Learning to Sing a Japanese Song as a
Catalyst for Love, Hope, and Community
After the Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami in March of 2011, a popular song
from Japan began to be sung by people of all ages in different parts of the world, in order
to encourage hope, renewal and the building of caring communities in Japan and,
more generally, throughout the world. The song is called "I Look Up as I Walk."
The willingness of people to sing together, in a language many did not understand,
illustrates the power of music to bring about hope and change. It's called "musicking."
This is relational power in action: that is, the power of inspiration and friendship,
not coercion or violence or war. Musicking is an exercise of that power.
In terms of the spiritual alphabet created by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat,
the song itself, as sung by different people , evokes and communicates many
of the most important spiritual moods: connection, hope, hospitality, imagination,
love, nurturing, peace, play, and, in a quiet way, a sheer love of life.
The music does this, not with lyrics, but with the sound itself and
the meaning imparted to the sound by the singers and their listeners.
I Look Up as I Walk
The "Sukiyaki" Song
Original Pop Version
Lyrics to the Song
Ue o muite arukou
About the Song (from Wikipedia)
"Ue o Muite Arukō" (上を向いて歩こう, "I Look Up As I Walk") is a Japanese-language song that was performed by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto, and written by lyricist Rokusuke Ei and composer Hachidai Nakamura. Ei wrote the lyrics while walking home from a Japanese student demonstration protesting continued US Army presence, expressing his frustration at the failed efforts. In Anglophone countries, it is best known under the alternative title "Sukiyaki", a term with no relevance to the song's lyrics, as sukiyaki is a Japanese dish of cooked beef. The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States in 1963, one of the few non-Indo-European languages' songs to have done so. It is one of the best-selling singles of all time, having sold over 13 million copies worldwide. The original Kyu Sakamoto recording also went to number eighteen on the R&B chart. In addition, the single spent five weeks at number one on the Middle of the Road charts. The recording was originally released in Japan by Toshiba in 1961. It topped the Popular Music Selling Record chart in the Japanese magazine Music Life for three months, and was ranked as the number one song of 1961 in Japan. Well-known English-language cover versions with altogether different lyrics include "My First Lonely Night" by Jewel Akens in 1966 and "Sukiyaki" by A Taste of Honey in 1980. The song has also been recorded in other languages."
Translation of the Lyrics
I look up when I walk, counting the stars with tearful eyes, remembering those happy summer days. But tonight I'm all alone I look up when I walk. So the tears won't fall though my heart is filled with sorrow. For tonight I'm all alone. Happiness lies beyond the clouds. Happiness lies above the sky. Remembering those happy autumn days. But tonight I'm all alone. Sadness hides in the shadow of the stars. Sadness lurks in the shadow of the moon. I look up when I walk. So the tears won't fall. Though my heart is filled with sorrow. For tonight I'm all alone.