Kimie Fukuhara English Lyrics

Kimie Fukuhara Lyrics In English

Kimie Fukuhara is a Japanese singer, born in 1979 in Haneda, south of Tokyo. She is most well known for having had several of her songs featured in the Midnight Diner soundtrack.

I’ve also written about the Midnight Diner Opening Song Omoide here

Kimie Fukuhara Involvement in Midnight Diner

She became closely involved with the Midnight Diner program from 2011, after meeting director Joji Matsuoka at a friend’s party the year before. Many of the songs featured were about foods, to fit in with the food theme of the Tokyo Stories more generally. 

Food related songs used in Midnight Diner included: 

  • 「唐揚げ」Karaage Fried Chicken,
  • 「あさりの酒蒸し」Clams steamed in sake,
  • 「クリームシチュー」Cream Stew
  • 「紅天の女」(which is short for 「紅しょうがの天ぷら」) Tempura with beni shoga, red pickled ginger, woman.

In 2016, she discovered the lute and devoted herself to learning how to play it. 

She performs regularly at cafes and bars around Japan on Lute and other string instruments.

Fukuhara has a Youtube channel where since 2019 she has regularly performed her own songs as well as covers of well known songs, in particular anime songs.

Fukuhara is also friends with Suemarr who contributed the song 人生行きあたりばったり jinsei ikiataribattari. In fact, it was Fukuhara who first took a video on her iphone of Suemarr playing the song live and sent it to Midnight Diner’s production team.

Kimie Fukuhara Omoi Omoware lyrics (To Love and Be Loved) in English

福原希己江 想い想われ 歌詞 英訳

Gently fluttering down,

Where did those petals go?

Leaving a sweet scent

Living within you

On the other side of the narrow stream

Today, also, you smile

Without awareness of the years of age

Today, also, passes.

Gently, your face breaks into a smile

I can’t help but look, over and over

Searching out that sweet fragrance

That has taken up residence within me

Within the black darkness

Today, also, you are smiling

Without awareness of the years of age

Today, also, passes

Like the wind, like a flower

If I could have been by your side

Do not forget, do not forget, about me.

Kimie Fukuhara Omoi Omoware lyrics (To Love and Be Loved) in English & Japanese


Gently fluttering down,


Where did those petals go?


Leaving a sweet scent


Living within you


On the other side of the narrow stream


Today, also, you smile

ああ 歳のことには気づかずに

Without awareness of the years of age


Today, also, passes.


Gently, your face breaks into a smile


I can’t help but look, over and over


Searching out that sweet fragrance


That has taken up residence within me


Within the black darkness


Today, also, you are smiling

ああ 歳のことには気づかずに

Without awareness of the years of age


Today, also, passes

風のように 花のように

Like the wind, like a flower


If I could have been by your side

忘れないで 忘れないで わたしを

Do not forget, do not forget, about me.You can find more information about the opening theme song of Midnight Diner here or the song by Magic Party used in the Midnight Diner here.

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. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page:



How long would it take to learn Japanese?2021

Me In Japan contemplating how many hours I had spent learning Japanese

The question “How long would it take to learn Japanese” is almost impossible to answer in a universal way, but I can share my own experience. I’ve also gone through and tallied up roughly how many hours of content the major Japanese language learning programs and platforms have which you can see below.

Japanese language programHoursLinks
Duolingo383574 Lessons x 5 Sub lessons = 2870Average. 8 minutes per lesson 2870 x 8 = 22960 mins/60 =383 Hours See more here
Pimsleur91.584 Hours of audio lessons 30 minute core lesson  7 hours of reading instruction 84+0.5+7 = 91.5See more here
Japanese POD 101304Total 5 lessons of 117 hours and bonus contents including Kanji and Japanese traditional songs which are of 187 hours so the total adds up to 117+187=304
Rocket languages Japanese380Total lesson time as reported on websiteSee more here
WaniKani226+8500 items x 8 repetitions x 12 seconds per repetitionSee more here
LingQ1000+LingQ relies on user generated and 3rd party content. It functions as a “content aggregator” allowing users to The website is saying that they have 1000+ hours of content here
FluentU1000+FluentU uses freely available Youtube content and adds functionality to look up and review words. They are adding content all the time.See more here

Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to look at the question I am sometimes asked:

How long did it take you to learn Japanese?

You never really stop learning a language. Even in your own native language you continue to learn new words and concepts as you go. This is even more so the case in a second language.

For me, I started learning Japanese in middle & high school. I did around 4 years during this time. I didn’t really apply myself at the time, but was able to learn the basic scripts for writing simple Japanese: Hiragana and Katakana. In fact, this stage of the learning didn’t take long at all. So I guess there first question is:

How long does it take to learn Hiragana and Katakana?

I think if you put your mind to it, most people could incorporate learning these into an everyday life in around a month or so. There are plenty of apps that can automate the process these days, such as duolingo etc. For me I learned the scripts through a system of creating pictures out of the letters. I think having some kind of mnemonic system happening when you are trying to memorise anything new makes sense.

