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Sukiyaki

The song Ue o muite arukō (上を向いて歩こう) by Kyū Sakamoto (坂本 九) was given the rather cheerful title of “Sukiyaki” when released in the West back in the early 1960s. The title actually means “I’ll look up as I walk”, and the song explains that this is because the singer doesn’t want to let his tears of sorrow fall to the ground.

This stoical attitude to misfortune resonated strongly with the Japanese as they came to terms with last year’s disastrous earthquake and the events that followed. For example, in April the drinks manufacturer Suntory bought up advertising time on TV to lift people’s spirits with recordings of two Sakamoto songs sung by various celebrities who had appeared in Suntory adverts in the past. A rendering of Ue o muite arukō by artists including Tommy Lee Jones can still be seen on YouTube. But here’s the original version:

Japanese Pronunciation Translation
上を向いて歩こう Ue o muite arukō I’ll look up as I walk
涙がこぼれないように Namida ga koborenai yō ni So the tears won’t fall
思い出す春の日 Omoidasu haru no hi As I remember those days in spring
一人ぼっちの夜 Hitori botchi no yoru Because tonight I’m all alone
. . .
上を向いて歩こう Ue o muite arukō I’ll look up as I walk
滲んだ星を数えて Nijinda hoshi o kazoete Counting the stars with tearful eyes
思い出す夏の日 Omoidasu natsu no hi As I remember those days in summer
一人ぼっちの夜 Hitori botchi no yoru Because tonight I’m all alone
. . .
幸せは雲の上に Shiawase wa kumo no ue ni Happiness lies above the clouds
幸せは空の上に Shiawase wa sora no ue ni Happiness lies above the sky
. . .
上を向いて歩こう Ue o muite arukō I’ll look up as I walk
涙がこぼれないように Namida ga koborenai yō ni So the tears won’t fall
泣きながら歩く Nakinagara aruku But still the tears well up
一人ぼっちの夜 Hitori botchi no yoru Because tonight I’m all alone
. . .
思い出す秋の日 Omoidasu aki no hi As I remember those days in autumn
一人ぼっちの夜 Hitori botchi no yoru Because tonight I’m all alone
. . .
悲しみは星の陰に Kanashimi wa hoshi no kage ni Sadness lies in the shadow of the stars
悲しみは月の陰に Kanashimi wa tsuki no kage ni Sadness lies in the shadow of the moon
. . .
上を向いて歩こう Ue o muite arukō I’ll look up as I walk
涙がこぼれないように Namida ga koborenai yō ni So the tears won’t fall
泣きながら歩く Nakinagara aruku But still the tears well up
一人ぼっちの夜 Hitori botchi no yoru Because tonight I’m all alone
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One Response to Sukiyaki

  1. Daniel says:

    Hi Philip,

    I stumbled upon your website and I’m so grateful that you posted both the Japanese and English versions of 上を向いて歩こう.

    Thanks.

    With regards,
    Daniel


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Header image: Busy night-time traffic appears as trails of light in this long exposure shot of Akasaka-Mitsuke (赤坂見附) in Tokyo by user DarkFritz at Wikimedia Commons.

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