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Full text of "Japanese peasant songs"


In Memory of 

Edwin C. Kirkland 

^^'du^^ (, A^^K'/C/uvJ 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 





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Associate Editors 
J. W. Ashton A. H. Gayton 

Marius Barbeau George Herzog 

Aurelio M. Espinosa Gladys A. Reichard 

Archer Taylor 

Stith Thompson 


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1-3 Kuma Rokuchoshi 13 

4a The Country Headman I 15 

4b The Country Headman II 16 

5-7 You Are a Sharp Sword 17 


Hayashi Sung to the Tune of Rokuchoshi 18 

8 I Beg Your Pardon, But— 18 

9 Rain Had Not Been FalUng 18 

10 Needles of the Green Pine 19 

11 The Road To Meet the Lover 19 

12 Opening the Door 19 

13 In the Middle of the Night 20 

14 Drinking with One's Lover 20 

15 You Going Up 21 

16 At Taragi's Bunzoji 21 

17 If You Say It 22 

i8a-b Your Maid Servant 22 

19 Good Feeling 23 

20 Facing the Shutter 23 

21 When Delivery Is Easy 23 

22a-e It Is Nothing 24 

23 When He Does Not Know ' . . 24 

24 Shall We Have a Drink ? 24 




Rokuchoshi Wakare 25 

25 My Lover Is Leaving 25 

26 On Parting from My Lover 25 

27 I Am a Traveler 26 

28 When the Parting Comes 26 

29 You Are the Best 26 

DOKKoisE 27 

30-33 If Eggs Are Tended 27 

34-35 Cold and Soba 28 

36 The Painted Sake Cup 29 

37 The Appetizer 29 

38 With Face Covered 30 

39 Country Wrestling 30 

40 White Waves 30 

41-42 As a Butterfly 31 

43 Tied to a Cherry Tree . 31 


44-46 Chiosan 32 

47 When It Rains 33 

48 In the Bowl of Water 33 

49 After Drinking Wine . . . 34 

50 Wine Drinking Drinking 34 

51 By the Long Paddy Path , . 35 

52 What Will You Do? 35 

53 Though I Am Not Good 35 

54-55 In the Mountains 36 

56 You Are the Only Hero 36 

57 The Ribs of the Umbrella 37 

58a-b Flower-Like Sano 37 

59a-j My Penis 38 


6oa-h Niwaka 41 

61 By That Side Lane 44 

62 At the Ferry of Yamasaki 45 

63 Genjomero 45 




64-67 Song of March Sixteenth 47 

68-70 Weeding Song 49 

71-74 Bon Song 50 

75 Rejoice 5^ 

76-78 On the Eve of the Fifteenth 53 


79 A Good Day Is Here 55 

80 The Plum Tree 5^ 

81 Jusuke and Oiro 57 

82 Come Come Sparrow 60 

83 During the Day 60 

84 Kanshir5 Wants a Wife 61 

85 The Difficuh Bride 65 



86 Masachan and the PoHceman 67 

87 Where Are You From? 68 

88a-j Gomumari 68 

89 Saig5 Takamori's Daughter 70 

90 Bean Curd Is White 71 


91 Japan's Nogi 72 

92 The Soldier's Girl 73 

93 Cat, Cat 73 

94 Father Is a Peony 74 


95 While Plucking a Violet 74 

96 Hanako's Tears 75 

97 Gokuraku Ji 76 

98 Cloth Spread Out 77 

99 Young Lady in a Basket 77 

100 Mizu-Guruma 78 

loi Swallow Ken-Ken 78 



102 Takayama of Fukada 78 

103 Fireflies 79 

104 Tokyo I Saw 79 


105 Go To Sleep Torahachi 81 

106 Turtle Dove 81 

107 Little Boy 82 

108 Little Boy's Nurse 82 


109 The Sparrows Laugh . 83 

no Cooking Rice 83 

III Male and Female Butterfly 83 

1 12-13 Riddle and Proverb 84 

114 Spells for Foot Cramp 84 

115 One Bottle of Infallible Remedy 84 

116 Incantation 84 


117-20 Four Supplementary Stanzas of Kuma Rokuchoshi ... 85 


121-28 Sado Okesa 86 

i29a-c Tsuki Wa Kasanaru . . 88 

130-35 Kagoshima Ohara Bushi 89 





1. Hamlet women masquerading as men to greet a returned traveler . 4 

2. A banquet on the Kuma river 4 

3. The Samisen 14 

4. Mrs. Kav^^anabe knows all the songs 14 

5. Niwaka Dance — Initial Position 40 

6. A Step in the Niwaka Dance 42 

7. Niwaka Dance — The Man in the Foreground Keeps Time ... 42 

8. Foundation Pounding (Dotsuki) 54 

9. A Group of Women Bouncing a Man They Rushed between Spells 

of Foundation Pounding 54 

10. Ball Bouncing 78 

11. Mizu-Guruma (Water Mill) 78 




Kuma county, the locale of the songs presented in this collection, is a rural dis- 
trict in south central Kyushu Island, Japan, about two and one-half hours by rail 
from Kumamoto City and thirty from Tokyo. The mountains which border the 
county enclose a fertile basin through which flows the Kuma river, an ideal set- 
ting for the traditional Japanese form of wet rice agriculture. 

The people of Kuma live in villages, each made up of a number of hamlets or 
small clusters of thatched cottages surrounded by paddy land or upland mul- 
berry fields. As with other agricultural folk societies, periods of tedious farm 
labor alternate with times of festival and sociability. During the spring months 
everyone is busy with rice planting and transplanting, during the summer with 
raising silk worms, and during the fall with harvest; but after each such period 
of work, especially during the winter months after the crops are in, comes a 
leisure period during which are held many banquets marked by drink and song 
and dance. 

Ordinary daily work is carried on by each household individually — the able- 
bodied men and women working in the fields, grandparents doing lighter chores 
around the house while their grandchildren lend a hand or play, as they sing 
some tune in rhythm with their occupation. While this daily life may become at 
times a tedious affair, it is rarely a grind, for there are frequent pauses to smoke 
a miniature pipe or indulge in an in-between-meal snack enlivened by gossip 
and rude jokes. Work follovv^s the sun and the seasons, not a time clock. 

Certain types of work are performed communally, as when a group of house- 
holds exchange labor at the time of rice transplanting, or a man's neighborhood 
group assists him in building a house. Public works such as making a bridge or 
repairing a road are also carried out on a cooperative basis, the people working 
in groups, thus relieving the arduousness of the task. There is an esprit de corps 
among the workers which is maintained by the realization of the necessity of the 
task, enhanced by good humored, rather broad banter and an occasional snatch 
of song. Such cooperative labor is always followed by a drinking party at which 
all the workers relax, exchange drinks with one another and cement their eco- 
nomic interdependence with a warm social relationship. Social integration is re- 
inforced with social euphoria. 

In a peasant community such as a Japanese village the crises of life, the rites de 


passage, are marked by special ceremonies and celebrations, the most important; 
of which is the wedding banquet. Whereas community labor is a neighborhood 
aflFair, a gathering of people on a geographic basis, the gathering of relatives for 
a wedding or a funeral is a coming together of people as kin. In one situation 
the solidarity of the local group is expressed, in the other the ties of kinship 

Another event, something of a crisis in a peasant community, is departure on a 
long journey, an event socially recognized by farewell banquets. These feasts are 
big occasions, especially of recent years when the prospective traveler happens to 
be a young conscript. The young man's family gives a large banquet for neigh- 
bors and relatives, a banquet marked by much song and more wine, "to lighten 
the traveller's footsteps." 

The waxing and waning of the moon and the rhythmic round of seasons both 
affect the social life of a Japanese folk community. This is reflected by the pre- 
dominance of festivals on the fifteenth of the lunar month, that is, at the time of 
the full moon, and by numerous festivals in spring and in autumn, at New Year^ 
and midsummer. Some of these festivals are celebrated on a small scale at the 
neighborhood god house, others on a larger scale at the village temple or shrine 
and all of them are, of course, occasions for song and dance and the exchange of 
drinks. The periods of labor in the fields are thus both relieved and set off by 
festivals of the full moon and by celebrations in honor of deities of rice, of 
motherhood, and of medicine.^ 

The songs sung at banquets and festivals are true folksongs; they are anony- 
mous, familiar to every one present and reflect in one way or another the social 
values of the group. With the exception of some of the seasonal songs (Shonga, 
No. 71, and Jugoya, No. 76) there is little discrimination in the choice of verses 
to be sung at a given banquet — they may include Rokuchoshi (Nos. 1-4), a favor- 
ite at all times, some verses from March i6th (No. 64), a song or two from 
another region such as Sado Okesa (No. 121). 

The popular songs are well known to everyone in the village and are learned 
as part of the general folkways of the group by a growing child rather than 
through any formal teaching. Children always linger about a house where a 
banquet is in progress, so it is not difficult for them to acquire a knowledge of 
the words and of the tunes. As far as performance goes, it is usually the full 
adults of the group, that is those married and with children, who are the freest 
performers, for it is not seemly for the youthful to indulge in such boisterous 
pleasures. Furthermore, most dancing is solo, and serves as a means of self- 

^ Each neighborhood or hamlet god house is the home of some popular deity such as 
Kwannon (mercy), Yakushi (medicine), or Jizo (children and safety). 


expression and o£ attracting attention direct to oneself, a behaviour privilege 
reserved to older people. 

The songs are accompanied by the samisen,^ a stringed instrument played by 
a woman, while the dances are performed by both men and women. The more 
indecent dances involving suggestive forward and backward jerks of the hips 
and an occasional loosening of the upper part of the kimono to expose the breast 
are performed, for the most part, by older women. 

These folksongs and dances bring out two interesting contrasts in Japanese 
peasant life. One of these is the formality of the opening phases of a banquet 
with elaborate seating arrangements in order of rank, age, and sex, neatly placed 
trays containing food carefully arranged and of set quality and type according 
to the occasion, a formal request to partake by the hostess, and perhaps a few 
formal speeches in regard to a wedding or a departing soldier. Throughout this 
opening formal period of the banquet everyone sits stiffly on his knees until 
finally, formalities over, the host tells his guests to be at ease. This is the signal 
for everyone to cross his legs in front of him, begin eating and exchanging 
drinks. The conversation becomes general and loud, and the formal seating 
arrangement is shattered as people go from place to place to exchange drinks, 
or play Kuma-gen, a special finger game (played only by men). Soon some 
woman brings out a samisen and the party is on. In general, the more important 
the occasion, the stifTer the opening formalities of a banquet and the noisier and 
bawdier the subsequent period of song and dance. 

The other marked contrast in village life is the difference in behavior at a 
party of a young girl and an older woman. While the women at a banquet be- 
come literally the life of the party, young girls neither sing nor dance, but in- 
stead demurely carry out their duties of serving the guests and pouring drinks. 
They never drink themselves, neither do they smoke. This contrast between 
young unmarried girls and old mothers of children, so marked at a banquet, is 
but an accentuation of a general condition in village life where a woman begins 
to smoke and drink only after the birth of a child, and where the older she be- 
comes the freer she may be in her conversation. The extreme sexuality of some 
women at banquets may be a reflection of severe repression or deprivation in 
daily routine farm life.^ 

^ Called in the local dialect shami. 

^ An interesting custom which may also be related to this behavior is that of women mas- 
querading as men on certain occasions, the commonest being the return home of a soldier 
or other traveller from afar. At this time a number of women from the traveller's hamlet 
don some old clothes of their menfolk and join the welcoming group of villagers at the out- 
§kirts of the village. In addition to the clothes, makeshift masks are worn to hide the iden- 


The reader may be curious as to the extent to which popular urban songs have 
encroached on the territory of the rural folksong, so far as small out-of-the-way 
villages such as Suye, in Kuma county, are concerned. The answer to this is that 
popular songs of the city are almost unkown in the village. One or two young 
men who have been away from home for several years working in a city or 
attending college may bring back one or two such songs, but they are rarely 
taken up by anyone in the village. Another sort of song is that sung in geisha 
houses, more along a classical sentimental line than a rustic outspoken one, and 
some of these undoubtedly do diffuse to the village from time to time. Some vil- 
lagers visit geisha houses from time to time and many of the girls in the houses 
are from villages, so a certain amount of diffusion both ways is to be expected. 
Songs 40 and 57 are probably examples of geisha songs which have become part 
of the village repertoire, and on the other hand, any geisha, if necessary, can 
always produce a coarse folksong. 

It is perhaps worth noting that in Japanese immigrant communities in Amer- 
ica, the folksong plays a very minor role. There are fewer occasions for banquets, 
and members of the society come from various parts of Japan, and so do not 
share a common body of folk tradition. Group solidarity based on a common 
body of folklore and folksong is much weaker in an immigrant community than 
in a Japanese village. Furthermore, the second generation, having acquired 
American ways, looks down upon the ways of its parents as uncouth. These 
younger people, more urbanized than their parents, are more likely to know the 
latest popular swing tune than the words of a song from their parents' home 

tity of the masqueraders who act the part of buffoons, imitating in an exaggerated manner 
the gait and attitudes of men, making lewd passes at young girls and in general creating 
hilarity among those present. Later the women return home to divest themselves of their 
men's clothing and help serve at the welcoming banquet of the hamlet and join in the song 
and dance. The disguise is so effective that men cannot, or at least claim they cannot, recog- 
nize their own wives when they masquerade on such occasions. This lack of recognition may 
of course be formal, a way of avoiding the embarrassment of recognizing a female relative 
acting in such a manner. A less formalized transvesticism occurs frequently at banquets 
where some woman may put on a few men's garments and sometimes even use a cushion 
or the spout of a wine jug as a phallus as they perform some comic dance. (This behavior 
of Kuma women parallels in some ways Naven behavior of the New Guinea latmul as de- 
scribed by Gregory Bateson in his book Naven.) 
* See Embree, Acculturation among the Japanese of Kona, Hawaii. 

Fig. I {top) 
Hamlet women masquerading as men to greet a returned traveler. 

Fig. 2 {bottom) 

A banquet on the Kuma river. 

(To celebrate the installation of a telephone in the village office. 

The banqueters are village officials.) 



The chief formal characteristic of Japanese folksong, as also of the literary 
poem, is an emphasis on syllables rather than meter. Practically all Japanese 
poetry, including folksong, is arranged in a series of lines of five and seven sylla- 
bles. Another important trait, brevity, is also characteristic of both the literary 
and the folk poetry. 

The standard literary forms of Japanese poetry are the tanka dating from the 
seventh century at the latest as evidenced by the poems in the Manyoshu (Japan's 
oldest anthology, early ninth century), and the haiku, a later development from 
the tanka. A third type is the naga-uta. The tanka is a poem of thirty-one sylla- 
bles arranged in a series of lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. The haiku or hokku is a 
poem of seventeen syllables, 5-7-5. Practically all standard Japanese literary poetry 
is composed in these two forms. The third form, less common, is the naga-uta 
or "long" poem, consisting of an indefinite number of lines up to one hundred 
or so in a series alternating between five and seven syllables with an extra seven- 
syllable line at the end. A tanka by way of envoi may be added at the end of a 

The folksong is a quite distinct form from the much studied literary tanka 
and haiku. Instead of thirty-one syllables the regular folksong or dodoitsu is com- 
posed of twenty-six syllables arranged in a series of 7-7-7-5. At the end of the 
dodoitsu there is usually a refrain of nonsense syllables serving as a chorus, e.g., 
the 'Yoiya sa' of rokuchoshi or 'Dokkoise no se' of dokkoise folksongs. The 
dodoitsu form is the predominating type of song in this collection. 

There is also a long form of folksong or ballad to accompany the work of 
foundation pounding which may be in the alternating five- and seven-syllable 
line form, but lacking the final extra seven-syllable hne of the literary naga-uta, 
and without benefit of a tanka envoi, or it may be one long series of seven-sylla- 
ble lines (e.g., Nos. 61, 79, 90). 

In addition to the predominating dodoitsu or twenty-six-syllable songs and the 
longer ballads there are a number of other special forms. One of these is a form 
of 5-7-7-5 or twenty-five syllables (as in No. 54), another is 5-7-7-7-5 (Nos. 36, 48). 
There are also occasional six-line, thirty-eight-syllable songs (7-7-7-5-7-5) as for 
instance. Song 75; this is simply the dodoitsu form with an extra couplet added. 
The Penis Song (No. 59) has a special (5-7-7-7) pattern. 

A free irregular form of varying length, often more or less improvised and of 
humorous content, is the hayashi, which may follow after one or more dodoitsu 
in singing. Song 4 is a good example of the hayashi. 

Children's game songs exhibit a number of special patterns unlike the dodoitsu 


or the ballad, the length of the line being irregular to correspond to movements 
in the game and full of onomatopoeic words and plays on sound to accompany 
a pebble game or the bouncing of a ball (No. 91). A common form in children's 
game songs is one in which the final syllables or final words of a line corre- 
spond to the beginning syllable of the next line (Nos. 90, 91) ; another form of 
song found in children's games combines counting with the content of the song 
(No. 88), a form which also occurs in the Penis Song (No. 59). 

Rhythm is as important to Japanese folk poetry as to most folksong. A regu- 
larly repeated chorus such as 'Yoiya sa' is characteristic of all the songs in actual 
singing, the refrain occurring after each "stanza" and in some songs after the 
second as well as the fifth lines. Sometimes the last word of the second line is 
itself repeated as a refrain as in Song i. A simple rhythm is found in the ballads 
sung to accompany earth pounding (dotsuki) where lines of five and seven 
syllables alternate regularly. In addition there are alternating pairs of refrain 
which are sung as a chorus after every line; this imparts a regular rhythm in 
time with the pounding regardless of whether the ballad is of the 7-7-7-7 or 
7-5-7-5 syllable pattern. E.g., Song 79: 

Kyo wa hi mo yoshi 

yoi yoi 
Kichijitsu gozaru 

yoi yoiya nya 

ara nya tose 
Kichijitsu yoi hi ni 

yoi yoi 
Dotsuki nasaru 

yoi yoiya nya 

ara nya tose 

As noted, the regular dodoitsu or twenty-six-syllable form is on a 7-7-7-5 sylla- 
ble pattern, but occasionally a sort of symmetrical rhythm occurs as in the songs 
of 5-7-7-5 or 5-7-7-7-5 (Nos. 54, 36) . Rhythm also occurs within the songs through 
the regular repetition of certain words or phrases, e.g., Song 5. 

Omaya meiken 
Washa sabi gatana 

gatana gatana to 
Omaya kirete mo 
Washa kirenu 

yoiya sa koi sasa 


In this song in addition to the regular refrain of rokuchoshi (yoiya sa, koi sasa) 
the last word of the second line is repeated to correspond to a refrain and within 
the song itself Omaya and Washa alternate rhythmically. 

Rhyme is not used in Japanese poetry either literary or folk, since the language 
is basically a series of syllables all ending in vowels. An exception to this is a final 
*n' which is derived from an archaic 'mu'. It always counts as a separate syllable 
where it occurs and if it is followed by a 'b' or 'p', it becomes 'm'. In place of 
rhyme other devices are used. Alliteration occurs as in Song 20: 

Korobi kokureba 

or Song 39: 

Okitsu motsurctsu 

More common is assonance, e.g., in Song 31 : 

Mono mo Tyo de 

or Song 34: 

Kaya-yane arare 

Internal repetitions and plays on sound are also frequent, as in Song 37 : 

Sake no sa^ana 
Udonu f^a soba ^a 
Udonu soba yori 
Ka^a no soba 

or Song 50 : 

Shochu wa nomi nomi 
Mi wa hade\a demo 
Geko no tatetaru 
Kura wa na\a 

Rhythm of the songs is emphasized or coordinated with various bodily move- 
ments depending upon the occasion. In the banquet songs in addition to the 
samisen music, .the participants clap their hands to emphasize the tim.e, in chil- 
dren's games songs the rhythm corresponds to some movement such as the 
bouncing of a ball, in the dotsuki, the rhythm of the song assists the pounders 
to keep regular time in their work. 

There are two notable characteristic literary forms in Japanese poetry, the pil- 
low word and the pivot word. The pillow word is a formalized set phrase, like 
the "rosy fingered dawn" of Homer, which often serves as the opening line of a 
tanka. This is not common in the folksongs, though some examples do occur 
such as comparing a girl to a flower in Song 41. The pivot word is a single 


word used in one context with two or more meanings and is a valuable device 
for imparting much meaning in few words. In the literary forms this is not used 
in a humorous way, but in the folksong the pivot word often serves as a broad 
sort of pun (e.g., 'koshimoto' in Song i8, 'irekuri' in Song 53). 

Onomatopoeia is common, usually for humorous effect, as in the description 
of a country headman's gait "shakkuri, shakkuri" (Song 4b). 

In general, each stanza, even of the same song, forms a separate thought and 
is complete in itself, so that a song such as Kuma Rokuchoshi consists of a num- 
ber of stanzas which, while all dealing with Kuma, could be and are arranged 
in any order when sung. Thus, while words and tunes are standardized, arrange- 
ment and choice of stanzas is up to the singer. There are a few exceptions to this, 
as for instance the double stanzas of Shonga Odori (Nos. 73, 74) or the num- 
bered series of stanzas in the Penis Song (No. 59) which are always sung in the 
same order. 