How long does it take to learn to speak Japanese?

After learning Japanese at middle/high school for approximately 4 years, I traveled to Japan to live for a year on a working holiday. I found that I was totally unable to have an everyday conversation.

I had had very little actual speaking and listening practice in real life, or close to real life simulations. I had memorised perhaps a few hundred words, but these didn’t come out in real time at all.

After living in Japan for around 3-4 months, and making a concerted effort to actually try and use the few words I did know, I found I was able to get to a level where I could have a very basic conversation. I’m talking about something like “Where are you from? How long have you been here? What will you come” kind of level.

This was in the days before even electronic dictionaries, so I would constantly carry around hard copy Japanese-English and English-Japanese dictionaries. They were heavy in the back pack!

I would write down any new words that I heard and look them up and review them every day or two. 

I would also watch TV shows in Japanese and just see if I could pick anything up – usually not much.

In this way, within six months I was able to have slightly more involved questions, saying things like “What’s the name of this dish? How do you make it? Is there a special order you are meant to eat things in?”

Long Term Japanese Learning

I’ve now been “learning” (probably “using” is a better term” for more than 20 years. At this stage I can watch most modern day tv shows, where they are using everyday non-dialect Japanese, and understand perhaps 90% of what they say. I can watch the news and understand maybe more like 70%, especially in the sections on politics.

How Long Does It Take to Learn to Read Japanese?

The other big project is, of course, reading. You have three scripts to learn, Hiragana, Katakana and Chinese Characters (Kanji). As I have said, I think you can learn Hiragana and Katakana in about a month’s time.

Kanji is a whole other story. I remember asking a Japanese friend at the start of my Japanese learning story, “How many Kanji do you know”? He answered “how many English words do you know?”

There are literally 10s of thousands to learn. 

The good news is that you only need around 2000 or so to functionally literate for most intents and purposes.

I have gone through periods where I have studied the Kanji quite intently for periods. I used Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji for a period, and found it’s mnemonic system quite helpful.

That being said, I find over the long term I constantly go back and forth between remembering Kanji (including reading, meaning and their use in conjugations) and forgetting them again. It’s a bit like a leaky boat that I have to constantly keep bailing water out of. 

Electronic tools have helped with the process a lot. You can now look up most Japanese words pretty easily on a Kindle, and you can read most text on a computer browser using a tool like rikaikun.

I still like to read physical books sometimes too. I find I can get the general gist of a modern novel, but probably still have 20-30% that I understand partially or not at all.

This level allowed me to pass the N1 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test some ten years ago (about ten years after starting to learn Japanese). Even then, I only just scraped through.

Is Learning Japanese Worth It?

Yes, I’ve found the whole process of learning Japanese intensely rewarding. I’ve loved the experience of having this whole different world open up to me. 

Unfortunately, as a non-Japanese person, you face a constant “battle” of people often not wanting, or even believing, that you can speak Japanese. So that can be frustrating. But this very much depends on the person. 

I would say if you want to learn Japanese, just jump in. You can go all out, try and live your life in Japanese, change your computer language, speak with as many Japanese people as you can, or take your time. 

Overall, my experience is that the fastest way to improve Japanese for me is to speak it and listen to it. This forces your brain to do everything it can to understand what is happening in real time. You naturally start forming links between existing knowledge and new information coming in, making things “stick” so much more naturally. So my advice, if you want to learn Japanese quickly, is to find every opportunity you can to start speaking with Japanese people right now. Even if you feel you’re not ready.

What Does Naruto Mean? The Full Story From The Creator’s Mouth.

Of course, the short meaning to what the word Naruto means is either of:


2. “Fish paste morsel that floats in your ramen noodles that is shaped like a whirlpool”.

But if you want to know the reason that the manga & anime character Naruto is called naruto, your best off getting the information directly from the creator Masashi Kishimoto.

Masashi Kishimoto’s explanation of where the name “Naruto” comes from

In an early interview that Kishimoto gave, which you can read here,  he actually recounts where the comic, and the name, come from. I’ve translated a couple of sections below:


Kishimoto: My reason for wanting to write Naruto was that, at first, I had the idea to make a story about ramen.
I tried writing something about ramen noodles and soup that somehow tied in some kind of strange ramen tale. But, of course, that was never going to be a hit with the kids, so I just kept the name “Naruto”. Then when I thought, what could I write that would suit a name like “Naruto”, I thought something “Japanese”, like Ninjas, could be good, so I went with that.


What I was really trying to do with naruto was to write something about “acceptance” or “being accepted”. Then I tried to do a manga about ramen, and it didn’t get accepted! So, I had this theme of wanting to be accepted, but in the beginning, the editor in charge, just wouldn’t accept my manga, you know?

