるものじゃないから。習作の時代だから」 "I don't think it's a “”work of art””. It's not something I created with my head. It's something more embarrassing. It's not something that can be seen objectively as a ““work””. It was “”period of study.”"

The music sounds warm and real, with an immediately recognisable similarity to Music From The Big Pink. In the mix down, they had to struggle with bringing the sound of the vibrating floor under control. The drums were in the bass mic, so if you tried to turn up the bass, you turned up the snare, toms and cymbals too. You could hear the room. It was as if the strange old American air force officer’s dwelling had become an instrument.

The tracks themselves, though very much in the American-country folk style of the time, and exulting in the domestic, also already hint at some of the vagabond eclecticism of his later work, both solo and with legendary electronic-pop-prog band Yellow Magic Orchestra. There are elements of exoticism, adventure, strange references thrown in here and there.

「意図っていうのは、ノヴェルティ・ソングなんですよ。決してラヴソングでもないし、何かをメッセージするわけでもない。ノヴェルティ・ソングというのはどうやって訳せばいいかわからないけど、そういうジャンルがあるんです。冗談音楽もその中の一つだし。昔はトニー谷とかそういう人たちがいっぱいいたけど、その後日本にはなくなっちゃったものなんです」 "The intention was to write novelty songs! A novelty song is not a love song, it doesn't contain a message. I don't know how “novelty song” translates into Japanese, but there is such a genre. I guess in Japan, one “Joke music” might be one type of music contained in it. There used to be a lot of people doing that stuff, like Tony Tani, but after that it pretty much disappeared from Japan. "

Hosono’s Musical Philosophy

Hosono_Haruomi_from__No_Smoking__at_Opening_Ceremony_of_the_Tokyo_International_Film_Festival_2019_(49013189233)

Haruomi has said it takes a lot of effort to be devoted to a genre. It’s like being an athlete.  You work away at one discipline, a certain movement, a certain routine, over and over until you achieve tiny incremental gains that put you ahead of the competition.

Haruomi has no stomach for it. He’s not an athlete. He’s a tourist. In the years since Hosono House, his wanderlust has taken him to the kingdoms of rock, country, exotica, electro-pop, ambient and, most recently, pre-rock boogie woogie. He would rather ride his bike through the countryside than grind it out on the cycle-machine. Life is like a box set of Hosono albums, you never know what you’re going to get.

「この頃は、一般的に70年代に流れていた音楽がどんどんつまらなくなってきちゃったというのがあるな。それで、ジェイムス・テイラー、ヴァン・ダイク・パークス、トム・ラッシュ、ゴードン・ライトフット、ジョン・ハートフォード……そんなのばっかり聴いていた。そしてさらには、はっぴいえんどからここに至るまでには、すっかりハリウッド漬けになってたんだ」 "Around this time, the music that was generally played in the 70's became more and more boring, so James Taylor, Van Dyke Parks, Tom Rush, Gordon Lightfoot, John Hartford. Hartford ... I was just listening to that, and even more so, from Happy End on, I was completely immersed in Hollywood. "

Hosono House Lyrics

The lyrics  on Hosono House deal mostly with Haruomi’s immediate surroundings. He wanders through the hills, the houses, the environment, and melds it with the feelings, the hopes and dreams of the time.

「『ホソノ・ハウス』の詞っていうのは、あの頃のぼくの生活、あの場所から出てきたもので、それ以上のものも、それ以下のものも書けなかったんだ」 "The lyrics of 'Hosono House' came out of my life at that time, that place. I couldn't have written anything more or less than what I did."

Song In-depth: Boku Wa Chotto

By way of illustration, today I’ve done a translation of track two on the album “Boku wa chotto”. The title itself is prosaic, matter-of-fact, maybe almost akin to the “it’s so boring it’s good” aesthetic of late teens Melbourne dole-wave. It means “I’m a little…” or “Maybe, for me…”. It’s equivocal, an unfinished thought. It seems to reflect the uncertainty that Haruomi was feeling in this period in his life, in his art, in his sense of place.

But mostly, Boku wa chotto is an attempt to banish these uncertainties in a sun-drenched ode to the quiet life. The singer is sun-bathing, chatting over tea, going out for strolls, listening to country music, and ultimately deciding to keep quiet. It even has a reference to the white houses of the American Village he was living in at the time.

