Furusato – Traditional Japanese Children’s Song

Some of my friends gave us a gift to congratulate us on our new baby!

It plays music! Watch the video below to hear the song. It actually plays much longer but I just gave it a little tug to make the video.

This is a traditional Japanese song for 6th grade elementary school kids that was first released in 1914. The title is Furusato, which basically means “hometown.”

My friend Yuko was among the group of friends who gave me this gift, and she also gave me some interesting background and cultural insights to the song. I’ve mentioned Yuko a lot on this blog. You can find her on the interwebs in the following places: @guideyu and @guideyu_ and Guide-Yu.jp. She knows a lot about Japan!

This song is about someone who is already an adult and living far away from his hometown missing his family and friends. However, this song is often sung by elementary school kids who would have no concept of what this feeling would be like.

Yuko’s mother, who is 70+ years old now, remembers not understanding the line that goes 志を果たして (I achieve my aim) when she was a child singing this song in school. Also, Yuko (who is my age, 30 something) says that her generation thought (or perhaps joked) that the line that goes うさぎ追いし (usagi oishi, chasing rabbits) was actually うさぎ美味しい (usagi oishii, delicious rabbits). The expresson うさぎ追いし is rather old-school, so modern-day Japanese kids are often not familiar with its meaning. Moreover, Yuko grew up in Tokyo, and kids in Tokyo never chase rabbits anyway! Yuko also points out that, even though they didn’t find this song to be especially moving when they were children, today most Japanese get very sentimental when they hear this song because of the beautiful nostalgic melody and lyrics.

After the 3/11 disaster this song was used a lot in Japan, so if you were in Japan at the time you may recognize the tune. The destruction and radiation from the disaster has created thousands of people who were forced to leave their hometowns and don’t know when they will be able to return, so the lyrics of this song are very appropriate.

Here is a JapanesePod 101 video that has the song and a decent translation.

Here is an audio file of an apparently normal Japanese person singing Furusato.
http://soundcloud.com/akiko-a/furusato-japanese-traditional

And, here is yet another video fo the same sung by a professional!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmrJyek9mpw

Here are the lyrics and meaning (in Japanese) yanked from Wikipedia.

歌詞

兎追いし 彼の山
小鮒釣りし 彼の川
夢は今も 巡りて
忘れ難き故郷
如何にいます 父母
恙無しや 友がき
雨に風に つけても
思ひ出づる 故郷
志を 果たして
いつの日にか 帰らん
山は靑き 故郷
水は淸き 故郷
読み

うさぎおいし かのやま
こぶなつりし かのかわ
ゆめはいまも めぐりて
わすれがたき ふるさと
いかにいます ちちはは
つつがなしや ともがき
あめにかぜに つけても
おもいいづる ふるさと
こころざしを はたして
いつのひにか かえらん
やまはあおき ふるさと
みずはきよき ふるさと
意味

兎を追ったあの山や小鮒を釣ったあの川よ、今なお心巡る思い出深き故郷よ。
父や母はどうしているだろうか、友は平穏に暮らしているだろうか。風雨(艱難辛苦の比喩とも)の度に思い出す故郷よ。
夢を実現したら、いつの日にか帰ろう、山青く水清らかな故郷へ。

Enjoy!

Japanese Language Audio Books on iPad with Rye Studio

In an effort to boost my pitiful Chinese abilities… I got an App!

A company called Rye Studio makes a series of picture book apps for iPhone and iPad that read you a story while showing you the text in Chinese. Listening to target language text being read at native speed while reading along is a great way to pick up new vocabulary if you ask me.

What’s that you say? You’re not studying Chinese, you’re learning Japanese! Of course! Well, the kicker is that you can watch the story while reading and listening to it in a variety of languages… including Japanese in most cases! (Not that I’m spending all my time in China looking for Japanese language sources… no not at all… I just happened to notice this and decided to tell you about it… yeah that’s it…)

Mulan in Chinese!
Mulan in Japanese!

(Doesn’t looking at all the Chinese characters that appear in both the Japanese and the Chinese make you crazy?)

And rest assured, the Japanese seems to be being read by a native speaker as far as I and my Japanese wife can tell. So yeah, it’s high quality stuff.