I myself was also in a rush to find acceptance, so I foisted that on the protagonist, so this theme of acceptance is really a big part of what I make a point of emphasizing in the manga.”

Literal Meanings of the word “Naruto”

So you have several levels of meaning behind the word “Naruto”. From most literal to least literal these meanings are:

1. Whirlpool, maelstrom or strait with a roaring tidal ebb and flow.

2. A kamaboko 蒲鉾, or a steamed seasoned fish paste that is put into a cylindrical, whirlpool-like shape, and is often used in dishes such as ramen.

3. A comic character that was meant first intended to be in a story about ramen, but got repurposed to be used in a comic about Ninjas, and kept his original ramen-related name.

It is probably reasonable to infer that for the author, in light of the comments I mentioned in the interview above, keeping the name “Naruto” was a symbol of the author’s own determination to achieve recognition as a manga artist, despite the setbacks that had been placed in his path.

What does Naruto Uzumaki mean?

As if “Naruto”, “Whirlpool”, wasn’t enough, Naruto was also given the name “Uzumaki”, which is another world for “whirlpool”. Or “maelstrom” if you prefer. I guess you could say “Naruto Uzumaki” is a name that really sucks.

Why are naruto used in Ramen?

I guess the next question that comes up is, why are naruto associated with ramen in the first place?

The main reason is that these pretty swirls of molded fish paste are cheap. Ramen really rose to prominence in the post-war period as being an inexpensive dish that would fill you up. So having the rich “chashu” pork meat was too expensive for many. Throw in a couple of these festive red and white striped fishy morsels though and it was enough to keep most people happy.

What do the Naruto characters’ names mean?

Here is a list of characters’ names with Kanji/Hiragana/Katakana and English meaning:

  1. 鳴門 – Naruto ナルト Whirlpool, or fishcake shaped like a whirlpool in Ramen 渦巻 – Uzumaki うずまき another word for whirlpool
  2. 桜 – Sakura さくら    Cherry Blossom 春の – Haruno はるの of spring
  3. 案山子 – Kakashi かかし scarecrow 畑 – Hatake はたけ Crop field
  4. 鹿丸 – Shikamaru しかまる Deer-Ball 奈良 – Nara なら Old capital of Japan (famous for having deer)
  5.  猪 – Ino いの Boar 山中 – Yamanaka やまなか In the mountains
  6. 長治 – Chouji ちょうじ Era from 1104-1106 秋町 – Akimachi あきまち Autumn City/Road
  7. Kiba キバ Fang 犬塚 – Inuzuka いぬずか Dog mound
  8. 鼬 – Itachi いたち Weasel 団扇 – Uchiwa うちわ Rounded fan
  9. 海豚 – Iruka いるか Dolphin 海の – Umino うみの of the ocean
  10. 篠 – Shino しの clumped dwarf bamboo 油女 – Aburame あぶらめ Fat greenling (fish)
  11. 光永 – Hinata ひなた sunshine 日向 – Hyuga ひゅが sunny place
  12. 蒜山 – Hiruzen ひるぜん Ginger mountain 猿飛 – Sarutobi さるとび Jumping monkey

What is Naruto the Manga anyway?

I assume that most people reading this page are already familiar with the character of Naruto, but if not:

Naruto is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. The story tells the adventures of Naruto Uzumaki, an adolescent ninja who constantly searches for recognition from his peers and village. 

Naruto’s main goals are to become Hokage, which would make him the leader of Konoha, and find out what has happened to Sasuke Uchiha, the older brother he never knew he had. 

The manga was first published in 1997 in Japan. It then became popular worldwide with over 200 million copies sold worldwide as of 2008. In 2005 Viz Media released it into English language countries outside Japan under the name “Naruto”.

The main themes of Naruto are friendship and acceptance. It highlights the importance of finding true friends who will support you on your journey, even when things get tough.

In order to make the Naruto character’s bonds stronger, there are trials put before them which provide common ground for everyone involved. Every character goes through their own personal growth throughout the series making them more relatable than ever before!

Naruto has been adapted into other media including games, movies and novels. The main protagonist Naruto uses his ninjutsu skills and fighting abilities in order to protect his friends from their enemies or create peace by battling powerful opponents such as Pain or Madara Uchiha. Throughout the manga, we see how he grows up with great determination and optimism while struggling with adversity at times too.  

Cornelius Keigo Oyamada bullying articles translated

Cornelius & The Olympics

So you may have heard about how the composer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was forced to resign. He’s pretty well known in Japan for his work with Flipper’s Guitar, and outside of Japan for his work under the name of Cornelius.

I was personally pretty shocked when I read the comments that led to his resignation, as I’ve listened to his music for quite a few years now, and been to see him play live before.

From the way it was being reported, that he had been sacked for some comments about bullying he made in a magazine a quarter of a century ago, I thought it was probably some pretty mild form of overzealous accountability culture. But having read through a bunch of Oyamada’s comments, I was wrong.

Should Oyamada have been forced to resign from the Olympics?

