Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Across the Mindset - S.R.S

This is the title track on S.R.S's album. Did you know their name stands for Sleeping Rag Sheep? :O I found that out when I went to their concert. They didn't play 大切だから、捨てましょう but they did play this one.

Across the Mindset - S.R.S.

We had a dream of someday
Washed in these leaves and bathing in the sun (1)
We were like birds
rushing into a sky too wide…

Since when are we not discussing the rest of the dream? (2)
I wonder why the door to this dream is left closed
and we can't see it anymore. (3)

Suddenly I felt kidnapped (4)
by a shooting star I saw through the skylight.
Like my heart was not here now
that's the kind of feeling I had.

Since when have I been unable to reach out into the sky
and catch the stars?
I really wonder who decided that
someday a boy has to grow up. (5)

Across the mindset...
Across the mindset...

(1) Kind of awkward, but I don't have any better ideas. I was wondering if maybe 葉に洗う is an idiomatic phrase for the way sun looks after it passes through leaves, like that dapple texture, but it says they are in the sky, not on the ground, and the phrasing makes it sound like it refers to them and not the sun...#shrug
(2) I wasn't sure how to translate the 〜くなったpart. I understand it, sure, but "since when is it the case" and "since when was it decided" both sound weird, especially when you add it to the second chorus line that mirrors it. So I just left it out. Let me know if you have suggestions!
(3) This whole sentence was kind of hard. It's another case where I know what 〜たままで means, but it's hard to translate for this case; it's not like, "I fell asleep with the lights on." I don't think you could say, "I wonder why we became unable to meet with the door to the dream closed." Sounds awful. That said, "and" seems like a cop-out. Also, I wonder if I was right that they can't "meet" the dream. I changed that from "each other" at the last minute...
(4) I started with "transported" but I'm really glad I changed it haha. That was stretching in all the wrong directions. As it is, I dunno if "kidnapped" is the right word. If he were talking directly about his heart I would say "stolen" but I don't think he is yet.
(5) Nobody translates 大人になる literally, right? (I don't know, but I'm not going to here.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Less wonky: Azabujuban Summer Festival post in English

My friend Aki and I translated this page. I think we made a good team :)

大切だから捨てましょう ー S.R.S.

I really really love this song and hope they play it at the concert on Wednesday! It's so good, even though it's not at all how I conduct myself in a relationship :P I appreciate the music more than the lyrics ;) Here they are in Japanese. It's fun to sing :D

It's precious, so let's throw it away - S.R.S.

I can't manage to hide my confusion, so let's just break up
This feeling is precious, so let's throw it all away

Let's break up, let's throw it away (1)
So we can get something new (2)
Let's break up, let's throw it away
So we can realize the importance of these precious things

Let's forget, let's forget
Because only the things we can't forget will remain

Anyways, if only I forget
You won't know and it'll be really hard
We have to throw this feeling away because it's precious

Let's yell, let's yell
So we conceal our true selves
Let's yell, let's yell
Because our minds will then be at ease
Let's laugh, let's laugh
So we can enjoy even the tough things
So I can keep the clearest presence of mind (3)

I couldn't change my feelings for you
but I also couldn't figure out what to do with them
Saying I don't want to bother you is an excuse, but
I can't manage to hide it so
Let's just break up, let's throw it all away
We'll just get back together anyway so

For now let's break up

(1) I feel like I'm probably breaking a cardinal rule of translating (where those are listed, I don't know...) in this song a couple different times. I'm translating 捨てる as "to throw [something] away" in the literal sense and the metaphorical sense of throwing a relationship away "to break up [with someone]." I'm doing it, even though it's the exact same word in the same context (i.e. the repeated part of the chorus). I believe pretty strongly in the way I did it, though, because the feeling is right.
(2) You can argue all day about whether もの here is "thing" or "person" but I'm going with thing.
(3) I couldn't decide whether the にとって was to indicate that he specifically would be able to keep his presence of mind clear, or if she should get straightened out with regards to him.

*UPDATE: I realized I forgot to convey the しまおう part of some of the lines. Not about to translate it as "unfortunately, let's do [x]" so I added other emphasis that could be taken as sad...ish.

**UPDATE: Changed "don't forget" to "can't" forget. I notice it more when I'm just singing it in Japanese than when I'm trying to translate haha.

***UPDATE: Tweaked the last sentence. It's much better now!

おやすみ君のこと ー OKAMOTO'S

This is one of my favorite Okamoto's songs that I hadn't heard until I picked up their first full-length album, 10s. It has a simple melody, so it's easy to sing in Japanese.