As to content, the two basic human needs of food and sex receive the most 
constant attention. The references to ordinary foods and to the drinking of wine 
are very frequent (e.g., Nos. 15, 50). The treatment of sex, though sometimes 
sentimental (Nos. 10, 26) is more often frank and vulgar (Nos. 8, 20). The old 
village custom of visiting a young lady in her room at night is reflected in Songs 
12 and 38 and a broad humor, mostly sexual, is characteristic of many of the 
songs. In addition there is frequent parody of the solemn or serious (Nos. 4, 109). 
Simple descriptions of nature occur, as in Song 47, but there is a remarkable lack 
of reference to the seasons, the words winter, summer, spring, and autumn being 
almost completely absent. Together with this there is a general lack of any per- 
sonification of the forces of nature. There are similes such as comparing a woman 
to a flower but no metaphor unless one can consider secondary hidden meanings 
read into a song as metaphor (No, 51). 

Judging by the content, the songs for the most part date from the Yedo period 
— eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. An occasional use of some place 
name no longer existing or a thing no longer used, as the coin ryo in Song 62, 
would indicate an age of one hundred years or so. No examples of ancient poetry 
such as that found in the Manyoshu were discovered. While some of the dialect 
used may appear to a Japanese reader as archaic, it is no different from the cur- 
rent Kuma dialect of Japanese which contains many old speech forms no longer 
current among the speakers of standard Japanese in Tokyo. 

A striking feature of Japanese folksong is its similarity to Japanese literary 
forms, a reflection perhaps that in many ways Japanese culture is firmly im- 


bedded in an old peasant ethos. While the regular folksong or dodoitsu has an 
arrangement of syllables distinct from the literary forms of tanka and haiku, it 
is basically similar in form to the literary type, being a brief series of syllables 
arranged in a set pattern of fives and sevens. This is in contrast to the great dif- 
ference in form of the English ballad and folksong on the one hand and literary 
forms such as the sonnet and ode, on the other. In Japan not only are both folk 
and literary poetry characterized by five- and seven-syllable unrhymed lines, each 
poem being as a rule less than half a dozen Unes in length, but both employ 
much the same devices of pivot words and assonance for their effects. There are 
also certain similarities in content. Personification of nature is lacking and mean- 
ings are suggested rather than named. One sharp contrast does exist, however, 
as far as content is concerned : while the literary poetry is largely concerned with 
sentimental suggestions of love and the changing seasons, much of the folk 
poetry is concerned with the primary desires of food, drink, and sex. The court 
poet and more recently the city litterateur have both looked upon the peasant as 
a quaint individual of no great importance and have concerned themselves largely 
with the expression of delicate introspections in a limited poetic form, never real- 
izing that the fundamentals of their form derive from the broad and earthy songs 
of the peasantry,^ 


The literary forms of tanka and haiku have been well studied by Occidentals, 
but almost no one has taken the pains to learn anything about the songs of the 
folk. Two men who have made collections are Georges Bonneau and Lafcadio 
Hearn. Bonneau, for many years a resident of Japan, has devoted much of his 
time to a collection of dodoitsu from various parts of the country, and has pub- 
lished his texts with French translations.^ Hearns's work was less methodical, 
being incidental to his general writings about the country, and he frequently 
gives English versions of the songs without any original Japanese text."^ 

^ More detail on the characteristics of Japanese poetry may be found in Primitive and 
Mediaeval Japanese Texts by F. V. Dickens (text, translation and commentary on the 

^ Georges Bonneau, L'expression poetique dans le folklore japonais, 3 vols. (Referred to 
hereafter as Folklore japonais.) This work includes versions of Songs 41, 43, 65, 89, and 108 
of Kuma. See also Bonneau's Anthologie de la poesie japonaise and his Le probleme de la 
poesie japonaise. 

"^ His translations and comments may be found in a number of different essays, the most 
important of which are in the volumes Gleanings in Buddha Fields, In Ghostly Japan, 
Shadowings, and A Japanese Miscellany. In 1914 most of these songs were brought together 
in a single posthumous volume, Japanese Lyrics. Variations of Songs 7, 26, 33, 103, and 108 
have been recorded in one or another of these works. 


The present collection of songs from the single county of Kuma in Kyushu 
consists of over a hundred texts transcribed in the village of Suye w^ith a few^ 
(Nos. 79-85) from the adjacent village of Fukada. Only those songs actually sung 
are recorded. Many others, also popular, have been omitted or relegated to the 
Appendices, because not local to Kuma county. The present collection, then, 
while probably not complete, at least presents a fair proportion of the popular 
songs regarded by the people of Suye as local to the Kuma region. These of 
course include a few which in actual fact are not local, but have been introduced 
from other areas — and omit a few which might be regarded as local to Kuma by 
people of another part of the county.* 

The Japanese text of the songs is given in the local dialect, romanization fol- 
lowing the traditional Hepburn system.^ The apostrophe is used to indicate 

^ There are a few other sources for songs of Kuma. One of these is a set of three small 
volumes, the Kuma County Readers, which deal with local history and geography for chil- 
dren in the upper grades of the elementary schools of Kuma. They include a couple of 
stanzas of Rokuchoshi (1-3) and one of the March Sixteenth songs (65). A better source is 
a mimeographed booklet entitled The Folksongs of Kuma District which is a collection of 
Kuma songs made by a school teacher, Ryutaro Tanabe, in 1932. Tanabe includes musical 
notations, which unfortunately are not very accurate transcriptions of samisen music for the 
piano. A few of the verses in his collection occur in this study (Nos. 64-5, 68-70, 76-7, 117-20). 
On the other hand, he includes several not heard in Suye. Two other sources were also con- 
sulted: Nippon Minyo Jinten by Y. Kodera, a collection of songs arranged by type and by 
district. Kodera includes texts or references to Songs 64-5, 72, 75-7 of Kuma. Less useful is 
Gesammelte Werke der Welt Musik (text in Japanese, despite the German tide) ; this vol- 
ume, less reliable than Kodera, includes versions of Songs 61 and 82. Bonneau includes a 
bibliography on Japanese folksongs in his Folklore japonais, but most of the titles included 
were not available in Hawaii where most of the comparative work on this collection was 
done. One song in this collection (103) occurs in Uyehara's Songs for Children Sung in 
Japan. Still another series of texts is to be found in Das Geschlechtieben der Japaner by 
T. Sato, H. Ihm and F. Kraus (2 vols.). Most of their texts, however, are from geisha songs, 
i.e. urban literary rather than rural folk. 

^ The Kuma dialect differs from the standard Japanese in a number of ways, the most 
common of which are: 

(i) u sound for o as unna for onna 

(2) i sound for e as mai for mae 

(3) b sound for m as keburi for kemuri 

(4) dz sound for z as sakadzuki for sakazuki 

(5) n often becomes r\ especially before g. 

(6) There are also many local terms as well as pronunciations, e.g. manju means not 
only dumpling but also vagina; batten in the general sense of 'but' is local to 
Kyushu, zuto is a local term, etc. 

(7) Occasional abbreviations such as watasi or wasi for watashi, shami for samisen, etc. 

In the Hepburn system consonants are as in English, vowels as in Italian; j and g are both 
hard as in English jug. A final 'n' counts as a separate syllable and a long vowel as two sylla- 
bles. Thus the line, Koyu goen ga, in Song 6 is counted as seven syllables. 


elided phonemes. Titles, unless otherwise noted, have been invented by the author 
on the basis of either the content or the first line. No text is given in hiragana, the 
Japanese syllabary, for two reasons: (a) the songs form part of an oral tradition, 
hence may be transcribed as properly in romaji as in hiragana; and (b) in some 
ways the syllabary is misleading. The word used to indicate the first person 
singular in standard Japanese is 'watakushi' but in Kuma this word is often pro- 
nounced 'watashi' or 'watasi' and it is impossible to indicate these two different 
pronunciations in hiragana. Similar difficulties would attend the use in this 
study of the new government-sponsored method of transcription of Japanese 
syllables into roman letters. 

The collection of texts was made in southern Japan in 1935-36.^^ In the village 
of Suye most of the texts were transcribed by Ella Embree when first heard at 
some gathering, then were at a later date checked for accuracy with the singer 
or some other villager.^^ The singers themselves sometimes furnished an expla- 
nation of a difficult line, while a college educated native of Suye, Mr. Keisuke 
Aiko, and Mr. Toshio Sano, a graduate of the Tokyo Language School, assisted 
in preparing the preliminary English translations. The final translations were 
worked out in Hawaii with the assistance of Professor Yukuo Uyehara of the 
Oriental Institute of the University of Hawaii.^^ 

University of Hawaii 
July ig^i 

^° The field work was financed by the Social Science Research Committee of the University 
of Chicago. An ethnographic monograph based on the research, Suye Mura, A Japanese Vil- 
lage, was published by the University of Chicago Press (1939). Some of the songs given below 
first appeared in Suye Mura. The University of Chicago Press has kindly permitted the re- 
printing of such texts here. 

^^ An interesting characteristic of folk society, that everything must be in its proper social 
context, was shown in the difl5culty informants found in remembering the words of songs 
when alone and not singing. They felt, and said so, that they could not remember the songs 
properly without samisen music, a group of friends, and a drink. 

^^ Whenever any variation in text or translation of songs appearing both in Suye Mura, 
A Japanese Village (see note 10) and in this collection appears, the text or translation given 
in this collection may be regarded as the more accurate. 


Songs of this group are popular verses sung at drinking parties, wedding ban- 
quets and on occasions of farewell. Dances are usually performed to their accom- 
paniment, while the people sitting about the room clap their hands in rhythm 
with the playing of the samisen and join in the refrain as a chorus. 

There are several characteristics of the banquet songs which may be noted here. 

1. An introduction, usually the most formal part of the song and never impro- 
vised, sung by the samisen player. This opening song is usually in the regular 
twenty-six syllable dodoitsu form. Example: Song i. 

2. A verse or two sung very rapidly which may be joined in by the others and 
which is often improvised on the spur of the moment — a jibe at some one 
present or a humorous comment on a local situation. 

3. The hayashi, a verse spoken very quickly in a special rhythm and voice by the 
samisen player and accompanied by occasional bangs on her instrument. The 
hayashi is open to improvisation, is irregular in form and of no set length. It is 
usually marked by humor and a strong local dialect. Koisa! koisa! koisa! is 
often added after a particularly funny hayashi, especially if anyone is dancing. 
Example: Song 4. 

4. The refrain. This may be "yoiya sa" or some other meaningless phrase added 
at the end of a song. Sometimes a loud "ha ha ha" is added to a hayashi in the 
heat of excitement. All present join in the refrain. 

5. The final vowels at the end of a phrase or line are frequently heavily accented 
or lengthened and terminated by a glottal stop. 




Kuma Rokuchoshi is the most famous local song of Kuma county and no 
party is complete without it. Judging by the universal knowledge of the song 
throughout the district, it is probably rather old. Tanabe in his Folksongs of 
Kuma estimates it to be not more than three hundred years old. It is so famous 
indeed, that there is even a recording of it in a Japanese commercial series of 
folksongs.^ This recorded version is somewhat different from that of Suye, and 
it is sung in the high shrill voice of a geisha, worlds removed from the hearty 
voice of the farmer's wife. In addition to the more or less standard verses there 
are many others sung to the same tune, some of which are given in the next 
section. The rokuchoshi type of song with a similar tune is also found in the 
neighboring prefecture of Kagoshima, according to Kodera. The term roku- 
choshi itself is rather widespread being found in other prefectures of Kyushu. 

The term rokuchoshi means six-tone song. This may refer to the way in which 
the samisen strings are adjusted for the melody, but no one in Suye is very cer- 
tain of the derivation of the word nor is the folklorist Kodera. The Suye manu- 
facturer of shochu, a rice liquor, has named his product Rokuchoshi Shochu, 
thus reflecting the popularity of the song and at the same time enhancing the 
sale and prestige of his product. The song as sung in the villages of Kuma serves 
as a strong sentiment-arousing symbol of provincial unity. 

The form of Kuma Rokuchoshi is the regular dodoitsu twenty-six syllables in 
7-7-7-5 order except for the first stanza which has an irregularity in that the sec- 
ond line has nine syllables instead of seven. 

The three stanzas given as Songs i, 2, and 3 together with Song 4 form the 
standard verses and hayashi of Kuma Rokuchoshi as sung in Suye. The text of 
Song I is also given in the Kuma County Reader and in Kodera's collection. 
Tanabe in his Folksongs of Kuma gives all the first three songs as well as four 
others not heard in Suye. For the text of these four see Appendix I, Songs 117-20. 
The commercial recording gives stanzas i and 3 as given here, but has a dif- 
ferent text for stanza 2 as noted in Song 2, note 9. A version of the hayashi (Song 
4) is given in the Kuma County Reader and on the commercial recording. 

Kuma Rohuchoshi 

I Kuma de ichiban ^ Kama's best ^ 

Aoi san no gomon ■* Aoi Shrine ^ gate 

Gomon gomon to ^ Shrine gate O! 

Mae wa hasuike "^ Lotus pond in front 

Sakura baba And cherry tree riding ground ® 

Yoiya sa, koi sasa! Yoiya sa, koi sasa! 

^ Dai Nippon Gramaphone Company, Nishinomiya Taihei Record No. 4600. 


2 Koko wa Nishimachi Here is Nishimachi 
Koyureba Demachi Beyond lies Demachi 

Demachi Demachi to Demachi Demachi O! 

Demachi koyureba And beyond Demachi 

Sakura baba The cherry tree riding ground 

Yoiya sa, koi sasa!^ Yoiya sa, koi sasa! 

3 Kuma to Satsuma no On Kuma and Satsuma's border ^^ 
Sakai no sakura Grows a cherry tree 

Sakura sakura to A cherry a cherry O! 

Eda wa Satsuma ni With branches in Satsuma 

Ne wa Kuma ni And roots in Kuma 

Yoiya sa, koi sasa! Yoiya sa, koi sasa! 

^ Or: Kuma de meisho wa (Kuma's famous place). 

^ Beauty spot, or view is understood. 

* Or: Oharai san no gomon (honorable shrine gate). 

^ Aoi Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Hitoyoshi, the old capital and castle town of Kuma. A 
large festival is held at the shrine every autumn to which people come from all over the 

^ Instead of repeating the last word of the second line of each stanza, some singers double 
the first word or phrase of the third line. Thus in stanza i instead of tripling 'gomon', the 
next phrase 'mae wa' is doubled (in stanza 2 'Demachi', in stanza 3 'Eda wa'). The first two 
lines and the fourth and fifth lines of these stanzas were given as single lines by Mr. Aiko 
in Suye — a division of songs into two parts or "hemisdtches" often practiced by the Japanese 
in transcribing folksongs. 

^ Or: hasyukei. 

^ The sentiments expressed in this opening song are typical of many provincial songs, for 
instance, Iso bushi, a song not local to, but popular in Suye Mura, runs: 

Iso de meisho wa Iso's beauty spot 

Oharai sama yo Is the Shinto shrine. 

Matsu ga miemasu Pine trees seen 

Hono bono to Dimly 

Saishone miemasu In the mist, seen 

Hono bono to Dimly. 

® The recorded version sung by a Hitoyoshi geisha gives a different song as the second 
stanza which is: 

Koko no Hitoyoshi Here is Hitoyoshi: 

Yu no deru tokoro Place of hotsprings, 


Sagara otome no Of Sagara maidens, 

Yuki no hada Of snow white skin. 

Yoiya sa 

Sagara is the name of the former ruling feudal lord of Kuma, and the name is, in this song, 
also applied to the girls of Hitoyoshi, the old castle town. 
^° Satsuma is the old name for Kagoshima prefecture, immediately south of Kuma. 





O 03 




The Country Headman — I 
Kuma Rokuchoshi hayashi 

This song is the hayashi o£ the regular Kuma Rokuchoshi. There are numer- 
ous minor variations the most commonly heard of which are given here as Songs 
4a and 4b, The hayashi is a free form unlike the regular 7-7-7-5 syllable series of 
dodoitsu. There are however certain rhythms of sound and length (e.g. ina- 
wasete, karuwasete) and five syllable lines to end sections (e.g., Ushiro mae . . . 
Hoe-mawaru). Like most hayashi this one has a humorous content. 

Hitoyoshi is the capital of Kuma, a commercial center of countless one- and 
two-storey shops, a few geisha houses, a third rate hot springs and the ruins of 
the castle of Sagara, the feudal lord or daimyo of Kuma, Today with a popula- 
tion of around 20,000 it is by far the largest and most impressive town in the 
region. A village headman is usually of some old land-owning family of high 
prestige within his own small community, but in visiting a big town and putting 
on airs, yet withal impressed, he cuts a figure open to the ridicule heaped upon 
him in this song. 

4a Inaka shoya don no 
Hitoyoshi kei miyare 

Asa no asa no 
Asa no hakama wo 
Ushiro nago 
Mai wo hikite 
Ushiro mae 
Hikkaragete ^^ 
Gombo zuto yara 
Yamaimo zuto yara 

Sagara joka wo 
Achya bikkuri 
Kochya bikkuri ^'* 
Shasha meku tokoro wo 
Ara ma shoshyuna ^^ 
Torage ^^ no inu ga 
Sh5ya don ^'^ 

Shoya don 

Sh5ya don 
Uchikamo shite ^® 

Yoiya sa! 

A country headman 
Hitoyoshi came to see. 
With hemp skirt 
His hemp skirt 
Long behind 
Pulled up in front 
Behind, before 
Hiked up. 

What with gobo^^ in straw 
What with mountain potatoes 
Hanging over his shoulder 
Slung on his back — 

Sagara castle town ^^ 
Gazing there 
Gazing here 
Strutting along 
Oh my! what a sight! 
Ferocious dogs 
The headman 
The headman 
The headman 
About to bite 
Are barking all around 
Yoiya sa! 

From hiku and karageru — to pull up or tuck up. 



The Country Headman — U 
(A variation of 4a) 

Kuma Rokuchoshi hayashi 

4b Inaka shoya dono 
Joka kembutsu 
Miyare yoisa 

Asa asa asa no 
Hakama o 
Ushiro dako 
Mae hikkaragete 
Gombo zuto yara 
Yamaimo zuto yara 

Shakkuri shakkuri 
Shasha meku tokoro 6 
Ara ma shoshina 
Tor age ^^ no inu ga 
Shoya don 

Shoya don 

Shoya don 
Uchikamo sh'te 

Yoiya sa, koi sasa! 

A country headman 

In the castle town sightseeing. 

Look, look 

At the hemp, the hempen 


High in back 

Tucked up in front 

Gob5 ^^ in straw wrapping 

Mountain potato ditto 

Shakkuri shakkuri! ^ 
Strutting along 
Oh my! what a sight! 
Ferocious dogs 
The headman 
The headman 
The headman 
About to bite 
Are barking all around 

Yoiya sa, koi sasa! 

^^ Burdock root, a common vegetable in rural Japan. Gobo is standard Japanese, gombo, 
Kuma dialect. 

^^ 'He views' is understood. 

^* The recording of a geisha singing this song adds after this line: Bikkuri, shakkuri. These 
lines have a humorous effect in Japanese, adding to the parody of the self-important visitor 
gaping at the sights of Hitoyoshi. 

^^ Or: shoshina. 

^® As sung in Suye the word torage is usually rendered Taragi, the name of a town near 
the village. What Taragi dogs would be doing in the castle town of Hitoyoshi ten miles or 
more away worries no one. This is a good example in Japanese of the same linguistic process 
that in English made Johnny cake out of journey cake. 

^^ Shortened form of shoya dono. The 'n' is lengthened in singing. 

^^ Or: yute, or: chute. 

^® See song 4a, note 12. 

-° Humorous onomatopoeia to describe the headman's gait. 

-^ See song 4a, note 16. 



You Are a Sharp Sword 

Kuma Rokuchoshi 

These three songs are sung in Suye as an integral part of Rokuchoshi, usually 
following right after Songs i to 3. This second trio is probably not local to Kuma 
because some of them are found quite independently in other parts of Kyushu. 
The verses are not included as part of Rokuchoshi by Tanabe in Folk Songs of 
Kuma. Lafcadio Hearn has a translation but no text of Song 7 in his essay "Out 
of the Street" in the volume Gleanings in Buddha Fields. In Kuma the verses 
are sung, of course, to the tune of Rokuchoshi. In form. Songs 5-7 are regular 
7-7-7-5 dodoitsu. 

Omaya meiken 
Washa sabi gatana 

Gatana gatana to ^^ 
Omaya kirete mo 
Washa kirenu 

Yoiya sa koi sasa! 

Koyu goen ga 
Moichido araba 

Araba, araba to 
Kami no mamori ka 

Yoiya sa koi sasa! 

Omaya hyaku made 
Washa kujuku made 

Made made to 
Kami ni shiraga no 
Haeru made 

Yoiya sa, koi sasa! 

