Japanese Traditional Songs

Traditional Japanese Songs Image

Suzume Japanese traditional song image Momotaro Traditional Japanese song image
Zou san Japanese traditional song image
frog song traditional Japanese songs image
When I become a First Grader A quiet lakeside
When I become a First Grader When I become a First Grader
When I become a First Grader When I become a First Grader
Yubi Kiri Japanese song image


At a Quiet Lakeside しずかな湖畔の

At a Quiet Lake Shore
Words by: Unknown
Song by: Swiss Folk Tune

しずかな湖畔の 森のかげから
shizukana kohan no mori no kage kara
From the shadow of the woods by a quiet lakeside

もう起きちゃいかがと かっこうが鳴く
mou okichai ka ga to kakkou ga naku
A Cuckoo calls, "Isn't it time to wake up?"

カッコウ カッコウ
kakkou kakkou
Cuckoo; cuckoo

カッコウ カッコウ カッコウ
kakkou kakkou kakkou
Cuckoo; cuckoo; cuckoo


しずかな湖畔の 森のかげから
shizukana kohan no mori no kage kara
From the shadow of the woods by a quiet lakeside

おやすみなさいと ふくろう鳴く
oyasumi nasai to fukurou naku
"Good night" calls the owl

ホッホウ ホッホウ
hohhou hohhou
Whoot whoo

ホッホウ ホッホウ ホッホウ
hohhou hohhou hohhou
Whoot whoo whoot


Some versions of the second verse on the net have:

ホッホー ホッホー
ホッホー ホッホー ホッホー

Yumi was only aware of the first verse, so we are not sure what the 'official' second verse is--if there is one.



しずかな shizuka na
- quiet (-na adjective)
湖畔 kohan - lakeshore; lakeside
湖畔の森 kohan no mori - a forest by the lake
mori - forest
かげ kage - shadow; behind [In this case, it may just mean, 'behind the speaker' or 'from the forest behind (the speaker)...']
から kara - from

もう mou - already
起きちゃ okicha - waking up (起きては)
いかが ikaga - how about...?
to - saying; quotation marker; (the cuckoo as if to say)
かっこう kakkou - cuckoo bird
鳴く naku - calling; singing

カッコウ kakkou - cuckoo (sound of a cuckoo bird)


しずかな shizuka na - quiet (-na adjective)
湖畔 kohan - lakeshore; lakeside
湖畔の森 kohan no mori - a forest by the lake
mori - forest
かげ kage - shadow; behind [In this case, it may just mean, 'behind the speaker' or 'from the forest behind (the speaker)...']
から kara - from

おやすみなさい oyasumi nasai - good night
to - saying; quotation marker; (the owl as if to say)
ふくろう fukurou - owl
鳴く naku - calling; singing

ホッホウ hohhou - whoot (sound of an owl)

Bubbles しゃぼん玉

Soap Bubbles
Words by Noguchi Ujou
Song by Nakayama Shinpei

shabondama tonda
Bubbles flew away

yane made tonda
To the roof it flew

yane made tonde
Flying to the roof,

kowarete kieta
It burst and disappeared


shabondama kieta
The bubble disappeared

tobazu ni kieta
Without flying, it disappeared

umarete sugu ni
As soon as it was born

kowarete kieta
It burst and disappeared


kaze kaze fukuna
Wind, wind--do not blow!

shabondama tobaso
Let's blow bubbles!







しゃぼん玉 shabon dama
- (soap) bubble
とんだ tonda - flew

屋根 yane - roof (of a house)
まで made - until; as far as
屋根まで yane made - until the roof; to the roof

とんで tonde - flying...
こわれて kowarete - bursting...
消えた kieta - extinguished; disappeared





飛ばずに tobazu ni
- not flying; without flying
umarete - born...
すぐに sugu ni - soon (thereafter)

こわれて kowarete - breaking...
消えた kieta - extinguished; disappeared






- wind
吹くな fukuna - don't blow [~な is a negative ending]
とばそ tobaso - Let's (make it) fly; blow (bubbles)


Elephant's Song

ぞうさん、ぞうさん / おはな ながい / そうよ、かあさん / ながい

The Elephant's Song

zou-san, zou-san
Mr. Elephant, Mr. Elephant

おはな ながい
ohana ga nagai no ne
Your nose is long, you know

そう よ、かあさん
sou yo, kaasan mo
That's right, my mama('s) also

nagai no yo
is long.



