Kimigayo anthem


Kimigayo, the Japanese Anthem

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity

hinomaru 日の丸 see below

"Kimigayo" (君が代) is the national anthem of Japan.
It is also one of the world's shortest national anthems in current use, with a length of 11 measures and 32 characters. Its lyrics are based on a Waka poem written in the Heian period (794-1185), sung to a melody written in the imperial period (1868–1945). The current melody was chosen in 1880, replacing an unpopular melody composed eleven years earlier.

During the imperial period, Kimigayo was the official national anthem. When the “Empire of Japan” (imperial period) fell and the “State of Japan” (democratic period) started in 1945, polity was changed from absolutism to democracy. But, the national anthem Kimigayo was not abolished, had long been de facto national anthem during the democratic period (1945–present). It was only legally recognized in 1999 with the passage of Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem. During the democratic period, there is controversy over the performance of the anthem at public school ceremonies. Along with the Hinomaru flag, Kimigayo is claimed by some people to be a symbol of Japanese imperialism and militarism.

May your reign
Continue for a thousand,
eight thousand generations,
Until the pebbles
Grow into boulders
Lush with moss

The lyrics first appeared in a poem anthology, Kokin Wakashū, as an anonymous poem
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


According to a survey by the Ministry of Education and Science, this spring's graduation ceremonies' enforcement rate of singing "Kimigayo" (the Japanese national anthem) crept ever closer to their target of 100%.

Graduation (sotsugyoo) as KIGO


Things found on the way

鉾神社 茨城県鉾田市 - さざれ石 sazareishi

Until the pebbles grow into boulders - sazare-ishi

君が代は 千代に八千代に さざれ石の

Kimigayo wa
Chiyo ni yachiyo ni
Sazare-ishi no
Iwao to narite

Koke no musu made

. sazare ishi さざれ石 boulder grown from pebbles .   


. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

kimi ga yo ya karabito mo kite toshi-gomori

Great Japan--
a foreigner also attends
the year's end service!

"Great Japan" is my translation of kimi ga yo, a phrase that refers to the emperor's reign and begins the Japanese national anthem.
In 1793, Issa visited the port city of Nagasaki, where he encountered, possibly for the first time, a European-- most likely a Dutchman.

kimi ga yo wa onna mo su nari fuyugomori

in Great Japan
women do it too...
winter seclusion

sesshagi mo igi naku sooroo kimi ga haru

even I
have no objection
"Happy New Year!"

Kimi can signify "you," "my friend," or "the emperor."
Kimi ga haru could therefore mean: "Happy New Year to you" or "Happy New Year to the emperor."
Tr. David Lanoue


kimi ga yo ya yaku o otoshi ni o-ise made

under our ruler
people go to far Ise Shrine
just for purifications

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the end of the 11th month (December) of 1813, the year Issa finally received half of his father's house as his own. The end of the year is nearing, and some here and there people are planning to make a long trip to the big Ise Shrine, where the female sun god Amaterasu is worshiped. She was believed to be the founding ancestor of the imperial family, but in the medieval period the emperor became a powerless figurehead, and the Ise Shrine became less popular. In the peaceful Edo period (1603-1868), however, the shrine again became extremely popular again, especially during the time Issa was alive, due largely to the spread of Ise Shrine divinatory calendars, which were sold all over the country, and most commoners hoped to visit "o-Ise" once in their lifetime. Ise pilgrimage associations (kou) sprang up, and each year two or three winners of the association lottery received enough money to travel to Ise, a trip that usually took about two weeks one way for a group of pilgrims who tended to combine worship with sightseeing. Most pilgrimages took place in warm months, but at the end of the year people who would be a certain "dangerous" age in the new year (for women 19, 33, 37; for men 25, 42, 61), would visit a Shinto shrine for special purifications to guard them from bad energy in the coming year. Normally people went to local shrines, but in Issa's time, it had become very popular to make long, expensive pilgrimages to Ise even at the end of the year.

Ise pilgrimages were popular among almost most commoners, with the important exception of members of the True Pure Land school of Buddhism, to which Issa belonged. Apparently this school felt that belief in power of Ise purifications was a superstition that distracted people from relying completely on Amida's love and grace. Issa himself shows this attitude in the hokku following the above hokku in his diary:

waga ie ya yorizonshitaru yaku-barai

in my house
no one will go near

Issa wasn't married yet, but his half brother and his mother must also have been members of the True Pure Land school, as well as his relatives in nearby villages ("house" also means family or clan), and many people in his hometown were also believers, so the popularity of the Ise pilgrimages seems to have been a little hard for Issa to understand.

