An attempt at an interpretation and translation of Senbonzakura

(Jump to: start of analysistranslation)

This might be a post that’s surprising to see among the other ones, a rather different kind of project to what I’ve put up before.

If you’re involved in any Japanese subculture fandoms, there’s no avoiding the most famous Hatsune Miku song, Senbonzakura (千本桜, literally translated: ‘one thousand cherry trees’), composed and written by KuroUsa-P (黒うさP). This song enjoys widespread popularity, with an intense melody and cryptic lyrics, along with striking visuals in the original music video. It’s been discussed as having a political, possibly nationalist message.

I was always curious as to whether this is the case. However, after taking a glance at the lyrics, I concluded that they are too multi-faceted and difficult to draw conclusions right away. I wanted to withhold my judgment until I’d really delved deep into them, but for a long time, I didn’t put much effort into that. You see, that’s a lot of work, and I’m not even into vocaloids. However, one day my curiosity got the better of me and I spent 80 minutes straight analyzing the beginning on a Discord server and noticed that I was actually getting somewhere that time. This post spawned from that: here, I’ve expanded on my readings, substantiated them with additional details and sources, and extended the examination to the entirety of the song.

The analysis is based on the original Japanese. If you analyze Senbonzakura based solely on a translation, you’re locked into the translation choices the translator has made, i.e. their interpretation. This is because in translation, you always have to make choices between translation alternatives. Usually the choice is based on the translator’s idea of what the original text is meant to express.

After the analysis, I shall provide my own translation for Senbonzakura. As stated above, the lyrics are rich in meaning and difficult to parse, and as such, translation choices cannot be made blindly. I’m making them informed by my interpretation. Parts of the translation are cited earlier in the analysis part for your convenience, but you should know that the translation was finished last.

Anyway, if you trust in my choices and simply want to get to the translation, you can click here to skip ahead.

Some notes to preface this:

  • This post talks about political matters. The message I’m seeing in the song, and not only me but quite a lot of people, is political. For complaints on making vocaloids about politics, please go to KuroUsa-P himself rather than me.
  • I’m especially interested in what the author of the lyrics intended to say, as most people probably would be. I’m aware you can make interpretations from other perspectives as well, but please see my remarks on probabilities etc. in this context.
  • The Senbonzakura music video was made by WhiteFlame, collaborating with KuroUsa-P, and it was included in the original upload of the song. I will therefore assume it represents KuroUsa-P’s vision and can be used as an aid in interpretation. Incidentally, KuroUsa-P and WhiteFlame have even collaborated on a novel series based on the song (simply named 小説 千本桜, or Senbonzakura: The Novel). I’d be interested in finding out what goes on in that series.
  • I’ll note when I’ve snapped up some interpretation from someone else. If I haven’t said so, but one of the links says the same thing I do, then I thought of the interpretation independently first and the person cited happened to think of the same, which ought to increase credibility.
  • Links in orange are to web pages in Japanese, while blue links are to pages in English.

For reference, here is the original music video:

The name “Senbonzakura” and the visuals

In literal terms, 千本桜 senbonzakura means “one thousand cherry trees.” According to this Japanese analysis, this is actually a fixed expression meaning “flowers in full bloom” (the post uses the word 花盛り hanazakari here). When you think of one thousand cherry trees, you think of a huge abundance of pink blossoms by extension. The expression of flowers in full bloom, the analysis goes on to explain, has metaphorical uses in addition to the literal one: namely a woman at her most beautiful age, or the peak of something—one might say: the most prosperous time or era. You can find these metaphorical uses even in a dictionary if you look up the aforementioned 花盛り (“flowers in full bloom”). The name Senbonzakura, flowers in full bloom, is thus referring to “Japan at her most beautiful.” The glory days. This sets the tone for the song, and I am very sure this is the intention.

The music video might give an idea of when Japan is envisioned to have been at her most beautiful. Images of the Rising Sun flag, which is particularly associated with the Japanese Empire, are modified to have the sun in the shape of a heart. The heart combined with a national symbol evokes the ideal of patriotism; especially apparent in Japanese, where the word for patriotism is 愛国主義 aikoku-shugi, literally the “love-your-country principle.” This Rising Heart is paired with imagery reminiscent of the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taishō (1912-1926) eras, the two first eras of Japan’s time as an empire. Hatsune Miku wears a Meiji era student uniform and KuroUsa-P has himself talked about the video including “Taishō romantic” elements. This seems to point at the imperial era being the time when Japan was most prosperous, perhaps most authentically Japanese.

Further support for the basic idea of the song having a patriotic, or nationalist, message is lent by KuroUsa-P mentioning in an interview that he envisioned the song as a support song, though he does not say what for:

[The publication] was exactly the year of the disaster. I think due to this, it was taken to be associated with supporting Japan. Then again, the song also has this ‘Japan’ feel, for example with the Taishō romantic things. This is because I myself created it as something like a support song from the beginning.

KuroUsa-P, 2015 (source)

(The disaster referred to is the 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami. Senbonzakura was released in 2011.)

