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Shabon dama – シャボン玉

shabon dama, Soap bubbles and little girl Summer
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Shabon dama

Shabon dama tonda
Yane made tonda
Yane made tonde
Kowarete kieta

Shabon dama kieta
Tobazu ni kieta
Umarete sugu ni
Kowarete kieta

Kaze, kaze, fukuna
Shabon dama tobaso

Lyricist:NOGUCHI Ujyou
Composer:NAKAYAMA Shimpei
in 1923

Soap bubbles

Soap bubbles flew
Up to the roof they flew
Up to the roof they flew
Broke and disappeared

Soap bubbles disappeared
Without flying, they disappeared
As soon as they were born
They broke and disappeared

Wind, wind, don’t blow
Let’s fly soap bubbles

 

 

Utasuky
Utasuky

On sunny days in early summer, you can often see children playing with soap bubbles in the park. Times have changed and the way of playing has evolved, but this game remains popular to this day. It is truly heartwarming to see children having fun making big soap bubbles.

soap bubble with little girls

The children’s song “Shabon dama” is a representative Japanese song that everyone has hummed at least once. It was first published in the Buddhist children’s magazine “Kin no Tou” by NOGUCHI Ujyou in 1922, and in 1923, NAKAYAMA Shimpei set the music to it. The simple melody and the image of the ephemeral soap bubbles left a deep impression on many people.

 

Although it is a short and simple epic poem, NOGUCHI’s lyrics are poignant. The sight of the soap bubbles flying high and then shattering and disappearing can be said to be a metaphor for the beauty and transience of life.

 

There is also a theory that NOGUCHI’s personal sadness is hidden behind these lyrics. It is said that the song is filled with his feelings for his eldest daughter, who died on the seventh day after birth. The beauty of the fleeting soap bubbles expresses the sadness of losing his daughter and the transience of life.

 

There are various theories because there is no record of NOGUCHI’s direct statement, but the following lyrics added by NOGUCHI later make it clear.

 

Shabon dama tonda
Soap bubbles flew
Yane yori takaku
Higher than the roof
Fuuwari fuwari
Softly, gently
Tsuzuite tonda
They continued to fly

Shabon dama ii na
Soap bubbles are beautiful
Osora ni noboru
Rising to the sky
Nobotte itte
Going up
Kaette konai
And never coming back
Fuuwari fuwari
Softly, gently
Shabon dama tonda
Soap bubbles flew

 

The lyrics show that this is a requiem.

 

The fact that this song was published in a Buddhist children’s magazine also supports NOGUCHI’s thinking. Buddhism teaches “Nothing lasts forever.” “Soap Bubbles” also reflects the fleeting beauty of each moment of the ever-changing world.

NOGUCHI wrote the lyrics while watching girls playing with soap bubbles and imagining his daughter playing with soap bubbles if she were alive today. The last part of the lyrics, “Wind, wind, don’t blow. Let’s fly soap bubbles,” expresses a gentle perspective on the fleeting life that has just begun.

 

In this way, “Shabon dama” evokes various interpretations and emotions due to its simplicity. This song that we sang casually as children resonates even more deeply when we listen to it again as adults. The simple and unadorned melody of composer NAKAYAMA Shinpei makes this song even more deeply engraved in our hearts.

 

Even today, “Shabon dama” continues to be loved by many people. Children sing it at kindergartens and nursery schools, and families hum it at home. This song is like a mirror that reflects the heart of Japan. The masterpiece created by NOGUCHI Ujyou and NAKAYAMA Shimpei will continue to resonate in people’s hearts for a long time to come.

 

100 Best Japanese Songs

 

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