Thou art a sharp sword 
I a rusty sword. 

A sword, a sword; 
You may cut ^^ 
I never. 

Such a relationship 
Another if there be. 

If there be, if there be; 
To the protection of the gods 
Let us give thanks. 

Till you reach a hundred 
And I ninety nine,^'* 

Should reach, should reach; 
Until our hair 
Turns white. 

^^ See Song i, note 6. 

-^ That is, terminate; 'our love' is understood. 

^* Uyehara interprets this to mean that I will die while still your beloved and so will miss 
no one when I die. This song also reflects the general Japanese ideal of a loving couple grow- 
ing old together. The song is well known in other parts of Kyushu, and Hearn collected it 
as noted above; it is regarded in Suye as a local Kuma song. 



The verses of this group are local songs of Kuma county of the same forms 
and sung to the same tune as stanzas i to 7. Due to the predominance of Roku- 
chdshi as the local song, many independent verses are molded to this dominant 
song pattern of Kuma. 

Hayashi Sung to the Tune of Rokuchoshi 

The hayashi in this group are for the most part highly obscene, if not on the 
surface, then in double entendre. The more women at a banquet the more likely 
these verses are to be sung, to the accompaniment of equally obscene dances. The 
place of a banquet is no hindrance, some of the freest having been sung at a 
meeting of a Woman's Kwannon Society at the little Zen temple of Suye (e.g., 
Nos. 15 and 20). 

/ Beg your Far don, But — 

A ditty such as this is much enjoyed when the drinking is well under way. 
The rather broad outspoken humor of this song is characteristic of many songs 
and jokes at drinking parties in rural Japan. Note the alternating assonance of 
a and o. 'Batten' is a characteristic of Kyushu speech; 'bobo' is also a localism. 
The form of the song is regular 7-7-7-5 dodoitsu. 

8 Yuchya s'man batten I beg your pardon, but — 
Uchi no kaka unago My old lady is a woman. 
Kesa mo hagama de This morning in a basin 
Bobo ^ aruta She washed her c — t. 

Rain Mad Not Been Falling 

This stanza is simply a jocular, not very coherent, reason for the muddiness of 
the Yamada river. This river, so far as I know, is not in Kuma. 

9 Ame wa furanedo ya Rain has not been falling 
Yamada go ga niguru But Yamada river is dirty. 
Yamada onnago no Yamada women's 

Heko no shuru Skirts' juice.^^ 

Yoiya sa 

2^ A vulgar folk term. Cf. use of 'bobo' as a verb in Song 78. 

^^ The meaning here is that because the women have been washing their clothes in the 
river it is muddy. See however Song 131. Like Song 131 the first lines have eight instead of 
the regular seven syllables of dodoitsu. 


Needles of the Green Pine 

This song, with ils poetic sentiment is in marked contrast to the broad humor 
of the previous two, reminding one more of the Rokuchoshi verse (3) about 
the cherry tree growing on the border of Kuma and Satsuma. Some of the 
farewell songs of the next section (e.g. Nos. 26 and 28) are of this type also — 
reflecting a romantic sentimentalism about love in contrast to a bawdy apprecia- 
tion of its humor. The form of this song is 7-7-7-5 dodoitsu with an extra word — 
karete — inserted and repeated after the second line (cf. the form of Songs 1-3). 

10 Aoi matsuba no Needles of the green pine 
Shute uriya are When dying — 

Karete karete Even in falling 

Karete ochiru mo Fall down 

F'taridzure In couples. 

Yoiya sa! 

The Road to Meet the Lover 

Dragons and water are associated in Japanese folklore. There may be a hidden 
meaning in this verse, but the writer is not aware of it. The form is regular 
7-7-7-5 dodoitsu. 

11 Sama ni kayo michya The road to meet the lover: 
Kudashino no todoro By thundering rapids. 
Shita nya ja ga sumu Underneath lives a dragon 
Buku ga tatsu And bubbles rise. 

Yoiya sa! 

Opening the Door 

This song is to be interpreted as an arrangement by a young woman for a visit 
from her lover. Shoji means literally a kind of sliding screen, but it serves in this 
context as a door to the house. The form is somewhat irregular, the second line 
having nine instead of the usual seven syllables (cf. Song i for a similar form 
and Song 38 for one of similar content). 

12 Shoji hikiake Opening the door, 
Konnyaku imo nageta Throwing konnyaku,^^ 
Konya kuru tono Coming tonight — 
Shirase daro It must be the sign. 

Yoiya sa! 

^'^A root tuber; the various imo, yama imo or mountain potato (a kind of long root, 
Dioscorea japonicd), kara imo or sweet potato and konnyaku imo serve as phallic symbols 
in Kuma. 



In the Middle of the Night 

This song is rather sad; a woman, lying awake, hears a group of men, prob- 
ably drunk, wandering down the road and one of them she recognizes as her 
lover. Or, more likely, she is waiting for her husband to return and is fearful that 
he may be very drunk. 

13 Sho no yonaka ni 
Futa koe mi koe 
Ato no hito koya ^^ 
Ki ni kakaru 
Yoiya sa 

In the middle of the night 
Two or three voices — 
The last voice 
Worries me. 

Drinking with One's Lover 

This song describes the scene of two lovers getting together and exchanging 
cups of wine. When drinking in company it is both polite and social to exchange 
cups of wine as one drinks. The description of the exchange here suggests a 
double entendre of a man and a maid making love. 

. This is a hayashi in characteristic free form with lines of varying numbers of 
syllables but with certain regular repetitions of sound and length (cf. Song 4). 


Ippai totta 
Oshochu wo 
Kuro jokkya^ 
Shiro jokkya ^ 
Sama to futaide 
Yattai 30 

Suru tokkya 
Kokoro wo 
Dosh'ta monkya 
Ha ha ha! 

A full cup taken 

Of wine. 

Into the black jug 

Pour it, 

Into the white jug 

Pour it. 

With one's lover. 



Taking — 

The heart 

How does it feel ? 

-® From Koe wa? 

^^ Or: chokkya, for choku, a small wine cup used in Kuma. 

2° Or: ottai. 


You Going Up 

This is a characteristic homely song descriptive of a countryman going caUing 
with a few rude gifts. Both plum and scaUion are commonly served with tea 
to casual visitors in the Kuma region. There is probably a double entendre here 
of the sex act with the man bearing certain gifts to the woman; see note 32. The 
form is a short hayashi. 

15 Onushya kami age You going up 

Hotsuri hotsuri ^^ Slowly, slowly 

Noburan sei Going up; 

Miyagya takanbach! Gifts of bamboo hat, 

'Mebushi ^- rakkyo Pickled plum and scallion 

S'kakete mottoru Carrying. 

At Taragi's Bunzdji 

This song involves a play on kedo 'but,' and ke 'hair,' in this context, pubic 
hair. Thus the last three lines might be interpreted to mean that the hair is not 
there, i.e., does not matter when "it" (copulation) is just right. Another inter- 
pretation is that when the orgasm is reached pubic hair does not matter or inter- 
fere. In Japanese jokes about sex the pubic hair, especially that of a woman, 
receives a good deal of attention, mostly as an interference with the joys of love. 

The last line is sometimes used as a refrain to other songs. 

Taragi and Yunomae are country towns in Kuma; Bunzoji and Nekohatsii 
names of taverns or geisha houses. 

The form is hayashi of irregular syllabication. 

16 Taragi no Bunzoji At Taragi's Bunzoji, 
Yunomae no At Yunomae's 
Nekohatsu don ^^ Nekohatsu — 

Ke mo nan mo makonda Hair and everything wrapped around. 

Choda yoka tokya When it is just right 

Ke do koija gozansan ^^ Hair does not matter .^^ 

^^ Strong emphasis is put on the o and t of this word to emphasize dance movements as 
when, for instance, on one occasion this song was sung at a women's party to accompany a 
dance where one woman followed another making abrupt movements with her hips as if 
copulating from behind — hotsuri, hotsuri 'slowly, slowly' — enough to shake the house with 
laughter in any party in Suye. 

^^ For: umeboshi, pickled plum; as noted in the foreword 'u' is often used in the Kuma 
dialect tor the 'o' of standard Japanese. ^^ Or: san. 

^* A variant of the last three lines, sometimes sung by themselves is: 
Chodo yoka tokkya 
Ke mo nan mo mekkonda 
Ke do koija gozansan 
^^ This line also means, literally, 'But it is not love'. 



// Yon Say It 

This is an extremely colloquial text almost impossible to translate. It gains 
most of its point from the pivot word soko in the two meanings of 'it' and 
'bottom.' The idea of unbearableness refers to the "unbearable" intensity of 
orgasm. The form is a hayashi; it is surprisingly regular. 

17 Soko yuchya tamaran 
Soka ^^ nokose 
Soko ga nakereba 
Miza^''^ tamaran 

If you say it, it's unbearable 

So leave it out. 

Without bottom 

It cannot hold water .^^ 

Your Maidservant 

In this song there is a play on the word koshimoto which means both maid 
and base of the hips. Dances performed by women to the accompaniment of this 
song have, of course, sudden forward hip movements at appropriate points. In 
form it is a short hayashi of irregular syllabication. 

Omai san no koshimoto 
Shansu ni misetara 
Nusan ga ^^ tamaran 
Nushu tamaranu 

Your maidservant,^^ 

If you show her ^ to Shansu 

He couldn't stand it, 

He couldn't bear it. 

1 8b Omai san ga koshimoto 
Nusan ga^^ tamaran 
Mish ^^ tamaranda 
Watasi ga mite sayo ^^ 
Mish ^^ tamaranda 

Your maidservant — 
He couldn't stand it. 
Unbearable to see 
Even if I look. 
Unbearable to see. 

^® For: soko wa. 

^'' For: mizu wa. The contractions soka and miza add rhythm to the song. 

^* Or: If you don't have that place (i.e., the right place) 

It is meaningless. 
^^ The line's other meaning: Your waist. 
40 Or: it. 

4^ Pronounced ijga in singing. 
*2 From the verb miru 'to see'. 
*^ Or: saye. 


Good Feeling 

This is another almost untranslatable song, but everyone who sings it knows 
what it is meant to express — sexual intercourse. "Keep it up until I also have that 
good feeling which makes me bite my lower lip and go hyon hyon." The form 
is hayashi of irregular syllabication. 

19 Un ga yoshya Good feeling — ^^ 

Ore maja I even 

Ikizusuri Breathe heavily 

Sh'ta tsuba kuwaite And, biting lower lip, 

Ikya "*■* hyon hyon Go hyon hyon. 
Ha ha ha! 

Facing the Shutter 

This is said to be a hayashi but it follows the regular 7-7-7-5 dodoitsu form 
with ha ha ha filling out the last line. The content is typical of hayashi however. 

20 Toita ni '^^ mukuryu "^^ Facing the shutter 
Korobi ^^ kokureba We stumble and fall. 
Muzorashi sama A pitiful sight 
Jagahahaha! But, ha ha ha! 

When Delivery Is Easy 

The samisen player is a woman, and she leads most of the singing at a ban- 
quet. The constant bearing of children is a trial she knows only too well, and 
such a verse as this one is a definite sarcasm. The form is a brief hayashi. 

21 San ga yasuka tokya *^ When delivery is easy 
Komochi yasuka bai Childbirth is easy too. 

** From iki wa 'breathing'. 

*^ Or: I am fortunate (to have such a sensation). 

*« Or: Doita ni. 

■*^ Or: mukuru. 

48 Or: Koyobi. 

*^ For: toki wa. 



It Is Nothing 

The following verses are brief hayashi all more or less variants of the same 
phrases or ideas. "Sh'ta kota gozansan" is added to the end of many songs and 
may refer, according to Suye women, either to the vagina or to intercourse — 
"there is no intercourse, nothing is happening below." Sometimes it is quite 
meaningless in the context of the song to which it is attached, but it always 
causes much laughter when suno;. 

22a Ima wa ima wa ima wa 
Ogoran ^° bai ka 
Sh'ta kota gozansan 

22b Yuch3fa kuichya 
Kuiya na 
Sh'ta kota gozansan ^" 

■22.Q. Yutte wa kureru na 
Sh'ta kota gozansan 

22d Chodo yokkya tokkya 
Sh'ta kota gozansan^^ 

22e Chodo yoka 
Kokoro attari 
Chin chin 

Now, now, now! 
Why are you angry ? 
I have done nothing.^-*- 

Don't talk please ! 

Don't talk! 

We did nothing. 

Don't talk please! 
We did nothing. 

When just right — 
We did nothing. 

Just right — 
I've a mind 
To copulate. 

A short hayashi: — 

23 Shiraren tokya 
Goraren tai 

When He Does Not Know 

When he does not know 
He will not be angry. 

A short hayashi:— 

24 Nomuka baika 
Dosuru gaika ^^ 

Shall We Have a DrinJ(? 

Shall we have a drink.? 
How about it.'* 

^° From okoru, 'to be angry' — the k has become g as sometimes occurs in the Kuma dialect 
^^ I.e., I have not had intercourse with anyone. 

^^ Mr. Aiko did not know this verse but gave instead a similar one: No. 22c. 
^^ A woman dancing to this may fold a cushion and hold it before her as a penis. It is a 
popular Rokuchoshi refrain. 
^* For: kaita. 


Rokuchoshi Wakare 

Farewell songs sung to the tune of Rokuch5shi. When someone is leaving the 
party or at farewell banquets in honor of a departing soldier or traveler, one or 
another of these songs may be sung. The thoughts expressed in these songs are 
of a sentimental nature quite different from the hayashi of the previous section, 
being more like Japanese literary poetry. The form of the wakare songs is regu- 
lar 7-7-7-5 dodoitsu. 

My hover Is heaving 
A farewell song in regular dodoitsu form. 

25 Sama wa hattekyaru My lover is leaving, 

Wakare no tsurasa The parting is sad. 

Naga no osewa ni For a long time 

Narimash'ta He has been kind. 

On Parting from My hover 

This song is probably not local to Kuma as Lafcadio Hearn has a similar verse 
recorded in his essay "Out of the Street" in the volume Gleanings in Buddha 
Fields, but unfortunately he does not give the Japanese text.^^ 

The song is in regular dodoitsu form. 

26 Sama ^^ to wakarete On parting from my lover 

Matsubara yukeba I go through the pine grove. 

Matsu no tsuyu yara Whether dew on the trees 

Namida yara ^^ Or my tears — .^^ 

^^ His song, presumably collected in Matsue, Shimane prefecture, is as follows: 

Parted from you, my beloved, I go alone to the pine-field; 
There is dew of night on the leaves; there is also dew of tears. 

Another English text is given by Osman Edwards on page 133 of his Japanese Plays and 

"6 Or: Kimi. 

^^ Some versions add two more lines: 

Dosh'te omae san ni Why with thee 

Sawaru ka bai To be together. 

("Is it not possible.''" is understood.) 

^^ "I cannot tell" is understood. 


I Am a Traveler 
A short wakare of irregular form. Not necessarily sung to Rokuchoshi tune. 

27 Wasi ga tabi no sh'to de I am a traveler, 
Kawaigatte okure Please cherish me. 

When the Parting Comes 

This is a wakare, not necessarily associated with Rokuchoshi. The text was 
never properly checked with the singer and appears to be somewhat at fault, at 
least in the final two lines. The form is irregular. 

28 Wakare jato natte When the parting comes 
Saso sekaguru ^^ Let us drink abundantly. 
Kore ga dotchi ka What is this? 

Sake yara Is it sake? 

Namida yara Is it tears? 

No wa hatake za yo Even the upland fields 

Nagari ga Are flooded. 

You Are the Best 
This song may or may not be a Rokuchoshi wakare. It is irregular in form. 

29 Omai san ga You are 
Ichi yoka The best, 

Ichi kawaika The most beloved. 

Omai san de nakereba Without you 

I wo akentai ^^ No sunrise.*'^ 
Kosa kosa kosa 

^^ Perhaps for: sekkaku. 

^° Or: akenu for yo wa akenu. 

®^ The last Hne means on the surface that without you there is no sunrise, but it also car- 
ries the connotation that without you I cannot sleep. Mr. Aiko went so far as to interpret it 
as meaning that without you I cannot finish, i.e., cannot finish intercourse. As with many of 
the songs, the person speaking may be either a man or a woman. 




The clokkoise type of song is common in rural Japan. The people of Suye re- 
gard it as local and distinguish dokkoise from rokuchoshi songs though there is 
no significant difference between them either in content or in form except for 
the refrains. Three typical dokkoise refrains are: 

Dokkoise ajya yoka ro. 

Dokkoise no se. 

Choina choina dokkoise.*^" 

The last refrain is influenced by a song, Choina choina, popular in Kuma but 
not local to it. Most dokkoise are in regular 7-7-7-5 dodoitsu form. Unrelated 
stanzas may be joined together by any one of the above refrains. 

// ¥^ggs Are Tended 

The following four stanzas are frequently sung together as one song. The 
first two at least both deal with eggs, but the other two are quite unrelated to 
each other or to the first ones. The form of the first three is regular dodoitsu, 
that of the fourth 5-7-5-5-5. 

30 Dokkoise tamago wa Dokkoise! Eggs, 
Sodatsurya hiyoko If tended, become chickens. 

Ha yoisho yoisho 
Hiyoko sodatsurya Chickens if tended 

Toki utau Crow in the morning.*'^ 

Hara dokkoise no se ^^ 

3 1 Maru tamago mo Even round eggs 
Kiriyo de sh'kaku Can be cut square. 
Mono mo Tyo de Things that are said 
Kado ba tatsu Can be very sharp. 

^- The term dokkoise is a meaningless term used in the refrains; it is also an exclamation 
used in lifting or making an exertion. 

^^ This song and the next one (31) are in the nature of sad comments on the way of the 
world. The literal meaning of the last line of No. 30 is "there is a song," the idea being that 
if a man looks after eggs he has chickens on his hands, and if, further, he is so foolish as to 
look after the chickens, he will soon have plenty of noise in his yard. 
®* A variant of this song is: 

Dokkoise no tamago wo 
Sodatsurya hiyoko 
Sodatsurya toki utawo. 





Noboru hashigo no 
Mannaka goro de 
Shimbo shanse te 
Me ni namida 

Doro mizu ni 
Sodaterarete mo 
Ne vva shosho ni 
Saite kirena 
Hasu no hana 

When climbing a ladder, 
About the middle, 
Please be patient — 
Tears in the eyes.^^ 

In muddy water 

Though it is raised, 

With roots growing here and there, 

The lotus blossoms 

As a beautiful flower.*^^ 

Cold and Soba ^^ 

Two dokkoise songs joined by a refrain. They are simple descriptions-.of two 
things well appreciated by the farmer — cold and food. The first is regular 
dodoitsu in form but the second is irregular. 


Samusa fure fure 

Cold, fall fall- 

Kaya-yane arare 

Hail on the thatch 

Oto wa sede kite 

Comes soundlessly. 

Furi kakaru 

Cold falls. 

Dokkoise ajya yokaro 


Ajya yokaro 

The flavor is good. 

Ajya yokaro 

The flavor is good. 

Sobaya no nidashi 

Soba ^^ soup 

Katsuo nidashi 

Fish soup. 

Ajya yokaro 

It is good. 

^^ This song presumably is a metaphor concerning lovemaking. In the last line 'He has' 
or 'She has' is understood. 

^® A song similar to this one is recorded by Lafcadio Hearn in his essay "Buddhist Allu- 
sions in Japanese Folk-song" in the volume, Gleanings in Buddha Fields. He interprets it as 
a prostitute singing it to justify herself by a comparison with the lotus. Her calling is some- 
times referred to as Doro mizu kagyo or Muddy water occupation. Hearn's verse (he gives 
no Japanese text) is: 

However fickle I seem, my heart is never unfaithful: 
Out of the slime itself, spotless the lotus grows. 

®^ Soba is a vermicelli-like product made from buckwheat. 



The Painted Sake Cup 

Sake cups are often painted inside, and Ebisu, a popular deity of good for- 
tune, forms a common decoration. The form of the song is the rather unusual 
one of 5-7-7-7-5. (Cf. No. 48.) 

36 Sakazuki no 
Naka ni kaitaru 
Makiye no Ebisu 
Kiyo mo niko niko 
Asu mo mata 

Dokkoise ajya yokaro 

Sake cup: 

Painted inside 

Silver and gold lacquer Ebisu- 

Today smiling. 

Tomorrow again.^^ 

The Appetizer 

Sake no sakana (wine fish, wine food) is any conventional food such as raw 
fish or pickled plum, served with the wine. Soba is a pivot word in this song 
meaning both a kind of buckwheat vermicelli and side. In form the song is a 
series of seven-syllable lines. 

37 Sake no sakana 
Udonu ^^ ka soba ka 
Udonu soba yori 
Kaka no soba 

Yoi! shoko 
Shoko Ichirikiya no 

Don don ka 

The appetizer: 

Is it udon? 

Is it soba ? "^^ 

Rather than udon or soba 

Rather than my old lady's side. 

