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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. It is often sung in international settings as a song representative of Japan.
Contrary to popular belief, the song did not originate in ancient times; it was a popular, urban melody of the Edo period.
The "Sakura Sakura" melody has been popular since the Meiji period, and the lyrics in their present form were attached then. The tune uses a pentatonic scale known as the In scale, or in modern Western music theory, the fifth mode of the harmonic minor scale.
Expressed as diatonic notes in the major scale, the In scale is 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 (1), 10 (3); or the notes E F♮ A B c e (nominally E minor); or in solfège Mi Fa La Ti Do Mi. The melodic scale can either be represented in older Western musical theory by the Phrygian minor or the Phrygian major mode, with the 3rd and 7th notes in the scale omitted.
Because the melody spans a modest range, it is ideally suited to instruments that have a limited pitch range, such as the Native American flute (silmilar to the Shakuhachi). The melody arranged by Ongaku Torishirabe-gakari was included in Collection of Japanese Koto Music issued in 1888, for beginning koto students in the Tokyo Academy of Music.
The original lyrics are listed as the second verse in the table below. In 1941, the Ministry of Education published a new verse in Uta no hon (うたのほん 教師用 下) which was listed first, with the original verse listed second.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
In popular culture
The first lines of the original verse ('sakura sakura yayoi no sora wa mi-watasu kagiri') serve as a prelude to Bon Jovi's song "Tokyo Road" from their second album 7800° Fahrenheit (released in 1985).
Kidsongs uses its own version of "Sakura" for I Like To Teach The World To Sing.
Alfred Reed's 1994 Fifth Symphony "Sakura" is based on this folk song.
In 2007, it was selected for Nihon no Uta Hyakusen, a collection of songs and nursery rhymes widely beloved in Japan.
Many electronic crosswalks in Japan play the melody as "guidance music".
Headhunterz sampled part of this song for his 2017 song "Path of the Hunter".
In Kara, a short film/tech demo created by David Cage and his company Quantic Dream about a robot who is built to serve humanity, the robot is asked to "sing something in Japanese", after which she sings this song. Eventually, this short film was adapted into a video game, Detroit: Become Human. In the game, one of the main characters, Markus - an android, is trying to put himself together in a junkyard. This references the short film when Markus stumbles upon a dying Kara model, the one from the film, that is still singing the song.
The song appears in the soundtrack of the video game Total War: Shogun 2, playing during the game's campaign map mode.
- Lower-case letters are an octave higher; see Helmholtz notation.
- Clint Goss (2011). "Sakura Sakura". Flutopedia.com. Sheet music for the Native American Flute. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- Tsuge Gen'ichi (2016). "Sakura". komuso.com. International Shakuhachi Society. who cites
Ongaku Torishirabe-gakari (arr.) (1888). "桜 Sakura". In 東京音楽学校編 Tōkyō ongaku gakkō hen [Tokyo Academy of Music]. 「箏曲集」 Sōkyokushū [Collection of Koto Music]. 1. Tokyo, Japan.
- 東京音楽学校編 Tōkyō ongaku gakkō hen [Tokyo Academy of Music], ed. (1888). 「箏曲集」 Sōkyokushū [Collection of Koto Music]. Tokyo, Japan.
- 東京音楽学校編 Tōkyō ongaku gakkō hen [Tokyo Academy of Music], ed. (1941). 「うたのほん 教師用 下」 Uta no hon, kyōiku-yō, ge [Book of Songs for Educational Use]. 2. Tokyo, Japan: 文部省 Monbushō.
- ScarletFlameFlandre (2012-06-27), PCB Staff Roll Theme: Sakura, Sakura ~ Japanize Dream (Re-Extended), retrieved 2017-05-03
- "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.
- GameSpot (2012-03-13), Kara - Heavy Rain/Quantic Dream Tech Demo, retrieved 2018-06-26
- MooniGaming (2018-06-03), Detroit: Become Human Kara Tech Demo Sakura Easter Egg, retrieved 2018-06-26
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