Personally, I think given the way the Olympics pretty much aims to make inclusiveness central to it’s very being, I think it is only natural that Oyamada Keigo has been compelled to resign over the comments. I guess the other question for me is, should I still listen to his music? I don’t really know the answer to that question at this stage, but I think it’s good for people that are interested in his music to at least be aware of not just the general gist of the controversy, but the specific content and tone of some of what he has said. 

That being said, the comments were part of a large expose on Oyamada Keigo, and his history of bullying that spanned several victims across elementary, middle and high school. So I’m just going to present a few here, in translation, so you get an idea.

Where Did Keigo Oyamada’s Bullying comments appear?

Oyamada’s accounts of his school years bullying originally appeared in Rockin’On Japan magazine in 1994, and in the August 1995 edition of Quick Japan.

Translating Oyamada’s comments on bullying

Reading the comments, it sounded more like an account of potentially criminal level abuse, recounted by someone who sounded less apologetic than, well, kinda boastful.


I’ve tried to translate the text so that it captures the casual, almost trash talking kind of tone, so I’ve used a lot of swear words. 

Most of these comments are translated from magazine articles re-published here.


The first part is in question and answer format with an interviewer. Perhaps most damning about the text is the way in which Oyamada seems to laugh after many of the statements. Anyway, here’s some excerpts from what he said:

There was plenty of fretting over the borders in Japan this week, as is happening around the world.

Keigo Oyamada’s Bullying Comments


So, you know, the way I was picking on people was pretty fucked up.


  • でも、いじめた方だって言ったじゃん。

Like you said you were on the bullying side right?




Yeah, I was picking on people. Looking back I was really doing some fucked up shit. So let me use this platform to offer my apologies (laughs), or something like that, you know I was really doing some beyond the pale stuff, believe me.


  • やっちゃいけないことを。

Like things that shouldn’t be done?



Yeah, I guess you could say I was really getting off the straight and narrow path. You know, I was doing stuff like making people get naked, then wrapping them up with a thread and making them jerk off. Or making them eat shit. And, after making them eat shit, making them do wrestling style back slams.



But it wasn’t me that was actually doing the stuff, I was just the provider of ideas (laughs)


  • アイディア提供して横で見てて、冷や汗かいて興奮だけ味わってるという?(笑)

So you were the one looking on from the sidelines, with a cold sweat, savouring the excitement of it all (laughs)?


「そうそうそう! 『こうやったら面白いじゃないの?』って(笑)」

Yes, yes! Like “wouldn’t it be fun if we tried this” (laughs).


  • どきどきして見てる? みたいな?

Like you were just watching on, getting off, with your blood pumping?



Totally (laughs)


  • いちばんタチ悪いじゃん。

That makes you the worst one out right?



Yeah, looking back, it was pretty fucked up.


About Sawada (fake name)



There was this guy, Sawada. 


He was one epoch-making guy, who switched across to our school, around year two of elementary school.



And, I tell you, it sent shock waves through the school.



So when you switch across to a new school, the first thing you do is a self introduction, right? And, right off the bat, he’s like (in the voice of someone with a speech disability) “I’m Sawada” – and, naturally, that’s going to make you go like, “Woah, what a piece of work”, won’t it? 




And, on the first day he comes across to our school, he does a shit. And doing a shit at school is just like the worst crime when you’re in elementary school right?



So there was this cardboard box, so we put Sawada in, and then wrapped it up in tape, put in a few air holes (laughs), and then we’re asking him, like, “you alright in there Sawada?”, and he’s, like, “I OK” (laughs). 



Then we got out, like, some blackboard dusters, and we say to him “It’s a poison gas attack”, and we start whacking it round,



 then we kind of leave him for a bit, and after a while, there’s no response, so we start saying, “yikes, what should we do now?”


so we say “OK, let’s take off the tape and watch from the side of the room”,



and we take off the tape, and all of sudden there’s like this rip, rip, rip, and then, what was it he said? I tell you he said something really hilarious. Some weird arse thing like,“Mummy!” or something, you know something like that (laughs). And I tell you, we just started laughing our arses off.



During High School



As for Jerseys, we’d make him get his gear off, but this fucker just didn’t give a shit about having his dick out one bit, he’s just fidgeting around with his dick swinging. 



But, I tell you, this fucker has this big old cock, right from elementary school on, so by High School, it just got bigger and bigger, and, you know, that gets the girls going right? 


So everyone was just getting him naked on purpose, and making him walk down the corridors. 


But, you know, I’m like Sawada’s biggest fan so I’m like, “that’s not where it’s at”. 


Or, I don’t know, I was laughing, but also part of me was pulling back, that sort of thing, people like that are pretty rare, I guess it was like he was someone who had come in from outside and all that.



But you know these people with disabilities, for some reason they just seemed to accumulate at the library. 


So the library was kind of like a big old theme park, and not just for my year, but for people like that from every year level, like it was their “safe” place, like the place they could escape to.