Issa's first hokku above seems to be cool if not skeptical and wryly humorous in tone, and it doesn't appear to be an expression of nationalism. Far from it. And it has virtually nothing in common with the emperor worship that arose during modernization after 1868. The term kimi ga yo in the first line was used in numerous ancient waka sung or written to praise a local lord or the highest lord of all, the emperor/empress. In Issa's time, however, the term was a contested one, since for courtiers in Kyoto kimi still referred to the figurehead emperor, while in Edo and other big cities the term more often than not referred to the actual ruler, the current shogun and his tenure or to the long-lasting shogunate. In Issa's time the term was used in so many contexts that the context of each use needs to be looked at on its own. In the first hokku above, the implied meaning may be something like "in our craze-filled age," since visiting Ise had reached the level of a trendy fad. The hokku may even be using "under the present ruler" ironically, as Issa does elsewhere. For example, in this hokku from 1804:

kimi ga yo ya kakaru kokage mo bakuchi-goya

under our ruler
even the shade of trees
filled with gamblers

In the first hokku above, people under the present ruler are no longer satisfied with paying a few pennies to a wandering Shinto priest at the gate or visiting a nearby shrine to have prayers said to protect them against danger in the coming year. Now they spend a month or more and go all the way to Ise Shrine to hear the right words chanted. Issa seems to be wondering where deep spirituality has gone in his age.

Chris Drake

. O-Ise-Mairi, Ise Mairi 伊勢参り Ise Shrine Pilgrimage .
kigo for spring

kimi ga yo wa onna mo su-nari fuyugomori

in this age of peace
women, too, do it --
indoors all winter

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the tenth month (November) of 1813, the first year in which Issa was able to live in his half of his father's house in his hometown. He was not yet married, but he was staying at the houses of many of his students in the area around his hometown, so he was able to see gender relations from the point of view of an adult in his "snow country" hometown, which got much more snow in the winter than did Edo and its surrounding areas, where he had been living for many years. In Edo there was no need for either men or women to stay indoors during the whole winter, but in the mountainous Shinano area, winters were ferocious.

Issa implies that during the peaceful era that began in 1603 under the present rulers (kimi), probably the shogunate, women are also able to stay indoors all winter. "Present rulers" may refer only to recent shoguns, however, or even to the combination of the shoguns and the powerless emperor in Kyoto, who could also be referred to as kimi, though in Edo and surrounding areas, including northern Shinano, the word more commonly referred to the shogun or to the shogunate as a whole. In any case, Issa's village and the villages and towns around it seem to have been growing a little more prosperous during the Edo period, partly due, perhaps, to the fact that through the area ran a main road connecting Edo with the west coast of Honshu. In any case, Issa says the women in the area are now able, like men, to stay indoors all winter without having to work outside in order to survive. Issa could be referring to having sufficient stocks of rice and dried food to last through the whole winter or to a lessening need to do major work outside. During the winter many families in his hometown no doubt worked at home doing piecework, such as spinning and weaving or making sandals and other articles for sale to traveling merchants.

The second line of the hokku clearly seems to be making an allusion to the first line of Tosa Diary (土佐日記), written anonymously by the tenth-century waka poet Ki no Tsurayuki. The diary, about a trip taken in 935, is written by a fictional woman, and it begins with the writer saying she has heard that men write diaries, and she now wants to do the same herself. This fiction allows Tsurayuki, a public figure, to separate himself from his public identity and write about common, everyday, private things in ordinary hiragana script instead of formal Sino-Japanese male discourse, and it also allows him to place waka, also written in hiragana, into the diary. The famous opening line of the diary was commonly alluded to by many writers in later centuries.

In Tosa Diary the woman says she "has heard" that men, too, "do [it]," that is, write diaries. Issa reverses the situation and writes that he "has heard" that women, too, "do [it]." There is a syntactic break between nari in the second line and the whole third line, but most readers will take the third line to represent the content of what the hearer in the hokku -- presumably Issa -- has heard. "It" thus refers to staying indoors and not working outside during the winter.
Due to the reference to Tosa Diary, however, the implied "it" might also refer to reading and writing. Many women were becoming literate in Issa's time, and he could also be implying that these days, in the era of Tokugawa peace, women had more time to do reading and writing during the winter. Since sleeping arrangements during the winter meant communally lying around a central hearth sunk into the center of the floor in one room of the house, Issa might further be implying he's learned that these days women in his hometown area are just as sexually active and forward as men during the long winter nights. There is no direct reference to sex in the hokku, but the break after nari, "I've heard that....," leaves open this possibility for the implied "it." Even though Issa was not yet married, when he visited his students and their families during the winter, he probably slept in the same central room together with them. Perhaps relevant is the fact that, when Japan began to modernize, the highest recorded birth rates were in farming areas where it snowed a lot in the winter.

