Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sakura, Sakura

Sakura, sakura  (cherry blossom, cherry blossom)

 Composed in the pentatonic scale, the traditional folk song Sakura, sakura sounds positively haunting to Western ears--at least, it always sends chills up and down my spine (the last phrase, especially).  Since I've so many photos, I thought you'd enjoy looking at them while listening to the song (captions give the lyrics one line at a time, in Japanese, then English).  Hai, dozo!

Noyama mo sato mo... (blanketing the countryside)

Miwatasu kagiri... (as far as the eye can see)

Kasumi ka kumo ka... (is it mist or is it clouds?)

Asahi ni niou... (fragrant in the morning sun)

Sakura, sakura, Hanazakari (cherry blossom, cherry blossom, flowers in full bloom)

Sakura, sakura, Yayoi no sora ga ...(cherry blossom, cherry blossom, across the spring sky)

Miwatasu kagiri...(as far as the eye can see)

Kasumi ka kumo ka... (is it mist, or is it clouds?)

Nioizoizuru... (blossoms fragrant in the air)

Izaya, izaya, Mi ni yukan... (come now, come, let's look at last!)

Here is a lovely instrumental version played on the traditional stringed koto...

Gambare, Nihon!


  1. Beautiful! Both the song and the scenery. (No captions, btw.) If I hadn't known beforehand, I'd have said it was a western composition with a slightly oriental feel to it, rather than the other way around.

    Loved the koto, too. I've been looking at a lot of strange for'n instruments lately. Here's my favourite so far; the bass balalaika and the domra.

  2. The captions under my photos are the song lyrics in order:-)) I love koto, too--the very foreign-ness of the sound. I read your post where you linked to the YT vid featuring the balalaika and domra--wow! (I forget which one was the big one, but it was really cool!)

  3. I always call Yoshino cherries "cloud trees". Love them when they bloom.

  4. They do look like fluffy clouds, don't they! I love them, too. It is healing, somehow, after so much suffering and death following the Sendai quake, to stand beneath those clouds of pink and feel transported.

  5. I've always loved "Sakura" since I first heard it on a Harry Belafonte album I bought in the 60's!:


    Haunting music.

    (My album's in better shape than that recording!)

    --Diane G.

  6. Oooh--Harry Belafonte!! *rushes off to listen*

    (...five blissful minutes later...)

    You *have* that album? Lucky! Thanks for the link--I had *no* idea Harry Belafonte had sung that. Really beautiful to hear it (for the first time) sung by a man--especially by a man with a voice like his...:-)

  7. Yeah, not really what you expect from Belafonte, is it? :-) And yes, I'm one of those 60's relics still hauling around tons of vinyl...blush.

    Just had another look at the album, and thought you might be interested in the anecdote concerning Japan, so I took some ghastly pictures of the back of the jacket (flash too reflective, so put album under fish tank light, forgot to change white balance...yeccchhh). Still, I think the 2nd & 3rd pics are readable:


    Google says the album dates from 1963, so--Kennedy and some Cold War machination? So glad we've seen at least part of the world situation change for the better, though it still has a LONG way to go! I'm still haunted by your remark about your grandfather (wasn't it?) fighting in the Pacific theater of WW II while now you're married to a Japanese man and living there. Sorta profound.

    Sorry for the digression!
    --Diane G.