The wine shop of Ichiriki. 

®^ "Smiling" is understood. 

^^ The n of udon is stressed by lengthening, perhaps as in archaic Japanese (cf. p. 7). Udon 
is a wheat noodle. 

'^'^ Soba here means both side and buckwheat vermicelU. 



With Face Covered 

This song refers to the old village custom of a young man visiting a young 
woman in her room at night, a clandestine meeting for which the lover always 
covers his face with a towel as a disguise. Thus any stray person would not 
recognize who is visiting the girl; furthermore, if he is repulsed the towel 
"saves" his face so that if he meets the girl next day both may act as though 
nothing had happened. (Cf. also Song 12.) 

This and Song 37 are often run together. It is in regular dodoitsu form. 

38 Dokkoise no se 
Do ya ni hdkamuri 
Nuchya t5 akete 
Iru-wai na 

The dokkoise house: 
With face covered,^^ 
You leaving open 
The door. 

Country Wrestling 

This graphic description of sumo or Japanese wrestling, a common accompani- 
ment of a rural festival, may also be interpreted as a parody of love-making. It is 
irregular in form. 


Dokkoise dokkoise wa 
Inaka no sumo yo ye 
Okitsu motsuretsu 
Matamo dokkoise 

Dokkoise dokkoise is 
The country wrestling: 
Getting up, becoming entangled 
Again and again. 

White Waves 

Though in regular dodoitsu form, and with a dokkoise refrain, this song has 
a rather sophisticated air; it may have come to Suye via one of the geisha houses 
of the neighboring town of Menda. Uyehara says it is popular in other parts of 

Okitsu shira-nami 
Tatsu no mo mamayo 
Kogare sae kuru 
Hama chidori 
Dokkoise aja yokaro 

White waves from the horizon 
Roll in slowly. 
The plovers come, 
Searching for something. 

^^ "I come" is understood. 



As a Butterfly 

These two songs, quite unrelated, are often sung together with No. 30 as 
dokkoise. They are regular dodoitsu in form. 

41 Cho yo''^ hana yo de 
Sodateta musume 
Ima wa tanin no 

Te ni nakaru ^^ 

42 Omae-san '^'^ to nara 
Washa doko made mo 
Yedo ya Tsushima no 
Hate made mo 

As a butterfly, as a flower 
Have we reared our daughter. 
She is now 
In others' hands. 

With thee 

I'll go anywhere — 

Even so far as 

Yedo ^'' or Tsushima.^^ 

Tied to a Cherry Tree 

This verse seems to be well known in various parts of Japan, though it is per- 
fectly at home in Kuma, often being sung as a dokkoise verse. Bonneau has a 
text of it as a song of Honshu (the main island of Japan) in Folklore japonais, 
VoL 2, No. 176. It is also included in Gesammelte Werke der Welt Musik. 

The form is regular dodoitsu. 

43 Saita sakura ni 

Naze kuma '^'^ tsunagu 
Kuma "'"^ ga isameba 
Hana ga chiru 

To a flowering cherry 
The stallion why have you tied? 
The horse, becoming restless, 
Will shake off the flowers. 

''-Or: ya. 

"^^ A variation of this song from the neighboring prefecture of Miyazaki is recorded by 
Bonneau as a wedding song in Folklore japonais, VoL 3, No. 66. It runs: 

Cho ya hana ya to 
Sodateta musume 
Koyoi anta ni 
Agemasu kara wa 
Banji yoroshiku 

As a butterfly, as a flower 
Have we reared our daughter. 
Since we are giving her 
Tonight to you, 

We hope you will be nice (to her) 
In every way possible. 

'^*Or: Omae. 

''^ Yedo is the old name for Tokyo. 

^^ Tsushima is a group of islands between Kyushu and Korea. 

''^ For: Koma. 





This is a fairly popular song to which very indecent dances sometimes are per- 
formed. It is said in Suye that in the old days the song used to be sung when 
women gathered at night to twist hemp. When sung by the women they drop 
all r's so that a word such as kaminari becomes kamina'i. The forms of the first 
stanza and the hayashi are irregular but the last stanza (46) is regular dodoitsu, 



Chiosan to iwarete 
Ano kurai no 
Kiryo de na 
Chiosan chiosan to 
Iwareta kai ga 

Nai honni honni "^^ 

45 (^Hayashi) 

Tanna kara 
Aa koshi kara 
Koshi kara 

46 Chiosan no ogoke 
Kaminari ogoke 
Suye mo Fukada mo 
Nari watari 

{Hayashi repeated) 

The one called Chiosan 

Her beauty is 

Not so great. 

Chiosan Chiosan 

She's not worth being called, 

Not really, really. 

From the shelf — 
Ah! from the hip, 
from the hip.'^^ 

Widow Chiosan, 
Thunder widow. 
All over Suye and Fukada ' 
She resounds.^-'^ 

^^ This line is often accompanied by strong forward movements of the hips as the chorus 
stresses the heavy n sounds of Honni, honni! Cf. the Hotsuri, hotsuri! of Song 15. 

''^ This line is said to refer to a motion necessary in making hemp rope; its aptness for an 
indecent dance movement is not overlooked by the women of Suye. 

®° Two adjacent villages of Kuma where this song is sung. 

^^ Meaning either that she is very noisy or that people gossip a lot about her, both of 
which things might be true. Widows in villages of Kuma have reputations for independence 
and promiscuity. The term goke, meaning widow, if modified to gokekai means prostitution 
and is often used in this sense in reference to local village widows by their kindly female 



When It Rains 
A characteristic Japanese nature scene in regular dodoitsu form. 

47 Ame no tokya yama 
Yama yama mireba 
Kiri no kakaranu 
Yama wa naka ^" 

In rain the mountain, 

If one looks at the mountain, 

There is no ridge 

Not covered by mist. 

In the Bowl of V/ater 

The bowl of water referred to in this poem is the one used for rinsing the 
,tiny Japanese wine cups during an exchange of drinks. It is usually furnished 
at a geisha house, but rarely in a farmer's home. Mizuage is a pivot word. It 
means literally 'to lift from the water' but also has a secondary meaning 'to take 
a girl's virginity' — a term especially used in reference to a young geisha. Thus 
the line, "Who will lift it from the water?" also may mean "Who will take me 
for a bride" (ordinary young girl speaking), or "Who will take my virginity?" 
(neophyte in a geisha house speaking) . 

The form is a rather unusual one — 5-7-7-7-5; cf. Song 36. (The fourth line is 
irregular in that it has an extra syllable.) 

48 Haisen no 

Naka ni ukabishi 
Ano sakazuki wa 
Donata ga mizuage 
Nasaru yara 

In the bowl of water 

Floats that cup. 

Who will lift it from the water? 

I wonder — . 

®^ Naka-nai. 



After Drin\ing Wine 

A song on two popular topics: drink and sex. The form is a slightly irregular 

49 Shochu ^^ nonde kara 
Iwo ^^ neburarenu 
Otoke daite kara 
Senya ne ^ naran 
Shokyo yoi 

After drinking wine 
I cannot sleep well. 
Lying close to a man 
I cannot do otherwise.^^ 

Wine Drinking Drinking 

The general idea of this song is that while I drink myself out of house and 
home, there are plenty of teetotalers who are also poverty stricken — therefore I 
may continue to drink with a clear conscience. The last two lines of this song 
evidently form a popular saying, since they are quoted by Hepburn in his 
Japanese-English, English-Japanese Dictionary. 

50 ShSchu wa nomi nomi 
Mi wa hadeka ^^ demo 
Geko no tatetaru 
Kura wa naka ^^ 
Yoiya sa 

Wine drinking, drinking 
And going without clothes- 
Teetotalers ^^ build 
No storehouses.''^ 

^^ Shochu is a distilled rice liquor, the standard drink of Kuma. 

^*For: yo sometimes pronounced iyo. 

^^ Ne is superfluous here so far as syllable count is concerned, nor is it necessary for mean- 
ing. It is probably included for effect and to emphasize the n sounds of the line and because 
the line might sound too short without it. It also emphasizes the negative naran, 'cannot.' 

*® "Than to copulate" is understood. 

^^ Hadeka-hadaka; or perhaps from hade, "gay." 

^^For: nai. 

®® "Also" may be understood after this word. 

®° A storehouse is a sign of considerable wealth by rural Japanese standards. The meaning 
here is that not all teetotalers build storehouses. 



By the Long Paddy Path 

Old Mr. Kurogi, whose father was a not very well-to-do samurai, recited this 
verse one evening to a few neighbors, mostly women, as they awaited a moon- 
rise. It was the only time I heard it during the course of a year in Suye. On the 
surface a simple little song of country life, Kurogi claimed it had another mean- 
ing as follows: The aze michi (literally the path or dyke between rice paddies 
on which may be planted azuki beans) is the line down a woman's stomach lead- 
ing to the mame (literally bean, symbolically, vulva) and the mame no ha is 
the cUtoris. 

The form of the song is regular dodoitsu. 

51 Nagai aze-michi 
Yoi k'sh'ta ^^ kureta 
Suso ga nuretaro 
Mame no ha de 

By the long paddy path 

You have come well — 

You must have wet your hem ^- 

By the bean leaves. 

What Will You Do? 

This text is of an irregular form like a hayashi, but it was not regarded as one 
of the Rokuchoshi cycle in Suye. 

Omaya dosuru 
Heso made 
Ue sa made irete 
Naka de oretara 

What will you do 
If, when in 
Up to the navel, 
It breaks inside — 
What will you do? 

Though I Am Not Good 

This song involves a pivot word, irekuri, meaning literally to put in and take 
out as at a pawnshop, but also having in this song a second sexual connotation. 
The form is regular dodoitsu. 

53 Dodoitsu heta demo 
Irekurya jozu 
Kesa mo s'chiya de 
A korya korya 

Though not good at dodoitsu, 

I am good at business.^^ 

Even this morning 

The pawn broker praised my cleverness. 

^^ Perhaps from Yoku kite. 

^- I.e., the hem of your kimono — either a man or a woman might thus "wet his hem." 

^^ Meaning also that I am good at the art of love. 



In the Mountains 

Two songs often sung as one. The form of the first is 5-7-7-5, that of the 
second regular 7-7-7-5 dodoitsu. 


Yama no naka 
Yama no naka 
. Ikken ya demo 
Sume ba miyako yo 
Waga sato yo 

55 Yama de akai no wa 
Tsutsuji to tsubaki 
Saete kara yarn 
Fuji no hana 

In the mountains, 

In the mountains 

Though a sohtary house. 

After hving there it seems a great city: 

My native place. 

Red in the mountain are 
Azalea and camellia — ^'^ 
I'll give you when it blooms 
The wisteria flower. 

Yoti Are the Only Hero 

This is probably a local adaptation of some popular song of the Meiji period, 
a time u'hen all sorts of foreign things were being borrowed including English 
phrases in popular songs. 

56 Gdgetsu ^° wa wari hitori 
Iroke no nai yoni 
Kai bashite 

Yokomede choito mite 
Ai dontu no^^ 

You are the only hero — 
You pretend to have no feeling, 
Casting side glances, 
Glancing once. 
I don't know. 

^* The slopes of Mount Ichifusa, the high (6,000 feet) mountain of Kuma are covered 
with azalea and camellia trees which bloom in a profusion of color in the spring. Many people 
of Kuma make a trip up the mountain at this time to visit the shrine and enjoy the beauty 
of the flowering trees. 

^^ For: goketsu. 

^^ This line serves simply as a meaningless chorus line, comparable to yoiya sa as far as 
peasants of Kuma are concerned when they sing this song. The phrase has diffused to rural 
Kyushu like other foreign terms such as matchi for 'match' or koppu for 'glass' which are 
locally regarded as native, not alien terms. 



The Ribs of the Umbrella 

This song, of rather irregular form, sounds more hke a geisha song than that 
of a Kuma farmer. It may have reached the village through some visitor to a 
geisha house. 

57 Karakasa no hone wa 
Bara bara 
Kamya yaburete mo 
Take ni sotaru 

En ja mo ^"^ 
Mis'te nasaru na 
Nambo watashi ga 
Yaburete mo 
Us'te shon shon ^^ 

The ribs or the umbrella 
Have fallen apart; 
The paper is also torn, 
But with bamboo 
Tied together. 
Do not throw it away, 
Dear Rokuro. 
Though I 
Also am torn,^^ 
Don't desert me. 

Flower-Like Satjo 

A verse often sung by wom.en to honor or more often to tease some man 
present. Sung to Ohara bushi tune (130). The form is regular dodoitsu for 58a, 
and a short 7-7-5 for 58b. 

58a Hana no Sano ^^^ san ni 
Horen mon na mekura 
Meaki mekura no 
Aki mekura 

58b Sano '^^^ san horen mo ^^^ 
Onna no mekura 
Are mekura 

With flower-like Sano 
Those who are not in love are blind, 
With their eyes open they are blind. 
Truly blind. 

Those not in love with Sano 
Are women blind. 
That (are) blind. 

^"^ For: mono. 

®* Or: Machya, machya, machya ne — Wait, wait, wait! 
^° 'Aged,' 'old.' Yaburete is the pivot word here. 

^^° Any name may be put in here. Flower-Hke is a pillow word meaning beautiful as a 

^"^ For: mono. 



My Penis 

This song is sung in a sort of recitative without much of a tune. The samisen 
player strums on her instrument at the beginning of each verse and calls out the 
question "A kora, nan jaro kai kora?" The dancer answers with a verse as he 
steps lightly about the room stroking or waving a stick about a foot long and 
smoothed oi? at the end, which is placed against his body so as to represent a 
phallus. Thus the song and dance were performed at a farewell banquet in 
honor of the author in Hirayama, a mountain hamlet of Suye Mura. In Hira- 
yama speech and act are freer than in hamlets of the plains. 

In form this song is an example of a counting pattern whereby each succeed- 
ing stanza commences with a number in consecutive series. The second line of 
each stanza except 59a also begins with the same syllable as the number of the 
stanza. (Cf. some of the children's songs, Nos. 88, 89.) The arrangement of sylla- 
bles in a stanza is mostly 5-7-7-7. 

59a Samisen player: 

A kora nan jaro kai kora- 
Dancer: A sh'totsu 

Nan jaro kai kora 
Watasi no chimpo 
Yoka ^^^ chimpo 

Now then what is this? 
Now one 
What is this? 
My penis 
Good penis. 


Kora futatsu 
Nan jaro kai kora 
Futosh'te nagosh'te 
Watasi no chimpo 
Yoka ^°^ chimpo 

Now two 
What is this? 
Thick, long 
My penis 
Good penis. 


A mitsu 

Nan jaro kai kora 

Mite mo 

Watasi no chimpo 

Yoka ^^^ chimpo 

Now three 

What is this? 

Even looking (at it). 

My penis 

Good penis. 



Nan jaro kai kora 
Yoko kara mite 
Mai kara mite 
Watasi no chimpo 





What is this? 

Look from the side, 

Look from the front. 

My penis 

Good penis. 

' This is repeated before every subsequent stanza. 






Nan jaro kai kora 

What is this ? 

Itsu mite mo 

Whenever you look. 

Watasi no chimpo 

My penis 

Yoka ^"^ chimpo 

Good penis. 




Nan jaro kai kora 

What is this? 

Murorete futosh'te 

Long and sw^oUen, 


Watasi no chimpo 

My penis 

Yoka ^^^ chimpo 

Good penis. 




Nan jaro kai kora 

What is this? 

Nagosh'te irosh'te 

Long, big. 

Watasi no chimpo 

My penis 

Yoka ^^^ chimpo 

Good penis. 




Nan jaro kai kora 

What is this? 



Y6kai«3 chimpo 10* 

Good penis 

Watasi no chimpo 

My penis. 




Nan jaro kai kora 

What is this? 

Koko de mite mo 

If you look from this side, 



Yoka 103 chimpo ^^^ 

Good penis 

Watasi no chimpo 

My penis. 


Kora to 

Now ten 

Nan jaro kai kora 

What is this? 

Totsuke mo naka 


Watasi no chimpo 

My penis 

Yoka ^^^ chimpo 

Good penis. 


103 "pj^g Q q£ yoka, normally short, is long in this song. 

^"^ In stanzas 59h and 59! yoka chimpo comes before watasi no chimpo, probably for 
euphony to follow after yappari. 


Each hamlet formerly had a song of its own, sung to accompany a special dra- 
matic dance. These dances are performed on special occasions such as a ceremony 
before a waterfall in Hirayama in the event of a drought, or on the occasion of 
the completion ceremony (rakuseishiki) of some public structure such as a bridge 
or a schoolhouse. 







Niwaka is the song used to accompany the special Te Odori dance o£ Hira- 
yama hamlet, Suye Mura. The first two lines are sung in the same time (per- 
haps by the soloist), the rest is faster until the last line, which is drawn out. The 
noe refrain is pronounced with a greatly lengthened 'o.' There are many versions 
and no two people use the same sequence of verses. The form of the song is an 
opening seven syllable line followed by the refrain noe. This line is repeated, 
then there is a second repetition of this line with the refrain sai sai inserted in 
the middle. The last line is of five syllables and is sometimes repeated also. Thus 
the stanzas may be analyzed into a dodoitsu form with special refrains. An ex- 
ception to this form is the opening stanza. 

60a Bochan ^ no doku " iku Young man where are you going? 


Bochan ^ no doku ^ iku Young man where are you going? 


Watashya sai sai I am going 

Shinzakaya ni To the new wine shop, 

Shinzakaya ni To the new wine shop, 

Sake kai ni ^ To buy some wine. 

^ The n of Bochan (Botchan) is elided so this is actually a seven-syllable line. 

^ For: doko. 

^ A variant of 60a is: 

Neisan ga doke iku Young lady where are you going? 

Neisan ga doke iku Young lady where are you going? 

Neisan ga sai sai The young lady: 

Shinzake ni For the new wine, 

Shinzake ni For the new wine, 

Sake hakari A measure of wine. 


6ob Sake no hakari ga 

Sake no hakari ga 

Sake no sai sai 


Fuji no yama 

Fuji no yama^ 

6oc Fuji no yama hodo 

Fuji no yama hodo 

Fuji no sai sai 

Yama hodo 

Murote mo iya yo 

6od Meido no miyagi 

Meido no miyagi 

Meido no sai sai 

miyagi "^ 

Murote mo iya yo 

6oe Fuji no shiro yukya 

Fuji no shiro yukya 

Fuji no sai sai 

Shira yukya 

Asahi de tokeru 


A measure ^ of wine, 

A measure of wine, 

A measure of 

Fuji mountain, 
Fuji mountain. 

As much as Fuji mountain, 

As much as Fuji mountain, 

As much as 

Fuji mountain 
Given to me, I'll ignore it. 

The souvenir of Hades, 

The souvenir of Hades, 

The souvenir of 

Given to me, I'll ignore it. 

The white snow of Fuji, 

The white snow of Fuji, 

The white snow of 

In the morning sun will melt. 

* A hakari is a beam scale, commonly used to measure various things, including the rice 
wine sake. No definite amount is indicated in the song, but a sho is a usual amount to pur- 
chase under such circumstances — i.e., sending a man servant or a maid servant to buy some 
wine. A sho equals about half a gallon (American measure) . 

^ "Is like" is understood here. 

® The accent of this last yama is shifted from the first syllable to the last, thus stressing 
the final syllable of the song, as is also done in the other Niwaka stanzas. 

"^ In the song as it appears in my field notes this line reads meido no miyagi, but this does 
not fit the form of the other stanzas and is probably an error. 

Fig. 6 {top) 
A Step in the Niwaka Dance. 

Fig. 7 {bottom) 
Niwaka Dance — The Man in the Foreground Keeps Time. 

6o£ Musume shimada ga 

Musume shimada ga 

Musume sai sai 

Shimada wa 

Nete tokeru 

Nete tokeru 

6og Take no suzume wa 

Take no suzume wa 

Take no sai sai ^ 

Suzume wa 

Shina yoku tomaru 

6oh Tomate ^ tomaranu 

Tomate ^ tomaranu 

Tomate^ sai sai 


Iro no michi 

Iro no michi 


The young lady's hairdress, 

The young lady's hairdress, 

The young lady's 

Comes down when she lies down, 
Comes down when she lies down. 

On the bamboo the sparrows. 

On the bamboo the sparrows. 

On the bamboo 

the sparrows 
Neatly perched. 

It stays, yet does not stay. 

It stays, yet does not stay, 

It stays, yet 

does not stay, 
The way of love. 
The way of love. 


* In my field notes the line Take no sai sai reads Take wa sai sai. This is probably an error. 
^ For: tomatte. 



By That Side Lane 

This is the specialty o£ Kakui hamlet in Suye Mura and is sung on special 
occasions, such as the opening of the new school building some years ago. It is 
unusual in being a continuous song o£ thirteen seven-syllable lines all about one 
subject, a trip to an Inari shrine. (Inari is a popular deity who cures the sick 
and brings good fortune to his followers. The messenger of Inari is the fox, so 
he is sometimes erroneously referred to as a fox god.) A variant of this song is 
given in Gesammelte Werke der Welt Musik, Vol. 13, pp. 204-5. It is described 
as a folksong sung by children during the Yedo period. 