When You're Asleep - OKAMOTO'S (.5)

The faintly tinted morning light, reddish, streams in
As always, morning is here
Let's just let it be over (1)

Before you open your eyes
I'm leaving
It'll end sometime, everyday before it ends (2)

I'm gonna leave quietly so as not to wake you up.
I hope I won't wake you up when you're sleeping

It's not that I'm running away, but
if it stays like this, I'll rot
I want to bounce back into the sky tomorrow (3)
That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it (4)

I'm gonna leave quietly so as not to wake you up.
I hope I won't wake you up when you're sleeping

Bells are ringing off in the distance
I'm hurrying home, such a rascal (5)
As always, morning is here
Let's just let it be over

Let's just let it be over
Let's just let it be over
Let's just let it be over
Let's just let it be over

(.5) Ahhhh this title is not easy to do. The meaning is clear, but the actual words to use in English are not.
(1) I really hope I got the grammar right on this ._.
(2) This part I thought about for a long time. I wonder if maybe it's an idiomatic form or something... It's almost poetic the way it is, but I'm not sure if it's correct. Sounds awkward...etc.
(3) "tomorrow's sky" sounds too weird. This sentence is still weird, because no one would say this in English. I guess I could just say, "I want to be free tomorrow" or "I want to fly back into the sky tomorrow."
(4) 踏みしめる is "to stand firmly" or "harden by treading" so I decided that meant that he's taking this excuse seriously and translated thusly. I dunno if it's right or not.
(5) I almost went with "jerk" :P but then didn't.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


UPDATE Sept 4, 2010: I learned something new. See note 4.

A friend on Twitter joked this should be my theme song. Here is a rough translation of the lyrics.

TORA TORA TORA Love Love Mode is WAR! Settle it!
READY READY READY Love Love I'll definitely BOMB you with my feelings

My heart is hot, I'm looking in the mirror pumping up my fighting spirit. (1)
My only weapon is my smile!
You'll be able to say it for sure. It'll come true for sure. (2)
With this strategy

TORA TORA TORA my love is earnest TORA TORA TORA I'm serious!
In the whole world the only thing I want is you
TORA TORA TORA Sniping! TORA TORA TORA It's a fight! (3)
I'm gonna use all my courage and see what you think! (4 -- UPDATED!)

TORA TORA TORA Love Love Chance GO No one is watching
DANGER DANGER DANGER Love Love Timidness is BOMB Vanquish it! (5)
Although I've sent you the signs, you don't notice
I'm only getting my heart broken
A coincidence, huh, good luck, huh
No, it's not!

TORA TORA TORA my love is earnest TORA TORA TORA anytime
I won't surrender this passion. All I want is your heart.
TORA TORA TORA Today's smile TORA TORA TORA I'll wager on it!
I'm only looking towards tomorrow; hold me (6)

TORA TORA TORA my love is earnest TORA TORA TORA I'm serious!
In the whole world the only thing I want is you
TORA TORA TORA Sniping! TORA TORA TORA It's a fight!
Use all your courage and get me!

(1) In Japanese you "put in" fighting spirit, but "pump up" sounds more natural to me in English.
(2) I chose to have the guy be the one who will be able to say it, but it's hard to tell really if she wants to be chased or chase.
(3) Sniping? Or is it "my aim is you?" うちthrew me off.
(4) UPDATE: So I found out you can use ぶつける as like bouncing an idea off someone. In that case I feel like the subject is probably 今の私 because she is talking about trying to get his attn. PREVIOUSLY: I translated ぶつける as just "get" but "get" in the sense of "earn my affections" or whatever. Like, the idea is a "fight" maybe. Or it could be "bump into" but neither of those really capture what I feel like the meaning is...
(5) I actually wanted to translate this as: "Quit being a pussy!" but decided not to.
(6) Awkward, but "Hold the me of now who is only gazing at tomorrow" is worse. What to do...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sometimes B.C. - S.R.S.

I heard the A.D. (and English) version of this song at the end of the movie 重力ピエロ and didn't even realize there was a whole other Japanese song until searching for the band online. S.R.S. has since become one of my favorite Japanese groups of the moment. I'm going to see them on the 25th, so I'm trying to spend some time learning lyrics before then :)

Japanese lyrics are here.

Even though you don't notice I'm pretending, my heart trembles (1)
In a darkness where the future couldn't be seen, wasn't that a star or something I saw?
You were gazing at me; I want to see you (2)

A person's shadow cast by the streetlight
follows after you, seemingly anxious. (3)
The messengers of my heart are all black horrible guys...

I want to to change now, into a better man
I want to be able to wrap you up in love
I can't skillfully put this idea into words
The night sky is looking a little prettier than usual.

Truth is not only what the eyes can see.
If I could show you what's inside my heart...