ぞうさん zou san - 'zou' means elephant; san means 'mister' or 'miss' and is often added for cuteness in children speak
おはな ohana - 'hana' means nose; the 'o' before it is honorific and is often used before nouns when speaking to others
ga - the subject marker; (what is before 'ohana' is the subject)
ながい nagai - long
no ne - I have this as 'you know,' but really this is one of those things that can't be directly translated into English; You have to get a feel for it. Both the 'no' and the 'ne' are used when explaning something and showing emotions.
そうよ sou yo - 'sou' means 'yes' 'that's right'... 'yo' is added for emphasis
かあさん kaa san mo - 'kaa san' is mother, mama; 'mo' means also, too
ながい nagai no yo - long; the 'no yo' is like the 'no ne' but the difference is the 'ne' is less sure than the 'yo.'

Frog Song

かえる ・聞こえてくるよ・ぐぁ ぐぁ ぐぁ ぐぁ・げろ げろ げろ げろ・ぐぁ  ぐぁ ぐぁ

The Frog's Song

kaeru no uta ga
The frog's song

kikoete kuru yo
we can hear it (the song)

ぐぁ ぐぁ ぐぁ ぐぁ
gwa gwa gwa gwa
ribbit <frog noise>

げろ げろ げろ げろ
gero gero gero gero
ribbit <more frog noise>

ぐぁ ぐぁ ぐぁ
gwa gwa gwa
ribbit <still more frog noise>


かえる kaeru - Frog
no - 's (possessive)
uta - song
ga - subject marker / particle

聞こえてくる kikoetekuru - able to hear gradually - (the feeling is we are approaching the frogs and their voices are getting louder.)
yo - 'hey you' or 'listen you!'

ぐぁ gwa & げろ gero - the effect of a frog singing

Another meaning of
げろ gero is 'to throw up; puke'

Hina Matsuri うれしいひな祭り


Happy Doll's Festival
Words by Satou Hachiro
Song by Kawamura Kouyou

あかりをつけましょ ぼんぼりに
akari o tsukemasho bonbori ni
Let's light the paper covered lamps

お花をあげましょ 桃の花
o hana o agemasho momo no hana
Let's give flowers, peach flowers (to doll)

五人ばやしの 笛太鼓
gonin bayashi no fuetaiko
Five (doll) musicians with flute and taiko

今日はたのしい ひな祭り
kyou wa tanoshii hinamatsuri
Today is the enjoyable Hina Matsuri


お内裏様と おひな様
odairisama to ohinasama
The Emperor and Hina dolls

二人ならんで すまし顔
futari narande sumashi gao
The two lined up with straight faces

お嫁にいらした 姉様に
oyome ni irashita neesama ni
My sister-in-law who, coming as a bride,

よく似た官女の 白い顔
yoku nita kanjo no shiroi kao
Looked similar to the (doll) court lady's white face


金のびょうぶに うつる灯を
kin no byoubu ni utsuru hi o
On the golden folding screen, the light

かすかにゆする 春の風
kasuka ni yusuru haru no kaze
Gently flickers in the Spring breeze

すこし白酒 めされたか
sukoshi shirozake mesaretaka
Did you have a little white sake?