レコーディングは毎日午後に5時間ほど行われ、3日に1日休むペースで進み 後に細野は「日本語のロックがどうのこうのという騒ぎの中心にまつり上げられた“はっぴい”も過去のこととなったし、少し静かにしていたいという思いを込めて“僕はだまるつもりです”と歌ったのだが、その後のめぐり合わせで入ってしまったキャラメル・ママのおかげで、一層落ち着く暇などなくなってしまったものだ」[3]と語っている。 All that stuff about Happy End being “Japanese rock lyric trail blazers” and had come to an end, and I was thinking things might quieten down. I put that sense into Boku Wa Chotto. As it turned out, once I started doing things with this “Caramel Mama” band, things weren’t nearly as quiet as I had expected!

Japan, The Sun and the “Hi No Dezuru Kuni” 日の出ずる国

The only line that jolts us out of this at-home bliss is the refrain, as many good refrains do. The line appears three times and refers to the nation of Japan, another home reference, but this time at much more bird’s eye level. He uses an archaic name for the country 日の出ずる国, “the country where the sun rises”. Our term “Land of the Rising Sun” is a translation of this phrase. The modern Japanese name for Japan is a variation on this theme ”日本”, meaning literally the “The origin of the sun”. At first glance this sounds kind of conceited, like the Japanese had come up with a name for their own country that made it so central that it was where the sun itself originates. But in reality, the name was bestowed by China, who were the ultimate superpower in the region of the time, much as America is now. Japan is roughly East of China, so it made sense to refer to the country as “the place where the sun rises”.

Either way, the sun has a central place in Japanese culture. Their striking flag has a sun on a white background. Their Emperor is meant to be descended from the Amaterasu, the ancient Goddess of the sun. So Haruomi’s numerous references to sunshine, rays of light, glistening and shimmering is rich in deep cultural reverberations.

Hosono House Cultural Context

The other cultural context we can’t ignore is that of the massive riots that raged through the 1960’s Japan, which were only just beginning to quiet down in the early 70s. Amongst the many issues that had brought people onto the streets, the most universally mobilising was that of the Japan-America Security Treaty which placed American army and air bases throughout Japan, in return for protection. Many viewed, and still view, this mafioso-like arrangement as an infringement on Japanese sovereignty and an act of American imperialism. Perhaps the ironic thing about this movement and the security bases themselves, was that the U.S. bases often became places of congregation for radicals, partly because of the anti-war publications that were distributed from US activists themselve.

So, though Boku wa chotto is not an overtly political song, and Haruomi has never shown a particular proclivity towards activism, I think that it is safe to say the songs has references to the political climate of the time and to the dueling urges of nationalism, anti-imperialism, pacifism and the love-hate relationship between the United States and the 日の出ずる国.

 

That’s a lot to bite off. No wonder the upshot of Haruomi’s domestic, sun-soaked, Japanese-Americana riffing is that he’s going to take a quiet moment.

僕は一寸 Boku Wa Chotto In Translation

This is rough translation of the song. It’s translated more for rhyme and to capture the general feel than as complete word-for-word translation.

ひなたぼっこでも

していきませんか

そこにまあ すわって

お茶でも飲んで お話を

どんな話をしゃべりましょうか

日の出ずる国の明日の事でも・・・

 

散歩がてらに 歩きませんか

そこから 立ちあがって

服のすそでも はらって

どんなところを歩きましょうか

日の出ずる国の輝く道でも・・・

 

道のぬかるみ 入り日が映り

だまりこくる 夕焼けの午後

僕は一寸 笑うつもりです―

 

ここら辺りに住みつきませんか

あそこを ひきはらって

生で聞けるからカントリーミュージック

白い家でも見つけましょうか

日の出ずる丘に彼女と2人で

 

外の日溜り 枯木に埋まり

だまりこくる 家の中の午後

僕は一寸 だまるつもりです―

Don’t be shy

We could just sit here in this sunshine

We could put the kettle on

Talk about whatever we want

 Shall we talk about

What’s over the horizon

For me and you and everyone

And the land of the rising sun

Why don’t we go

Out, go for a stroll

Climb up over the hill

Just like Jack and Jill

Which path should we go down. we could go left or right, I don’t mind

Or follow that glistening one

On the road to the rising sun

 

And the mud on the path

Is shining just like glass

As the afternoon keeps quiet

And the sun just keeps on shining

I’m gonna let that time pass

The only plan I’ve got is to laugh

 