So, every now and then we would be like “let’s go down and watch them”, “I wonder what they are doing for lunch break?”. There were like 3 or 4 of us who were into that…

So that’s just a small sample of what is an interview which spans across several pages, and outlines abuse-level bullying against several victims across several years. So, I don’t know whether that means we should never listen to Keigo Oyamada’s music again or not, but I think it’s worth being aware of what people that you might be looking up to in one way or another have said in the past. 

We’ve written about some of the music that was actually used in the Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony here and have translated some of the extremely negative commentary on twitter in Japan leading up to the 2020 Olympics here.

Anyway, if you’re interested in doing deep dives into Japanese culture and language, please follow and subscribe!

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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).


Japanese Essay Tokyo Tower

東京タワーは、東京でいちばん優しい。Tokyo Tower Is Tokyo’s Kindest Tower

Today we feature a Japanese essay that has an insightful lesson.

It is about the difference between seeing a thing from afar, or hearing about a thing second hand, and seeing that same thing up close. It’s about getting your information, and your experiences, about that thing directly from the source. In today’s age of information gluts, and gluttony, where to “know” something is to say that you once googled it and scanned the the top 3 search result headlines, the essay argues the case for deeper experiential learning.

It uses the spectre of Tokyo Tower, potent symbol of a mega-city, as a parable to explain why it is better to live life in close range, than at  arms length.  It was written by Inazo Inamoto( 稲本稲三) and appeared on his blog. We have a reading of it in Japanese, then in English, then a mix of the two. I hope you enjoy it, and please subscribe if this is of interest, and check out Inamoto’s other work on Note.

Approx Japanese level

Text Type























Tokyo Tower Is Tokyo’s Kindest Tower

Today I took what you would call a very ordinary trip. By “very ordinary trip”, I mean going to a place other than my own local area to stay overnight, and live for two days.

In this way, when I feel I’m getting tired, I take myself to a place just a little away from where I am, and provide myself with some time to zone-out. When I busy myself with matters of the office or the home, I can’t help but get myself caught up in thinking “I must finish that…” or  “I must get to sleep”. This is especially so as I do a lot of my work from home, switching from on the job and off the job can become hard to differentiate and there is no day that I don’t think about my work. My house is full of the tools of my trade, I find it hard not to fill every spare moment of time with progressing my work, and even if I don’t get started on something, I think about what I should be doing.

So, to completely relax mind and body, getting out of the house to spend quality time alone is irreplaceable.

I spent today gazing vacantly at Tokyo Tower.

Somehow, Tokyo Tower is a thing beautiful to behold from any angle. Even the people not walking in it’s direction turn to take photographs.

Most of the passers-by are as one in their determination to photograph Tokyo tower at it’s most beautiful, and they repeatedly release the camera shutter, or place their camera on the bare ground, or bend at the waist at unreasonable 90 degree angles, in pursuit of the perfect shot.

You also see care-free lovers luminescent in Tokyo Tower’s haze, middle-school boys lounging round on the lawn staring up at Tokyo Tower, high-school girls going for the Insta-shot, elementary school children sprinting towards the observation deck unable to contain their excitement, every last one of them their hearts moved by Tokyo Tower.

Until now I had thought of Tokyo Tower as being no more than a symbol of the city.

If Tokyo Tower could talk, I thought it would sneer conceitedly, “Behold the financial muscle of the great metropolis, who else could erect such an awesome edifice? Heed Tokyo’s grandeur!”

But, actually, the situation is quite to the contrary.

The more I looked at Tokyo Tower, the greater the sense of calm that enveloped me.

Lover, or no lover, work going well, or not going well, the tower warmly takes in one and all, meets each eye to eye and points not a disagreeable face to any vantage.

In evidence, I noted all but a handful of pedestrians having their hearts repeatedly stolen by Tokyo Tower.

This Tokyo Tower, that keeps the hearts of so many safe, just may be Tokyo’s friendliest giant.

Some things you can’t understand unless you get up close.

It made me think that to simply be satisfied to hear about or see something from afar is a great waste.

I think that from now on, when I have the need, I will entrust my heart to the safekeeping of Tokyo Tower.

ただ、見ただけの情報、聞いただけの情報に満足するのは、もったいない気がしました。 It made think that to simply be satisfied to hear about or see something from afar is a great waste.

Favorite lines


It made think that to simply be satisfied to hear about or see something from afar is a great waste.


Some things you can’t understand unless you get up close.


Tokyo Tower, that keeps the hearts of so many safe, just may be Tokyo’s friendliest giant.

Unfamiliar Words For me

資金力 Financial might

インスタ映え To try and make yourself look good for an Instagram photo


Seeing a picture of an icecream is not the same as eating an icecream. Watching people fall in love in a movie is not the same as falling in love. Gazing at a Tokyo Tower from a far is not the same as seeing the people who live, play and pass through its arches everyday. Inamoto’s essay is a call for mindfulness, but delivered in a modern way without any of the residue that that Buddhist-derived buzzword holds. 