I want to to change now, into a better man
I want to be able to wrap you up in love
I can't skillfully put this idea into words
The night sky is looking a little prettier than usual.
It's too beautiful. (4)

(1) Somebody doesn't notice something, but it's very contextual as to who/what. Given that it's the first line of the song, I'm not entirely sure how you're supposed to know : /
(2) Literally: "I want to see you who gazes at me" -- but who in English would say that?
(3) Honestly it's really hard to have a point translating this song's verses, because I really can't tell the subjects. Just vagueness. I sort of feel like he was talking about her shadow, but in a way that made it a metaphor for the black messengers of his heart? But I wasn't really sure how to convey that, or if that's even what they meant : /
(4) Small liberty: "It's too prettier out than usual," is not English.


Remember when I was a videogame journalist? Yeah, that was cool.

This is so n00by, but brings back happy memories.

朝 ー はっぴいえんど

Note: Originally posted January 22, 2010.

This is one of their songs that get me every time. Original lyrics.


Morning leaks in from a gap in the curtains
and gently wraps you up as you lie there.
The light plays on the white wall and you're so sleepy
it makes you look beautiful. Now inside me
morning is passing through. I hang my head and
lived alone. I didn't see anything.
I didn't hear anything. I have the feeling that
the times up to now are like ancient history. Your awake but sleepy voice; you open your eyes a little, smiling. Without replying, I breathe in.
I'm warm. Outside the window, there is winter.

There are some little doubts about the above. I waffled a bit on the subject, like always. I don't want to get into it, though; just want to listen again.

Update: Actually, I know that 顔をそむく can't possibly mean what I said it does, the way the particles are. Got a little glib. I dunno what it should be, though. Do you betray your face? I wonder if it's just a difference in the figure of speech. If anyone knows I would be interested to find out. Ok wait I just updated it. I found the verb 背ける and it makes WAY more sense. Glad I looked that up. The kanji is the same as 背くbut it seems like the character has changed since the time the song was written (one of those).

Update: As I'm singing I realized I totally whiffed on 冬. Heh, it's "winter" not "snow." Fixed.

かくれんぼ ー はっぴいえんど

Note: Originally posted January 17, 2010

This weekend I decided to do かくれんぼ, but next time I'm definitley doing 朝. I realized I should have probably done them in the reverse order after I started, but all these songs are so great that it doesn't matter too much. This one will be harder to learn to sing because the melody is so meandering, but that is part of why I love to listen to it, so I'll do my best :) Japanese lyrics are here.

Hide and Seek - HAPPY END

The cloudy sky's early twilight
I'm making a cloud of smoke puffing on a cigarette [1]
Unfortunately the wind has completely died down
I'm drinking hot tea.

I'm trying to say "I want you" or something
A lie like a sigh slipping out the back [2]
is like a flower petal.
I'm drinking hot tea.

There was no thawing of snow etc.
The left over time in a ovalish warped coffee cup shivers. [3]
I'm drinking hot tea.

Oh, don't say anything. Yes, if you just be quiet it's better.
Because I can't hear your words.
The snowy landscape is outside. Inside the two of us are playing
hide and seek.
You smile as if it's painted on. [4]
I'm drinking hot tea.

[1] The parallel is so much more beautiful in Japanese.

[2] 滑り落とすis a tricky word that doesn't seem to want to come up in any of my dictionaries. Obviously the line after this one is very connected to it, but I'm not sure I got this metaphor right. And as usual, it sounds horrible in English. Luckily, no one expects you to (god forbid) sing or even really think about these songs in English. This is just a reference and it helps to sing the song if you have an idea of what you're saying.

[3] 瞬間: You can clearly hear him say とき here, so I'm guessing that this is just (now) outdated kanji. In the dictionaries I tried it came up as moment/second/instant, which you could also use here, I suppose. I really like the idea of "dregs of time" which I think is what they are getting at here? This is a really pretty song. I hope I understand it correctly : /

[4] This is a really a key line and it's hard to say whether I translated it right here. It seems like it should be this bitter interpretation, since they are playing hide and seek with their feelings and having a rough time of it (at least the way I'm seeing it). He could also be ADMIRING her smile, though. That said, it might not even be "her" smile. *sigh* Anyways, yes, so you could also say something like, "The very picture of a smiling face..." but I just don't get that vibe. In English you wouldn't really compliment someone by saying their smile looks like in a painting, so I'm not sure how I would translate it if it were a positive thing. If anyone has any insight into this line, please let me know :)

暗闇坂むささび変化 ー はっぴいえんど

Note: Originally posted January 8, 2010.

I sort of want to start a HAPPY END cover band. How cool would that be? These songs are so fun to sing :) This one has been my project for the weekend. On the tribute CD, Happy Parade, this song is sung BEAUTIFULLY by つじあやの with ukulele :) Lyrics are here.

The Giant Flying Squirrel Monster[1]

The place is Tokyo, Azabujuuban,[2]
just then the early afternoon.
In the dark hills, an outburst of crickets chirping.
To my shining eyes in my black coat [3]
In broad daylight, appeared a monstrous apparition.

