Aug 23, 2009


Japanese song Shima Uta has many interpretations

Shima Uta (島唄 – “Island Song”) is a popular song that became very successful in Japan when it was released in 1992 as a single by the Japanese band The Boom and is dedicated to the people of Okinawa who suffered during the American invasion in World War 2. Since then, a lot of different versions by various artists have been released and the song gained popularity in other countries as well. It is also well-known in Argentina where it was used as a theme song for the Argentian soccer team during 2002 FIFA World Cup.

In a 2003 interview for the fRoots magazine, Kazufumi Miyazawa, the lead vocal of The Boom who also wrote the song, said that he got the idea for the song after visiting Okinawa and talking to people there who survived the U.S. Army invasion during World War 2. Here’s a short excerpt from that interview (source: Wikipedia):

“… I saw some remains of the war there and visited the Himeyuri Peace and Memorial Museum and learnt about the female students who became like voluntary nurses looking after injured soldiers. There were no places to escape from the U.S. army in Okinawa, so they had to find underground caves. Although they hid from the U.S. army, they knew they would be searching for them, and thought they would be killed, so they moved from one cave to another. Eventually they died in the caves. I heard this story from a woman who was one of these girls and who survived. I was still thinking about how terrible it was after I left the museum. Sugar canes were waving in the wind outside the museum when I left and it inspired me to write a song. I also thought I wanted to write a song to dedicate to that woman who told me the story. Although there was darkness and sadness in the underground museum, there was a beautiful world outside. This contrast was shocking and inspiring.”

Below are some of the interpretations of Shima Uta I found on YouTube by various singers and groups:


Rimi Natsukawa (Japan)

>
Gackt (Okinawa, Japan)


Live performance by A-Mei (Taiwan, China)


Original version by The Boom.


Instrumental version played by shakuhachi and violin.

Even more interpretations:

Shima Uta – Alfredo Casero (Argentina)
Shima Uta – Mai Kuraki (Japan)
Shima Uta – Takaku Uehara (Japan)
Shima Uta – Ayumi Ueda (Japan)
Shima Uta – a choir from Zambia
Shima Uta – Fish Leong (China)
Shima Uta – Shiba Guitar Club (Japan)

If you’re interested in the lyrics, here is the lyrics in Japanese (in Romaji) and an English translation:

Shima Uta – Japanese lyrics in Romaji

Tinsagu nu hana ya, chimisachi ni sumiti
Uya nu yushigutu ya, chimu ni sumiri

Deigo no hana ga saki kaze wo yobi arashi ga kita

Deigo ga sakimidare kaze wo yobi arashi ga kita
Kurikaesu kanashimi wa shima wataru nami no you
Uuji no mori de anata to deai
Uuji no shita de chiyo ni sayonara

Shima uta yo kaze ni nori tori to tomo ni umi wo watare
Shima uta yo kaze ni nori todokete okure watashi no namida

Deigo no hana mo chiri saza nami ga yureru dake
Sasayakana shiawase wa utakata no nami no hana
Uuji no mori de utatta tomo yo
Uuji no shita de yachiyo no wakare

Shima uta yo kaze ni nori tori to tomo ni umi wo watare
Shima uta yo kaze ni nori todokete okure watashi no ai wo

Umi yo uchuu yo kami yo inochi yo kono mama towa ni yuunagi wo

Shima uta yo kaze ni nori tori to tomo ni umi wo watare
Shima uta yo kaze ni nori todokete okure watashi no namida
Shima uta yo kaze ni nori tori to tomo ni umi wo watare
Shima uta yo kaze ni nori todokete okure watashi no ai wo

Shima Uta – English lyrics translation

Just as my fingernails are dyed with the pigment from the balsam flowers,
my heart is dyed with the teachings of my parents.

The deigo flower has blossomed, and it has called the wind, and the storm has arrived.

The deigo flowers are in full bloom, and they have called the wind, and the storm has come.
The repetition of sadness, like the waves that cross the islands.
I met you in the Uji forest.
In the Uji forest I bid farewell to Chiyo.

Island song, ride the wind, with the birds, cross the sea.
Island song, ride the wind, carry my tears with you.

The deigo blossoms have fallen, soft ocean waves tremble.
Fleeting joy, like flowers carried by the waves.
To my friend who sang in the Uji forest.
Beneathe the Uji, bid farewell to Yachiyo.

Island song, ride the wind, with the birds, cross the sea.
Island song, ride the wind, carry my love with you.

To the sea, to the universe, to God, to life, carry on this eternal dusk wind.

Island song, ride the wind, with the birds, cross the sea.
Island song, ride the wind, carry my tears with you.
Island Song, ride the wind, with the birds, cross the sea.
Island song, ride the wind, carry my love with you.

3 responses to “Japanese song Shima Uta has many interpretations”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Shima Uta is my staple song in the Karaoke (ok my only song). I was forced by the wife to learn it so I can sing in a Japanese Karaoke bar.

    Do you know that it was also used as the theme song of the Argentinian football team for the world cup held in Japan and Korea?

  2. […] the titles??? but i remember is a cantonese song sorry to bother you for this ^^… found this: Japanese song Shima Uta has many interpretations | Daily Onigiri don't really remember hearing any canto version of this though __________________ MWTS: Pentax […]

  3. Pizz says:

    It wasn’t really the theme song for Argentina’s team in World Cup 2002, it was sung by an argentinan artist/humorist called Alfredo Caseros in one of his albums and became very popular in 2002 prior to the world cup, then the FIFA corporation took the advantage and use it’s popularity to relate it with japan in every ad they put on tv or before every match, but it was popular in argentina way before the world cup. Also I think he did this song a little as a joke since others songs in his album are humorouse (see “Pizza conmigo”) and you can notice the electronic remix he did in the middle of the song, also Alfredo Caseros is known more as a humorist than a singer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *