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Naomi: ジャパニーズポッド101でございます。
Naomi: Welcome to the Japanese Children Songs Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, you will learn Japanese language and culture through Japanese Children Songs. Go to our site to hear the full versions of the songs, sang by professional singer Kana Mizushima. Visit JapanesePod101.com and claim your free lifetime account now.
Naomi: ナオミです。
Peter: Peter here and welcome to our first Japanese Children Song Lesson. Naomi 先生 can you tell us what we’re doing this lesson?
Naomi: Sure. In this lesson, we’ll take a look at 童謡.
Peter: Naomi 先生 what exactly are 童謡?
Naomi: Well, 童謡 are Japanese Children Songs. When we say 童謡 we sometimes refer to only primary school songs, but, sometimes we also include lullabies, known as 子守歌. In Japanese as well as older songs popular among children known as わらべ歌.
Peter: Now, Naomi 先生 what’s interesting about the word?
Naomi: 子守歌
Peter: If you look at the kanji, actually it means “Song to protect the child”.
Naomi: Ah, yeah. Right!
Peter: So, those are for very, very young children.
Naomi: そうですね。 Right.
Peter: So, in these series, we’re going to take a look at all kinds of 童謡. And Naomi 先生 I have to admit, this sounds really, really interesting.
Naomi: Do you of any Japanese 子守歌?
Peter: I don’t know many Japanese Children Songs. So, this is going to be really interesting to see what kind of songs they are. So, first things first - can you tell us the title of the first song we’ll look at?
Naomi: Okay. The name of the song is ふるさと which means “hometown”.
Peter: And can you give us the background about the song?
Naomi: Well, it is said that the song was made in the early 20th century.
Peter: So about a hundred years old.
Naomi: そう、あ、そうね。そうそうそう. And this song was about people who live far away from their hometown, because of work or study. So, it’s a song for you, Peter. It’s about their feeling of nostalgia about the scenery they were familiar with when they were young.
Peter: And, I think to understand the song, we just have to kind of quickly touch on the way traditional Japan was and the fact that, for generations, a family would stay in one location.
Naomi: ああ、そうですね。
Peter: Not like today, when a family could stay in multiple locations through their life, one family and their ancestor who’ll be tied to one place.
Naomi: Right. Maybe three or four generations live together.
Peter: So, I can see why the song has that sentimental value.
Naomi: はい。
Peter: Now, I read that this song used to be sung by children at their graduation ceremonies. Is that true?
Naomi: Really? ごめんね。 I didn’t know that. But, I guess it makes sense. You know, your school is kind of like your home or hometown, right?
Peter: In Japan? Definitively.
Naomi: Not in the States?
Peter: Well, I think in Japan like sometimes – like my Japanese friends, they actually kind of separate their friends by elementary school friends, middle school friends and high school friends.
Naomi: Yeah, right.
Peter: And that’s because they’ll change schools during their compulsory education. When in U.S, you might not change as many times.
Naomi: ああ、そうなんだ. What I heard about the song was that it was often sung by Japanese people who had moved to foreign countries.
Peter: So, they left their home country and they were long and [unintelligible 00:03:52].
Naomi: はい。
Peter: So, in this lesson, what we would like to do is to analyze the lyrics of this lullaby. There’s a lot of non-standard language in the song, as it is a bit old. So, we’re going to help you understand it by interpreting into in modern Japanese and providing translations in English. Naomi 先生 from a learning Japanese perspective, music is very important, right?
Naomi: すごい大切。 Yeah, I think so.
Peter: Not only helps you understand the language but it also helps you understand the culture.
Naomi: And pronunciation.
Peter: Which is a critical part of learning a language.
Naomi: はい。
Peter: So, Naomi 先生, shall we get started?
Naomi: Okay. それでは、聞いてみましょう。 Let’s listen to the song.

