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Yuuyake koyake – 夕焼小焼

A glowing sunset sky & children. Autumn

Yuuyake koyake

Yuuyake koyake de higa kure te
Yama no otera no kane ga naru
Otete tsunaide mina kaero
Karasu to issyo ni kaerimasho

Kodomo ga kaetta atokara wa
Marui ookina otsukisama
kotori ga yume wo miru koro wa
Sora niwa kirakira kin no hoshi

Lyricist : NAKAMURA Ukou
Composer : KUSAKAWA Shin
in 1923

Sunset, little sunset

Here coming the sunset, little sunset
The bell of the mountain temple has just started to ring.
Let’s go home hand in hand;everyone,let’s go home.
Crows join us in going home,flying in the sky.

All the children went home after playing a lot.
And the huge,round moon came up,so dazzling.
When pretty birds have a dream at their cozy home,
Golden stars are all out,twinkling in the sky.



While old douyo and shouka songs are disappearing from music textbooks and being forgotten one after another, “Yuuyake koyake” is still very popular and rare, as many local governments have adopted it as the music for time signals to remind children who are playing outside to come home.


The lyricist NAKAMURA_Ukou initially wanted to become a children’s story writer, but the principal of the elementary school where he was working at the time forbade him to do so because it would interfere with his work. He went from Hachioji to an elementary school in Nippori, and after work he walked home from the station in Hachioji, a 16-km walk that took three hours. It is said that the sunset sky he saw on that trip was the inspiration for this song. In fact, there were temples along the way and the bells would have been ringing.

Ukou wrote this song in 1919. It took four years from then until the composer, KUSAKAWA_Shin, received it. The reason for this is not clear. It was published in 1923, but the Great Kanto Earthquake that had just occurred destroyed almost all of the printed copies. Only 13 copies, which had been given to the people concerned beforehand, remained, and they were republished in 1929, barely surviving to the present day.

The use of the beautiful and melancholy Yonanuki scale (4 and 7, i.e., without F and B; C major pentatonic scale) is probably one of the reasons for the song’s continued popularity.

The word “yonanuki” means the old Japanese way of reading numbers: Hi, Fu, Mi, Yo, Itsutsu, Mutsu, Nanatsu… without the 4 and 7 sounds.

It was also selected as one of the “100 Best Japanese Songs.


A monument built on the birthplace of lyricist NAKAMURA,Ukou



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