This site contains affiliate ads (including Amazon Associates).

Haru no ogawa


Haru no ogawa

Haru no ogawa wa sarasara yuku yo
Kishi no sumire ya renge no hana ni
Sugata yasashiku iro utsukushiku
Sakeyo sakeyo to sasayaki nagara

Haru no ogawa wa sarasara yuku yo
Ebi ya medaka ya kobuna no mure ni
Kyou mo ichinichi hinata de oyogi
Asobe asobe to sasayaki nagara

Lyricist:TAKANO,Tatsuyuki (original)
/ HAYASHI,Ryuuha (complementary)
Composer:OKANO Teiichi

The spring stream

The spring stream flows swiftly,
On the banks, violets and lotus flowers,
Their gentle and lovely figures reflected in the water,
Whispering, “Bloom, bloom.”

The spring stream flows swiftly,
With shrimp, minnows, and schools of small fish,
They swim all day in the sunshine,
Whispering, “Play, play.”



The melody evokes the tranquility of spring, and the lyrics of the first verse depict, in gentle language, the flowers on the riverbank in full bloom waiting for spring, while the second verse describes the creatures swimming around cheerfully in the warmth of the sunlight.

However, when this song was created in the first year of the Taisho era (1912), it was not written in such plain, colloquial language, but in written language with a prestige reminiscent of the Meiji era (1868-1912). Why was this revised? It is said that in 1941, a law issued under wartime conditions changed the existing elementary schools to “National Schools,” and this triggered a revision of the language, as the written language learned in the four-year school system was difficult for the younger grades. For example, “sarasara yuku yo” in the first verse was “sarasara nagaru” in the original, with an awareness of flow, and “sugata yasashiku” was “nioi medetaku,” a song about the fragrance of gorgeous flowers. Such alterations are common in douyo-shouka.


Incidentally, the creek in the lyrics used to run through the Udagawa-cho area of Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s trendiest spots, but is now said to run underground as a culvert. The name “Shibuya” means a valley, and some ogawas still flow in places where the sun don’t shine. Udagawa-cho also has a river in its name. It might be fun to recall this song in a busy area where the streets are never empty.

▲A monument stands near Yoyogi Park, near NHK. The original lyrics are written on the monument.