It’s a lesson you don’t have to go to Tokyo Tower to implement. 

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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).


Imjin River by the Folk Crusaders In Japanese and English

Approx Japanese level


イムジン河水清く とうとうと流る
水鳥自由にむらがり 飛び交うよ
我が祖国南の地 想いははるか
イムジン河水清く とうとうと流る

北の大地から 南の空へ
飛び行く鳥よ 自由の使者よ
誰が祖国を二つに 分けてしまったの
誰が祖国を 分けてしまったの


イムジン河空遠く 虹よかかっておくれ
河よ 想いを伝えておくれ
ふるさとをいつまでも 忘れはしない
イムジン河水清く とうとうと流る

The imjin river flows so clear

It flows so strong, it flows so deep oh yes my dear

And the water fowl form flocks and fly

To and fro to and fro

My heart lies in the south

My hope lays at rivers mouth

And the imjin river flows so clear

It flows so strong it flows so deep oh yes my dear


From the northern continental planes

The birds they fly in flocks they fly in waves

And Like messengers from freedoms shore

make their way make their way

Who was it that cut our land in two

Gave half to me and half to you

And do they even know just what they’ve done

And do they watch the same great imjin river run


Down the imjin river way off far

Theres a rainbow forming in the air

Oh Imjin river tell my love

Look above look above

And tell them that I still know the road

That leads back to my home

Cause the imjin river flows so clear


It flows so strong it flows so deep oh yes my dear

Today for we’re looking at a song called イムジン河 Imjin River.

Imjin River runs between North and South Korea, through the ironically named demilitarised zone, where two armies eyeball eachother off across one of the most heavily armed borders on earth. The song about the river was original called Rimjingang and was composed in Korea in 1957 by Ko Jonghan to a poem by Pak Se-yong song. Rimjingang is banned in North Korea, as it uses the Imjin River as a symbol of freedom, flowing with the river north to south. 

The song found its way to Japan in the 1960s, with the Korean diaspora, where it was heard by a young writer in Kyoto names Takeshi Matsuyama. With the help of his Korean friends, Matsuyama translated some of the original lyrics and added two verses of his own. Late 60s Japan was heavily influenced by the folk music movement that was happening in America. A large number of folk acts, mixing Japanese and western folk elements were born, including a group called the Folk Crusaders in Kyoto. The group has some similarities with folk groups such as Peter, Paul and Mary. 

Matsuyama taught his version of the Korean song to group member Kazuhiko Kato. Both thought it was a long-standing Korean “traditional” song, rather than a fairly recently composed song with definite authors. The group arranged it into something quite new and attempted to launch it as their follow up song to the break out, and extremely odd, novelty single 帰ってきたよっぱらい Kaete Kaete Kita Yopparai.

Nagsa Oshima later made a somewhat experimental film of the same name, which you can see here.

Unfortunately, Imjin River was deemed too political by the Japanese government and was effectively banned in that country too.

The song, however, remains popular both in its original Korean form, and its modified Japanese form. It is a powerful statement of the pain felt by the partitioned people of the Koreas. The Japanese version also functions as a symbolic gesture by Japanese youths of the 1960s trying to break down the barriers that were often, and continue to be, placed around Korean communities in that country. Here is the Japanese version of the Folk Crusaders singing Imujin-Gawa.


Check out some more Japanese songs in translation here.

This song was translated as part of the Songs in Translation segment on RRR radio program Vital Bits.

Language Learning Program Reviews

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).


Learn Japanese Through Death Poems Part 3

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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


Poetry, Death, Mortality, nature.

Text Type

Poem, Haiku

About Japanese Death Poems

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

Death Poem byHiroshi Kuroshiki

A translation of an Instagram post from the artist



Died 14 August 1897

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







Fude nagete


Tsuki ni mono iu 


Bakari nari


Now, I hurl my pen

From here on

I talk with the moon.


Explanation of the poem


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



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


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

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

I cast the brush aside –

From her on I’ll speak to the moon

face to face.

An English Parallel

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

Bob Dylan writes in Tombstone Blues, 

The geometry of innocence, flesh on the bone

Causes Galileo’s math book to get thrown

At Delilah who’s sitting worthlessly alone

But the tears on her cheeks are from laughter”


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

Japanese poetry books

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).


Japanese Death Poems 辞世 Part 2 – Translated and analysed

Japanese Reading Difficulty

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


Poetry, Death, Mortality, nature.

Text Type

Poem, Haiku

About Japanese Death Poems

Here is our second installment on Japanese death poems, this time we’re looking at a poem by Onitsura. These poems are messages from people writing on, or close to, their death beds.
I first came across these through a book Japanese death poems by Yoel Hoffman. I thought I’d try my own hand at some translations.

