picture by guweiz
What about a japanish song about snow and winter in the middle of one of the hottest summer of my whole life?
Come on, we all like things like that, just like when they broadcast those totally uncalled for Christmas movies when it’s not Christmas.
I love this song and its vibe, but this translation will be really challenging, mostly because the feel it’s conveying is pretty damn difficult to reproduce in another language.
Starting from the beginning, the song keeps on repeating “furu furu furu” and “shin shin shin”.
Both “furu” and “shin” repeated all those times are merely there to make the song more lullaby-ish, and to create an atmosphere with onomatopeia-like sounds like those.
On a side note, “furu” also mean “to fall”, and can be used in a sentence to express “the snow is falling”, “it’s snowing”. That’s why I translated it this way.
About “shin”, things get more difficult. There are hundreds of kanjis which can be read as “shin” in their on-yomi reading. Among those, 進 (to advance), 深 (deep), 寝 (to sleep / to lay down), and again 振 (to fall / to wave) are the ones that caught my attention the most while thinking about kanjis whose reading is “shin”.
Those kanjis seems all to allude to something falling (振/進) down (深) with delicacy (寝/振), and I find it really appropriate with “furu”, which, on the contrary, doesn’t need much explaination.
Not only that, the song also refers to Yuki-onna, the snow lady creature from the japanese folklore, to the crane, symbol of Japan which could also allude to the famous kagome-kagome song, and other elements which are really not that hard to translate, but hard to keep intact in their original japanese beauty when translated.
This is one of those song which should be understood in its original language to stay untouched. But maybe… it’s always like that.
Anyway, this intro was part of a larger section of notes, be sure to check them out.
ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY – おゆき
furu furu furu furu fuyu no yoru
shin shin shin shin furitsudzuku
Falling, falling, falling, falling, a winter’s night
Down, down, quietly, quietly, it keeps snowing
furu furu furu furu yuki fubuku
shin shin shin shin furi yamanu
Falling, falling, falling, falling, snow gets harsher
Down, down, more and more, it won’t stop snowing
yukionna wa ikaga kana–
nukumori ukete toke sarinu
How does the snow woman feel, I wonder?
Accepting the warmth just to be left melting away…
furu furu furu furu ushi no koku
shin shin shin shin oto mo nashi
Snowing, snowing, snowing, snowing, 2 hours past midnight
Quietly, quietly, more and more, not a sound to be heard
furu furu furu furu tsuki akari
shin shin shin shin yuki-geshou
Snowing, snowing, more and more, the moonlight
Quietly, quietly, falling again, is covered in snow
tsuru no kizu wa ikaga kana–
shoutai sarashi tobitateru
How has the crane’s wound gotten, I wonder?
Exposing its wounded figure to fly away…
furu furu furu furu haru no asa
shin shin shin shin rikka saku
Falling, falling, falling, falling, on a Spring morning
Quietly, quietly, more and more, snow is blooming
furu furu furu furu ume to momo
shin shin shin shin yuki tokeru
Swinging, swinging, waving around, the plum and the peach tree
Gently, gently, quietly, quietly, melt the snow away
kourohou wa ikaga kana–
sudare o agete miru yoroshi
How’s mount Xianglu by now, I wonder?
It would be good if I could look at it by lifting this bamboo blind…
– furufuru / shinshin, as you read above, I kept them “falling” and “down”, with variations depending on the stanza they appear in (in other words, if there are other words to point out the “snowing” meaning or such, my translation could have variations).
– “ushi no koku” is a old way to say “2 A.M.”. The whole song has a classical vibe to it, so it’s not that unusual at all.
– “rikka” (六花) is another old way to say “snow”, and here’s a pun. The word “saku” means “to bloom”, and “rikka” is wrote with the kanji for “flower” (花).
– “furu” is also “to wave”, “to shake”, “to swing”, in the second to last stanza I found it more appropriate being the subjects two trees.
– I did some research over the last stanza, seems to talk about a poem by Bai Juyi, a chinese poet. The japanese translation of this poem「 遺愛寺の鐘は枕をそばだてて聴き、香炉峰の雪は簾をかかげてこれを看る 」(colored parts = appearing in this song) was well known to nobles of the Heian period, as well as other chinese poems even by the same author. The “kourohou” is the japanese transcription of the same word in chinese, which translates into xianglu-feng (Mount Xianglu, also know as “Incense Burner Peak“) which this poem refers to. The poem roughly translates into: “As I lift from my pillow and prick up my ears to the sound of iaiji (name of a temple)’s bells, I saw the snow covering the bamboo blind up there mount Xianglu”. What does that mean? Bamboo blinds were used to cover royal ladies, so they could speak to anyone behind them without being saw directly. And as a distant call of a temple’s bell wakes the writer up, the sound resonates as a calling, as a signal to extend his gaze beyond what’s on his reach towards the far off mount Xianglu where his love interest’s bamboo blind is slightly opened due the snow pressing over it. He’s not seeing this scenery, he’s rather imaginating it, being too far away. In other words, this poem is about longing for someone and the concept of distance, when knowing someone’s there, even if unreachable and far away, makes us feel as if we’re gazing at a beautiful scenery of closeness.
In this song, the verb for “bamboo blind” is “ageru” which means “to lift”, so the song is from the point of view of the girl inside the blind rather than the poet from the other side of Mount Xianglu…
Keeping all of this in mind, the translation won’t seem that weird… I think? Hope the meaning’s clear enough..!
• Title: おゆき (oyuki) (snow)
• Circle: ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY
• Album: 華唄 (hanauta) (flower song)
• Vocals: Mitsuki Nakae (中恵光城)
• Lyrics: Kurogawa Umi (黒川うみ)
• Arrangement: あたいわだれか (ataiwadareka)
• Release Event: C76
• Source: Original