61 Muko yokocho no 
Oinarisan ni 
Issen agete 
Choito ogande 
Osen ga chaya 
Koshi wo kaketara 
Shibucha wo dash'ta 
Shibucha yoku yoku 
Yokome de mireba 
Kibi no dango ka 
Awa no dango ka 
Dango dango de 
Sonna kotja ikene. 

By that side lane 
To Inari shrine — 
One sen was offered, 
Prayed for a moment. 
Then to the tea house. 
When I sat down, 
They offered bitter tea. 
Well, well at the tea 
I glanced askance: 
Was it corn cake? 
Was it millet cake ? 
Cake, cake. 
No, that Vv^on't do.^'' 

^° In the Yedo version the end of the song is somewhat different. The complete text in 
Gesammehe Werke der Welt Musik is: 

Muko yokocho no 
Oinari san e 
Issen agete 
Zatto ogande 
Osen no chaya e 
Koshi wo kaketara 
Shibucha wo dashite 
Shibucha yoko yoko 
Yokome de mitara-ba 
Kome no dango ka 
Tsuchi no dango ka 
Odango dango 
Kono dango wo 
Inu ni yaro ka 
Neko ni yaro ka 
Toto tonbi ni 

By that side lane 
To Inari shrine — 
One sen was offered, 
Prayed hurriedly, 
Then to the tea house. 
When I sat down, 
They offered bitter tea. 
V/ell, well at the tea 
I glanced askance 
Was it rice cake? 
Was it dirt cake? 
Cake, cake. 
This cake 

Shall I give to the dog? 
Shall I give to the cat? 
At last by a hawk 
It was snatched away. 



At the Ferry of Yamasa\i 

This song is sometimes included as part of Muko Yokocho No (No. 6i). It is 
similar to it in being a "long" poem about one subject. The form is irregular. 

62 Yamasaki no 
Watashiba de 
Chira to misomeshi 
Goju ry5 saki ni 

Tobo tobo 
Yoichibe ga 
Ato kara tsukekuru 
Totsan machine 
Totsan machine 
lya sonna kotja ikene 
Mada hokani mo 
Takusan aredo 
Amari nagoyaja ^^ 
Shokun mo taikutsu 
Watashi mo taikutsu 
Kokoro attari de 
S'tettoke hottoke 

At Yamasaki 


I found it, 

Fifty ryo/-*^ and sauntered ^^ 

slowly, slowly. 
After Yoichibe ^^ 
Came following 
Hold on old man, 
Hold on old man, 
No, no, that won't do! 
There are yet more 
Stories to tell — 
Since it's too long 
You must all be tired, 
I also am tired — 
So, here 
I'll stop. 


One of several verses sung for the monkey dance, a specialty of Shoya hamlet 
in Fukada Mura. The first two lines are sung very slowly and the last one very 
rapidly. The dancers dressed in red costumes wear monkey face masks. The 
form of the song is irregular. 

63 Genj6mero-me wa 
Sh'to yo ya hosoi ne 
GenjS san na 
Doko kara kai 

Genjomero ^^ 
Smaller than a man, 
Mr. Gen jo 
Whence came he? 

^^ A ryo is an old coin comparable to a modern yen. 

^2 The idea is that, having suddenly found so much cash, the man picked it up quickly 
and then walked along slowly as if nothing had happened in order to arouse no suspicion. 

^^ Yoichibe is the hero of the story. 

^* Sadakuro is a type name for thieves in lapan. The name is pronounced Sadakuru here 
in accordance with the Kuma dialect, where 'u' often replaces 'o.' 

^^ Probably from the term Owari Nagoya, i.e., Nagoya of Owari province, noted for its 

^^ Genjomero is a type name for monkeys. 


These songs concern or are much sung during certain seasons, but this does 
not mean that some of the verses may not be sung at any banquet regardless of 
season. This is especially true of the March Sixteenth stanzas. 



Song of March Sixteenth ^ 
(Sangatsu Juroku Nichi No Uta) 

On the fifteenth and sixteenth of March (lunar calendar) there is an impor- 
tant festival in honor of Mt. Ichifusa, the sacred mountain of Kuma county. On 
the fifteenth people from all parts of the county, especially young married 
couples, make a pilgrimage to the mountain, spending the night at a shrine on 
the mountain and returning home the next morning. This song is frequently 
sung by individuals or groups of travelers at this time. The possibility of a 
rendezvous with one's lover on the trip, or the night out of the young bride and 
groom gives point to the first stanza; and since it nearly always rains at this time 
of the year in Kuma the reference to an umbrella in the second stanza is in 
keeping with the season. Many male travelers spend an hour or an evening 
at a tea house, perhaps sleeping with one of the girls who beckon a welcome 
as in the third stanza. All in all it is a trip marked by good times and high 
spirits — assisted by wine — in spite of inclement weather and a more or less 
sleepless night on the hard wooden floor of a mountain shrine. The fourth stanza 
has no very definite reference to the events of March Sixteenth and may not 
really belong to this cycle. The order of verses is not fixed, and one or two may 
be sung without the others, and when Rokuchoshi verses are sung at a banquet 
one of these may be included. Some informants in Suye give stanza 65 as a part 
of the Bon song (Nos. 71-4). The song also has a special tune of its own. 

Stanzas 64 and 65 are recorded as of Kuma by Kodera and in Tanabe's Folk- 
songs of Kuma. Bonneau has a variation of stanza 65 as of Northern Japan in 
his Folklore japonais, Vol. 2, No. 188 — this is peculiar since both the people of 
Kuma and scholars like Kodera regard the song as characteristic of Kuma. 
Bonneau's variant has a similar basic thought and the same opening line as the 
Kuma song, but the other lines are different. Parallelism is possible here since 
both umbrellas, visits to tea houses, and such sentiments are all common in 
Japan. Such a problem as this can only be settled by further collections of data 
in various parts of Japan. 

The form of the song is regular dodoitsu 7-7-7-5, except for the last stanza 
which has an extra five syllable line. In this connection it is worth noting that 
this stanza may not be part of the March Sixteenth song. 

So called by people of Kuma. 



64 Otake gozankei - 

Ucha yute deta ga 
Otakya nazukete 
Kinagusan ^ 

Na yoe 

65 Kasa wo wasureta 

Dokkoi ^ 
Menda no chaya de 
Sora ga kumore ba 
Omoi dasu 

Na yoe 

66 Otake ^^ yama kara 

Dokkoi 4 
Yuyama o mireba 
Yuyama onago ga 
Dete maneku 

Na yoe 

Kyo wa hi mo yoshi ■'^■'■ 

Dokkoi ^ 
Shindera mairi 
Harai baba mo 
Dete miyare 
Mago tsureta 

Na yoe 


''To worship the gods." ^ 

One leaves the house — 
The gods in name only — 
One's heart's enjoyment."^ 

The umbrella ^ forgotten 

At a Menda Inn — ^ 

If the sky becomes clouded 

You will remember.^ 

From the sacred mountain 

If Yuyama were seen, 
Yuyama women coming out 

Today is a good day -^" 

To visit the Shin temple 
Grandmother Harai, 
Come along too 
With your grandchild. 

^ Sometimes a 'to' is added to this line and the dokkoi chorus after the first line omitted. 

^ Otake literally means mountain or honorable mountain, so this line might be strictly in- 
terpreted as to worship the mountain. 

^ Or: dokoe. 

^ Or: kinagusami. This is a good example of how a final n sound may come to replace 
a final m syllable such as mi. 

^ The idea of this song is that as the young person leaves the house he says it is to visit the 
sacred mountain to pray at the shrine, but actually he or she expects to meet a sweetheart. 

'' Kasa may also mean sedge hat, a headgear commonly worn by rural travelers as a pro- 
tection against rain and sun. 

^ Menda is a small town of Kuma through which many travelers pass on their way to 
Mount Ichifusa, the sacred mountain. 

^ "You will remember your umbrella and by association, me;" presumably a tea house girl 

^° See note 3. 

^^ Cf. the opening line of song 79* 

^2 I.e., an auspicious day. 



Weeding Song 
(Kusatori Uta, also called Yoshinbo) 

Weeding is an arduous task involving backbreaking work in the paddy fields 
under a hot June sun. As might be expected this work is a woman's occupation. 
The words of the "weeding" song have nothing to do with the job, and as a 
matter of fact the song is little sung in Suye Mura, The third stanza was given 
as a part of the Bon song (71-4) by some. All three stanzas are given in Tanabe's 
Folksongs of Kuma and the version given there is followed here since the au- 
thor's text of this song is incomplete. The form is a somewhat irregular dodoitsu. 

68 Yushimbu ^^ koromo ni 
Momi ^^ no ura tsukete 
Nan to tsutsume do 
Iro ni deru 

Osa yushimbu ^^ 

69 Yushimbu Yushimbu to 
Na wa yucha kurunna 
Yagate Fumonji no 
Tera wo tsugu 

Osa yushimbu 

70 Fumonji otera kara 
Motomachi mireba 
Terujo shengamejo ga 
Dete maneku 

Osa yushimbu 

Neophyte has in his kimono 
A red lining; 

However he tries to cover it 
It still shows. 

Neophyte, neophyte, 
Don't call me that. 
Soon at Fumonji temple 
He'll be the successor. 

From Fumonji temple. 
As you look to Motomachi 
The girls come out 
And beckon. 

^^ Tanabe gives Yoshinbo, but the local pronunciation is Yushimbu. The word means a 
neophyte at a Buddhist temple, and also has the meaning of a useless fellow. 

^*Momi, 'red lining,' also 'restless' (from momu). The idea of this stanza is (a) that no 
matter how he tries that neophyte can't disguise his lowly status in the temple or (b) that 
a good-for-nothing person always has some stigmata or (c) a secondary sexual symbolism — 
this last is not certain as I have nothing definite to that effect in my notes. 


Bon Song 
(Shonga Odori Uta) 

Bon or, as it is more often referred to, Obon, is a period in the middle of the 
seventh month when the spirits of the dead are beUeved to return to earth and 
revisit their former homes. The season is marked by a number of ritual observ- 
ances such as cleaning the graves and placing special offerings in the butsudan 
or household shrine. During the evenings of Bon special dances were formerly 
performed by the villagers outdoors in some open area. These were group dances, 
the performers forming a large circle dancing to the accompaniment of a drum 
and a song leader, both of whom reinforced themselves with wine as the dark 
hours passed. The dancers joined in on the choruses. Here, unlike the banquet 
songs, the musicians and leaders were men. Both songs and dances frequently 
had some sexual elements and possibly some sexual license followed, especially 
among the young people. The custom of Bon dancing appears to be quite un- 
related to Buddhism and the return of the spirits and may have antedated the 
advent of Buddhism in Japan. 

There may be an ancient historical connection and functional resemblance 
between the old Japanese Bon dance and certain of the summer festivals of 
South China which formerly served as an occasion for sexual licence and a time 
of betrothal for the young people of the community (see Granet's Festivals and 
Songs of Ancient China, most of which is taken up with this subject, and 
Waley's Book of Songs, pp. 28-9.) Today many of the rural Bon dances have 
been suppressed by the governm.ent, while more or less bowlderized and com- 
mercialized forms have been retained in some of the towns and cities. The dance 
of Suye Mura is now forgotten and only a few old people even remember the 

Shonga may mean ginger and thus have a phallic significance, or it may be 
simply a kind of refrain. Kodera says this refrain is widespread in Kyiishu and 
that it may derive from soka, 'is that so?' He gives a version of the third stanza 
(72) as coming from Hiroshima. 

In form the song follows a regular dodoitsu pattern. Numbers 73 and 74 are 
simply doubled dodoitsu. The verses and refrain are sung or rather chanted very 
slowly, each vowel being prolonged and an occasional syllable repeated: e.g., 
Odoraren becomes odo, odorarenu. 

71 Shonga odori nya In the shonga dance 

Ashi byoshi te byoshi Foot beat, hand beat. 

Ashi ga soro wa nya If feet are not in rhythm 

Odoraren ^^ One cannot dance. 

^^ See comment on this word in the description preceding this song. 



72 Shonga odori wa 
Dete mite narota 
Kuni no miyage ni 
Shuja naika 

Dokkoi sho shonga e 

73 Shonga baba sama 
Meizan suki desu ^^ 
Yumbe ^^ kokonotsu 
Kesa nanatsu 

Yumbe ^^ kokonotsu nya 
Shokusho wa senedo 
Kesa wa nanatsu ni 
Shokusho sh'ta 

Dokkoi sho shonga e 

74 Shonga-batake ^^ no 
Mannaka goro de 
Sekida kurya ^" chute ^^ 

Sekida kurya ^^ chute ^^ 
Damashimashita ga 
Ima wa sekida no 
Sata mo naka ^^ 

The shonga dance — 
Came out, saw and learned- 
For souvenir of the county 
Let's make it. 

Shonga old lady 
Likes meizan cakes. 
Last night nine, 
This morning seven. ^^ 
Last night's nine 
Indigestion did not give, 
This morning's seven 
Indigestion gave. 

In the middle 

Of the ginger field "^ 

The slipper he promised."^ 

I've been fooled — 

The slipper he promised. 

I'm fooled indeed — 

Now the slipper 

He doesn't even mention. 

^^Or: Shonga basan wa Shonga old woman 

Yaki-mochi suki de gozaru Likes roasted mochi. 

Both these variants may have the second meaning of the old woman likes copulation, so 
that last night's nine connections she survived, but this morning's seven were too much 
for her. 

■^^ From yube. 

^^ "She had" is understood. 

^^ Or: yube no. 

-° Here shonga must mean ginger, but if shonga is also a refrain term as Kodera claims, 
then we have here a typical play on sound as well. 

-^ "We made love" is understood. 

-^ From kureyo. 

-^ Or: chote from to itte. 

-* As a sign of betrothal. 

-^ Or: nashi. 



These lines, said to be rokuchoshi in Suye, were written on a paper attached 
to a stone Jizo brought into a wedding hall during a banquet by some young 
men of the hamlet. However, the song is evidently a variation of the Satsuma 
Shonga Bushi as recorded by Kodera.^^ 

It is the custom in Kuma for a stone image of Jiz5 to be brought into the 
house of a wedding by some hamlet young men with their faces covered by 
towels. These young men rush in with their load during the banquet in the 
midst of ribald jokes, and then hastily retire to the kitchen where the women 
give them some wine. The bringing of Jizo into the house is a ritual precaution 
against the possibility of the bride's running home. A few days after the wedding 
the bride makes a little bib for Jizo and he is returned to his usual roadside niche. 
Jizo is, among other things, a deity of children, so that a more basic significance 
of this whole custom is to insure fertility in the bride and to emphasize the basic 
function of marriage, i.e., the begetting of children. 

In form this song is dodoitsu 7-7-7-5 with an extra 7-5 couplet. 

75 Iwae medetaya Rejoice, be happy. 

Wakamatsu sama yo The young pine — 

Yeda mo sakaeru The branches thrive, 

Ha mo shigeru The leaves grow thick, 

le mo sakaeru The house prospers, 

Ko mo fueru Children increase. 

' Text of Satsuma Shonga Bushi: 
Ureshi medeta no 
Wakamatsu sama yo 
Yeda mo sakaeru 
Ha mo shigeru 

A shonga 



On the Eve of the Fifteenth 

On the eve of the fifteenth of the eighth month there is held a celebration in 
honor of the moon, marked by offerings to the full moon. Young people of the 
village make a rope of rice straw and have a tug of war. This game has a slight 
ritual value since the winning group is said to have a good harvest. (In Suye 
this has little significance since the tugging goes on endlessly and if one side is 
losing some people from the winning end run over to help the other group to 
pull.) A giant straw sandal is also made and placed by some sacred wayside 

The first two stanzas appear in Kodera's collection as a Kuma song and they 
also appear in Tanabe's Folksongs of Kuma. The third stanza (78) is a charac- 
teristic modification of the second (77) along phallic lines — the suggestion of the 
pestle was too good to miss. 

Like the Bon song (70-73) the regular Eve of the Fifteenth song is known to 
only a few old people; it is also, like the Bon song, sung very slowly. 

The form is somewhat irregular, the arrangement of syllables for the three 
stanzas in order being 7-5-5-7-5-7, 7-5-5-5-7-7 and 7-7-5-7-7. 

76 Jugoya ban ni 
Tsunahiki ga 
Gozaru choi 
Eiya to ieba 
Ne ga kireru 

Ne ga kireru 
lyo ne ga kireru 

77 Jugoya ban ni 
Tsuna hikanu 
Mono wa choi 
Saki no yo ja 

Oni ga kine de tsuku 

Kine de tsuku 
lyo kine de tsuku 

78 Jugoya ban ni 

Bobo sen^ mono wa 

Yoi yoi 
Saki no yo de 
Oni ga kine de tsuku 
Are kine de tsuku 

Yoi yoi 

On Fifteenth Night 
Comes tug-of-war. 

We shout 'eiya!' 
The rope will cut, 
Rope will cut, 
The rope will cut. 

On fifteenth night 

Those who don't pull, 


In the next world 

The devils will pound with a pestle, 

Pound with a pestle. 

Pound with a pestle. 

On fifteenth night 
Those who do not f — k 

In the next world 

The devils will pound with a pestle, 

Will pound him with a pestle. 

A vulgar folk term; cf. use of 'bobo' in Song 8. 


(Dotsuki or Jitsuki) 

In rural Japan, when a building o£ any size is to be constructed, the earth 
which is to underlay the foundation is subjected to extensive pounding to harden 
and solidify the ground. This is done by means of a heavy log pounder held 
vertically in a frame attached to which is a series of ropes. These are alternately 
pulled and let slack by the workers. The rope pullers are as a rule women of the 
village or hamlet working on a cooperative basis. 

There are many songs to accompany this work, some of them rather long. 
The verses are sung by a male song leader who does not pull at the ropes him- 
self, while the recurrent refrain is sung as a chorus by the pullers. This organiza- 
tion of the singing is similar to that at a Bon dance (see p. 50). 

The steady rhythmic character of the refrain alternating with the verses helps 
to keep the people pulling regularly, while the stories, probably well known to 
most, are a relief from the monotony of the v/ork. This would be especially true 
of the melodramatic tales of Jusuke's marriage (81) and the obscene remedies of 
the last song of the series (85). 

The following songs were collected in Fukada, a village next to Suye, during 
the pounding of a foundation for a public building by the women of the village. 
The song leader, a man who knew the songs well, dictated the texts given here 
during a rest interval in the work. The order of the songs is of no special signifi- 
cance, being simply the order in v/hich they were dictated. It is probable that 
after a long ballad one or two short songs would be sung by way of contrast. 

Bonneau, in Folklore japonais. Vol. 3, Nos. 41-43, includes three short pound- 
ing songs from Kyushu, two of which have the same opening line as No. 79. 

In form, songs 79, 80, and 81 are a simple series of seven-syllable lines, songs 
84-5 an alternating series cf five- and seven-syllable lines, and songs 82-3 irregular 


Fig. 8 (top) 
Foundation Pounding (Dotsuki). 

Fig. 9 {bottom) 

A Group of Women Bouncing a Man They Rushed between Spells of 

Foundation Pounding. 


A Good Day Is Here 

This short song (over twice the length of its text when the refrain is included) 
is something of a spell to insure good fortune to the building to be built and to 
those who use it. This is characteristic of rural Japan where a ritual of some kind 
is always performed at the commencement of a new building, bridge, or road to 
insure good fortune to the people Vv'ho will use it when completed. 

79 Kyo wa hi mo yoshi ^ Today is a good day, 
Yoi yoi ^ 

Kichijitsu gozaru A good day is here. 
Yoi, yoi, yoiya nya 
Ara nya, kora nya tose ^ 

Kichijitsu yoi hi ni A good day, on a good day 

Dotsuki nasaru Pound the earth — 

Kin no dotsuki A golden pounder, 

Kogane no yagura A golden frame — 

Kore o hiku no ga They who pull this are 

Daikoku Ebisu Daikoku, Ebisu.^ 

Irete tsukaruru Placed and pounded 

Oban koban Big coin, small coin. 

^ Cf. the opening line of Song 67 — cf. also this text of Bonneau, given in Folklore japonais, 
Vol. 3, No. 43: 

Kyo wa hi mo yoshi Today is a good day. 

Ishi-zuki nasare Pound the stone 

Gin no ishi-bo ni A silver powder. 

Nishiki no te-nawa Ropes of brocade — 

Te-nawa toru no ga . And those who pull 

Shichi-Fukujin Are the seven gods of 

Good Fortune 

^ The refrains are sung by the pullers as choruses, that after the first line alternating with 
that after the second line after every line in the song. The same alternating choruses are 
used in most of the other foundation pounding songs as well. 

^ Daikoku and Ebisu are two popular deities of good fortune. Small wooden images of 
the pair are to be found in the houses of most farmers. 