Death Poem byHiroshi Kuroshiki



Died 2nd August 1738, aged 78

Today’s poem is by a Onitsura. Another great name. Oni, means demon. It can also be used as a shorthand term for great power, something like “super”. Tsura, also read as Kan, is a unit of measurement. In it’s Kun-reading it can be tsuranuku, meaning to pierce or penetrate. So was the name meant as “





Yume kaese


Karasu no samasu


Kiri no tsuki


Give me back my dream


Misted moon


That wakes with the crow


Explanation of the poem

Here is the second in our series looking at Japanese Death Poems. Today, we’re looking at a poem by Onitsura. Onitsura died in 1738 at the age of 78.

Like all of the poets we are looking at, Onitsura has a great name. Oni means Demon. It can also mean “super”, in its supernatural sense. Tsura can mean piercing through, it was also a unit of measurement.

So I’m not sure exactly what that the sense of this is meant to be. Perhaps it is of a “piercing demon”. Or maybe Onitsura was meant to be somebody was “piercing the demon” or

“has a demonic power that’s piercing”. Or perhaps someone that has a measure of supernatural power. I’m not sure. Somebody might be able to comment on that and shed some light.

Onitsura’s deaths poem goes:





Yume kaese

Karasu no samasu

Kiri no tsuki

I’ve translated that as:

Give me back my dream

Misted moon

That wakes with the crow

In the the Hoffman translation he says:

Give my dream back,

Raven! The moon you woke me to

Is misted over.

Language Analysis


夢 Yume means dream and 返せ is the imperative form of to “return something” or  “give back”.

So this line is a demand “Give me my dream back!”

I think that’s a feeling that probably most people can identify with, that feeling of being asleep and then being rudely awakened. Indeed, we have the term “rudely awakened” in English talking about wanting to get back to some dream that you’ve been in. I think in this poem the “夢 Yume” has a has the dual meaning of the writer literally having been asleep at a moment close to death but also the idea that all of life is some kind of dream state, that you’re living out a story. I think of the line from the Edgar Allan Poe poem “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. This is a persistent idea through art, that the world is somehow a dream, in and of itself. 

The next line is 


さます is to awaken. It is the transitive version of the intransitive to wake 覚める. So here someone is being woken up. We have a からす crow, or a raven, or a black black bird and the poem ends with 霧の月.  I’m not a hundred percent clear whether the poet is being awoken by the cawing of the raven, or the cawing of the raven and the misty covered moon. Perhaps it is meant to be a combination of being awoken by that whole scene of a cawing raven and a mysterious moon and saying, “I just want to go back to sleep and get back to my dream, and maybe I want more time in my life to achieve the things that I wanted to achieve”. Apparently Onitsura did have some hardships as a poet, apparently, he was never given the standing or the title of a “Grand Master” poet. There is also some indication that he may have lived his poetic life somewhat in the shadow of the more famous Basho, who was 17 years his senior. Maybe he’s referring to the fact that he didn’t quite get to finish what he had started in his life.

An English Parallel

Now, to find a bit of a parallel in English, I’ve turned to the world of lyrics. As someone that’s very into songs and songwriting, I was thinking about how Bill Callahan often seems to talk about dream-like states. He has an amazing song called Eid Ma Clack Shaw, which is kind of a bit of gibberish verse. 



The words go: 

“I dreamed it was a dream that you were gone

I woke up feeling so ripped by reality

Love is the king of the beasts

And when it gets hungry it must kill to eat

Love is the king of the beasts

A lion walking down city streets

I fell back asleep some time later on

And I dreamed the perfect song

It held all the answers, like hands laid on

I woke halfway and scribbled it down

And in the morning what I wrote I read

It was hard to read at first but here’s what it said

Eid ma clack shaw

Zupoven del ba

Mertepy ven seinur

Cofally ragdah”

So, I think once again most people can identify with that idea of having a dream and feeling like you’ve had a major breakthrough, or you’ve had some kind of a revelation, that you figured something out and then you go to recall it, and it’s just on the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t. It’s unattainable. Anyway, there’s just a little parallel for you. We will continue to look at more of these Japanese Death Poems.

Japanese poetry books

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).


13 mind-expanding Japanese quotes & home truths translated into English

New year = new life, right?  Or at very least, new inspiration. Japan has a long tradition of coming up with the pithy one-liner. So I’ve put together a collection of wisdom and life advice from calligraphy to comics, sports-people to samurai, car commercials to kawaii characters. 
Let’s start with some heartwarmers from the world of manga. How about we go ahead and clear up the vexed issue of how to properly categorise the people in our life? 



“The people you meet with for no good reason are Friends.

The people you don’t meet without a reason are Acquaintances.

The people you make up a reason to meet are the people you love.”


We can thank Miyazaki Hayao and Studio Ghibli for clearing up the nature of human relationships in the anime Whisper of the Heart


And what about that night sky that we walk with our loved ones beneath? What can the world of anime and manga tell us about that?


