Let's take a look at the 1961 hit song 上を向いて歩こう literally, "I'll walk while looking up" or as it is known in the English world, Sukiyaki.

Before we get started, if you are a Makoto+ member, please download your bonus content here. You can download the lesson PDF, sound files, and an Anki flashcard deck with all the vocabulary in the song. (Not a member yet? Learn more here: https://www.MakotoPlus.com - your support is greatly appreciated and helps keep content like this coming!)

I want to focus these vocabulary lessons on newer songs that are popular in Japan right now, but there are a few songs that have stood the test of time and are well-known to nearly every Japanese person on earth.

One more thing: in the video we wrote 一人ぼっち (with a "bo") but the song is 一人ぽっち (with a "po"). 一人ぼっち is more common, but "po" is also said.


Video of the Actual Song

First, whether you've heard this song a million times or this is your first, it doesn't hurt to give it another listen before we dig in.

Introduction

If you are of a certain age, you probably know this song well, and if today is the first time to hear this song, don't worry. Within a few minutes, this song will be constantly ringing in your head. There are few songs as catchy as Sukiyaki.

It was called Sukiyaki because ue o muite arukou was hard for English speakers to say. "Sukiyaki" was easier to say and remember. Too bad it has nothing to do with sukiyaki...

It joins Gangnam style as one of those international hits that transcends language and culture. It hit number one in the United States Billboard Hot 100 in June 1963--a first for any Asian recording artist. This is especially amazing considering the song was completely in Japanese.
The singer Sakamoto Ryuu tragically died in the world's deadliest single-aircraft accident, the 1985 JAL Flight 123.

Spend a few minutes going through the translation with vocabulary to get a feel for the meaning and then enjoy listening to the actual song. It's a simple but lovely tune that is one of the most well-known Japanese songs in the world.

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Video Lesson of the Song


Sound File of the Lyrics

Here is a recording of all the lyrics spoken with pauses between lines. See below for breakdowns of every line with individual sound files.


Lyrics in Japanese with Furigana

Japanese Only Lyrics with Furigana



Line-by-Line with Vocabulary and Translation

Please note, due to the poetic nature of songs, other translations are possible. If you have a suggestion for a better translation, please leave a comment.

(うえ)()いて(ある)こう)

(I) look up while walking

Vocabulary & Notes


(なみだ)がこぼれないように)

So (my) tears won’t fall

Vocabulary & Notes


(おも)()(はる)())

(I) remember those (happy) spring days

Vocabulary & Notes


一人(ひとり)ぽっちの(よる)
)

“(This) lonely night.” or “(But) I’m all alone tonight.”

Vocabulary & Notes


(うえ)()いて(ある)こう
)

(I) look up while walking

Vocabulary & Notes


にじんだ(ほし)をかぞえて

Counting the blurred stars (through tearful eyes)

Vocabulary & Notes


(おも)()(なつ)()

I remember those summer days

Vocabulary & Notes


一人(ひとり)ぽっちの(よる)

I’m all alone this night.

Vocabulary & Notes


(しあわ)せは (くも)(うえ)
)

Happiness lies beyond the clouds

Vocabulary & Notes



(しあわ)せは (そら)(うえ))

Happiness lies beyond the sky

Vocabulary & Notes


(うえ)()いて(ある)こう)

I look up while walking

Vocabulary & Notes


(なみだ)がこぼれないように)

So (my) tears won’t fall

Vocabulary & Notes


()きながら (ある)

Walking around crying

Vocabulary & Notes


一人(ひとり)ぽっちの(よる

I’m all alone this night.

Vocabulary & Notes


(おも)()(あき)()

I remember those fall days

Vocabulary & Notes


一人(ひとり)ぽっちの(よる)

(But) I’m all alone this night.

Vocabulary & Notes


(かな)しみは(ほし)のかげに

Sadness is in the shadow of the stars

Vocabulary & Notes


(かな)しみは(つき)のかげに

Sadness is in the shadow of the moon

Vocabulary & Notes


(うえ)()いて(ある)こう)

(I) look up while walking

Vocabulary & Notes


(なみだ)がこぼれないように

So (my) tears won’t fall

Vocabulary & Notes


()きながら (ある)

Walking around crying

Vocabulary & Notes


一人(ひとり)ぽっちの(よる))

I’m all alone this night

Vocabulary & Notes



For upper beginners and above.

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