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"Sakura Sakura" (さくら さくら?, "Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms"), also known as "Sakura", is a traditional Japanese folk song depicting spring, the season of cherry blossoms. Contrary to popular belief, the song did not originate in ancient times; it was a popular, urban melody of the Edo period and was adopted as a piece for beginning koto students in the Tokyo Academy of Music Collection of Japanese Koto Music issued in 1888 (in English) by the Department of Education. The song has been popular since the Meiji period, and the lyrics in their present form were attached then. It is often sung in international settings as a song representative of Japan, and many electronic crosswalks in Japan play the melody as "guidance music".
In 2007, it was selected for Nihon no Uta Hyakusen, a collection of songs and nursery rhymes widely beloved in Japan.
The "Sakura Sakura" melody uses a pentatonic scale known as the Japanese mode. This could also be construed as Phrygian Dominant Minor Mode in Western musical theory, using scale degrees 3, 4, 6, 7, 1, 3 (E, F, A, B, C, E or Me, Fa, La, Ti, Do, Me in solfège).
The original lyrics are listed as the second verse. In 1941, the Japanese Ministry of Education published an additional verse in Uta no hon (うたのほん 教師用 下), listing it first before the original verse.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Dream of the Cherry Blossoms by Keiko Abe, a virtuoso percussionist, is a five-minute piece for marimba. This piece is based on "Sakura Sakura" and has become popular in the marimba repertoire. Yukihiro Yoko, a classical guitarist, made an arrangement for his instrument, a theme with variations, in which he uses different guitar techniques to imitate the sound of the koto.
Alfred Reed's Fifth Symphony "Sakura" is based on this folk song.
In popular culture
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- Sakura (theme and variation) was arranged for classical guitar by Yuquijiro Yocoh and interpreted by John Williams on the album John Williams in Seville - 1944.
- The melody of "Sakura Sakura" is incorporated into numerous segments of Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly.
- Cat Stevens used the melody of "Sakura Sakura" at the intro in the live version of his "Hard Headed Woman" song, during his 1976 Earth Tour that was later released on his album and DVD entitled Majikat.
- Bon Jovi sampled "Sakura Sakura" at the opening of their song "Tokyo Road," featured on their 1985 7800° Fahrenheit album.
- Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones performed a version of "Sakura" in his organ solo at the Nagoya, Japan October 5, 1972 show.
- Tsuge Gen'ichi. Sakura. International Shakuhachi Society website.
- Tokyo Academy of Music, Collection of Koto Music 東京音楽学校編 「箏曲集」 Tōkyō ongaku gakkō hen, Sōkyokushū. Tokyo, Japan. 1888.
- Uta no hon, kyōiku-yō, ge 「うたのほん 教師用 下」 (Book of Songs, Volume 2, for Educational Use). Tokyo, Japan: Monbushō (文部省). 1941.
- Clint Goss (2011). "Sakura Sakura - Sheet music for the Native American Flute". Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- "Sakura Sakura (3 variations) | Marc Edwards". Marcedwards.bandcamp.com. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
- Applegate, Grego (2014-04-17). "Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog: avant free psychedelic metal jazz rock". Gapplegateguitar.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
- "DogAndPanda Records". Dogandpanda.com. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
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