Gondola no Uta

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Gondola no Uta (ゴンドラの唄, "The Gondola Song") is a 1915 romantic ballad[1] that was popular during Taishō period Japan. Lyrics were written by Isamu Yoshii, melody by Shinpei Nakayama. The lyrics of the song are presented as the advice of an experienced individual to younger souls regarding the fleeting nature of youth and the caution against missing the opportunities of youth when they are available and before they have passed with growing age.



The music is written in three quarter time as a melancholy waltz in a minor key played to a slow meter. Its structure is written to accompany four poetic stanzas where the first two verses of each stanza serve as a refrain throughout the entire song.

In popular culture[edit]

It was used as a theme song in Akira Kurosawa's 1952 film Ikiru. The terminally ill protagonist, played by Takashi Shimura, initially sings this romantic ballad as an expression of loss, and at the end with great contentment.[1] His final performance of the song has been described as "iconic."[2][3][4]

The song is also referenced in the Japanese manga titled, Fushigi Yūgi Genbu Kaiden.

This music is also used in a Japanese Drama titled "Haikei Chichiue sama".

The song is sung in Clemens Klopfensteins's film, Macao (1988).

The song was also used in the Japanese TV show titled, Otomen.

From the song, the phrase "Life is short, fall in love maidens..." (Inochi mijikashi, koi seyo otome...) gained some popularity during the 1990s in Japan. Especially the phrase "Koi Seyo Otome" has been used as the title for several songs and a Japanese television drama.

In the anime series Kirby: Right Back At Ya!, Episode 42, King Dedede sings a version of the famous phrase "Life is short, fall in love maidens..." (Inochi mijikashi, koi seyo otome...) but replaces "otome" with his own name, "Dedede". He sings this song on a swing set he built similar to the one in the film. However, this was only in the original dub and was not translated into English.


  1. ^ a b Damian Cox and Michael Levine, "Looking for Meaning in All the Wrong Places: Ikiru (To Live)," Thinking Through Film: Doing Philosophy, Watching Movies, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
  2. ^ Sooke, Alistair (26 November 2005). "Film-makers on film: Scott Derrickson". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  3. ^ Jardine, Dan (23 March 2010). "Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  4. ^ Mayward, Joel (10 February 2016). "The Year in Liturgical Cinema: Ash Wednesday and Lent". Christianity Today. Retrieved 19 December 2016.