Why don’t we live around here

Mov outta that old place

Listen to the people play their country music, every day

 

find a house that’s white

Paint it any colour we might  like

Maybe we could find one

On the hill beneath the rising sun

Splashes of sunlight

Cover up the trees all dying

The afternoon’s still silent

Maybe we could stay inside

Sometimes it’s alright

To stay quiet

Hosono House Track Listing

1.”Rock-a-Bye My Baby” (ろっか・ばい・まい・べいびい Rokka Bai Mai Beibī)3:15

2.”Boku wa Chotto” (僕は一寸)3:52

3.”Choo Choo Gatagoto” (CHOO CHOO ガタゴト)3:25

4.”Owari no Kisetsu” (終わりの季節)3:12

5.”Fuyu Koe” (冬越え)3:15

6.”Party” (パーティー Pātī)2:02

7.”Fuku ha Uchi Oni ha Soto” (福は内 鬼は外)2:28

8.”Jūsho Futei Mushoku Teishūnyū” (住所不定無職低収入)2:35

9.”Koi wa Momoiro” (恋は桃色)2:47

10.”Rose and Beast” (薔薇と野獣 Bara to Yajū)4:24

11.”Aiaigasa” (相合傘)0:18

Where To Listen to Hosono House?

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Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Ponponpon Lyrics in English and Japanese

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

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

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

Individuality

Text Type

Song Lyrics

ぽんぽんぽん歌詞

Ponponpon Japanese Lyrics

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

EVERYDAY ポン!

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

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

ぽんぽんぽん英訳

Ponponpon English Lyrics

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

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

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

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

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

The Story of PonPonPon

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, PonPonPon and The Simpsons

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

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

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

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

 

So the Simpsons nod to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is significant.

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

 

Early Years of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

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

Harajuku Cuteness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a Japanese article with pictures here

Kyary Pamyu "Street Snaps"

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu meets Yasutaka Nakata

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

The Tardis
Yasutaka Nakata's Studio

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

 

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

 

About PonPonPon Lyrics

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Arrangement of PonPonPon

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

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

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Fashion Books

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Gurenge

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

Read More »

Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

Read More »

The Story Of Miki Matsubara & Mayonaka No Doa – Stay With Me

Miki Matsubara 松原みき Mayonaka no doa 真夜中のドア with English Lyrics and translation sung by Cake Sullivan.
I track the history of the song from the 1979 original version, through to the Rainych Youtube cover, to Mayonaka blowing up on TikTok in 2020.
Along the way I answer questions such as how did Miki Matsubara die? How did her music fit into the larger genres of Japanese City Pop and New Music?

Read More »

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

Gurenge

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

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More »
Songs In Translation

Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

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

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

Midnight Diner Theme Song Omoide by Tsunekichi Suzuki Translated and Explained

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

But first thing’s first…

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

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

Zeigo Tsunekichi Suzuki Album

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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

Themes

Impernance

Text Type

Folk Song

Background To Midnight Diner Song Omoide and Tsunekichi Suzuki

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

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

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

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

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

Tsunekichi Suzuki and Midnight Diner

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

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

Midnight Diner Soundtrack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post-Ikaten Tsunekichi 

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

Omoide’s 18th Century Irish Folk Origins

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

A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow Lyrics

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

It was on a fine summer’s morning

The birds sweetly tune on each bough

And as I walked out for my pleasure

I saw a maid milking a cow

Her voice was so enchanting, melodious

Left me quite unable to go

My heart, it was loaded with sorrow

For the pretty maid milking her cow

Then to her I made my advances

“Good morrow most beautiful maid

Your beauty my heart so entrances”

“Pray sir do not banter,” she said

“I’m not such a rare precious jewel

That I should enamour you so

I am but a poor little milk girl,”

Says the pretty maid milking her cow

The Indies afford no such jewel

So bright, so transparently clear

I do not add things to my funeral

Consent but to know me my dear

Oh, had I the Lamp of Aladdin

Or the wealth that gold mines can bestow

I’d rather be poor in a cottage

With the pretty girl milking her cow.

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

Tsunekichi’s reworking of the Irish tune

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

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

Omoide Lyrics and Translation

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

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

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

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

君が吐いた白い息が

 

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

See your pale breath floating over there

As it slowly drifts off in the air

See it billow into the clouds in the sky

And vanish before your eyes

See the white clouds reaching out there hands

In the sky so far above the land

Breathing in the air you breathed out

Rolling on, Rolling On, Rolling On

And do you remember

The clouds streaming by ‘bove the river?

