Hotaru no Hikari
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 1881 (Meiji 14). 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".
|Verse||Japanese text||Romaji||English translation|
|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.
|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
|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.
|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.