Flying squirrel,
Flying squirrel,
Oh-oh flying squirrel.

Butterflies go flap flap flap
Bats go whoosh whoosh whoosh
A suspicious cloud streams by
To my ears in my black hat, from a torn mouth
comes a worn out voice saying, "You never write..." [4]

Flying squirrel,
Flying squirrel,
Oh-oh flying squirrel.

If I try to remember,
in grandma's old stories, since I've met one of these I should say [5]
"Let me hear one or two of your tales of woe"
and take its hand even if it's just a dream [6]

Flying squirrel,
Flying squirrel,
Oh-oh flying squirrel.


[1] This is a more or less literal translation. As far as I can tell, though, this song really is about a fying squirrel "monster."

[2] Thank god for name and place dictionaries.

[3] This was probably the hardest line in the song (well and the one about 黒ソフト, but once you decide the first one the second one works the same way. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be more metaphor or he was actually just describing the clothes he was wearing. I mean, I could be entirely wrong. I think it's the に that really through me off, since that should indicate direction, not location. Unless it's with ある, at least. See? It's hard. I'm not sure.

[4]草疲びれる This was pretty interesting. It took me a while to figure out this word, even though I knew right away what it meant because of the kanji for 疲れた (which means "tired"). Unless the dictionaries I use are mistaken, this: 草臥れる is the current kanji spelling of the word. Another of the dictionaries only seems to register the kana くたびれる.

[5] 以来, here, through me off. It's supposed to mean "since" in a time sense, not a "because" sense. I almost want to assume they botched the kanji, because 依頼 (also いらい) means "request," which totally makes sense, but I would have to change the rest of the verse, too. It'd be something like ,

If I try to remember
in grandma's old stories, the request from one of these when you meet is,
"Let me tell you a tale of woe or two..."
and it takes my hand even though I'm dreaming.

Orrr....something. But you get the idea. It would change from you offering to help it out (to save your skin!!) to it requesting your help (because it's a sad lonely spirit). It's hard because I understand the situation and even have a general idea of how a yokai encounter works, but I just can't get through this grammar.

This sort of runs into point [6] by now, but that も is sort of hard to parse. Normally も is something like "as well" or "too" but in this case I don't think he's been talking about any other "pipe dreams" (which I refuse to translate as pipe dreams because...well...we just wouldn't say it. I could maybe do it as "hallucination," but that seems a little too far from the original.) I guess I just took some liberities in this case and said "even though" because that seems to be the sentiment they are trying to convey. Like, "It's probably a dream, but this is what happened, so...what can I say?"


This past week a friend from Twitter sent me some notes on this blog post! I was very surprised and excited by this development :)

The main gist is to confirm my hesitations in [3] where I wasn't sure what to do with the black clothing mentions. The context is murky enough that it seems like you could go either way, but this translator went with the metaphor, which maybe does make more sense. Anyhow, I highly recommend checking out the notes!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

しんしんしん - はっぴいえんど

Note: Originally posted November 22, 2009

Given that I really require the ability to sing this song, I am going to attempt to translate it. Also, I decided to start including a vocab list. The original lyrics are here (what a great site!)

Incidentally, as a side note: Is it Haruomi Hosono who sings lead vocals? In this song, he sounds like he has a cold. Maybe he always does. I will have to pay more attention ;) 端 sounds more like はじ than はし. And ごみ sounds more like ごび. Is this just me sucking at listening? I don't think so. I don't have THAT horrible of an ear.

Heavy Snowfall - HAPPY END (1)

My heart is a musty old flower (2) falling down onto dirty snow, mixing with garbage at the end of the treet. Mixing with garbage...

Just about everything has become horrible. If only I could disappear into the dirty snow. It'd be fine if it turned into sludge. It'd be fine if it did. (3)

Cars are driving, the white stuff is snow. People walking. The snow is white. (4) Snowdrifts at the end of town.

At that time, I saw something echoing profoundly. (5) The silent snow falls.

Snow and stuff is piling up in town, as usual, dirty. What stupid person got it all dirty? Who got it dirty? Who got it dirty? (6)

(1) To kick things off, しんしんしん is already impossible to translate ;) We don't have a sound for "heavy snowfall," do we? It's quiet! A special kind of quiet. I like that Japanese has "sounds" for stuff like that :)

(2) This is an awful translation, but I literally cannot locate a reading of those two kanji together except for here, which is ridiculous. Of course, he is not saying きしょく, it sounds more like きば, or きま, but I can't find anything down either of those routes. I even though maybe it was a compound verb that ended in む or ぬ, but I couldn't find anything there either. Bad bad bad. Someone enlighten me please :(

(3) I went with "fine" instead of "good." I'm feeling more resignation here than anticipation. Also for the なればいい repition I implied the verb without repeating it...since they didn't repeat the entire phrase.

