Hotaru no Hikari

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Japanese song Hotaru no hikari, based on the melody of Auld Lang Syne. 1m00s

Hotaru no Hikari (蛍の光?, meaning "Glow of a firefly") is a Japanese song incorporating the tune of Scottish folk song Auld Lang Syne with completely different lyrics by Chikai Inagaki, first introduced in a collection of singing songs for elementary school students in 1877 (Meiji 10). The swapping of lyrics without substantial change to the music is known as contrafactum. The words describe a series of images of hardships that the industrious student endures in his relentless quest for knowledge, starting with the firefly’s light, which the student uses to keep studying when he has no other light sources. It is commonly heard during graduation ceremonies and at the end of the school day. Many stores and restaurants play it to usher customers out at the end of a business day. On the very popular Japanese New Year's Eve TV show, NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen, it has become a tradition for all the performers to sing Hotaru no Hikari as the last song. Another Western song reworked in the same period (late 19th century) and also used at graduation ceremonies is "Aogeba Tōtoshi".

Lyrics[edit]

Verse Japanese text Romaji English translation
1

蛍の光、窓の雪、
書読む月日、重ねつゝ。
何時しか年も、すぎの戸を、
開けてぞ今朝は、別れ行く。

Hotaru no hikari, mado no yuki,
Fumi yomu tsukihi, kasane tsutsu
Itsushika toshi mo, sugi no to wo,
Aketezo kesa wa, wakare yuku.
Light of fireflies, snow by the window,
Many suns and moons spent reading
Years have gone by without notice
Day has dawned; this morning, we part.
2 止まるも行くも、限りとて、
互に思ふ、千萬の。
心の端を、一言に、
幸くと許り、歌うなり。
Tomaru mo yuku mo, kagiri tote,
Katami ni omou, chiyorozu no,
Kokoro no hashi wo, hitokoto ni,
Sakiku to bakari, utau nari.
Stay or leave, either an end
Think as mementos; so many
Corners of my heart, in one word
Sing for peace
3

筑紫の極み、陸の奥、
海山遠く、隔つとも。
その眞心は、隔て無く、
一つに尽くせ、國の為。

Tsukushi no kiwami, michi no oku,
Umi yama tooku, hedatsu tomo,
Sono magokoro wa, hedate naku,
Hitoe ni tsukuse, kuni no tame
Far reaches of Kyushu and Tōhoku
Though separated by seas and mountains
Their sincere hearts are not.
Serve single-mindedly for our country.
4 千島の奥も、沖繩も、
八洲の内の、護りなり。
至らん國に、勲しく、
努めよ我が背、恙無く。
Chishima no oku mo, Okinawa mo
Yashima no uchi no, mamori nari
Itaran kuni ni, isaoshiku
Tsutome yo waga se, tsutsuganaku
From the ends of Chishima to Okinawa,
All part of Japan.
Contribute to our great country.
I'll faithfully devote my life.

References[edit]