And didn’t they look just like this?

Or maybe my mind plays tricks

And do you remember the glaring sun

And the dog sleeping there ‘neath the eaves

And all of these memories

Fade into the sky as they leave

On the other side of the sky

There’s another sky there so blue

There’s not a single soul or a sound

But there’s a rolling, rolling cloud

And do you remember

The clouds streaming by ‘bove the river?

And didn’t they look just like this?

Or maybe my mind plays tricks

See your pale breath floating over there

As it slowly drifts off in the air

See it billow into the clouds in the sky

And vanish before your eyes

And vanish before your eyes

What is Midnight Diner Shinya Shokudo?

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

Where Can I Read Shinya Shokudo in English?

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

Where can you buy shinya Shokudo Comics?

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

Where Can You Watch Midnight Diner Shinya Shokudo?

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

Are there Midnight Diner Cook Books?

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

Or if you can read Japanese you could try these:

Hungry for Midnight Diner Merch?

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

Or give the Midnight Master some love.

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

Language Learning Program Reviews

Graded Japanese Reading Practice

Gurenge

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

Read More »
Culture

Japanese Band Musician Chat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More »
Songs In Translation

Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

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

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

Translating Kiyoshiro Imawano’s Slow Ballad

Kiyoshiro Imawano, King of Japanese Rock

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

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

 

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

Japanese Language Difficulty

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

Themes

Love

Text Type

Songs In Translation

About RC Succession's "Slow Ballad"

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

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

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

 

 

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

Lyrics

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gurenge

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

Read More »

Japanese Band Musician Chat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More »

Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

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

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

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.

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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,

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Japanese Band Musician Chat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

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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

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

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Japanese Band Musician Chat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More »
Songs In Translation

Yumbo Onibi

Onibi, by Yumbo is such a wonderful song. I’ve done a translation of the lyrics and will post an English language version when I get

Read More »

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

Who is behind this site?

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

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

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

いい湯だな

いい湯だな

湯気が天井から ポタリと背中に

つめてぇな

つめてぇな

ここは北国 登別の湯


いい湯だな

いい湯だな

誰が唄うか 八木節が

いいもんだ

いいもんだ

ここは上州 草津の湯


いい湯だな

いい湯だな

湯気にかすんだ 白い人影

あの娘かな

あの娘かな

ここは紀州の 白浜の湯


いい湯だな

いい湯だな

日本人なら 浪花節でも

うなろかな

うなろかな

ここは南国 別府の湯

The water feels so good

Oh it feels so good

I feel a cold drop on my back

As the steam falls from the roof

And it feels so cool

Yes it feels so cool

I’m in the north country

Noboribetsu And it’s gonna gonna get you

 

The water feels so good

Yes it feels so good

Who is that singing that

Yagibushi, they make it sound so easy

It sounds so sweet

Yeah it sounds so sweet

Here in jyoshu, kusatsu

Getting my body warm through

 

The water feels so good

Oh it feels so good

Who is that hazy figure

Coming through the white mist

It could be her, it could be yes

It could be her

Oh it could be her

Right here in old Kishu

Hamatsu, maybe there’s someone loves you

 

But it feels so good

Yes it feels so good

I feel so Japanese

Feels like I should be

Singing naniwa bushi yeah

In a low low groan

In a low low groan

Now I’m in the south country

In beppu in my birthday suit

Forgetting me, forgetting you

Interview about the song & Ken Shimura on RRR Radio

メルボルンのラジオで下記のインタービューで志村けん、ドリフターズの話しました。

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

ドリフターズとモンティ・パイソンを比較
The Drifters Versus Monty Python

イギリスにはモンティ・パイソンがいた。日本にはドリフターズがいた。ドリフターズはこれだけ日本で影響が大きかった。どちらもコント基本のコミックの一座でした。どちらも、音楽だけでなく笑いも重視していました。どちらも、数年ではなく数十年にわたって、コンテンツの作成を継続して行う長期的な文化機関になりました。

 

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

 