(4) I wasn't sure if I should imply that cars are driving/people are walking ON white snow... Or why the snow would be white there if that were the case... These songs all seem so simple till you try to find out what they mean. English song lyrics can be pretty cryptic, though, so...*shrug*

(5) This was another case where I just couldn't find the kanji. "Echoing" I inserted based on the verb I thought he said, ひびく. Maybe it's an outdated kanji reading or something? You'd think the dictionary would have it. Is it also possible he miswrote the kanji? These lyrics are hand scribbled with the album, so I wonder if people just take those and write them exactly. Maybe he's making a pun? I'm not sure.

(6) I actually don't feel too bad about how this last part ended up. I was tempted to say, "Who was so stupid as to get the snow all dirty?" but I feel like the way I did it was closer to what he said, maybe?

New words (bold as I used it here):

Note that some words used in this song seem to have simpler kanji than exhibited here. Like まち. 塵 is usually written in kana these days. Also, I'm only listing words here that were pretty new for me AND for which I was confident in the meaning/interpretation.

古ぼける to look old, become musty, wear out ふるぼける
端 end (of a street), edge, tip, margin, point はし
泥濘 quagmire, sludge, mud, slush, mire ぬかるみ
裏 bottom, rear, back, behind the scenes (etc.) うら
吹き溜まり drift of snow/leaves, hangout for drifters ふきだまり
黙りこくる to keep silent だまりこくる
積る to pile up/accumulate, estimate つもる

Hey, if nothing else, we can sing along easier :) This is a really fun song to sing.

Mistranslation: はいからはくち ー はっぴいえんど

Note: Originally posted November 10, 2009

AKA Drink your #failsauce with a spoon


So instead of continuing with the Wikipedia article for now (since you can't sing along to it) I am going to はいからはくち. As it turns out this is easier said than done (like any project), but even the title is problematic. Let's take a look...[at how badly we can fuck it up.]

Original Japanese lyrics, by the way, are here.

Cuz I'm high, I'm an idiot! - HAPPY END (1)

Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high, I'm drinking Coca Cola with you, appreciating the blood-stained sky. (2)
Cuz you're high, we'll roll up our sleeves and decorate the lively town —golden lace. (3)
Cuz I'm...
Cuz I'm high, I'm an idiot!

Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high, as I vomit blood, in spite of your "no," it's just the evening twilight. (4)
Cuz you're high, you look like a hippy turned blood-orange. (5)
Cuz I'm...
Cuz I'm high, I'm an idiot!
Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high...
Cuz I'm high...


(1) 白痴 is the はくち I assumed they meant, which translates as idiot/idiocy. I guess that makes sense. I'm pretty sure they are, after all, talking about being "that kind of" high. You could also read this as, "Because I said yes, I'm an idiot!" But the rest of the song makes them sound pretty stoned ;) Incidentally, I used "cuz" because, well, they're high.
(2) 玩ぶ can mean "to trifle with/do as one pleases," but I took the "appreciate" meaning just because...well, I wasn't sure what you would really "do" with the sky. Plus I can imagine two stoned people sitting around drinking Coke and watching the sun set.
(3) We wouldn't say "tuck up the cuffs of our pants" to do work. I'm not even entirely sure that is what Japanese people say, but that is sort of the image that the dictionary gave me. I just localized it to "roll up our sleeves" to preserve the meaning more than the action. Maybe I shouldn't do that. Is it like naming a whole song "Sukiyaki" cuz it's easy to say? lol For some reason in this case I feel like recognizing the symbolic gesture is more important.
(4) This was definitely the hardest line of the song. Thanks to this page for explaining ("Advice for people who can't read" -- interestingly, 読み取る is translated as "read between the lines" but I don't think that applies when you're just trying to read kanji or hiragana that would normally be katakana, plus I think it's funnier that he offers this with a little star. Like, good job! Keep working at it! Someday you'll be able to read real Japanese! haha) that のお is actually ノー which is actually just "no."

And then that に was really throwing me off. I just wasn't sure how to parse this thing. In the end, I nearly almost went with "your "no" was only to the night" but I realized it wasn't 夕まぐれに, but ノーに so that was out. Then I was thinking maybe the ni with the ノー was simultaneously a play on the conjunction (?) のに, which means "although." So it was like he was saying, "Although you said 'no', it was just the evening twilight" which I basically took to mean something like he's high so he's forcing himself on this poor girl. You know, though, I really have no idea. This could be so wrong. Anyways, in order to preserve ノー as a noun, I used "in spite of" instead of "although."

So basically, yeah, this line relies on a ton of assumptions. I'm gonna look up a real translation of this...