Issa's hokku does not seem to have anything to do with nationalism or with the current Japanese national anthem, which was composed several decades after his death. When Japan began to westernize after 1868, the Meiji government suddenly felt the need to have a national anthem, and, by chance, the words were taken from an ancient waka which contains the phrase kimi ga yo, "my lord's rule/reign." "Lord" could, in some contexts, refer to the emperor, but in Issa's time and in premodern Japan generally, the old waka was often sung as a song at celebrations in which the word kimi had the meaning of "you" in an honorific sense. Even in contemporary Japan there is an ongoing debate about the meaning of kimi in the national anthem. According one interpretation, for example, it means "you, the people."
- - - - - Chris Drake

kimi ga yo ya ushikai ga fue sayo-ginuta

the present realm --
an ox driver's flute,
cloth-fulling at night

This hokku is from the beginning of the eighth month (September) of 1810, when Issa had just returned to Edo from a trip through a rural area on the east side of Edo Bay in what is now Chiba Prefecture. The hokku seems to be based on what he experienced during his trip, since it refers to a rural setting. During the peaceful reign of the Tokugawa shoguns, commerce and large cities have grown remarkably, above all the great metropolis of Edo. Under the shoguns' rule, many new things and ways of life have appeared, but in the hokku Issa evokes traditional village life, which continues unbroken and much as it was before the Edo period, even though it is located only a few miles from Edo.

The high, eerie sound of a flute comes through the night. Is the ox driver lonely and trying with his flute to send a message to someone he loves? Is he trying to soothe his ox? From inside a house -- the most common place for fulling in Issa's time -- comes the sharp and steady slapping sound of washed cloth being beaten by a woman with a large wooden mallet. Or two women may be fulling, perhaps a mother and daughter, beating in turn from opposite sides of the wooden roller around which the cloth is very slowly and tightly being wound. In that case there would be two quick beats in succession and then a rest, followed by two more beats, and so on. Does the daughter hear the flute and long for the ox driver? Issa doesn't say, but the image does seem to be one of deep peace and perhaps oneness with the September moon, though it isn't mentioned explicitly. Issa seems to be attracted by the fulling rhythm, and he elsewhere writes that animals are also moved by it. Under the shoguns village life has in many cases become more peaceful, and most farmers have more things and more food than they did during the period of constant famines, wars, and attacks by bandits in the medieval period that preceded the Edo period. One sign of modest farm village prosperity is the growing use of cattle, mostly as draft animals for transportation and farm work such as plowing. Beef was not ordinarily eaten, and even milk was drunk only occasionally as a medicine.

The first line of the hokku contains a complex phrase that has been interpreted in many different ways: kimi ga yo. The word kimi appears often in ancient waka, where it means 1) "you" when referring to a lover or respected person, 2) a powerful person or local lord, or 3) the emperor. The most famous use of the phrase is in Kokinshū waka 343, which begins waga kimi wa, "My lord....," and is a poem praying for the long life (yo) of an esteemed person. Later, during the medieval period, the waka's first line was changed slightly to kimi ga yo, and its words became a popular song sung at parties and ceremonies, such as weddings, where kimi, 'you,' referred to the newly married couple or the person being feted. In Issa's time, it was even sung as a kouta song sung in amusement districts as an auspicious blessing song for an esteemed "you, " and in some contexts kimi also meant an esteemed high-ranking courtesan. By Issa's time the phrase had also gained a new political meaning. In Kyoto and among supporters of the revival of the emperor's ancient power, kimi ga yo was taken to mean 'the reign of the current emperor,' but in Edo it far more commonly meant 'the reign of the current shogun.' The shogun was regularly referred to as kimi both by the samurai class and by commoners around the country, and 'the current shogun's reign' usually included the sense of 'in which the realm is at peace.' The reign of local domain lords (daimyo) in Issa's time was also referred to by local domain people as kimi ga yo. Therefore it is very likely that in this and other hokku Issa is following the most common usage of his age and referring to the so-called "Tokugawa peace" under the shoguns, the actual rulers of Japan.