モンティパイソンとドリフターズの主な違いは?ドリフターズの方が面白いです。

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

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

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

志村けん英語教える
Ken Shimura teaching English skit

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

Notes about the Drifters

ドリフターズについて最初に知っておくべきことは、1966年のビートルズ日本ツアーの前座を務めたことです。確かに、彼らの持ち時間は合計1分15秒しかなかっただが、それでも認められます。コミック音楽が日本を代表するバンドの1つとしてビートルズの前座をやることになった経緯は、直感的ではありません。でもそれは別の時代でした。あらゆるのエンターテイナーの種類の間の境界線は、現在よりも多孔性がありました。歌手の出番は犬とトリックをする大道芸人を演じた後にあって、ダンサーの出番の前にマジシャンがあって、その次はどんな芸能が出てきてもおかしくない時代でした。基本として求められるのは、人を楽しませることでした。上記のすべての芸能が出来たら、さらに良いのです。

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

ビートルズを前座するドリフ
The Drifters opening for the Beatles

ビートルズ来日講演
Beatles 1966 Japan Performance

大雑把にいうと、その事情を変えてのはビートルズとそのようなギターバンドでした。ビートルズ自身は両方の世界に同時に存在しました。ラルフハリス(イギリスで60年代から40年大活躍したオーストラリアの芸人)と「タイミーカンガルーダウンスポーツ」を共演するビートルズのこの録音は、その証拠になります。

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

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

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

 

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

 

初期のドリフターズは、歌謡曲から民謡、笑いの歌、さらには軍歌に至るまで音楽を演奏することで知られていきました。最初の大ヒットは、日本の五音階的なメロディーとピンクパンサー系のデカ番組に出てきてもおかしくないような強力なインパクトのあるズンドコ節でした。恋人・妻・恋人の重なりをほのめかしているような歌詞の歌です。1970年に演奏した映像はこんな感じです:

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

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

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

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

ドリフターズは日本でトップ10ヒットをいくつか放ち続けましたが、時間が経つにつれコメディへとだんだんに転向しました。個々のメンバーはそれぞれ、長いキャリアを渡って、グドリフターズ外で音楽を制作し続けました。

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

志村けん Ken Shimura

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

志村けんは24歳でグループに入った最新のドリフターでした。彼が歌う祭りっぽいの「東村山音頭」が有名になりました。盆踊りなどに行ったことのある人なら、この催眠的にドンドンとリズミカルに鳴るスタイルになじみはあるでしょう。

けんさんは世界打撃を打つ、まあおそらく日本を打撃を打つ、ドリフターズのテレビ番組の時期を経て、「けんさんはバカ殿様」や「変なおじさん」や、「志村けんのだいじょうぶだぁ」などというような人気番組も制作しました。

けんさんは、ドリフターズの仲間とともに、モンティパイソンは多くのイギリス人にとってと同じように、まさに国民のヒーローでした。

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

着実に増加しているが、Covid感染の数が比較的少ない日本では、志村けんさんの死は日本人にとって大きな打撃でした。志村けんは、3世代の日本人が共に育った面白いやつでした。今度は、この病気は日本国民の実際に知っている人を奪いました。今度は、この病気は本物になりました。志村けんさんの死は、来たる危機に対する日本の意識の大きな転機となりました。この記事の執筆時点で、4月8日であり、日本は緊急事態を発表しています。志村けんの最後の行動は、日本の「炭鉱の中のカナリア」になることでした。

それはMonty Pythonが受け取ったがない不幸な賞ではあります。

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

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

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

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

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

 

いい湯だな Ii Yu Da Na

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

 

彼らはアイデアをどこからともなく引き出していたわけではありません。日本にはご当地ソングというジャンルがあり、各地の歌を歌っています。もちろん世界中のソングライター、自分の家や自分が知っている場所について書くことは、ごく普通の行為です。ウッディ・ガスリーは「あなたが実際見た光景を書け」というぐらいです。ほとんどの人が実際に見ている風景はの自分の住んでいる場所です。しかし、日本は町、地域、地域の間で言語、食物、文化の違いが特に顕著であります。日本の音楽の中には「地元」をうたったポピュラー音楽や民謡や歌謡や、あらゆるジャンル数多くあるのは理解しやすいです。アメリカにはホームランどロックがあり、日本にはご当地ソングがあります。

 

日本の芸能文化にはまた、続き物、シリーズを作成する傾向があります。北斎の「富嶽三十六景」または広重の東海道五十三次のように。

 

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

 

元々、この曲はデュークエースによって歌われました。

 

その後、ドリフターズはそれを引き受け、毎週修正版の曲で「8時だよ全員集合」の番組を閉めました。この歌は、毎週、年中無休、1億人以上の日本人の居間に浸透して行きました。それほど大衆に親しまれる機会があった歌は他にないでしょう。

 

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