Do you know the lyrics to Sakura?

So we’ve all heard the famous Japanese tune Sakura countless times. Have you ever paid attention to the lyrics? I took some time with a Japanese friend and hacked through the lyrics a while ago. Pretty interesting epic, and not so easy, so here’s some knowledge sharing for ya!

There are actually two versions of the lyrics to Sakura. I’ve listed them below with some romaji as well. I’ve added some explanations when they would help.

Sakura Lyrics, Version 1:

さくら さくら sakura sakura
やよいの空は yayoi no sora ha
見わたす限り miwatasu kagiri
かすみか雲か kasumi ka kumo ka
匂いぞ出ずる nioi zo izuru
いざや いざや izaya izaya
見にゆかん mi ni yukan

やよい is the month of March in old Japanese. The third month of the lunar calendar. The kanji for yayoi is 弥生. Other months also have old school names as well, for example October is 神無月. You can see a full list of the names of the months according to the old school calendar on Wikipedia here. Here is another quick reference for the old school month names.

かすみ is fog. 霧 is like mist.

いざやいざや is like, “Let’s, let’s (do something).”

見にゆかん is actually 見にゆかむ, but in verbal speech, and means “let’s go see.”

So a basic literal translation of the lyrics would be something like…

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms…
The March sky,
as far as you can see…
Is it fog or is it clouds?
The “smell” (i hear it’s not actually smell but more like appearance) is coming out…
Let’s… let’s…
go and see…

Enka legend Misora Hibari breaks it down.

Sakura Lyrics, Version 2:

This next version is the more popular version of the lyrics that were redone in 1941 (Showa 16) and are used in most music textbooks in Japan now. (According to Japanese wiki anyway.)

さくら さくら
野山も里も noyama mo sato mo
朝日ににおう asahi ni niou
さくら さくら
花ざかり hana zakari

A literal translation of the lyrics:

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms…
The hills and fields, and the countryside…
as far as you can see…
Is it fog or is it clouds?
The smell of cherry blossoms in the morning sunshine (not so literal, heh.)
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms…
Blooming flowers

And there you have it! Now, sing along!

If you find any other nice YouTube videos of Sakura or other useful info, please share in the comments!

– Harvey

Related Links:
Sakura on Wikipedia (Japanese)

This version has extended lyrics!

Some day I will be able to do this:

I took this photo in Osaka this year

Read or Die with Tadoku

You should read more in Japanese.

Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

I’m guilty too! I should read more in Japanese!

That’s why I’m excited about the next Read More or Die #tadoku event run by @lordsilent which is starting up in January.

Going to 多読 it to death

#tadoku 多読 (たどく) to read… a lot…

The rules for tadoku are simple. Everyone reads more Japanese content than they normally would for one month straight, recording and sharing their progress along the way. Knowing that you’re sharing the reading challenge with others is great motivation, and posting your progress will add a light element of competition.

Another great thing about this event is that many people say it that it takes about 30 days of maintaining a new “thing” in order to make it become a sticky habit. If you keep up with #tadoku throughout the entire event, you may find yourself continuing to read more in Japanese long after the event has completed. And, if not, well, there will be future #tadoku events to help you jump back on that horse!

Follow the Twitter Tweeps planning to join January’s #tadoku!

Update with new peeps! [12/13/2010]

Be sure to follow everyone and make liberal use of the #tadoku hashtag throughout January!

If you’ve got a blog and plan to participate, blog about it too! You should also try to blog about your progress to spread the #tadoku love.

I plan to read Murakami Haruki’s Kafka on the Shore which I bought in Japan in the spring but haven’t started yet. I’ll also fill in the gaps with short stories on my Kindle that I have acquired from Aozora Bunko. Maybe I’ll count pages of news as well that I read via instapaper… So much to read!

Going to be a fun month!

– Harvey

Related Links:
Read More or Die Blog

KanjiBox for iPhone: Beat my Scores!

I was on the fence about whether or not to get KanjiBox for iPhone for a while, but now I have it. I was waffling because I have already passed JLPT level 1 (in 2003, when ya’ll were toddlers!), and KanjiBox seemed to be mainly a tool to help people drill to pass those exams (now I understand that it’s more than that). Then I noticed that KanjiBox also has a beyond JLPT1 level called Sensei Level. So, having run out of excuses, I jumped back on the fence and shot Dave of KanjiBox fame an email to ask if he thought it would useful for me.

Dave replied saying that I was indeed right to be wondering if Kanjibox were right for me, having already passed JLPT 1, but he also added that the Sensei Level would still definitely be tough. He sent me a promotion code and asked that I review it if I found it worthy. So, I installed KanjiBox and played with it for quite some time… and it is indeed worthy!

Note, I haven’t tried out any of the extra in-app purchase add-on features for Kanjibox, such as the Kana and Kanji Draw modes, so this review only reflects my time messing with the basic Kanji, Vocab, and Reading modes. I usually jump straight to the Quiz Mode (cause I’m competitive like that), and do Drill from time to time.

A major update was recently released for Kanjibox, and now it uses the Apple Game Center to publish scores online. It also does achievements. Competition is great. Really addicting too. Addiction is great for learning… but I’m sure you know that. (But who is this “inichijin” person who is p0wning the Kanji Quizes???)

For those of you who have KanjiBox, check out my high scores on the Apple Game Center Leaderboards. Can you beat them? Huh? Can ya?! I plan to only compete in the Sensei and N1 level leaderboards. I barely passed JLPT1 back in 2003, so I don’t feel guilty working N1 some more! Besides, that “inichijin” guy is beating my Kanji N1 score already!

If you’re on Game Center let me know your username in the comments so we can friend up. I don’t really know what frending does in the Apple Game Center… but I guess it should be better than being lonely.


You can learn a lot about KanjiBox from the website and the official promotion video that I have embedded below, so I’ll keep this short.

My favorite things about KanjiBox include:

  • Runs fast.
  • Quizes are short enough to complete on the go.
  • Adaptive quiz that gets harder as you go.
  • The quiz is mean. It offers tricky multiple choice answers that keep you on your toes.
  • Quiz time pressure. You get extra points the faster you answer, but lose points for mistakes!
  • Online Leaderboards les you share your scores with the world, competition is addictive.
  • Keeps detailed data so you can see your progress.

KanjiBox is constantly updated and Dave, the creator, is very responsive, so you can be sure that this will be one of those apps that keeps on improving long after you have already paid for it.

KanjiBox only costs $3.99 at the moment. That’s value!

If you haven’t already. Check this out. You can also use a separate version of KanjiBox on Facebook for free.

Time to go smash more high scores on the leaderboard… By the way, if you don’t already have KanjiBox, try these promotion codes and maybe you can get it for free! While supplies last!

Promotion Codes!!!
To use these codes, go to the iTunes Store, click REDEEM under Quick Links on the right, and enter the code. Each code can only be used once – first come first served! Also, you can use these codes in iTunes Stores worldwide!

KanjiBox for iPhone and iPod Touch

  • 37YJLR9M7JX9

KanjiBox for iPad

  • WRK7AN9REY33
  • TLJ43X4PNHM6
  • 9NKH3E6KNT9N
  • 36NMTK67H4LA


– Harvey

I will have my Kanji revenge...
Nobody beats my vocab score!

Related Links:

KanjiBox Homepage:

KanjiBox for iPad