The once-common usage of kimi that referred to the shogun is rarely mentioned today in Japanese schools or in small-sized dictionaries -- although Wikipedia does manage to mention it -- since forces supporting the emperor overthrew the shogunate in 1868 and made the emperor the sovereign of the Japanese Empire until the end of WWII. The emperor is still a "symbol" of the nation of Japan, and popular revisionist history claims that kimi always referred solely to the emperor. Only in large dictionaries such as Suzuki Katsutada's Zappai Dictionary (Zappai-go Jiten Tokyo-do 1968) will you find kimi ga yo defined as 'in the present shogun's reign.' You can also find many examples of the phrase referring to the shogun in haikai, including in renku by Saikaku, who lived in Osaka. In addition, Japan had no national anthem at all until 1870, and when the anthem was created it was based on a popular Edo-period blessing song version of kimi ga yo sung at ceremonies and auspicious occasions, where it referred to the shogun.

In a development Issa could never have imagined, the new nationalistic Meiji government decided that kimi referred not to "you" or to the shogun but only to the emperor. The national anthem of the Japanese Empire became a new song praying only for the sovereign emperor's long life, and its jingoistic and colonialistic overtones became very strong in the first half of the twentieth century up until 1945. In the postwar period the meaning of the phrase has once more become plural, and contemporary Japanese politicians continue to debate whether the national anthem refers to "you, the emperor" or "you, the Japanese people"! Issa himself surely could never have guessed kimi ga yo would go through these rapid changes in meaning, and it is highly doubtful that his use of the phrase in this hokku has nationalistic overtones or refers to the superiority of Japan in comparison with other nations. He is surely referring not to Japan as a single metaphysical essence but to history and politics, and in this hokku he is praising the way people are taking good care of certain traditions during the long period of peace that is continuing under the shoguns, including the present shogun.

A woodblock print by Ishikawa Toyonobu
depicting a legend according to which a young man named Sanro, who later became ancient emperor Yōmei, secretly works as an ox driver for a rich man and plays his flute to express his love for the man's daughter.
Finally she hears the flute and understands his heart:

- - - - - Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 Issa in Edo .


kimigayo ya tsukuma matsuri mo nabe hitotsu
kojin 1691

In our lord’s time, just one pot each,
Even for the old Tsukuma Festival!

Tr. Robin D. Gill

. Tsukuma Festival (Tsukuma matsuri 筑摩祭 )  

Related words

hinomaru, hi no maru 日の丸 the Japanese Flag

- quote -
The national flag of Japan is a white rectangular flag with a large red disc (representing the sun) in the center. This flag is officially called Nisshōki (日章旗, "sun-mark flag") in Japanese, but is more commonly known as Hinomaru (日の丸, "circle of the sun").
. . . The Nisshōki flag is designated as the national flag in the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem, which was promulgated and became effective on August 13, 1999.
The sun plays an important role in Japanese mythology and religion as the Emperor is said to be the direct descendent of the sun goddess Amaterasu and the legitimacy of the ruling house rested on this divine appointment and descent from the chief deity of the predominant Shinto religion.
. . . The ancient history Shoku Nihongi says that Emperor Monmu used a flag representing the sun in his court in 701, and this is the first recorded use of a sun-motif flag in Japan. The oldest existing flag is preserved in Unpō-ji temple, Kōshū, Yamanashi, which is older than the 16th century, and an ancient legend says that the flag was given to the temple by Emperor Go-Reizei in the 11th century.

The exact origin of the Hinomaru is unknown, but the rising sun seems to have had some symbolic meaning since the early 7th century (the Japanese archipelago is east of the Asian mainland, and is thus where the sun "rises"). In 607, an official correspondence that began with "from the Emperor of the rising sun" was sent to Chinese Emperor Yang of Sui.
Japan is often referred to as "the land of the rising sun".
In the 12th-century work, The Tale of the Heike, it was written that different samurai carried drawings of the sun on their fans. One legend related to the national flag is attributed to the Buddhist priest Nichiren.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

hinomaru yosegaki 日の丸寄せ書き

- quote -
The Good Luck Flag, known as hinomaru yosegaki (日の丸寄せ書き) in the Japanese language, was a traditional gift for Japanese servicemen deployed during the military campaigns of the Empire of Japan, though most notably during World War II. The flag given to a soldier was a national flag signed by friends and family, often with short messages wishing the soldier victory, safety, and good luck.

