Sea Roar: Spring Dreams

島崎藤村『若菜集』詩「潮音」英語訳(English Translation)

Toson Shimazaki (1872-1943) has been considered a founder of Japanese modern poetry. In this poem with beautiful imagery of the sea, not only did he sing about the arrival of spring but also ushered in the new era of poetry with subtle metaphor. So what’s behind the social change and subsequent arrival of the new era?

Just as the tides sweep in, creative minds and sources abound out there. Each of them has unique quality but has stayed dormant. Roars of the sea, rich and resonant, toll the arrival of the new season. Then comes a poetic statement to let open the outlet for new voices, which then merge into one big sonorous roar to let them heard.


This interpretation of mine definitely refers to artistic, social and political changes that often start with one small but sincere, powerful voice. Give a listening ear to voices around you, you will find likely-minded people and then make a difference in the world. Listen. Did you hear them speak out? Appreciating the broad and clear imagery and phonetics of this poem helps us stay generous and broad-minded and appreciate what spring brings.




Sea Roar

From deep waters
Tides rushing
Here and there
Harps singing
Never ceasing
Sonorously speaking
To the streams
And their waves
In the fullness of time
Deep notes wafting
In the clear air
Over the vernal sea

Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter: Spring in Your Step

泉谷しげる、歌詞(Lyrics)『春夏秋冬』(English Translation)

Throughout this series, Spring in Your Step, we’ve been examining varied ways of ending and starting things, especially setting out. Many of them involve bittersweet aspects of life. Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter (1972) by Shigeru Izumiya should be another great song of this kind.

We often start because of hope, expectations or promise. Other times we start because we get tired of, sick of or fed up with what we’ve been doing. This song is about the latter type of start.


This song starts by giving us a new insight into our look at the nature and changing seasons, whose beauty is sometimes oversimplified. Many Japanese people are very proud of the natural beauty and seasonal charms of this country, but it’s not always appreciated by everyone. It’s not because of their lack of taste or sensitivity. Sometimes everything gets so hectic that people, even the most aesthetically sensitive people, don’t even notice natural beauty. At times we are, physically and emotionally, so drowned in the depth of cares and duties that it feels like everything just passes us by. It doesn’t mean we are not capable of appreciating beauty of the nature. The same sensitivity, when directed toward human society, overwhelms us. Sadly cares and concerns over human relationships and professional duties and whatsoever overshadow the beauty of flowers, birds and heavenly bodies. This song gives a warm embrace to people of this kind, who are just honest enough to look at an uncomfortable, sometimes ugly, truth.


Making conscious decisions makes us honest but living an honest and diligent life doesn’t seem to pay off. But these people know that ugliness is a part of human nature, that you learn by first-hand experience involving a lot of conflict and frustration, and that beauty shines through sighs you give out, tears you hold back and hands with which you grab mud. This song tells much about such a down-to-earth approach to life.

Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter

Born in a town, a town with no season
Raised on the hill, the hill with no wind
Leaving home, home with no dream
Meeting people, people with no love

Just for the sake of others
From east to west
Slaving myself away
Nice things I got to find
Wither away so easily

Too busy to savor the beauty of spring
Too tired to get through the fieriness of summer
Raking fallen leaves to warm myself in fall
This bag of bones gets chilled in the cold of winter

Everything will come to end today
Everything will be different today
Everything will pay off today
Everything will get started today

Born in a town, a town with no season
Raised on the hill, the hill with no wind
Leaving home, home with no dream
Meeting people, people with no love

Out of the corner of my eye
Wondering if I’m on the right track

Get streetwise
It’s not something to despise
Crack a self-conscious smile
It’s something to put up with for a while

There’s nothing great about my place
Why don’t you come over on your way
Such being the case
Seeing you will make my day