Oh hey, so this is interesting: "Haikara is a pseudo-English Japanese word from the Meiji period derived from the phrase “high collar.” (It originally had a long final a: haikarā, ハイカラー.) You might summarize its meaning as “fashionably Westernized,” but of course, the full story is more complicated."

Do you think that is what they mean? Maybe I'm coming at this song from too much of an American 60s/70s view. This song is insane, though lol I like how that author points out that はい also means lungs, so really the line marked as (4) could also read, "While vomiting blood from my lungs..." which is sort of gross. Let's return to this string of revelations in a minute.
(5) 蜜柑色 is the color of a mikan, but a crimson one I'm guessing would be reddish? We call those "blood oranges," I'm pretty sure, right? And in any case, it goes WAY awesomely with the rest of the blood-obsessed song, so it's staying in there.
(6) I don't even remember this part. I think it must be different depending on the recording. In Kazemachiroman it goes straight into the "Western fashion/high collars is/are beautiful" thing or "Because I'm high, I'm beautiful" thing. Anyways, the point I was going to make is that they are repeating the last sound from から in my original crazy American version, which I translated as the last sound in "cuz" instead of the last sound in the phrase.

OH GOD I have been doin it rong. Look here. The note about Bannai Tarao. He DOES say it in English, with the "is," I checked. Why would he do that if he were saying "Because I'm high..." unless the English were just really that bad (which I have never thought). UGH. So yeah, it's possible to misread every line in the song. Let's try that again...

High collar idiot (1')

High collar...
High collar...
High collar...
High collar...
I'm fashionably Western: I'm drinking Coca Cola with you, appreciating the blood-stained sky. (2')
You're fashionably Western: We'll roll up our sleeves and decorate the lively town—golden lace.
I'm fashionably Western! IDIOT!

High collar...
High collar...
High collar...
High collar...
I'm fashionably Western as I vomit blood: in spite of your "no," it's just the evening twilight. (3')
You're fashionably Western: you look like a hippy turned blood-orange.
I'm fashionably Western! IDIOT!
High collar...
High collar...
High collar...

(1') I'd rather keep in natural than say "Westernized Idiot" as Wikipedia does.
(2') The "so" in "I'm so Western" is an artistic flourish. Maybe that changes the meaning too much? I like it a lot that way, but...yeahhhhhh it might be considered some rewriting. I miss the "because" aspect. I don't know if I like the colon. I...ugh lol
(3') This may now be beyond reach haha No idea how vomiting blood is a Western thing. Also, are we accusing Western people of being racist?


Scratch 2'. Let's change it to "I'm fashionably Western..."

That is at least a minor improvement. This is a train wreck. Where is the professional translation of this? I can't even find another amateur attempt. There has to be something somewhere, but I don't have time to scour the Internet anymore. Bedtime : /

Dude, though, screw me in the eye, I shoudl've known they weren't singing about being high. Why would they do that? Japan is super not into pot. Maybe San Francisco is a bad place to try to listen to this song. Or maybe being American is the complete opposite of ideal state to consume this song in. Ahahahahahaha. Too sleepy. Comments, people. At least come make fun of me!!

EDIT: So yes, always do your homework kids. Keep doing it your entire life!

Incidentally, one other potentially translation that I thought of for はいから was "high color."

So you'd end up with the intro reading, "High color is...beautiful." And then lyrics like, "High color... High color..." and "I'm high color" "You're high color" which seemed like some kind of cool slang for "super cool" or "interesting." Of course, once you learn that はくちmeans idiot, that is totally ruined ;)

Learning is pretty much the best. I only wish that after all this I had a decent translation. I feel like what is there is still pretty double-plus un-good.

風街 (ウィキペディア)

Note: Originally posted October 24, 2009

Obviously there is some danger in translating wikipedia articles, as they are liable to change, but honestly, it's probably the best resource out there that I know of right now to learn about HAPPY END. (And yeah, I'm gonna go back and edit the English into the post before this post, too.)

Anyways, this is an article about their concept ofkazemachi. You could probably translate this as "breeze town" or "wind town," but I think that sounds horrible and cheesy, so I refuse to do that.* It's a super amazing concept that you could almost say is very similar to Hayao Miyazaki's sentiments when he designs the scenery for his movies. Basically, talking about nostalgia in my last actual translation post hit the nail on the head -- this band is all about nostalgia. I'm in love.

Anyways, here's what I came up with to translate what I found here (today, so apologies if it has changed):


Kazemachi is a concept established by the rock band HAPPY END. It depicts the Tokyo scenery lost since the Tokyo Olympics, with old fashioned imagination. They are presenting impressions of the Aoyama, Shibuya, Azabu, and surrounding areas from the era before Tokyo Tower was constructed. However, since "It's Summer" from the recording Kazemachi Romance is a depiction of Matsumoto's boyhood memories of summer vacation spent at the Ikahon hot springs (the home of his grandfather), it's not the case that they limited it to just purely Tokyo scenery.