The Plum Tree 

80 Nitan batake no ^ 
Sono nakagoro ni 
Sh'totsu komakana 
Koume ga gozaru 
Sono ya komme ga 
Wakamatsu tsurete 
Sokode komme ga 
Kudoki ga gozaru 
Washi ga kommai totte 
Anadorya suru na 
Kosho ya sansho wa 
Komai hodo karai 
Seki no kogatana 
Mi wa hosokeredo 
Aya mo tachimasu 
Nishikimo orosu 
Seta no karahashya 
Miriage no kobashi 
Soko de watashi mo 
Choito kiri agete 
Ato o wakanoshu ni 

In the center 

0£ the two tan^ field 

One very Httle 

Plum tree stands. 

This plum tree 

Brought the young pine tree. 

The small plum tree 

Has this to say: 

"Because I'm small 

Do not look down on me; 

Pepper and sansho ^ 

The smaller they are, the sharper they are. 

The pocket knife of Seki, 

Although the blade is thin, 

It can cut silk 

And cut brocade. 

Although the bridge of Seta ^ 

Is a small short bridge 

Here I too 

Will cut short 

To the young people * 

The rest I'll leave." 

* For refrains see song 79, note 2. 

^ One tan is about a quarter of an acre. 
^ A sharp spice used in pickling. 
^ Very famous is understood. 

* "To sing" is understood. For the sort of abrupt ending used here cf. Song 62. 



]usuJ{e and Oiro 

1 1 Tokoro mosaba 
Usa Higo no Kuni 
Sono na moseba 
Hitori musume no 
Oiro to yute 
Kiryo no yoi koto 
Junin sugure 
Hana ni tatoete 
Tateba shakuyaku 
Suwareba botan 
Ayumu sugata ga 
Yuri keshi no hana 
Ono-no-Komachi mo 
Sayoteru-Hime mo 
Oyobazaru to no 
Hyoban musume 
Kiry5 yokereba 
Mina hito-san ga 
Ware mo ware to 
Moral ni kakaru 
Kesa mo junin 
Mata jugonin 
Sanju-go nin no 
Moraishu naka de 
Kaku no Jusuke-san 
Yakusoku de 
Saraba Jusuke ni 
Yaranakya naranu 
Hanashi kimareba 
Iwai to kimaru 
Asu wa Oiro no 
Iwai to kimaru 
Mura no wakaishu wa 
Sonemi ga gozaru 
Mura ni yori yori 
Ky5gi o itashi 
Oiro iwai no 
Sono hito nareba 
Shikaku-gan niwa 

There is in Usa 

Of Higo province 

A man named 


He has an only daughter 

Called Oiro 

Whose beauty surpasses 

Even ten. 

Likened to flowers, 

I'll say 

She stands an herbacious peony 

And sits a peony 

And walks 

A lily, a poppy. 

Even Ono-no-Komachi,® 

Or Sayoteru-Hime ^^ 

Are not a match 

To her. 

Being such a beauty 

The young men 

Crying "Me too, me too!" 

Scramble to woo her. 

Ten more this morning, 

Again fifteen — 

Of thirty-five men 

Among the suitors 

Jusuke of Kaku 

Gets the promise. 

When thus promised to Jusuke 

Oiro must be given away. 

When thus decided 

A celebration is in order. 

Tomorrow will be Oiro's 

Wedding feast. 

The village young men 

Are jealous of it 

And, group by group. 

They plot a plan 

At Oiro's feast. 

These men 

In a square coffin 

^ A woman poet of old Japan considered one of the most beautiful of all women. 
^° Probably Sayo-Hime, legendary beauty of old Japan. 



Tsubame o hanashi 
Rokuji-gami oba 
Mae harimashite 
Jusuke iwai to 
Zashiki ni ireru 
Kyo wa torikomi 
Asu kite tamore 
Sono hi iwai mo 
Hodo yoku sunde 
Asu wa wakanoshu no 
Iwai de gozaru 
Asa wa hayo kara 
Iwai to kiyaru 
Arame kizande 
Umeboshi soete 
Agari kudasare 
Wakashu gata yo 
Sokode wakanoshu 
Hara tatemashite 
Konna sakana de 
Nomareru mono ka 
Sakana nakereba 
Ryorite toran 

Soko de Jusuke 
Hitoma ni sagari 
Netoru Oiro wa 
Yusuri te okoshi 
Kyo no wakaishu no 
Shisshi o mireba 
Isso futari o 
Koroso no takumi 
Koko de futari ga 
Wakanoshu gata ni 
Sosen ni sumanu 
Saraba korekara 
Shinju wo shimasho 
Kokode futari ga 
Shinju o shite wa 
Mura no wakanoshu ni 
Teishu ga oranu 

Let some swallows go, 

A six character paper ^^ 

Pasted in the front 

As a gift to Jusuke. 

They bring it into the room. 

"We are very busy today 

So please come tomorrow." ^- 

The wedding feast is over 

Very successfully, 

And the next day is 

The feast for the village ^^ young men. 

They come from early morning 

On that day — 

The sea-weed cut 

With pickled plums is served. 

"Please have some, 

Our village friends." 

Then the boys 

Become angry. 

"With such relish 

How can we drink 

If there isn't any fish? 

We'll get someone who can 

prepare a dish!" 
Whereupon Jusuke 
Goes into another room 
The sleeping Oiro 
Shakes out of bed — 
"Today's young men, 
As I see their hatred. 
Both of us 
They plot to kill." 
"If we two 
By men like these 
Should be killed. 

What shall we say to our ancestors? 
Then we might as well 
Die together." ^"* 
"If we two 

Should die together now 
For the village young men 
There will be no host — 

^^ Na mu a mi da butsu or Namu Amida Butsu (Glory be to Buddha), which are the 
six characters pasted on the coffin at a funeral. ^^ Jusuke's family speaking. 

^^ It is a wedding custom to give feast food and a drink to neighbors the day following 
the banquet for relatives. ^* Literally: "commit love suicide." 



Saraba watashi o 
Hito ashi sakini 
Oiro yo yuta 
Yo yute kureta 
Oya no yudzuri no 
Masamune gatana 

Nugute misezuni 
Oiro o koroshi 
Shinda Oiro o 
Hadaka ni nashite 
Nashita Oiro o 
Manaita nosete 
Sashimi bocho ni 

Murabashi soete 
Agari kudasare 
Wakanoshu gata yo 
Sokode wakanoshu ga 
Takai en kara 
Tobu no mo areba 
Takai dote kara 
Tobu no mo gozaru 
Sokode Jusuke 
Koniwa ni orite 
Ura to omote no 
Gomon o shimete 
Nyobo no kataki 
Kakugo wa yoika 
Mura no wakanoshu 
Mina kirikorosu 
Kaesu katana de 
Waga nodo tsuite 
Jitsu ni hakanaki 
Saigo de gozaru 
Sore de minna ga 
Moto yukotoni 
Hito ni sugareta 
Yoi ko wa motsuna 
Hito no kirau yona 
Yomego mo konna. 

Please finish me 
Before you go." 
"Well said, Oiro 
My thanks to you." 
The Masamune sword 
Inherited from his father 

(Jusuke took out) 
Quickly he puts an end 
To Oiro. 
Dead Oiro 
He stripped, 
The stripped Oiro 
He put on the chopping board, 
He placed the kitchen knife and 

At her side: 
"Please have a feast, 
My friends." 

Hereupon the young men 
Are surprised; 
From high veranda 
Some jump down. 
From high wall 
Others jump down. 
Thereupon Jusuke 
Goes down to the yard, 
Closing the gates 
Both back and front 
"I will avenge my wife 
On you." (Thus saying) 
The village youths 
All of them he kills. 
Then, turning to himself, 
He thrusts his sword into his throat. 
And this quick death 
Is indeed the end. 
Thus by all 
It is said. 
Never have a sofi 
Who far surpasses others. 
And such is the end 
Of a bride envied by others.-'^'' 

^^ The ideal in rural Kuma is a cooperative man. Ail social groups provide for rotated 
responsibility of leadership so that no one man continuously stands out. Envy is not only 
feared, it is believed to have supernatural power, so that a man or woman may die of it. 
(Cf. Murasaki's Tale of Genji, chapter 7 of Waley's translation.) 



Come Come Sparrow 

This song is given as a masquerade song in Tanabe's Folksongs of Kuma; it 
is also given in Gesammelte Werke der Welt Musik as a foundation pounding 

82 Chuchu ^^ ke manju ^"^ kashiu 
Natane no mi kashu 
Yagate daikon-bana no 
Mi wo kuwasho 

Come, come, sparrow — 

I'll give you some cake, 

I'll give you rape-seed. 

Then I'll give you radish seeds to eat. 

83 Hiru wa tango tango 
no no no dokkoi 
Oke no wa wo shimuru 
Yoru wa Shosama no 
Koshi shimuru 

During the Day 

During the day the pail, 

the pail — 
Put the hoop on the bucket; 
At night. 
Tighten the waist of Sho-sama.^^ 

^^ A local term for sparrow. 
^■^ For: manju. 

^^ The idea is that during the day a bucketmaker puts hoops on buckets, while at night 
he tightens the waist of (hugs) Sho-sama. 



Kanshiro Wants a Wife 

84 Kanshiro to yu hito wa 
Aru koto nai koto 


Aru koto nai koto 

Nozomi nara 
Aru koto nai koto 

Yute miro 
Kanshiro dono ga 
Wakai toki 
Ammari nyonbo ga 
Mochitasa ni 
Shih5 no kamigami 
Gan tatete 

Ichi niwa Idzumo no 
Niban Ise no 
San de Sanuki no 
Kompira san 
Shiho no kami e 
Gan tatete 
Kami no gojihi ni 
Sugatte mo 
. Yoi yona nyonbo wa 
Orimo senu 
Shikoku mawari o 
Shikoku hachiju 
Hachi kasho wo 
Ura to omote o 
Yoiyona nyonbo 
Saraba kore kara 

A man named Kanshiro, 
Of things there are 

and things there are not, 
Was asked, 
Of things there are 

and things there are not, 
If you wish. 
Of things there are 

and things there are not 
Let's name them.^^ 
When Kanshiro 
Was young 
He wished to have 
A wife so badly 

That to the gods of four directions 
He prayed. 
First to Idzumo's ^^ 
Oyashiro Shrine, 
Second to Ise's ~^ 
Daijingu Shrine, 
Third to Sanuki's ^^ 
Kompira Shrine. 
To the gods of four directions 
He offered prayers. 
To the mercy of the gods 
Though he had appealed. 
Still a suitable wife 
He could not find. 
Of a pilgrimage to Shikoku 
Then he thought. 
Of Shikoku 
The eighty-eight places 
Through and through 
He searched; 
A suitable wife 
He could not find. 
Then he went 

^^ The general meaning of these introductory remarks is that there was once a man 
named Kanshiro and the things told of him may be true or may not be true; at any rate let 
us relate them. 

^^ Place name. 



Saikoku ni 
Chikugo no kuni o 
Hajime to shi 
Hizen Higo kara 
Satsuma made 
Sagashite miredo 
Nao orazu 
Higo no kuni ni to 
Higo no Kumamoto 
Torn toki 
"Kore a moshi 
Kanshiro sama 
Anata wo atashi wa 
Shitai moshitezo 
Koko mitoshi 
Anata no idokoro 
Sagase domo 
Anata no sugata wa 
Koko de otaga 
Kyo kunenme 
Dozo korekara 
Nyobo ja to 
Yute moraeba donoyoni 
Watashya konomama 
Nande yononaka 
Urami masho 

Wakai doshi no 
Sugu ni hanashi mo 
Shibashi machiyare 
Kanshiro san 
Watashi ga choito 
Kozashiki wo 
Tsukurimasu kara 
Soko de onna ga 
Suru koto nya 
Tatami o sammai 

To the western provinces 

Beginning with 


From Hizen and Higo ^^ 

As far as Satsuma 

He searched, 

Still he could not find. 

To the region of Higo 

He returned again 

And as through Kumamoto of Higo ' 

He was passing 


Sir Kanshiro 

For you I have 

For a long time 

Been longing — 

For the past three years 

Your whereabouts 

I tried to find. 

But your figure 

Has eluded me. 

After many years 

Today I have met you. 

Please, if from now on 

You call me your wife 


Here and now 

I should die, 

Why should I have a grudge 

Against this world?" 

Since they were 
Both young 
The question was 
Soon settled. 
"Wait a minute, 

I am going to make 
A small room 
(For us two,) 
Wait a while." 
Then the woman 
Without more ado, 
Three pieces of tatami 
Took out, 

-^ Higo is the old name for the present Kumamoto prefecture; cf. Song 87. 



Rokumai byobu ni 


Moshi mo no kami no 

Kawari niwa 

Mushiro o shigo-mai 


Kore o mite toru 


Tote mo kanawanu 

Nyobo zoto 

Idaten hashiri nl 


Kore o mite toru 

Sono onago 

Onore Kanshiro 

Nigasuka to 

Izen no kozashiki 


Shiro uma ippiki 


Sore ni bagu o mo 


Sono ya uma ni 


Otte kimasu yo 


Yoyaku Kanshiro 


Kawashimo atari ni 


Mo wa kore nite 


Omo ori kara 


Ame ya arashi to 


Choito kokorade 

Amayoke o 

Itasu ori kara 

Yudachi mo 

Hareta tenki to 


Soreni tokoro no 

Nomin wa 

Hoko wo katagete 

Kusa kari ni 

A six piece folding screen, 

And three quilts 

And instead of paper 

In case of emergency, 

She produced 

Four or five straw mats. 

Seeing this 

Kanshir5 thinks: 

A terrible woman 

This wife is. 

And he ran. 

He ran as fast as he could. 

When the woman 

Saw this: 

"How can I let you go" 

She yelled. 

She put the small room 

In order, 

A white horse 

Pulled out, 

And trappings 

She pulled out. 

This horse 


She chased 

After Kanshiro. 

At last Kanshiro, 


To the down stream 

Ran away. 

But before he could say 

"I am safe" 

A heavy 


With strong wind and rain 

Came down. 

While he stopped there briefly 

The rain 


And storm too. 

And it 

Became clear. 

Then of this region 

The farmers 

Carrying implements 

Were out to cut grass. 



Tochu yudachi 
Niwakani dekita 
Kokoni amakage 
Itaso to 
Omo ori kara 
lyo na oto de 
Kyoten itasu 
Nomin wa 
Nigeba ushinai 
Sono iwa no 
Shitani narite zo 
Kega o suru 
Mura no yakunin 
Tazei nimbu o 
Kyujo kyujo to 
Mikka miasa no 
Iwa wa katazuke 
Ato mireba 
Sanju gonin no 
Shisha gozaru 
Naomo Kanshiro 
Nozomi kana 
Nozomi nareba 
Mata yaroka 

In the meantime the storm 
They also met, 

When suddenly there appeared 
The Buddha-rock. 
Here the farmers 
Tried to find shelter, 
But alas! 

The Buddha rock 
Made a queer sound 
And fell. 
The astounded 
Lost their way, 
Were rolled 
Under the rock 
And were hurt. 
The village official 
Heard this 
And many workers 
Brought to help. 
And to help 
They all came 
For three mornings 
Without rest. 

When the rock was cleared. 

Thirty-five dead 
There were 

Even with this Kanshir5 
Wants (a wife) 
If he wants 
We'll do it again 



The Difficult Bride 

85 Yombe gozatta 
Asu wa itoma to 

Bombo ^^ ga kusai ka 
Ke ga naika 
Mochiage yo ga 
Mochiage yo ga 
Taran nara 
Futon no ichimai mo 
Sorede mada 
Taran nara 
Hachi gatsu jibunna 
Kuri no iga demo 
Hirote kite 
Sore o oshiri ni 
Sore demo mada 
Taran nara 
Osan kakete 
Bui agero 

Sonoyoni mochiage ga 
Taran nara 
Kondo wa kusaito 
Nao koete 
Sonoyoni bomba ga 
Sonoyoni kusai 
Bombo nara 
Sore ni hoho o 
Yute kikasho 
Shiodara yaite 
Aku shimete 
Sentaku dari de 
Sore demo mada 
Taran nara 
Kosh5 to sanshS 
Kona ni shite 
Sore o imbu ni 
Taite no kusasa wa 
Torete shimau. 

The one gotten last night 

The bride, 

The next day, 

When possessing her 

Does the c — t stink? 

Or hasn't it any hair? 

Can she not 

Raise herself high enough ? 

If she cannot 

Rise high enough, 

A quilt underneath 

Try to place. 

Even if with that 

It is not enough, 

During the month of August 

Some chestnut-burrs 

Pick up 

And these under her buttocks 

Try to place. 

If even that 

Is not enough, 

With a frame 

Hoist her up. 

If all of that 

Is not enough, 

This time if it smells 

To the limit, 

If to that extent 

The c — t stinks. 

If it stinks that much. 

The c — t, 

I will tell you a way 

To avoid it. 

Cook some salted cod-fish, 

Leach it. 

And put it 

In a washing tub. 

Even if this 

Is not enough, 

Grind some spice and pepper 

Into powder 

And this into the private part, 

Try putting. 

Nearly all the odor 

Will disappear. 

' This is a variant form of 'bobo,' used in Song 8. 


There are many children's games with songs to accompany them in Kuma, as 
elsewhere in Japan. The games played vary with the seasons and with the sex of 
the players. Brief descriptions of some of the games are given with the songs 
below, but there is no set rule that a given song will always accompany the same 
game. Most of the children's game songs are sung to accompany one or another 
of the girls' games. 

Most of the songs which follow are probably local to Kyushu, if not to Kuma. 
There are a number of nationally known school songs that are popular among 
the village children, but with one or two exceptions these are not included here. 

Many of the children's songs are irregular in form, the rhythm being synchro- 
nized with the movements of a game. 


children's game songs 67 

ball bouncing songs 

Ball bouncing is a girls' game, played in autumn. Boys not only do not play it 
and other girls' games, but rationalize their not doing so by saying that girls are 
quicker with their hands. Boys' games include a kind of cops and robbers, mock 
warfare, and, in summer, the chasing of dragon flies. 

Masachan and the Policeman 

This is recited in a rapid singsong with an accent on the last word of every 
second line. The ball is bounced with one hand with a heavier bounce on the 
accented word. At the last line the ball is bounced to one side of the player and 
on the last word is cut into the folds of the player's kimono. 

The content of the song implies that one should not damage public property. 
The last few lines reflect the shame associated with a business call by a police 

The form of the song is a series of seven- and five-syllable lines. 

86 Gakko okairi ^ no Returning from school 

Masachan ga Little Miss Masa 

Denshin bashira ni At the telephone pole 

Ishi o nage Threw a stone. 

Asa wa junsha-san - In the morning by Mr. Policeman 

Shikararerii She gets a scolding. 

Okachan to Masachan wa The mother and Masa will 

Naki wakare Part in tears. 

Sh'to ga miru kara Since people can see 

Choito kakusu She will hide a bit.^ 

'^ For: okaeri. 

- For: junsa-san. This line is shorter in singing than it appears here. 

^ The ball is hidden in the kimono folds at the end of the song, thus corresponding to 
Masachan's hiding of her face. 



Where Are You From? 

This is sung in a singsong similar to Song 86. The last few lines are recited a 
bit faster and the ball is bounced a little faster. On the last line the ball is bounced 
higher and is caught on the player's back after which she starts from the be- 
ginning again. If a group is playing, losing the last catch means losing one's 

87 An'ta gata doku sa? 
Higo sa 
Higo doko sa? 
Kumamoto sa 
Kumamoto doko sa? 
Semba sa 

Semba gawa ni wa 
Ebi sha ^ otte sa 
Sore ni rySshi wa 
Ami shade totte sa 
Nitte sa 
Kutte sa 
Na no ha de 
Choi choi 

Where are you from? 


Where in Higo? 


Where in Kumamoto? 


In the Semba River 

There are shrimps. 

These the fisherman 

With a net caught, 



With cabbage leaves. 

Choi choi. 

(Rubber Ball) 

This is a counting song played by several children together, each one seeing 
how far she can get in a rather fancy series of bounces before she misses the ball. 
Missing a catch the player stops and resumes where she left oflf when her turn 
comes up again. The difference between each stanza is that the word tonde 
(bounce) in the first line is repeated as many times as one has had turns up to 
ten, and on the Sanju ittai nittai santai line the numbers called, and conse- 
quently the number of bounces of the ball is increased by three each time (three, 
six, nine, up to thirty). Certain types of bouncing accompany certain words. 
Regular bouncing is by hand and off the ground, when tonde, niju, and sanju 

* The old name for the present Kumamoto perfecture. 

^ I.e., Kumamoto City. 

^ A part of Kumamoto City. 

^ Ebi cha in my notes; probably should be as given above. 

8 So called by the children who play the game and sing the song. 

children's game songs 69 

are called it is bounced on the foot, suisen calls for it to be thrown up on the 
back of one's hand, tsukamo is a signal to pick it up when it bounces, then let 
it bounce again, on ote ni tsuite the player touches her free hand between 
bounces, and on ohidan tsuite she touches her leg between bounces; supon-pon 
is the most complicated — the player bounces the ball, then throws it up on her 
toe twice and resumes regular bouncing. No one ever gets through the entire 
series without missing. 