The following Rye Studio stories are available in Japanese:
The Little Snail かたつむり
Mulan ムーラン
The Magic Brush and Maliang 魔法の筆と馬良
The Monkeys Who Tried to Catch the Mooon 猿とお月さん

There are lots more as well!

Also, these apps all run on your iPhone or iPod Touch as well. The screen shots in this post are all from the iPhone and iPod Touch screens. Note, it’s a universal app, so you only have to buy it once and you can run it on both of your devices.

Well worth a look!

Scars Borough

This music recommendation must be the most personal one I have ever done… Here’s the story.

So a long time ago in Japan I met a French dude. We became friends, time passed, I moved to Osaka and he was still in Tokyo, and we didn’t see each other so often anymore. Then a few years ago I was randomly back in Tokyo and we ended up seeing each other again at a big dinner party. He had a new girlfriend named Kyoko. She was this really tough looking Japanese girl. I remember she looked sort of metal and punk. Pretty hardcore. Anyway, apparently she was in a band.

Years passed…

Just about a week ago I had some friends in from Tokyo visiting and we got to talking about all of our peeps who were still in Japan. It turns out that my French friend and Kyoko are still together, and her band is doing live shows in Japan quite frequently and they have a few CDs out! My friends brought me their newest album as a gift. I’m liking it!

The band is called Scars Borough and they’re pretty awesome. Check out some of their videos:

Band Talk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRXxvuR5EN8

More Japanese music! And yeah so, I uh, had dinner once with the lead singer of Scars Borough. Yeah, I’m awesome. (hehe.)

Related Links:

Scars Borough Official Website

Bright Siren by androp

If you’re into Japanese rock and… camera flashes… you’ll probably find this to be pretty interesting. This is the video for the song Bright Siren by a Japanese band called androp.

They used 250 cameras to set this up. Pretty impressive in terms of scale!

Fun stuff. If you check their official website you can even add your own light message to the end of the video! Yippie!

Related:
Official website for androp Bright Siren.

Japanese slang: Bacchiguu

Time to learn some 90s Japanese slang!!!

バッチグー!!!

I can hardly even remember why I wanted to blog about this phrase…

Ah yes, I do remember now. So I’m slowly working my way through Devil Survivor, a sweet strategy RPG for DS, and there is one character that says this phrase over and over again.

Bacchiguu. It's ばっちり + Good.

バッチグー
bacchiguu

The rough translation of this phrase is, “very good.”

Now, to be honest, this is not “cool” Japanese slang. In fact, it’s a little lame and outdated. Using it will be sure to score you a few laughs the first time around, and maybe even the second time too… But if you live in Kansai you might just earn yourself a slap upside the head for using this phrase. Consider yourself warned.

Let’s learn the phrase, and the background!

This phrase is a combination of two words. The first is ばっちり. The second word is “good,” which becomes グッド (guddo) in Katakana.

ばっちり is a legit Japanese word that means something is “perfect” or just “great.”

Here are some other words that may help you out when talking about バッチグー with your Japanese friends.

死語 (shigo) a dead word.
合成語 (gouseigo) a compound word.
ふるっ! (huru!!!) a way to strongly emphasize that something is OLD and 古い (hurui).
もういいから! (mou ii kara!) “OK OK, would you please quit saying that already!?”

I read on some Japanese blog that the character from this old cartoon called BONOBONO says バッチグー a lot…
Watch it for yourself though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ywq6lxN4oY

Related Posts:

Unbelievable! Old School Japanese Slang

World Order: Japanese Street Performance Group

I don’t think I can add much to these videos. Just watch. Also check out World Order official website.

WORLD ORDER are…
須藤元気(GENKI SUDO)
野口 量(RYO NOGUCHI)
崎山 清之(KIYOYUKI SAKIYAMA)
内山隼人(HAYATO UCHIYAMA)
森澤 祐介(YUSUKE MORISAWA)
高橋 昭博(AKIHIRO TAKAHASHI)
落合 将人(MASATO OCHIAI)

Actually… there is one thing I can add. Did you know that the leader of this group, 須藤元気(GENKI SUDO), was also a freakin’ incredible MMA fighter?!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlW0_r_japA

You can read his official 須藤元気(GENKI SUDO) blog as well.

Also, please note that Genki Sudo has published several books.

Read about Genki Sudo on Wikipedia

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

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