Understanding Japanese Culture Through Music

Joseph Campbell talked about the role of mythology in people’s lives.  It’s so true.  And it seems to me music tells so much about each culture.

Modern Japanese choral music performed by children at schools show so many things about Japanese culture.  Importance of harmony between people.  Working together.  The lyrics of modern choral music with nuance of giving oneself to the nature, to accept its indifference and the grace both will perhaps shed light to the behavior of Japanese at the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami recently.

Title: Rainbow
Lyrics: Naotaro Moriyama
Music: Kaito Okachimachi
Arrangement: Takafumi Nobunaga
Performed by all attending junior high school students at Japan NHK National Chorus Competition 2010 at the end of the awards ceremony

My thought turns homeward in the open sky
Warm skin and dirty sneakers
Clouds passing by

You flip your fingers again at sparkling days
Rippling water and dark words
We searched for faraway sky

A moment exists between joy and sorrow
World without color
Hiding, holding uncertain something

Someone called our meeting, a parting
Hillside road after the rain
Someone called our parting, a meeting
Time passes by and someday
I will be thinking of you from far away city

Emptiness after the days gone with the wind
We let it ride on pretentious song
Travelers to the future laughed
Like blooming poppies on asphalt

Someone called our joy, a sorrow
Swing swaying in the wind
Someone called our sorrow, a joy
In the uncertain sky reaching towards tomorrow
Bright rainbow bridges the sky

Even if someone calls our meeting, a parting
Time passes on idly
Leaving behind the light for you and me

(Lyrics translated by Fujiko Suda)

Title: Universe
(Japanese title: COSMOS)
Lyrics, music: Mimasu
Arrangement Yutaka Tomizawa
Performed by elementary school students in Japan

Milky way song echos through grassy summer field
Feel the wind, hand on your heart
Warmth from the blazing universe
From  far, distant generations
You are the universe

Ten billion years of history
Coursing through your body

Hear the voices of light from high above
You too are a star, each and everyone of you

If we are born from the flow of time
We can be happy, each and every one of us
Come, let your soul burn brightly
Like a star, like a firefly

Hear the voices of light from high above
We are one, all, all of us
Hear the voices of light from high above
You too are a star, each and every one of you
Hear the voice of light from the high above
We are one, all, all of us

(Lyrics translated by Fujiko Suda)

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