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Lesson Transcript

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 full versions of the songs, sung by professional singer Kana Mizushima. Visit JapanesePod101.com and claim your free lifetime account now.
Naomi: ナオミです
Peter: Peter here.
Naomi: ジャパニーズポッド101.comの童謡のレッスン5へようこそ。
Peter: Welcome our fifth Japanese Children Song Lesson. Naomi 先生, can you tell us the name of the song we’ll be focusing on this time?
Naomi: はい、さくらさくら。
Peter: “A song about Sakura” or “Cherry blossoms”. And this song is a really well known song that celebrates the beauty of cherry blossoms.
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: Cherry blossoms.
Naomi: きれいですね。
Peter: ですね。 The most loved flower in Japan.
Naomi: That’s not true. Everyone loves Sakura.
Peter: And there are a lot of songs about Sakura.
Naomi: そうね。たくさんあります。 You’re right.
Peter: But this one is probably the most well known. And, Naomi 先生.
Naomi: はい
Peter: I found out an interesting fact about the song.
Naomi: 何でしょう? What is it?
Peter: This song was used as a practice song for children learning to play the 琴 in the Edo period.
Naomi: ああ、本当。琴 Is the stringed instrument, right?
Peter: You’re asking me?
Naomi: Yep. I’m checking the translation.
Peter: Right. It’s called a Japanese harp, sometimes. But, it’s not held up like a harp. It’s on the ground and you kind of kneel over it.
Naomi: So, they used the song for practicing the 琴.
Peter: That’s right. Okay. So, Naomi 先生, are we ready to hear the song?
Naomi: はい、もちろん。 Of course.
Peter: Before we jump in, there’s one point I want to point out. Sounded a little weird.
Naomi: なんでしょう?
Peter: The Japanese language in the song is very archaic. Very old.
Naomi: ああ、そうね。 That’s right. So, as you listen, try to see what you can pick up.
Peter: After we’ll listen to the song, we’ll analyze the lyrics. Are you ready?
Naomi: I hope you are!
Peter: Let’s listen to the song.