88a Hi fu ^ mitsu nana yoka -^^ tonde One two three seven eight bounce. 

Hi fu mitsu nana yoka niju One two three seven eight twenty, 

Hi fu mitsu nana yoka sanju One two three seven eight thirty, 

Sanju hittotsu futatsu Thirty one two, 

Sanju hittotsu futatsu Thirty one two, 

Tonde hittotsu futatsu Bounce one two. 

Sanju suisen Thirty straight up, 

Tonde suisen Bounce straight up. 

Niju suisen Twenty straight up, 

Sanju ittai nittai santai Thirty once, twice, thrice, 

Tsukamo mo mo Grasp it again, again. 

Kugatsu no shinkoko ^^ September new grain 

Oten'tsuite ^^ Touch the hand, 

Ohidan tsuite Touch the leg, 

Yari kono Pass on, 

Supon-pon ^^ Supon-pon. 

Ikku hi fu mitsu One person one two three, 

Nana yoka tonde Seven eight bounce. 

88b Hi f u ^ mitsu nana yoka tonde tonde 
(The rest is the same as 88a up to: 
Sanju ittai nittai santai shitai gotai rokutai 
Then again the same up to the final: 
Ikku hi fu mitsu nana yoka tonde tonde) 

88c Hi fu ® mitsu nana yoka tonde tonde tonde 

Sanju ittai nittai santai shitai gotai rokutai 
sh'chitai hachitai kutai 

Ikku hi fu mitsu nana yoka tonde tonde tonde 
1 to 88j follow the same cumulative pattern. 

^ For: hitotsu, futatsu. This short form is frequently used in counting. 
^''For: yatsu. 
^^ For : shinkoku. 
" For: O te ni. 
^^ Onomatopoeia. 



Saigo Tal{amori's Daughter 

This is another counting song, but with some story to it in contrast to the al- 
most purely numerical content of Song 88, A similar song is recorded by Bon- 
neau in Folklore japonais, Vol. 3, No. 54, 

The song below refers to the rebellion and death of Saigo, a popular hero of 
southern Kyiishij. This is one of the few songs in the collection dealing with 
historic events. Another is Song 91. 

Ichi kake ni kake san kakete 

Shi kakete go kakete 

Hashi wo kake 

Hashi no rankan 

Koshi oroshi 

Haruka muko wo 


Ju-sh'chi-hachi no 

Neisan ga 

Katate ni hana mochi 

Senko mochi 

Neisan doku ^^ ka to 


Watashi Kyushu 

Kagoshima no 

Saigo Takamori 

Musume desu 

Meiji Ju-nen 

Senso ni 

Uchijini nasareta 

Chichi ue no 

Ohaka mairi 

Made shimasu 

Moshi watashi wa 

Otoko nara 

Shikan gakko 

SotsugyS shi 

Ume ni uguisu 


Hohokekyo to 


One two three measures,^* 

Four five measures,^* 

Suspend a bridge. 

On the bridge railing 


Way over there 

Should one look, 

A seventeen or eighteen year old 

Maiden ^^ 

In one hand carrying flowers. 

Incense in the other. 

"Where from, maiden?" 

Should one ask: 

I am from Kyushu, 


Saigo Takamori's 


In the Meiji Ten 


Having been killed in battle, 

My father 

His grave 

I am visiting. 

If I 

Had been a boy. 

From military school 

I'd be graduating. 

As the nightingale on the plum tree 


Hohokekyo ^^ 

I would sing.^^ 

^* 'Of wood' is understood. 
^•^ 'One would see' is understood. 
^^For: doko. 

^^ Saigo Rebellion of Tenth year of Meiji (1877). 
^^ Onomatopoeia for the song of the nightingale. 

^^ The general meaning of the end of this song is that "I would, be a successful man.' 
Bonneau's version of the song does not include the secrion about "If I had been a boy." 



Bean Curd Is White 

Children like to recite this song very rapidly to see who can do it the fastest 
without making a mistake. The song opens as a counting song like No. 89, but 
actually it is quite different. It has a special form whereby the final word of one 
line has the same sound and the same meaning as the first word of the following 
line. Except for the first line, which is long, the song consists of a series of seven- 
syllable lines. 

90 Ichi kaku ni kaku san kaku 
shi kaku 
Shikaku wa tofu 
Tofu wa shiroi 
Shiroi wa usagi 
Usagi wa haneru 
Haneru wa kaeru 
Kaeru wa aoi 
Aoi wa banana 
Banana wa nagai 
Nagai wa entotsu 
Entotsu wa kuroi 
Kuroi wa Indojin 
Indojin wa tsuyoi 
Tsuyoi wa Kintoki 
Kintoki wa akai 
Akai wa jakuro 
Jakuro wa wareru 
Wareru wa manju 

One corner two corners three corners 

four corners. 
Four cornered ^*^ is bean curd, 
Bean curd is white, 
White is a rabbit, 
A rabbit Jumps, 
Jumps a frog. 
Frog is green, 
Green is banana, 
Banana is long, 
Long is chimney. 
Chimney is black. 
Black is Hindu, 
Hindu is strong. 
Strong is Kintoki,^^ 
Kintoki is red. 
Red is pomegranate. 
Pomegranate is divisible, 
Divisible is dumpling.^^ 


Bean bag and skip rope are also girls' games. In the spring the girls carry their 
bean bags (shako) everywhere. While a mother is calling on someone, a little 
girl will bring out her bags and juggle them. There are any number of songs 
similar to our "One, two button your shoe" type, sung to various tunes, but all 
having a definite rhythm which allows for an alternating series of long and short 

^^ I.e., square. 

2^ Kintoki is a legendary strong boy usually depicted with a red face. 

22 Manju locally is a symbol for the vulva. When giving the words of this song the girls 
at first would not give the last word out of bashfulness and said to put in rei-rei-rei (i.e., zero 
zero zero or 0-0-0 as is done in censored Japanese newspaper reports referring to troops), 
then finally pointed to the vulva without naming it. In another region this line would not 
have any sexual connotation since the word manju is not used in a sexual sense. In northern 
Kumamoto for instance the corresponding word for vulva is mencho. 


throws. If two girls are playing together, during the long throw the partner 
catches the bags and juggles them until the song calls for another long throw. 
There are also games where one girl will play with the bags until she misses 
when the other one takes her turn. 

Japan's Nogi 

This is a skip rope (ohairi or hai yorosi) song, also used as a bean bag song. 
Many different verses are sung to the tune of this song. 

The subject of the song, Russia's defeat by Japan, is something never forgotten 
by the Japanese, being referred to in all patriotic speeches. This little game song, 
one of several on the same subject, helps to inculcate in the minds of the children 
the pattern of thought of regarding Russia as a weak and somewhat strange, 
barbarous country. Often in the midst of a game children will break out with a 
gay "Nihon ga katta, Rossia maketa!" (Japan won, Russia lost!) 

In form, this is a serial song similar to No. 90 except that here it is the final 
syllable instead of the final word of a line that forms the beginning of the first 
word in the next line. During the bean bag throwing a series of short throws 
accompanies the opening lines, then there is a long throw on 'chan chan bo' to 
'inkoroshi.' The remaining long lines are recited very rapidly to the accompani- 
ment of shorter throws. 

The sense of the song is somewhat influenced by its form. The bird names, 
suzume and mejiro, for instance, appear to be inserted simply as a means of con- 
necting Gaisensu with Rossia. 

91 Nippon no Japan's 

Nogisan ga Nogi ^ 

Gaisensu Triumphantly returned. 

Suzume Sparrow, 

Mejiro White eye, 

Rossia Russia, 

Yabangoku Barbarous country. 

Kurobatokin Kuropatkin,^^ 

Kinnotama Testicles. 

Makete niguru chan chan bo Lost and fled Chinamen. 

Bo de tataku wa inkoroshi One who beats with a stick is a dog catcher, 

Siberia tetsudo jya nai keredo Not that I speak of Siberian Railroad, 
Dobin no kuchi kara hakedaseba But steam comes from the kettle spout. 

Barutsikukantai dzenmetushi The Baltic fleet all destroyed, 

Shiro hata The white flag raising, 

Tatete kosansu Surrendered. 

^^ The Japanese general who captured Port Arthur in 1905. 

^* The commander-in-cliief of the Russian army during the Russo-Japanese war. 



The Soldier's Girl 

92 Gakko okairi 
Jochan ga 
Aka shiri 
Hin no yosa 
Sore de heitai san ga 
Kamisashi yaru ka 
Kushi yaru ka 
Watasi sono mono ^^ 
Ima no hayari 

Returning from school 
Young girl, 
Red skirts 
Tucked up, 
So very graceful 
That a soldier 
Fell in love.^*^ 
"Shall I give you a hairpin. 
Shall I give you a comb?" 
"I such things 
Do hot want, 
The present style 
Is silk crepe 
I say." 

Cat, Cat 

93 Neko, neko, neko, neko 
Sakaya neko 
Sakaya ga iya nara 
Yomi-ire ^^ de 
Yomi-ire nara dogu wa 
Nani, nani ka? 
Tansu, nagamochi 
Suzuribako ^^ 

Kore dake motte iku naraba 
Futatabi kaette 

Cat, cat, cat, cat, 

Cat of the sake shop. 

If you do not want the sake shop 

Become a bride. 

If you go as a bride, the dowry 

What will it be? 

A dresser, a chest, 

A writing box.^® 

If you take so much along, 

You must not 

Come back again. 

^^ "With you" is understood. 
^®For: senna mono. 
^'^ For: yome-iri. 

^® Some versions have Hasamibako — a lacquered box carried at the end of a pole and for- 
merly used in traveling by men of rank. 



Father Is a Peony 

94 Chichi wa shakuyaku 
Haha botan ^ 
Im5to wa shiro giku 
Nisan wa 
Kwanpeitaisha no 
Choito watasi wa 
No ni saku yuri no hana 
Metta ni senshi wo uchitogete 
Kin no kibako ni 

Father is a peony, 

Mother is a peony ,^^ 

Younger sister a white chrysanthemum, 

Older brother 

A decoration flower 

Of the shrine. 

Only I am 

A lily flower blooming in the fields, 

Dead in the battlefield, 

In a golden wooden box 

Sent back. 


Other games such as those using pebbles, hand clapping games and so on are 
also accompanied by songs or recited verses. 

95 Sumire tsumitsutsu 
Kairi yoku ^^ 
Yama-kyo no 
Kodomo no airashisa 

While Pluc\ing a Violet 
(Pebble Game Song) 

While plucking a violet 
They return home: 
Mountain village children 
Are charming. 


In the song botan is pronounced bota-un because the accent falls at the end of the short 

^° Two different types of peony are referred to in the original: shakuyaku and botan. 
^^ For: kaeri joiku. 



liana\o's Tears 

This is a song to accompany a hand clapping game of which there are many 
varieties. One common type similar to our own "Pease porridge hot, pease por- 
ridge cold," is played thus: Two children sit facing each other. They first clap 
their own hands together, then clap hands together, right hand clapping the 
other's left and left hand clapping the other's right; then they clap their own 
hands again and reverse the previous cross clapping — the right hand clapping 
the other's right, the left the other's left. In some games a player claps her own 
hands twice before clapping with the partner; in others a player claps hands, 
then claps palms on legs, then claps hands with partner. 

Song 96 is a cumulative song somewhat similar to 90. In the repetitive words 
and phrases there is a heavy accent on the final syllable to correspond to a 
movement of the game. 

96 Arutoki Hanako no 
Namida ga 

Hori hori^^ 

Hori hori 
Ammari deta node 
Tamoto de 

Nuguimasho ^* 

Nuguta kimono wa 

Araimasho ^^ 

Aratta kimono wa 
Shiburimasho ^^ 

Shibutta kimono wa 

Hoshimasho ^^ 

Hosh'ta kimono wa 

Tatamimasho ^^ 

Tatanda kimono wa 

Naoshimasho ^^ 

Naoshita kimono wa 
Nezumi ga 

Poki poki 

Poki poki 
On puku pon-na-pon 

Once Hanako's 

Poured down, 
Poured down — 
Too many tears. 
With kimono sleeve 
Let us wipe, 
Let us wipe. 
Wetted kimono 
Let us wash, 
Let us wash. 
Washed kimono 
Let us wring, 
Let us wring. 
Wrung kimono 
Let us hang up, 
Let us hang up. 
Hung kimono 
Let us fold. 
Let us fold. 
Folded kimono 
Let us put away. 
Let us put away. 
Put-away kimono 
The mice ate: 

Poki poki 

Poki poki 
On puku pon-na-pon.^* 

^^ Accent on the 'o' of the first word and the 'i' of the second. 

"^ A clearly accented 'i' just before 'massho' and another accent on the final 'o.' 

^* Last three lines form an onomatopoetic description of the mice eating. 


Gof{ura\u ]i^ 
(Paradise Temple) 

This game is played by two groups. Two people hold hands as if forming a 
gateway, while the others approach and sing the first line of the song. The gate- 
keepers answer. The first group sings the following line and so on. The verses 
are not really sung, but are rather recited in a singsong. The last line is not 
clear, unless it refers to the visit to shrines when a child is seven; however, in 
Kuma this custom is not observed. After the end of the song the first group is 
allowed to go through one by one and the trick is to get by without being slapped 
by the gatekeepers. If they are slapped, they go to hell (jigoku), if not, to para- 
dise (gokuraku). When all have passed they get their due. Those gone to hell 
are inclosed between the outstretched arms of two people and are shaken vio- 
lently while standing up until they fall down; the paradise people are supported 
on the outstretched arms of two people and thrown up and down. All this is 
done to a refrain : 

Jigoku, gokuraku, 

Oni san no kawari. 

Hell, paradise, 

In the devil's stead. 

97 1st group: "Kono michi wa doko "Where does this road lead?" 

desuka ? " 
2nd group: "Tenjin sama ni toru "It is the road to Tenjin shrine." 

ist group: "Dozo toshite guda- "Please take me across." 

sanshe" ^^ 
and group: "Oya ga nai no ni "Without parents we cannot take you." 

ist group: "Kono ko ga nanatsu "This is the child's seventh celebration. 

no oiwaibi. 
Dozo toshite guda- Please take (him) across." 


^^ The Kuma children's name for this game and song. 
^^For: kudasanshe. 



Cloth Spread Out 

Two girls hold hands facing each other or back to back and sing this song. 
On the last word, which is much drawn out to suit the movement, they turn 
through twisted arms to assume their original position and start the song again. 

98 Momen zara zara 
Azuki zara zara 
Nama daizu no niu ^^ tokya 
Kaeru kai na ^^ 

Cloth spread out, 

Red beans spread out — 

When fresh soya beans are cooked 

Shall we return ? 

Young Lady in a Basket 

In the game to which this song is sung one child squats in the center, while 
others go around in a circle singing the verse. When they stop singing the child 
in the center, keeping his eyes shut, must guess who stopped behind him. While 
guessing he feels all over the other in order to identify him and there is much 
laughter as girls try to pick up their long hair, or assume different heights in 
order to confuse identity. 

99 Question: "Kago no naka no ojyo 
Naze sei ga hikui no?" 
Answer: "Benkyo sen kara hikui 
Tatte goran, tatte goran, 
Anata no ushiro dare 

ga oru? 
Dare ga oru?" 

®^ For: nieru. 

^^ Another version: 

Momen zara zara 

Azuki no ni 

Daizu no niu made 

Kaeru kai na 

"Young lady in a basket 


Why are you so small in stature?" 
"From not studying you are so small. 

Do stand up, do stand up, 
Behind you who is it? 

Who is it?" 

Cloth spread out 
Before red beans cooked 
Before soya beans cooked 
Shall we return? 

' Or cage, or palanquin. 


Mizu-Guruma ^^ 
(Water Mill) 

In the water mill game a group of children hold hands forming a chain. Two 
people at the head of the chain make a gate with their hands for the others to 
pass through, forming a circle as they do so. The movement is regarded as sug- 
gestive of the rotation of a water mill. 

100 Ido no kawaze no By the rapids of the river 

Mizu-guruma The water mill goes 

Hi gacha-gacha-gacha Hi gacha-gacha-gacha, 

Hi gacha-gacha-gacha Hi gacha-gacha-gacha. 

Swallow Ken-Ken 

This song is repeated over and over again as a group of children hop around 
in a circle facing outward, each with his left leg interlocked with his neighbor's. 
The verse is repeated until they fall down. 

loi Tsubame ken-ken Swallow ken-ken 

Mame tsubana The reed ears 

Tsunde yokaro ka Can I pick them? 

Mimi naka No ears, 

Supon-pon Supon-pon 

Mimi naka No ears, 

Supon-pon Supon-pon. 

Ta\ayama of Fu\ada 

This is a children's song sung coming home from school when the sky be- 
comes red in the region of Takayama. It is used as a shuttlecock song at New 
Year's. There is a story about the mountain: About three years ago there were 
many trees on Takayama, a small but distinctive hill in Fukada belonging to 
Shoya hamlet. The people of Shoya decided to cut them down. When they came 
to a tall tree near Jizo-san it refused to be cut. The people thought this odd so 
called a priest who prayed. Then they cut it down. After that the god of the 
mountain appeared in a dream and told a man of Sh5ya that their houses would 
be burned down. Since then about six houses have been burned in Shoya. 

102 Fukada no Takayama Takayama of Fukada 

Fukada no Takayama Fukada's Takayama 

Yuyaketa "^^ Was burnt very well. 

Usagi mo tanoki '*^ mo Rabbits and badgers 

Yuyaketa ^^ Were burnt very well too. 

*" The local name for the game and song. 
*^ For: yoyaketa. 
*^For: tanuki. 

Fig. 10 {top) 
Ball Bouncing. 

Fig. II {bottom) 
Mizu-Guruma (Water Mill). 




A song sung mostly in spring and early summer (although also heard at other 
times) and often used by boys as a call to each other. It has a tune somewhat 
similar to those used by English hunters on a horn. The song appears to be well 
known outside Kyushu. In Kuma young boys learn it from older ones, not from 
a school text. Lafcadio Hearn records a version of the song which he gives as 
local to Izumo, in his chapter on children's songs in A Japanese Miscellany.^* 
A literary form of the poem with an extra stanza by Kazumasa Yoshimaru is 
given in Uyehara's Songs for Children 26. 

103 Ho-ho-hottaru koi 
Sochi no mizu wa 
Nigai zo 

Kochi no mizu wa 
Amai zo 

Hotaru no yama kara 
Hottate koi 

Ho-ho fireflies, come. 

The water over there 

Is bitter. 

The water over here 

Is sweet. 

From the mountain of fireflies 


Tokyo I Saiv 
This is sung as one player carries another upside down on her back. 

104 Mieta mieta 

T6ky5 ga mieta 

I saw, I saw, 
Tokyo I saw. 

*^ Hearn's text is: 

Hotaru koi midzu nomasho 
Achi no midzu wa nigai zo 
Kochi no midzu wa amai zo 
Amai ho e tonde koi. 


In addition to the games songs there are a number of children's lullabies sung 
by mothers, older sisters, and nursemaids as they carry small children on their 

Many of the lullabies are irregular in form, the rhythm being synchronized 
with the joggle of the nursemaid's back. Lullabies may be repeated in a monot- 
onous singsong over and over, as the person carrying the baby rhythmically 
shifts her weight from one foot to the other. The opening word nenne (go to 
sleep) is characteristic of many lullabies. 




Go To Sleep Torahachi 

In rural Japan much of the caring for small children is by grandparents, so 
that if they are away, of course the child might cry. This song, though often 
enough sung out of realistic context by one of the grandparents, nevertheless 
reflects truly the close bond between the alternate generations. 


Nenneko Torahachi 
Baba no mago 
Baba oraren 
Jl no mago 
Jl wa doke ikaita ■"• 
Jl wa machi 
Fune kai ni 
Fune wa nakatte 
Uma kota ^ 
Uma wa doke 

Uma wa sendan no ki ^ 

Nan kwasete 

Hami kwasete 


Go to sleep Torahachi, 
Grandma's grandchild. 
Grandma is not here, 
Grandpa's grandchild. 
Grandpa where did he go? 
Grandpa went to town 
To buy a boat. 
There was no boat 
He bought a horse. 
The horse, where 

Did he tie it? 
The horse to a sendan tree 

He tied it. 
What did he feed it 

Tied to a tree ? 
He gave it a bit, 

Tied to a tree. 

Turtle Dove 

106 Yezo yaro ■* 
Nenne horori 
Yama de naku no wa 
Yama bato yo 
Horo horo horori 
Nen horori 
Boya wa yoi ko da 
Nenne shinai 

Yezo yaro 

Nen horori 

That cries in the mountain 

Is the turtle-dove. 

Horo horo horori 

Nen horori 

Sonny is a good boy 

Go to sleep. 

^ For: Doko e ikareta. 

2 Or: Naka tokya uma kote. 

^ Or: Mai no sendan no ki. 