あかいお顔の 右大臣
akai o kao no udaijin
The Minister of the Right doll with the red face


着物をきかえて 帯しめて
kimono o kikaete obi shimete
Changing clothes; tying the obi

今日はわたしも はれ姿
kyou wa watashi mo hare sugata
Today I also will dress in my finest

春のやよいの このよき日
haru no yayoi no kono yoki hi
For this special Spring day

なによりうれしい ひな祭り
nani yori ureshii hinamatsuri
More than anything--Hina Matsuri


あかり akari
- light; lamp
o - (direct object marker)
つけましょ tsukemasho - let's light
ぼんぼり bonbori - paper covered lantern box
ni - to (light the lamp in the bonbori)

お花 o hana - flowers (honorific お)
あげましょ agemasho - let's give
桃の花 momo no hana - peach flowers

五人 gonin - five people
ばやし bayashi - musical accompaniment (はやし)
五人ばやし gonin bayashi - dolls representing five musicians for the Hina Matsuri
fue - a flute; a pipe
太鼓 taiko - taiko drums

今日 kyou - today
たのしい tanoshii - happy; fun
ひな祭り hina matsuri - Hina Matsuri; Doll festival; Girl's festival; Peach festival (Festival held on March 3rd at which families with girls display the hina dolls eat special sweetmeats, and drink shirozake)

お内裏様 o dairi sama
- doll representing the emperor (with the hina doll, they represent the emperor and empress in ancient costume)
to - and
おひな様 ohina sama - doll for festival in ornamental dress

二人 futari - the two (dolls)
ならんで narande - set in a line; side by side
すまし顔 sumashi gao - a serious face

お嫁 oyome - bride
お嫁にいらした oyome ni irashita - came as a bride
姉様 neesama - older sister (polite)
(She came (いらした) so she must be a brother's wife hence 'sister-in-law')

よく似た yoku nita - looked very similar to...
官女 kan jo - court lady; lady in waiting; a maid of honor
白い顔 shiroi kao - white (powdered for wedding) face

- gold (金の golden...)
びょうぶ byoubu - byoubu; a folding screen
うつる灯 utsuru hi - reflected light; (This kanji 灯 is often used poetically; for example: 希望の灯 kibou no hi A ray of hope)
o - direct object marker

かすかに kasuka ni - faintly
ゆする yusuru - to rock; shake
春の風 haru no kaze - Spring breeze (causes the light to faintly flicker)

すこし sukoshi - a little bit
白酒 shirozake - white sake; (made from sake and rice malt)
めされたか mesareta ka - were you given to drink (sake); (said to the doll)

あかいお顔 akai okao - red faced
右大臣 udaijin - Minister of the Right (in old Japan)

着物 kimono
- kimono; clothing
きかえて kikaete - change clothes (着替えて)
obi - an obi; a broad sash worn with a kimono
しめて shimete - close; tie (obi)

今日は kyou wa - As for today
わたしも watashi mo - I also
はれ姿 hare sugata - dress up; in finest clothes

haru - Spring
やよい yayoi - third month of the lunar calendar; spring
このよき日 kono yoki hi - this auspicious day

なにより nani yori - more than anything
うれしい ureshii - happy

Momotaro - Peach Boy 桃太郎

桃太郎さん、桃太郎さん お腰につけたきびだんご 一つ私に下さいな!

Momotarou-san's Song

momotarou san, momotarou san
Momotarou, Momotarou

okoshi ni tsuketa kibidango
That kibidango (millet dumplings) on your hip,

hitotsu watashi ni kudasai na!
won't you give me one!

agemashou, agemashou
I'll give you, I'll give you

ima kara oni no seibatsu ni
From now, on to conquer the Oni's,

tsuite kuru nara agemashou
if you come with, I'll give it to you.


桃太郎さん momotarou san - Momotarou (the Peach Boy)
お腰 o koshi - waist, hip
につけた ni tsuketa - stuck to, on, connected to
きびだんご kibi dango - A type of Dango (Japanese dumplings) made from the plant 'kibi' which is translated to the English, 'millet.' Yumi asked me what a 'millet' is and I said, 'wakarimasen.' I hope your English is better than mine :) Mr. Dmitriev Ivan dropped me a not saying it is a kind of cereal - like wheat or any other.

一つ hitotsu - one
私に  watashi ni - to me
くださいな kudasai na - give!