The Japanese call their country's flag hinomaru, which translates literally to "sun-round", referencing the red circle on a white field. When the hinomaru was signed, the Japanese characters were usually written vertically, and radiated outward from the edge of the red circle. This practice is referenced in the second term, yosegaki, meaning "sideways-writing". The phrase hinomaru-yosegaki can be interpreted as "To write sideways around the red sun", describing the appearance of the signed flag.

Effort to Return Flags To Japanese Families
OBON 2015 is a 501(c)3 non-profit affiliate organization with the mission to return "good luck flags" to their families in Japan. The American Embassy in Tokyo wrote a letter to OBON 2015 declaring; "OBON 2015 continues President Kennedy's spirit of reconciliation and friendship." As of June 2015 they have returned 33 flags and have more than 75 other flags they are currently working on returning. Published news stories and interviews indicate that the effort to return the flags is seen as a humanitarian act which can provide closure for the family members.

U.S. Veteran Accounts
Preservation and Restoration
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


The mission of OBON 2015 is to help veterans and their families, and other citizens, return Yosegaki Hinomaru (Good Luck Flag) to their families in Japan.
- source : obon2015.com/english -


Yosegaki Hinomaru - Keiko Ziak

- Join them on facebook ! -


. hinomaru bento 日の丸弁当
"bento like the Japanese flag" .


Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規





***** . Banzai" (萬歳)Ten thousand years
a Japanese battle cry

. WKD - LIST of haiku topics and Keywords  





Anonymous said...


kimi ga yo o suzume mo utae sori no uta

"Great Japan!"
join the snow sled song

Kobayashi Issa

"Great Japan" is my translation of kimi ga yo, a phrase that refers to the emperor's reign and begins the Japanese national anthem. Issa would have known the lyrics, though not the current melody which came after his time. Here, Issa invites the sparrow(s) to join in the patriotic song.

Tr. David Lanoue

Gabi Greve said...

The Good Luck Flag, known as
hinomaru yosegaki (日の丸寄せ書き)

in the Japanese language, was a traditional gift for Japanese servicemen deployed during the military campaigns of the Empire of Japan, though most notably during World War II. The flag given to a soldier was a national flag signed by friends and family, often with short messages wishing the soldier victory, safety, and good luck.
- snip -
Effort to Return Flags To Japanese Families
OBON 2015 is a 501(c) 3 non-profit affiliate organization with the mission to return "good luck flags" to their families in Japan.
The American Embassy in Tokyo wrote a letter to OBON 2015 declaring; "OBON 2015 continues President Kennedy's spirit of reconciliation and friendship."
As of June 2015 they have returned 33 flags and have more than 75 other flags they are currently working on returning. Published news stories and interviews indicate that the effort to return the flags is seen as a humanitarian act which can provide closure for the family members
more in the wikipedia

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Kobayashi Issa

this peaceful realm --
even at beggar houses
Children's Day banners

kimi ga yo wa kojiki no ie mo nobori kana

I did use the current name of the 5/5 festival, Children's Day. I realize it's not perfect, but I used it because I thought things would get too complicated if I mentioned all the various customs related to the Tango no Sekku festival complex. I also wanted to avoid the misleading term Boy's Festival, which is commonly encountered, since the Tango festival was traditionally not just for boys, except perhaps within the warrior class. Among commoners, especially in rural areas, the village young men's and young women's associations usually held celebrations, 5/5 was often considered "women's house day," and the placement of sweet flag leaves on roofs and sweet-flag baths were both for girls as well as boys. This is presumably why the Japanese government now uses the term Children's Day -- since in the Edo period the 3/3 Doll festival was held for purification and not just for girls and the 5/5 Tango festival was mainly for maintaining good health and protection against summer diseases and not just for boys. Therefore I was using Children's Day descriptively, not as a name used in Issa's time. I agree that Children's Day is a little confusing, just as the historical reality is a bit confusing.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

hi no moto ya kane mo ko o umu miyo no haru

Land of the Rising Sun!
money makes money...
the emperor's spring

The "Land of the Rising Sun" is Japan. Miyo no haru refers to the first day of a new calendar year of the imperial reign. Literally kane mo ko o umu means the money bears children": a figurative expression for "the money earns interest."

David Lanoue