* Perhaps a way of mildly scolding a child by calling it Yezo, i.e., Ainu or barbarian. 


Little Boy 

107 Boya wa yoi ko da Little baby boy, good child 

Nenne shina ^ Go to sleep. 

Are mi ohisama Look! the sun 

Nenne sh'ta Has gone to sleep. 

Kaka kara suzume ni Kaka kara sparrows 

Chuchu suzume And chuchu sparrows 

Isshoni neburoto * To go to sleep together 

Tondeta Were flying. 

Little Boy's Nurse 

This is an old and fairly widely known lullaby in Japan. Bonneau records it 
in his Folklore japonais, Vol. 3, No. 56, as a Kyushu song while Lafcadio Hearn 
claims it for Izumo in his essay, "Songs of Japanese Children," in A Japanese 
Miscellany. Both versions differ somewhat from the one given here; the ending 
of Hearn is more like this song than the one recorded by Bonneau. 

108 Nenne nen yo Go to sleep 

Okorori yo Rock a bye. 

Boya no omori wa Little boy's nurse 

Doko ni itta Where did she go? 

Ano yama koete Over that mountain 

Sato e itta She went to her birthplace. 

Sato no miyagi "^ ni From her birthplace what gifts 

Nani murota ^ Did she bring? 

Den den taiko ni A rub a dub drum, 

Sho no fue A trumpet, 

Okiagari-kobushi ni A toy daruma ® 

Inuhariko And a paper dog. 

' The opening two lines found in lullabies of various regions of Japan. 
"For: nemuroto. 
' For: miyage. 
*For: morota. 

® A tumbler. The word comes from Boddhi Dharma, a Buddist Saint (sixth century 


The Sparrows Laugh 

A short couplet occasionally sung at banquets — said to be a verse o£ Choina 
choina, a longer song from another region, but this is doubtful. 

109 Baba ga shoben suru When the old woman urinates 

Suzume ga warau The sparrows laugh. 

Coo\ing Rice 

This verse is not sung at banquets. It was recited once when a discussion of 
how to cook rice came up. 

no Saisho toro tore At first small fire, 

Naka bombo In the middle big fire. 

Guzu guzu yu tokya Bubble, bubble. 

Hi o hiite Remove the big fire — 

Osan ^ naku tomo Even if the baby cries 

Futa toruna Do not take off the cover. 

Male and Female Butterfly 

This verse is not a regular song of Suye, but was recited once when some 
v/omen were speaking of the unpleasantness of making love to a man one does 
not care for. 

Ocho and Mecho are the male and female butterflies used as symbols at a 
wedding, thus the first line refers to a well-mated couple. The rest of the verse 
refers to the ceremonial drink of sake partaken of by bride and groom from 
the same cup. The implication of this song is that the bride when drinking with 
the groom (chosen by her family) is thinking of another man with whom she is 
in love. 

Ill Ocho Mecho Male and female butterfly — 

Sakazuki yuri ^ mo Better than any sake cup, 

Suita anata no My beloved, is your sake 

Chawanzake Even in a teacup.^ 

^ As is common in Kuma dialect the 'an' is pronounced 'aij.' 

^ For: yori. 

^ A sakazuki is the conventional small wine cup used in drink exchange; chawan is a tea- 
cup; by analogy a chawanzake is a teacup used for sake. Sake from a teacup is not good 



Riddle and Froverh 

Such sayings as these are Ukely to crop up any time in a conversation that may 
seem appropriate. The proverb about the year of thirteen lunar months came up 
when some women were discussing the chances of one of them having another 
child, and it was generally agreed that "this year" (1936) she was likely to be- 
come pregnant because "this year has thirteen months." 

112 Ten ni pika-pika In the sky sparkling, 
Ji da pokkuri In the earth digging. 

Kuwa A grub hoe. 

113 Kotoshi ju-san tsuki This year thirteen months — 

Cho kama de hara mute Big as a kettle will swell the belly. 

Spells for Foot Cramp 

A saying repeated three times, each time touching first the foot, and then the 
forehead with a licked finger. Spells such as 114 and 115 are most likely to be 
practiced by women. 

1 14 Ashi no shibiri ^ Foot cramp 

Futae ^ tsuke To the forehead stick . 

A variation: — 

Ashi no shibiri wa 
Fute aneke 

One Bottle of Infallible Remedy 

This spell is supposed to cure a foot that has gone to sleep. As it is recited 
the foot and forehead are touched in turn. 

115 Ichi bin One botde, 
Ni bin Two bottles, 
San bin Three bottles, 

Shi bin no mioyaku Four bottles of infallible remedy. 


116 Dokoisho Dokoisho 
Sanpei san Mr. Sanpei — 
Namanda ® Glory be to Buddha. 

* For: shibire. 

^ For: Hutae, from the standard Hitai. 

® An abbreviation of Namu Amida Butsu, a conventional "Amen" of members of the 
Shinshu sect of Buddhism. 


Four Supplementary Stanzas of Kuma Ro\uchdshi 

These songs were not recorded in Suye but are to be found in Tanabe's Folk- 
songs of Kuma. They are of the same form as Songs 1-3 and presumably are 
sung in the same way in those parts of Kuma where they are current. 

117 Aoi baba kara 
Satsumejo wo mireba 
Tono no goen ni 
Tsuru ga mau 

Yoiya sa 

118 Kuma wa yoi toko 
Yama aoao to 
Doko mo sumiyoshi 
Hito mo yoshi 

119 Natsu no Kuma gawa 
Kajika nakeba 
Tsuki ga kudakete 
Kogyo to naru 

120 Iwa ni kudakare 
Arase ni momare 
Shinku tsukushite 
Noboru ayu 

From Aoi ^ riding ground 
Looking to Satsuma rapids, 
From the master's veranda 
The crane flies. 

Kuma is a nice place: 
The mountains green, 
Everywhere good to live. 
The people fine. 

Kuma river in summer: 
We hear the kajika,^ 
Moonbeams shimmer, 
And become kogyo.^ 

Beaten to the rocks, 
Struggling in the rapids. 
With endless labor 
Ayu ^ go up. 

^ Shrine in Hitoyoshi; see Song i, note 5. 

2 A kind of frog. There is a popular geisha house in Hitoyoshi of this name, 

^ Kogyo-ayu, a kind of fish. 



Three local songs of other areas which are popular in Kuma are given below. 
These songs are recognized by the people of Suye as coming from outside Kuma. 
Other regional songs are also sung from time to time, but the three given here 
form a fair sample. A stanza of one other non-Kuma provincial song, Iso bushi 
is given in note 7 to Song i. 

Sado 0\esa 

Sado is an island off the west coast of Japan and is included in the political 
boundary of Niigata prefecture. It was at one time a place where important per- 
sonages were exiled from the capital for various political offenses, and because of 
this the island and its songs have acquired a certain glamor among the people of 
Japan, even in the interior of Kyushu. There are many variations of the songs 
given here, and women like to dance to them. There is a special melody to accom- 
pany the words. The order of stanzas is not fixed. The form is regular dodoitsu. 



Sado e Sado e to 
Kusa ki mo nabiku 
Sado wa iyoi ka 
Sumi yoika 

Aja aja aja sate ^ 

Sado e Sado e to 
Minna yukitagaru 
Sado wa shijuku ri 
Nami no ue 

Sado to Kashiwazakya 
Sawo sasha todoku 
Naze ni todokano 
Waga omoi 

Sado no Kanayama 
Konoyo no jigoku 
Noboru hashigo wa 
Hari no yama 

Toward Sado, toward Sado 
Even the grass and trees bend.-"^ 
Sado, is it good, 
Good to live in? ^ 

Toward Sado, toward Sado 
Everyone wants to go. 
To Sado it is forty-nine ri ^ 
On the waves. 

Sado and Kashiwasaki " 
Boat pole if pushed can reach. 
Why does not reach 
My heart my thoughts? 

Sado's Kanayama ^ 
Is this world's hell, 
Like climbing the steps 
Of Needle Mountain.''' 




125 Nami no ue demo 
Kuruki ga areba 
Funenya do^ mo ari 
Kai mo aru 

126 Odori odoru nara 
Itanoma de odore 
Ita no hibiki de 
Shamya irano 

127 Nido to horemai 
Takoku no hito ni 
Sue wa karasu no 
Naki wakare 

128 Sue wa karasu no 
Naki wakare demo 
Sote kuro ga 

Even with the waves 
You can come if you wish — 
Because there are boats 
And also oars. 

When you dance, dance. 
Dance on the wooden boards, 
Dance to the sound of the boards- 
Samisen we don't need. 

We never shall love again — ® 
People of other place 
At last like crows ® 
Weeping we must part. 

Like crows 

Weeping we must part — 
Together with my love 
Wish to live and toil. 

^ I.e., even the grass and the trees like Sado. 

- Cf. positive statement of similar idea in Song 118. 

^ This refrain is usually used, and added to each stanza. In Suye aja* is sometimes pro- 
nounced 'arya.' 

* A measure of distance, 2.4 miles. 

^ An island very close to Sado. 

^ Kanayama probably refers to the traditionally famous mines of Sado Island where for 
ages prisoners had been put to hard labor. 

^ Needle Mountain is referred to in Buddhist legends. 

*For: ro. 

^According to an old story young crows, when grown up, show their love for their parents 
by staying and helping them for one hundred days or so before going off on their own. 
The reference here is to the parting of parent and children crows. 


Tsuf(i Wa Kasanaru 
(The moon is getting full) 

This is a song of a pregnant geisha. It is sung in a very drawn-out manner, all 
vowel sounds being very long. The singer usually wears some red underkimono 
to represent a geisha. A pillow is stuck inside the kimono for the pregnant belly 
and the singer's face is made up as a mask of the Otafuku,®^ looking very sad. 




Tsuki wa kasa naru 

Onaka wa futori, doshozoine 

Onaka wa doshozoine 

Toriage baba demo yonde ko ka 

S'tetoke hottoke 
S'tetoke hottoke 

Dekita sono ko ga 
Otafuku naraba doshozoina 
Otafuku doshozoina 
Dokono choja no kadoguchi ni 

S'tetoke hottoke 
S'tetoke hottoke 

S'teta sono ko 

Yaban ga mitsyakya ^^ doshozoino 
Yaban ga doshozoino 
Gonin gumi 
S'tetoke hottoke 
S'tetoke hottoke 

The moon is getting full ^^ 

The belly is getting bigger, what to do? 

The belly, what to do? 

The midwife shall I call? 

Let it go, let it go 
Let it go, let it go. 

When this child is born. 
If he looks like Otafuku what shall I do? 
Looking like Otafuku, what shall I do? 
At some rich man's gate.^^ 

Dear-dear ! 
Let it go, let it go 
Let it go, let it go. 

If (I) throw (away) this child. 
The night watch might find it. 
The night watch, what will they do? 
Five people group.^^ 

Let it go, let it go 
Let it go, let it go. 

®^ A funny roundfaced woman, familiar in Japanese drama. 

'^^ Meaning that the months are piling up. 

^^ "Shall I leave it?" is understood. 

^- For: mitsketa nara. 

^^ I.e., five people of the night watch. 



Kagoshima Ohara Bus hi 

This song of Kagoshima prefecture is very popular in Kuma. Song 9 is a 
jocular variation of the second stanza. As with the popular Rokuchoshi of Kuma 
(Songs 1-3) there is a commercial recording of Ohara Bushi (Taihei Grama- 
phone Co., Ltd., Record 5403). 





Hana wa Kirishima 

Tabako wa Kokubu 

Moete agaru wa 

Ohara ha 


Ha, yoi, yoi, yoiyasa to 

Ame no furanu no ni 

Somutagawa nigoru 

Ishiki Harara no 

Ohara ha 

Kesho no mizu 

Ha, yoi, yoi, yoiyasa to 

Ote hanaseba 

Shinjitsu rashii 

Shian shite mirya 

Ohara ha 


Ha, yoi, yoi, yoiyasa to 

Nushi no kokoro to 

Sora fuku kaze wa 

Doko no izuku de 

Ohara ha 

Tomaru yara 

Ha, yoi, yoi, yoiyasa to 

Flower is Kirishima,^^ 
Tobacco is Kokubu,^^ 
That burns and goes up is, 
Ohara ha. 
On Sakurajima.^^ 

Though there is no rain 
Somuta River is muddy- 
Of Ishiki Harara,!^ 
Ohara ha, 
Bath perfume. 

When I meet and talk, 
It seems believable. 
When I think, 
Ohara ha. 
It seems unbelievable. 

Master's heart 
And the wind- 
Ohara ha, 
Will they stop.? 

^* A mountain on the boundary between Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures. 

^^ Place in Kagoshima prefecture. 

^^ A volcanic isle with an intermittently active volcano. 





Shin no yofuke ni 

Washa ne mo yarazu 

Yogi ni motarete 

Ohara ha 

Shinobi naki 

Ha, yoi, yoi, yoiyasa to 

Okurimasho to 

Hama made deta ga 

Nakete saraba ga 

Ohara ha 


Ha, yoi, yoi, yoiyasa to 

In the middle of the night 

I cannot sleep — 

Pressing against the night clothes, 

Ohara ha, 

I weep. 

I shall see you off I said 

And went as far as the beach. 

But I weep, 

Ohara ha, 

And good-bye I cannot say. 


Gregory Bateson. Naven (Cambridge University Press, 1936) 

Georges Bonneau. Anthologie de la poesie japonaise (Paul Geuthner, Paris, 1935) 

L'expression poetique dans le folklore japonais (3 vols., comprising vols. 2-4 o£ 

Yoshino) (Paul Geuthner, Paris, 1935) [Referred to as Folklore japonais] 

Le probleme de la poesie japonaise. Technique et traduction (Paul Geuthner, 

Paris, 1938) 

F. V. Dickens. Primitive and Mediaeval Japanese Texts (2 vols. Oxford Press, 

Osman Edward. Japanese Plays and Playfellows (Heinemann, London, 1901) 

John F, Embree. Suye Mura, A Japanese Village (University of Chicago Press, 
Chicago, 1939) 
Acculturation among the Japanese of Kona, Hawaii (Memoirs of the Ameri- 
can Anthropological Association, No. 59, 1941) 

Shimizu Fujii and Ryutaro Hirota, editors. Gesammelte Werke der Welt Musik 
(Shunjusha, Tokyo, 1930) [In Japanese] 

Marcel Granet, Festivals and Songs of Ancient China (George Routledge and 
Sons, London, 1932) 

Lafcadio Hearn. The Writings of Lafcadio Hearn (16 vols. Houghton Mifflin 
Co., Boston, 1922) 

J. C. Hepburn. Japanese-English and English-Japanese Dictionary (Tokyo, 

Yukichi Kodera. Nippon Miny5 Jiten, Dictionary of Japanese Folk Songs 
(Yubundo, Tokyo, 1935) 

Kuma Native Province Readers (3 vols. Kumamoto, 1935) 

Ryutaro Tanabe. The Folksongs of Kuma District (Mimeographed, Toma 
Agricultural School, Kuma Gun, Kumamoto, 1932) [Referred to as Folk- 
songs of Kuma] 



T. Sato, H. Ihm and F. Kraus. Das Geschlechtleben der Japaner (2 vols. Leipzig, 

Arthur Waley, translator. The Book of Songs (Houghton MifHin Co., Boston, 


The Tale o£ Genji (Houghton MifHin Co., Boston, 1925) 

Yukuo Uyehara. Songs for Children Sung in Japan (Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 



Ajya yokaro 28 

A kora nan jaro kai kora 38 

Ame no furanu no ni 89 

Ame no tokya yama 33 

Ame wa furanedo ya 18 

An'tagata doku sa 68 

Aoi baba kara 85 

Aoi matsuba no 19 

Arutoki Hanako no 75 

Ashi no shibiri 84 

Ashi no shibiri wa 84 

A sh'totsu . .38 

Baba ga shoben suru •• . . ,83 

Bochan no doku iku 4^ 

Bota-mochi 32 

B5ya wa yoi ko da 82 

Chichi wa shakuyaku 74 

Chiosan no ogoke 32 

Chiosan to iwarete 32 

Cho ya hana ya to 31 

Cho yo hana yo de 31 

Chodo yoka 24 

Chodo yoka tokkya 21 

Chodo yokkya tokkya 24 

Chuchu ke manju kashiu 60 

Dekita sono ko ga 88 

Dodoitsu beta demo 35 

Doita ni mukuru 23 

Dokkoise dokkoise wa 30 

Dokkoise no se 30 

Dokkoise no tamago wo 27 

Dokkoise tamago wa 27 

Dokoisho 84 

Doro mizu ni 28 

Fuji no shiro yukya 42 

Fuji no yama hodo 42 

Fukada no Takayama 78 

Fumonji otera kara 49 




Gakko okairi 73 

Gakko okairi no 67 

Genjomero-me wa 45 

Gogetsu wa wari hitori 36 

Haisen no 33 

Hana no Sano san ni 37 

Hana wa Kirishima 89 

Hi fu mitsu nana yoka tonde 69 

Hiru wa tango tango 60 

Ho-ho-hottaru koi 79 

Hotaru koi midzu nomasho 79. 

Ichi bin 84 

Ichi kake ni kake san kakete 70 

Ichi kaku ni kaku san kaku shi kaku 71 

Ido no kawaze no 78 

Ima wa ima wa ima wa 24 

Inaka shoya don no 15 

Inaka shoya dono 16 

Ippai totta 20 

Iso de meisho wa 14 

Iwae medetaya 52 

Ivva ni kudakare . 85 

Jigoku gokuraku . 76 

Jugoya ban ni 53 

Kago no naka no ojyo san 77 

Kanshiro to yu hito wa 61 

Karakasa no hone wa 37 

Kasa wo wasureta 48 

Kichijitsu yoi hini 55 

Kimi to wakarete 25 

Koko no Hitoyoshi 14 

Koko wa Nishimachi 14 

Kono michi wa doko desuka 76 

Kotoshi ju-san tsuki 84 

Koyu goen ga 17 

Kuma de ichiban 13 

Kuma de meisho wa 14 

Kuma to Satsuma no 14 

Kuma wa yoi toko 85 

Kyo wa hi mo yoshi 48, 55 

Maru tamago mo 27 

Meido no miyagi 42 

Mieta mieta 79 

Momen zara zara 77 



Muko yokocho no 44 

Musume shimada ga 43 

Nagai aze-michi ' • 35 

Nami no ue demo 87 

Natsu no Kuma gawa 85 

Neisan ga doke iku 41 

Neko neko neko neko 73 

Nenneko Torahachi 81 

Nenne nen yo 82 

Nido to horemai 87 

Nippon no 72 

Nitan batake no 56 

Noboru hashigo no 28 

Nomuka baika . 24 

Nushi no kokoro to 89 

Ocho Mecho 83 

Odori odoru nara 87 

Okitsu shira-nami 30 

Okurimasho to 90 

Omae-san to nara 31 

Omae to nara 31 

Omai san ga 26 

Omai san ga koshimoto 22 

Omai san no koshimoto 22 

Omaya dosuru 35 

Omaya hyaku made 17 

Omaya meiken 17 

Onushya kami age 21 

Otake gozankei 48 

Otake yama kara 48 

Ote hanaseba 89 

Sado e Sado e to 86 

Sado no Kanayama 86 

Sado to Kashiwazakya 86 

Saisho toro toro 83 

Saita sakura ni 31 

Sakazuki no 29 

Sake no hakari ga 42 

Sake no sakana 29 

Sama ni kayo michya 19 

Sama to wakarete 25 

Sama wa hattekyaru 2^ 

Samusa fure fure 28 

San ga yasuka tokya 23 

Sano san horen mo 37 

Shin no yofuke ni 90 



Shiraren tokya 24 

Sho no yonaka ni 20 

Shochu nonde kara 34 

Shochu wa nomi nomi , 34 

Shoji hikiake 19 

Shonga baba sama 51 

Shonga basan wa .51 

Shonga-batake no 51 

Shonga odori nya 50 

Shonga odori wa 51 

Soko yuchya tamaran 22 

S'teta sono ko 88 

Sue wa karasu no 87 

Sumire tsumitsutsu 74 

Take no suzume wa 43 

Taragi no Bunzoji 21 

Ten ni pika-pika 84 

Toita ni mukuryu 23 

Tokoro mosaba 57 

Tomate tomaranu 43 

Tsubame ken-ken 78 

Tsuki wa kasa naru 88 

Un ga yoshya 23 

Ureshi medeta no 52 

Wakare jato natte 26 

Wasi ga tabi no sh'to de 26 

Yama de akai no wa 36 

Yama no naka 36 

Yamasaki no 45 

Yezo yaro 81 

Yombe gozatta 65 

Yoshinbo koromo ni 49 

Yoshinbo yoshinbo to 49 

Yuchya kuichya 24 

Yuchya s'man batten 18 

Yushimbu koromo ni 49 

Yushimbu Yushimbu to 49 

Yutte wa kureru na 24 

Withdrawn from UF. Surveyed to Internet Archive 

Japanese peasant songs Main/2 

398.306 A51 2m V.38 

3 121.2 02004 7^^4