今から ima kara - from now
oni - Oni, monster
no - 's - possessive marker
征伐に sei batsu ni - to the conquest
ついてくるなら tsuite kuru nara - If come along

The first singer asks for Momotarou's Millet Dumplings. Momotarou answers 'if you come with me to attack the Oni, I will give you the dango.'

Momotaroh in the Prai Language


Momotarohsan, Momotarohsan,
Okoshi ni tsuketa kibi-dango
Hitotsu watashi ni kudasaina

Yarimashou, yarimashou,
Korekara oni no seibatsu ni
Tsuite ikunara yarimashou

Ikimashou, ikimashou,
Anata ni tsuite dokomademo
Kerai ni natte- ikimashou

Sorya susume, sorya susume,
Ichido ni semete semeyaburi
Tsubushite shimae- Onigashima

Omoshiroi, omoshiroi,
Nokorazu oni o semefusete
Bundori mono o- enyaraya

Ban-banzai, ban-banzai,
Otomo no inu ya saru kiji wa
Isan de kuruma o enyaraya.

Sakura さくら

Cherry Blossoms
Author Unknown

さくら さくら
sakura sakura
Cherry blossoms; cherry blossoms

弥生の空は 見渡すかぎり
yayoi no sora wa miwatasu kagiri
The spring sky--as far as you can see

霞か雲か 匂いぞ出ずる
kasumi ka kumo ka nioi zo izuru
Is it a mist? Is it a cloud? The fragrence comes out!

いざや いざや 見にゆかん
iza ya iza ya mi ni yukan
Come now, let's go see.


The above verse was the original lyrics, but in Showa 16 (1941), the Ministry of Education revised the lyrics to:


さくら さくら
sakura sakura
Cherry blossoms; cherry blossoms

野山も里も 見わたす限り
no yama mo sato mo miwatasu kagiri
The hills and fields and countryside also as far as you can see

かすみか雲か 朝日ににおう
kasumika kumo ka asahi ni niou
Is it a mist? Is it a cloud? Fragrant in the morning sunlight

さくら さくら 花ざかり
sakura sakura hana zakari
Cherry blossoms; cherry blossoms - flowers in full bloom





さくら sakura
- cherry blossoms; Japanese cherry tree
弥生 yayoi - third month; March; spring
sora - sky
見渡す miwatasu - look out over...; take in the view
かぎり kagiri - limits; bound

霞か kasumi ka - is it a mist?
雲か kumo ka - is it a cloud?
匂いぞ nioizo - the smell! (the ぞ stresses)
出ずる izuru - comes out (old way to say 出る deru)

いざや iza ya - come now; well now (like さあ)
見にゆかん mi ni yukan - let's go and see (ゆかん=いこう)





さくら sakura
- cherry blossoms; Japanese cherry tree
no - field
yama - mountains
野山 noyama - hills and fields
mo - also
sato - village; countryside
見わたす mi watasu - look out over; take in the view
限り kagiri - limits; bound

かすみ kasumi - mist; haze
ka - (shows uncertainty)
kumo - cloud
朝日 asahi - morning sun; morning sunlight
におう niou - be fragrant

花ざかり hana zakari - flowers at their best

Wikipedia has this translation:

桜 桜
桜 桜
桜 桜
匂ひぞ 出づる
いざや いざや
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
On Meadow-hills and dale,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the morning sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Flowers in full bloom.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Across the Spring sky,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the air.
Come now, come,
Let’s look, at last!

Sparrow's Song


The Sparrow's School
by Shimizu Katsura (清水かつら)

チイチイパッパ チイパッパ 
chii chii pappa chii pappa
Chii chii pappa chiipappa

suzume no gakkou no sensei wa
The teacher of the sparrow's school

むちをふりふり チイパッパ
muchi o furi furi chii pappa
swings about a whip

生徒の雀は 輪になって 
seito no suzume wa wa ni natte
The sparrow students make a circle

お口をそろえて チイパッパ
o kuchi o soroete chii pappa
All together they open their mouths with chiipappa

まだまだいけない チイパッパ 
madamada ikenai chii pappa
It's still no good

mo ichido isshou ni chii pappa
One more time all together now, chiipappa

チイチイパッパ チイパッパ
chii chii pappa chii pappa
chiichii pappa chiipappa

This song's lyrics was written by 清水かつら (Shimizu Katsura) and the melody by 弘田龍太郎 (Hirota Ryuutarou) in 1921.