The work of manga artist Shinji Nagashima had such a big influence on these atmospheres that at HAPPY END's first concert when they played "It's spring, c'mon!" Eiichi Ootaki announced, "This is a song dedicated to Mr. Shinji Nagashima."

It can be said that all of HAPPY END's work is connected to this idea of kazemachi. Especially in works such as their masterpiece, Kazemachi Romance, they sing in a deep, detailed way about the appearance of kazemachi.

(1) I'm not gonna do super detailed notes this time. Just to sum up the experience, though, I would say that the second line was definitely the hardest part to translate, and you can tell, since it's sort of janky. ものis not the most concrete concept, since it can be a person or a thing or pretty much whatever. (Also janky is the font in the post, for whatever reason...I've been having weird font size/type issues this whole time...) Anyhow, other than that...I apparently really need to track down some Shinji Nagashima manga.

*In a similar way you could call 風街ろまん, "Breeze Town Romance" which sounds similarly awful. PS - This has been edited ;p Way to go anyone who clicked on this and saw me totally misread the album title.

夏なんです ー はっぴいえんど

Note: Originally posted October 21, 2009

Well, I was out tonight trying to relax or something (which wasn't working because I was alone and hence drawn to check my e-mail on my iPhone) when I realized that I really couldn't wait any longer to try to figure out the lyrics to 夏なんです, my favorite はっぴいえんど track so far, which I will translate here as simply, "It's Summer."

You could arguably do, "Since it's summer" or "Yes, It's Summer" or some more explicative sentence, because of the ん thrown in there, but we wouldn't say that in English really, and I think "It's summer" can have that feeling they are trying to impart, although as you might know, we don't associate it so strongly with awesome cicada noises.

(One thing you may NOT know is how nostalgic I am about Japanese summers. This is one sentiment that somehow has seeped directly into me from Japan, so somehow I really feel like I understand what they mean when they sing this song.)

Anyways, it's a rough translation. Keep in mind that I am not a super pro (yet?) I think I will present it with number notes in parentheses which you can find afterwards. Feedback is completely asked for and encouraged. I didn't even look to see if I could find any existing translations of these lyrics anywhere, so it's all just me (and jisho.org with occasional help from goo.ne.jp) for better or worse. I'd love to hear suggestions/corrections.

Incidentally, the original lyrics I found here, although you can't copy and paste them, which made it obnoxious to look up in an online dictionary. That was half of the point of having them computerized; the CD booklet is hand-written -- charming, but a bit scratchy/hard-to-read for a non-native speaker...

It's Summer - HAPPY END

On the white footpaths between rice fields in the country, dusty breezes grow still. (1)
Squatting low to the ground, those kids shoot marbles. (2)
It's the sparkling, glittering
It's the sparkling, glittering

The local deity's forest is dark green; (3)
a calm has descended. (4)
Someone dangles from the crossbeam (5)
of an old teahouse storefront.
It's the whirring sound (6)
cicadas make. (7)
It's the whirring sound
of summer. (8)

The parasol twirls, I'm bored.
The parasol twirls, I'm bored.
loo-loo-looo-loo-loo-looo-loo-looo-loo-loo-looo-loo-loooo (9)

As I follow the cobblestone path, the weather runs its course (10)
Unfortunately, summer is accompanied by showers. (11)
It's the melancholy, fluffy (12)
towers of clouds. (13)
It's the melancholy, fluffy

The parasol twirls, I'm bored.
The parasol twirls, I'm bored.