“The night sky is a window for earth to look out at space.”


Okay, but it’s not all wide eyes and wonder in the comic cosmos.

How about this one from the outrageously inefficiently titled Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo (こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所, lit. “This is the Police Station in Front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward”)


“Even if I read 100 books a day like you police chiefs, it wouldn’t make me any smarter. It’s just following along after the type print across the page, right? After all, it’s just some stuff somebody else has written.

Me; I look, I hear, I learn. It’s because I judge for myself, that I am a human with the ability to have my own sense of creativity with my own ideas.”


That’s ol’ salt-of-the-earth Ryo-san dispensing some real world wisdom to the big wigs, and vicariously, to you and I.

But we can go darker. Let’s go loan-shark-dark!


“People should be able to make enemies.

It’s the self-righteous, the weak people that lie to themselves that can’t.” 


That’s some serious street wisdom to live by from Ushijima the Loan Shark (闇金ウシジマくん Yamikin Ushijima-kun).  How many enemies have you chalked up this year? You need to get on it.

Now we’re getting real. So let’s jump, Shonen style, out of the drawn frame and check-in with a couple of characters you probably know from the IRL realm.

Why not learn from some flesh and blood heroes, such as US Major League legend Ichiro?


“It is the layering up of small things that takes you to unimaginable places. 

That is the only road.”

From little acorns great oaks grow. 

And if you’re a student, and really aren’t we all (Aummmmmmm), the acorn starts from hitting the books. Or the internets. 

It was probably still books in Takeshi Kitano’s early days. But he can still offer up some tough life advice for academics and students of the school-of-hard-knocks alike:


“Because you study, you find what you want to do.

Because you don’t study, you don’t find what you want to do.”


In Takeshi’s case, his studies helped him find out he wanted to make films about characters stabbing eachother in the eye with chopsticks. Strange where life takes you.


And while we’re going badass Japanese warrior, why not get a little historical?

It doesn’t get much more badass than being one of the three Samurai to unify the Japanese archipelago in days of yor. That’s who you want to be taking life advise from. Tell ’em Oda Nobunaga.


“Work is something you seek out. It is something you create.

Completing only the task that has been assigned to you is the work of the rank and file.”


And that is the secret to taking over a nation by military force. In case that’s your thing.

But Samurai were all about going the extra mile.


“Doing with all your might brings forth wisdom.

Doing with half a heart brings forth stupidity.

Doing the bare minimum brings forth excuses.”



So if you  want to be a modern day life-samurai, no shirking!

Is it too long a bow to draw between the war-period ideals of feudal Japan and it’s famed modern corporate motor industry?

How about some inspirational adverts from Japan’s big-auto PR machines? This is “Just Do It”, Japanese style. Times ten. Get this one tattooed on your bicep.


“If you do your best, someday you will be rewarded.” “If you wait long enough, your dreams will come true.” These are just pure fantasies. Most of the time, effort goes unrewarded. Most of the time, justice does not prevail. Most of the time, dreams do not come true. In the real world, these are common occurrences. And what of it? This is the starting point. Failure is 99% of technical development. If you do something new, you’re going to screw up. It’ll make you angry. It’ll haunt you when you’re sleeping and when you’re eating, and so you’ll keep going. Now, it’s time to go beyond who you were yesterday. We’re going past the Honda of yesterday. 

Who could beat you?”


Inspirational right? I know I try to get my life advice from the multi-nationals. So why stop at one auto-manufacturing add? Honda is on a roll.


“Having fun won’t put food on the table. But a life without fun has no flavour. Work, study, racing. It’s all the same.

It’s only curiousity that moves us.”

And for you hardcore Japanoscopers out there, “omoshiroi” is usually translated as interesting. But “interesting” is boring. So curious it is. Are you with me?

And let’s finish up with some bravado from the world of Japanese calligraphy and philosophy. These are some fine ones you could wack up on some thicker gauge washi paper and place in your Tokonoma, no problemo. 


“If you never act, you are at the same level as someone who has never thought.”


I imagine a zen inspired super-hero using this as their tagline. The one they tell to the bad guy before they whip some ass. Actually, can someone make that hero? Or tell me about it if that hero already exists? I digress. Philosophy, here we come.


“Words can only express so much.

Communicate through action.”


You gotta walk the walk, my fellow shugyosha. No use thinking “I love you”, do something that shows it. Unless you are a buddhist monk, and then you can just sit in the mountains and emanate out loving kindness to the world. Actually, if you are a buddhist monk, stop reading this blog and get emanating!

If you want get  a more modern take on Japanese ideas of non-dualism, nihlism and love, I suggest you check out our translation of the heart-breaking Tenniscoats song Halo.


“Effort is a moment of pain. 

Regret is a lifetime of pain.”


Do you want a lifetime of pain? No! So heed the wise word of these Japanese quotes, proverbs and sayings. And surely you couldn’t help but have a prosperous year!