Apparantely, the sounds ちいちいぱっぱ was inspired by the sound of his young daughter learning to talk (ちいちい) and by the sound of the fluttering of sparrow's wings (ぱっぱ). For a discussion on this, click here.


suzume - sparrow
no - 's (possessive)
学校 gakkou - school
先生 sensei - teacher

muchi - whip
o - direct object marker
ふりふり furi furi - shake; swing

生徒 seito - student
wa - ring; circle
になって ni natte - become (make)

お口 okuchi - mouth (polite)
そろえて soroete - be uniform; gather together

まだまだ mada mada - not yet; still more...
いけない ikenai - no good; wrong

も一度 mo ichido - one more time
一緒に issho ni - together

For photos of the authors, click here.

The Yubikiri Song

指切りげんまん、うそついたら針千本飲ます - 指切った。

This is done when making promises with friends.  (see picture)  Friends lock little fingers (pinkies) together and sing...


yubi kiri genman
"yubi kiri genman"

うそ ついたら
uso tsuitara
If (you) tell a lie...

針 千本 飲ます
hari sen bon nomasu
Drink 1000 needles

yubi kitta
(and) cut (my) finger.


yubi - finger
切り kiri - cut, a cut
げんまん gen man - probably the same as 拳骨 genkotsu (fist)
うそ uso - lie, a lie
うそ ついたら tsui tara - If tell a lie
hari - needle, pin
針千本 hari sen bon - 1000 needles.  [the 本 is used to count needles - a thousand 千 to be precise]
飲ます nomasu - give a drink, cause to drink [same as 飲ませる ]
指切った yubi kitta - finger cut 

When I Become a First Grader


When I Become a First Grader
Words by Mado Michio
Song by Yamamoto Naozumi
まどみちお作詞 山本直純作曲

Please Note: The MP3 only has the second and third verses

ichi nen sei ni nattara
When I become a first grader

ichi nen sei ni nattara
When I become a first grader

ともだち100人 できるかな
tomodachi hyakunin dekiru kana
I wonder if I can make hundred friends

100人で 食べたいな
hyakunin de tabetai na
I'd like to eat with a hundred friends

富士山の上で おにぎりを
fuji san no ue de onigiri o
Eat onigiri on top of Mt. Fuji

パックン パックン パックンと
pakkun pakkun pakkun to
Chew, Chew, Chew


ichinensei ni nattara
When I become a first grader

ichinensei ni nattara
When I become a first grader

ともだち100人 できるかな
tomodachi hyaku nin dekiru kana
I wonder if I can make a hundred friends

100人で かけたいな
hyaku nin de kaketai na
I'd like to run with a hundred friends

日本中を ひとまわり
nipponjuu o hitomawari
Go around throughout Japan

ドッシン ドッシン ドッシンと
dosshin dosshin dosshin to
Stomp, Stomp, Stomp!


ichinensei ni nattara
When I become a first grader

ichinensei ni nattara
When I become a first grader

ともだち100人 できるかな
tomodachi hyaku nin dekiru kana
I wonder if I can make a hundred friends

100人で 笑いたい
hyaku nin de waraitai
I'd like to laugh with a hundred friends

世界中を ふるわせて
sekaijuu o furuwasete
Make it vibrate throughout the world

ワッハハ ワッハハ ワッハッハ
wahhaha wahhaha wahhaha
Wahhaha, haha, haha!




一年生 ichinensei
- first grader (can be elementary, junior high, or college, but the context makes this obviously elementary first grade)
になったら ni nattara - become (になる to become)
ともだち tomodachi - friend(s)
100人 hyaku nin - a hundred people