(1) It did seem to me that the footpath was implied to be white, but the rice fields make more sense, right? Hard to say. 風 I translated as "breezes" here because it's summer, and 立ち止まるis literally "to stop/halt/stand still," but "grow still" seemed to fit the mood more. I guess I'm one of those translators who thinks it's fine to take a liberty as long as it's my liberty and no one else's ;) I do try to have a good reason, though.
(2) It took me a really long time to track down a translation for ペタンに partially because the word has a couple forms, but anyways, it means something like "flattened," which does not really describe the way people play marbles, at least when I think of it, so I said "low" instead. Also, I was really psyched that I learned ビー玉 earlier, from the kanji drills I was doing (reinforced with smart.fm training -- BTW, I made a list that will contain all the words I learn from はっぴいえんど songs.)
(3) We say "dark," not "deep." I suppose you could go with "deep" since forests can be "deep," and also "dark," but this not that kind of forest. I like that ふかみどり is literally "deep green" but it doesn't sound like fluent English. Now that I'm looking closer at the definition, though, it does include "heighten" and "intensify." I wonder if those are bi-products of "deep" or not.
(4) I originally had "stillness" instead of "calm," but when I edited the first verse to "became still" I decided to change it up. "Silence" didn't seem to fit. 舞い降りるis a very active verb (swoop/fly down, alight) for something that in English we think of as settling or, like I said, descending.
(5) This came out less awkward than it could have, but I'm still trying to think of a way to make it not sound like someone hung himself...
(6) As you may have seen in my tweets (@tora, and in the sidebar there) I was having some trouble locating an English onomatopoeia for cicadas. I'm not sure we have one. I googled and found it described as "whirring," though, and I consciously went with that as opposed to "buzzing."
(7) Literally this complete line would've been "It's the houshiitsukutsuku voice of the cicadas," seemed awkward sounding. Plus "voice of the cicadas" is really stick in the mud and formal or overly poetic-sounding in English. "The sound cicadas make," as in, "What sound does a cicada make?" is more colloquial (we're in the country, after all!) and more child-like (which goes with the nostalgia, especially after the kids -- oh, I translated 奴らas "those kids" even though it literally means "those guys" -- shooting marbles <---oh, I said shooting instead of "flip," "snap," or "repel." It is "shooting marbles" in English, right? I guess I could just say "playing" but I wanted to preserve the action if possible.)
(8)Actually, though, now that I'm looking at this revised English I just worked out -- "It's the houshiitsukutsuku voice of the cicadas" (earlier I was making an error and adding another "of the" where it's really not needed, I don't think) I can see the argument for using that. And then that would make "It's the whirring sound of summer" into "It's the whirring summer," which I sort of like. You would be taking pretty big liberties to call it, "the voice of summer" since 声 is only stated along with せみ, but...you could probably also get away with that.
(9) You may be tempted to go with ru-ru-ruu, but do not. No one in English would say that. "Loo," on the other hand, we would say.
(10) I thought the onomatopoeias would be the hardest part of this song, but it was definitely the first part of this verse. I THINK/hope I really nailed it here, though, in the end. "Paved stone path" would've been really stiff -- plus cobblestones are more nostalgic. I had to google for 縫い目を辿る to see how else it was used. At first I thought maybe it was straight up imagery, like maybe little rivulets of rain were rushing down the path after something happened to do with the sky (whut) but then I had the idea that the singer was the one going down the path (which is confusing since the verb there, 駆け抜けるcan be used to "pursue (a course)" but I didn't get the verbs mixed up, I promise) so I dug a little deeper on the "following the threads" thing and came up with "ran its course." I really hope I did this right. If anyone has any ideas on this in particular, I'm extra keen to know them :)
(11) Didn't feel the need to specify "rain" showers since we mentioned the weather. Also, translated 〜てしまう as "unfortunately." Hope that works.
(12) 悶々can be "worrying" or "anguishedly" and I went with just "anguished." This might be a bit dramatic, but the alternative seemed too whimsical. I wonder if I can think of something quick oh wait it was on the tip of my tongue..."brooding?" That seems really dark for summer, too. While I was working on it, I came up with "foreboding" but that is silly. Not that summer should be "anguished" either. Hrm hrm. This is in no way a perfect translation. AH HA -- do you think "melancholy" would be too much of a stretch? Oh I'm in love with it...I'm going to use that. Summer can definitely be melancholy, and that word fits the pacing really well (the strolling, the thinking, the nostalgia of the whole thing -- we're not worrying or anguishing -- we're just kinda...moping? A little bit? Bored and melancholy? I dunno! Feedback!)
(13) "Cumulo-nimbus" seemed a bit too sciencey and proper. "Columns" of clouds didn't do much better, so I used "towers" to be more poetic.


Boy, I really love doing this type of thing. Enough that it is quarter after midnight and I definitely have to be working by 6 am (although I can sleep in a tad because I'm having a work from home morning...) Very sleep now, though. Let me know what you think!! :)

UPDATE: OoooOOOooo, I just had the thought that maybe I should have gone with "twirls" instead of "spins." I'm ok with a little whimsy there. Deadpan is no good. Changing it. Feel free to fight with me over it later :)

UPDATE #2: Hmm, another thought. Tonight I saw the movie, Battle League Horumo, and in it one of the character's said, "You're boring!" and used the word たいくつ. So the question is, does this guy think he is boring, or is he bored? What are the usage rules for たいくつ? I'm too tired to look it up now, but maybe in the morning, but I will put it on my list of things to get done this weekend (which is getting rather long...)

UPDATE #3: Going with HAPPY END instead of Happiiendo.

UPDATE #4: たいくつis apparently used as both "bored" and "boring," so that is convenient. I'm going to leave it the way it is.

UPDATE #5: Realized instead "goes well with" it should be "is accompanied by" regarding summer showers. The line before that is still really bugging me.

Words in languages

This is more of a repository than a blog. I appreciate feedback. I will include translation notes, which will be most likely be copious. I hope I will also learn something.


For starters I will import some old translations from my other failed blog.