Lesson focus

Peter: Okay, Naomi 先生.
Naomi: はい。
Peter: Help.
Naomi: なんでしょう。
Peter: I have to be honest here.
Naomi: はい。
Peter: I hardly understood a thing.
Naomi: That’s okay. That’s normal, actually. Like we said before, this Japanese is a little old. It’s very different from modern Japanese.
Peter: Very different. So please, Naomi 先生, help us. Me and all the listeners and tell us the meaning of the different lyrics.
Naomi: はい、喜んで。 Sure. Let’s go through the song.
Peter: The first line is?
Naomi: さくら、さくら It’s just repeating the word for “cherry blossoms”, twice.
Peter: That one we got. And I think that was just to make sure we know what the song’s about. How about after that?
Naomi: 弥生の空は見渡す限り
Peter: I recognize some words in there. But, 弥生の空、空 is “sky”, right?
Naomi: そうです That’s right. And 弥生 is another name for “March”3月です, and interestingly, when 弥生 is used in a poem, it indicates spring season. So, 弥生の空 means “The sky in March.” Or “Spring sky.”
Peter: In modern language, 弥生の空 is like 3月の空? “Sky of March” or 春の空, “Spring sky” or the “Sky of spring”?
Naomi: Exactly. Then, we have 見渡す限り
Peter: 見渡す is one of those compound verbs. We put two verbs together, right?
Naomi: そうです。 It combines the verb 見る
Peter: “To look”.
Naomi: And 渡す
Peter: “To cross”.
Naomi: So, 見渡す means?
Peter: “To see all around.” After that we have 限り
Naomi: 限り is a word that means “as long as” or “as far as” when there’s something.
Peter: Sometimes it has a compact translation of the word as [unintelligible 00:05:29].
Naomi: うん、そうね。 It’s often used after an adverb.
Peter: Right, like you can say 知る限り “As far as I know”.
Naomi: ああ、そうそうそう。 Exactly. So, we can put it together with 見渡す we can get 見渡す限り, which means?
Peter: “As far as one can see.”
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: So, Naomi 先生, can we hear the original line again?
Naomi: 弥生の空は見渡す限り
Peter: Translation in modern Japanese?
Naomi: 春の空は見渡す限り
Peter: “The spring’s sky, as far as one can see.” What are they really referring to, though?
Naomi: Well, it continues into the next line.
Peter: Can we hear it?
Naomi: 霞か雲か匂いぞ出ずる
Peter: Now that was quite difficult.
Naomi: Okay, let’s go through it. First is 霞か雲か is “haze” or “mist” and 雲 is “clouds”.
Peter: There’s a particle か between them. In this case, is that the one that means “or”?
Naomi: そうです Right. This か means “or”. So, all together it means “haze” or “clouds”. And then after that 匂いぞ出ずる.
Peter: 匂い, smell.
Naomi: そうですね。 It’s referring to the nice scent of these cherry blossoms.
Peter: Much better word.
Naomi: And 出ずる is an old form of the verb 出る which means “to come out”.
Peter: So, “A nice smell comes from the cherry blossoms.”
Naomi: そうです Exactly.
Peter: Then, what’s ぞ doing here?
Naomi: This ぞ actually just emphasizes the noun that comes before. Very old usage, though.
Peter: So, it puts emphasis on 匂い.
Naomi: そうです
Peter: Okay, let’s kind of sum up what he have so far.
Naomi: If you translate the first two lines intro modern Japanese, that would be something like 春の空は見渡す限り
Peter: “As far as the eye can see, in the spring sky.”
Naomi: 桜が咲いて
Peter: “Cherry blossoms bloom.”
Naomi: 霞か雲かのように見える
Peter: “It looks like mist or clouds.”
Naomi: 桜のいい匂いがする
Peter: “And it smells of the sweet scent of cherry blossoms.” So, if we put it all together, the English translation sounds something like this: “As far as the eye can see in the spring sky, cherry blossoms have bloomed like a cloud or a mist. The sweet fragrance of cherry blossom is in the air.”
Naomi: It creates a pretty picture, doesn’t it?
Peter: I don’t know if I did it justice but the Japanese creates a very vivid picture of the sky full of cherry blossom that it bloomed like a big cloud or a mist, just hanging there. The Japanese paints a beautiful picture. I hope we did it justice. Okay, Naomi 先生, what’s the last line? お願いします
Naomi: いざやいざや、見にゆかん
Peter: いざやいざや I like the sound of that.
Naomi: いざ is an old phrase that you’d use to encourage someone to do something with you. You might hear it in samurai movies. や is there to just create rhythm. I think いざ corresponds to さあ in modern Japanese.
Peter: So, the speaker is encouraging the listener to do something with them.
Naomi: Right. And then, the last phrase 見にゆかん
Peter: Looking at the lyrics, I can tell this has something to do with “going to see him”. Just by looking at the part 見に from the verb 見る, “to see”.
Naomi: Yes, 行かん comes from the verb 行く which is the same as 行く, “to go”, 行かん is actually the [volitional] form.
Peter: Like 行こう, “Let’s go.”
Naomi: そうです、そうです。 Right. So, this line, いざやいざや見にゆかん is saying something like さあさあ見に行こう, “Let’s go to see them”.
Peter: Very interesting way to end the song.
Naomi: ねえ, isn’t it? We actually have a version of the song sung by Sakura さん. Not the cherry blossoms, but our Sakura.
Peter: Our very own Sakura.
Naomi: そうです。
Peter: Listen to the intonation, Naomi 先生? “Flower”?
Naomi: さくら
Peter: “Person”?
Naomi: さくら
Peter: So, let’s have a listen to?
Naomi: さくらさんの歌
Peter: Now, by the time’s lesson comes out, the cherry blossom season will probably have just about ended in Tokyo.
Naomi: We hope that those of you who are in Japan got the chance to see them.
Peter: And if you ever come to Japan in spring, you shouldn’t miss them.
Naomi: そうね。
Peter: Now, well, cherry blossoms only bloom for about a week.
Naomi: True.
Peter: The season actually is a few months long. Because Japan is so long, they’re blooming in different locations. So, it starts about end of February and kind of goes through late April. You just have to pick your location.
Naomi: そうですね。
Peter: So, if you come to Japan and they already bloomed where you’re going, just go more North.
Naomi: I think that’s a good advice. Well, that’s all for this lesson.
Peter: Thanks for listening and until next time!
Naomi: じゃあまた。


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


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