Lesson focus

Peter: First, we’ll going through it line by line. Naomi 先生, can you give us the first line?
Naomi: うさぎ追いしかの山
Peter: Now, うさぎ is “rabbit”.
Naomi: はい。
Peter: And 追いし
Naomi: はい。追いし
Peter: 追いし。 You know, Naomi 先生 it actually sounds like 美味しい, with the long vowel which means “delicious”.
Naomi: Quite similar, but no. To be 美味しい, you would need another “い” at the end. If you look at the kanji for 追い, it’s the one that means “chase”. In modern Japanese, we would say 追う or 追いかける.
Peter: “To go after, to chase after”.
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: So, the 追い part means “chase”.
Naomi: はい
Peter: What about the し that comes after? Why is it 追いし?
Naomi: Okay, good question. In old Japanese, し can express the recollection of one’s past. So, 追いし can be translated as 追った.
Peter: “Chased”.
Naomi: In modern Japanese.
Peter: And, when you put them together, we get “chasing rabbits” or “hunting rabbits”. Not “delicious rabbit”. Now how about かの山?
Naomi: Oh, okay. This かの actually has the same かの as in 彼女, which means “she” as you may already know. So, 彼女 literally means “that woman”. かの means “that” which is あの in modern Japanese.
Peter: So, かの山 is あの山.
Naomi: そうそうそう。
Peter: “That mountain”.
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: I see. So, かの indicates something that is physically and emotionally far from you.
Naomi: Right. In this case, the person is talking about the far away mountains in their hometown.
Peter: Can we hear the original line?
Naomi: Sure. うさぎ追いしかの山
Peter: If you’d translate the sentence into modern Japanese that would be?
Naomi: うさぎを追ったあの山
Peter: “The mountain where I hunted rabbits.” Or “The mountain where we hunted rabbits.” This is a relative clause, isn’t it?
Naomi: ああ、そうですそうです。 It sounds really poetic. In more plain language, it would be あの山でうさぎを追いかけました.
Peter: “I” or “we hunted rabbits on that mountain.”
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: Okay, what do we have next?
Naomi: 小鮒釣りしかの川
Peter: Can you give us that line one more time, because that’s actually a bunch of elements from the previous line that we were repeating here?
Naomi: あ、そうですね。
Peter: So, just one more time.
Naomi: 小鮒釣りしかの川
Peter: So, in this phrase, first we have 小鮒釣り
Naomi: はい。
Peter: 釣り is “fishing”, right?
Naomi: そうですそうです。 Right.
Peter: And if we recall from the previous line, し is a recollection of one’s past. But, what’s the new word 子鮒?
Naomi: It’s “small 鮒”.
Peter: Like a “small boat”?
Naomi: 鮒 is a “complex small fish”.
Peter: Ah, it’s a fish!
Naomi: はい、そうです。
Peter: In the translation, we have “there are minnows”. So the translation would be “fishing for minnows” and after that is a phrase かの川 and this かの the same as we saw in the last line, which means “that” in old Japanese.
Naomi: Right. So, かの川 means あの川
Peter: Which means “batch dream” or “that river”. Okay, can we hear the original line again?
Naomi: Sure. 小鮒釣りしかの川
Peter: And how about that line in modern Japanese?
Naomi: 小鮒を釣ったあの川
Peter: “The river I, or we, fished for minnows”.
Naomi: In plain languages, it would be あの川で小鮒を釣りました。
Peter: “I fished for minnows in that stream.” So, we have two nostalgic scenes about what life was like.
Naomi: Mountains and river.
Peter: In that person’s hometown.
Naomi: はい。
Peter: So, it’s definitively from the mountain area of Japan.
Naomi: そうですね。
Peter: Okay, what’s the next line?
Naomi: 夢は今も巡りて
Peter: 夢 is “dream”.
Naomi: はい。
Peter: 今も is “even now”.
Naomi: Right. And 巡りて is the same as 巡って in modern Japanese, which is the te-form of 巡る, adverb which means “to go around”.
Peter: So, all together means “The dream still goes around”.
Naomi: Yeah. What that means is the mountains and the rivers still show up in this person’s dreams.
Peter: Can we hear this line in modern Japanese? In plain language, please.
Naomi: 今でも夢に出てきて
Peter: “Even now, it appears in my dreams.” So, what they’re talking about is the memories of hunting rabbits and fishing for minnows still shows up in the person’s dreams. Even now.
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: Okay, how about the fourth line? And now we’re at the last line, which is?
Naomi: 忘れがたきふるさと
Peter: The first phrase is?
Naomi: 忘れがたき
Peter: The first word, 忘れ, sounds like it comes from the verb 忘れる, “to forget”.
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: But, what about がたき?
Naomi: Well, がたき works as a suffix here. It’s classic Japanese grammar. When it’s attached to an adverb it means “difficult to do”.
Peter: So, 忘れがたき is “Difficult to forget”.
Naomi: そう。
Peter: So basically it means “Cannot forget”. And in the last word is the title of the song.
Naomi: ふるさと
Peter: Meaning “hometown”. So, the original line is?
Naomi: 忘れがたきふるさと
Peter: In modern Japanese?
Naomi: 忘れられないふるさと
Peter: “My hometown I cannot forget.” Or “How can I possibly forget my sweet hometown?” ふるさと, definitively interesting song.
Naomi: でしょう? Yes it is.
Peter: Okay, it’s a good song. Now, Naomi 先生, what kind of nuance does this word have? When people these days talk about their hometown or where are they from. Do they use ふるさと? Like, ふるさとはどこですか? “Where is your hometown”? Or would I answer a question like “Where are you from?” with わたしのふるさとはニューヨークです, “My hometown is New York.”
Naomi: Well, it’s really difficult to explain, but, ふるさと means “hometown” or “the place you were raised”, but this word has a kind of nostalgic feeling to it.
Peter: So, maybe New York or Tokyo are too big and too modern to be ふるさと. Is this what you’re trying to say?
Naomi: そうですね。 Yeah, ふるさと has to be a place where you feel at ease, at least to me.
Peter: So, there’s a warm sense of comfort associated with the word ふるさと
Naomi: そうです。 Exactly.
Peter: So, there’s a lot more to it than just a hometown and, you can tell there’s a lot of meaning and feeling behind this word. Remember, this song is from one hundred years ago and at that time, there was no information highway. There was transportation it was improving, but still, it was quite limited. So, you could think about someone leaving their hometown and heading to the big city or going to a far part of Japan that way you now can go back in consent of an hour or two hours. It would be a real journey.
Naomi: そうでしょうね。
Peter: And you can also picture someone overseas by boat. You know, landing there and these images of the hometown would probably really be very vivid in the memories.
Naomi: そうでしょうね。
Peter: So, everybody out there, what did you think you think about this children’s Japanese song and its lyrics? We really hope you liked it.
Naomi: そうですね。じゃ、最後にサクラさんの歌を聞きましょう。 Before we go, let’s listen to the song sung by Sakura. She’s going to sing it acapella.
Peter: Now, this time you’ll listen to the song without background music so you can hear the lyrics well.
Naomi: じゃあ、サクラさんお願いします。


Naomi: Find more detailed explication of the lyrics at JapanesePod101.com. There, listen to the full version of the song and video form completed with beautiful pictures of Japan. Go to JapanesePod101.com to get your free lifetime account.


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