Sidenote: Senbonzakura is often thought to refer to “one thousand cherry blossoms,” which fits to an extent in terms of the meaning, but it is not the literal meaning here. The word 桜 (sakura) can mean either cherry trees or cherry blossoms. In Japanese, numbers are most often associated with ‘counter words,’ picked based on what is being counted. For cherry blossoms, you would use senko (千個) for one thousand buds, senrin (千輪) for opening flowers, senmai (千枚) for petals and senbira (千片) for the petals when they are falling—how poetic (source). The expression “senbonzakura,” however, uses hon/bon (本), which is used with long cylindrical things. Senbon, it can be concluded, thus does not refer to the blossoms but the trees, where the counter word hon (here, due to pronunciation rules, bon) is the normal one.

Analysis of the lyrics

大胆不敵にハイカラ革命
磊々落々反戦国家
Boldly into a high-collar revolution
Happy-go-lucky pacifist nation

The song begins with the expression 大胆不敵. This is composed of the words 大胆, meaning bold and daring and 不敵, meaning daring and fearless, but the four-kanji compound is in itself a set expression referring to fearlessness and audacity. This is describing a “high-collar” (the katakana ハイカラ) revolution. High-collar, referring to the high collars of dress shirts, is a Meiji era expression for Western-style attire and Western lifestyles as they spread to Japan during that period. Thus, the “high-collar revolution” is a Western revolution, which in context can be read as all-encompassing Westernization.

The second line uses the rare expression 磊々落々 which many of today’s Japanese cannot read either, meaning open-hearted, unaffected, not bothered by small things. This describes a 反戦国家, literally “anti-war nation.” The nation meant is, of course, Japan. Since this is a typical moniker often used for post-WWII Japan in Japanese (see also: Article 9), it can more aptly be translated by the English branding “pacifist nation.” A nation being called “unaffected” sounds like making fun of this state of things—is the pacifist nation complacent, ignoring the dangers out there? Combining the implication of complacency with the connotation of irony, I’d translate this line as “happy-go-lucky pacifist nation.”

The clear callout to a “pacifist nation” also makes it clear that the song is not, or not only, about the late 1800s Meiji Restoration, when Japan modernized at a breakneck speed, adopting Western innovations in order to be able to protect itself from and challenge the West. The country that Western revolution birthed was the Great Japanese Empire, which can hardly be called a pacifist nation, considering for example that one of its founding tenets was strengthening the army (fukoku kyōhei). It has to be about the post-WWII era. However, with the Meiji/Taishō era flair of the music video and the abundant old-fashioned vocabulary used, the song doesn’t let go of the Meiji Restoration either. Meiji is kept on the side, juxtaposed with postwar Japan. The song puts today’s Japan to context by comparing and contrasting it with the previous Western revolution. In fact, if you look closely at the music video, although a majority of the imagery is from the imperial eras, the Tokyo Tower, completed in 1958, also makes an appearance, along with helicopters, so there’s already a mix of the two eras.

Sidenote: Do note that another possibility would be focusing on the meaning of “open-hearted” instead of “unaffected” for 磊々落々. This would open up the possibility of translating the line as something like “world-embracing pacifist nation.” I’m assuming “unaffected” was intended, however, since it fits with the theme of complacency that appears at several other points as well.

日の丸印の二輪車転がし
悪霊退散 ICBM
Pushing on my bicycle marked with the Circle of the Sun
Warding off evil spirits, ICBMs

A bicycle is an industrial product, a representation of Japan’s industrial and economic success. This is especially so with a bicycle marked with the Hinomaru (Circle of the Sun), Japan’s national flag. It is very possibly a Made in Japan bike. This is contrasted with ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) in the second line. Using the English acronym here in the middle of otherwise only Japanese words—some of them very old and traditional—is jarring, and it is probably intended to be so. Especially since Japan doesn’t have any ICBMs of their own, namedropping “ICBM” here evokes the United States. The non-Japaneseness, or foreignness, of the acronym is further accentuated by the fact that many Japanese were not aware of its meaning until the news started talking about North Korean ICBMs in 2017.

Thus, these two lines contrast the “Japanese” bicycle and the “foreign” ICBMs. While whoever the speaker is talking about happily pushes their Made in Japan bicycle, American ICBMs are responsible for their security (“dispersing evil spirits”). The Japanese are content with their economic success and comfortable quality of life, while wilfully ignoring the fact that they have left their nation’s real hard security policy questions in the hands of an outside power, the US. You could even read another juxtaposition here: Japan’s simple industrial products like bicycles versus the advanced weaponry of their “overlords.” Does the current-day situation restrict Japan’s potential to the mass production of items that have existed for more than a century and that don’t inspire anyone anymore, while the US is keeping actually powerful technology to themselves?

Sidenote: Many English translations of the song choose to translate the ICBM line as something like “evil spirits will disperse from my intercontinental ballistic missiles” (this translation cited from AnimeLyrics.com). However, the “my” is simply the translator’s interpretation, since in literal terms the line only says “evil spirit dispersal ICBM” and there is no mention of whose ICBM are being talked about. Using a translation talking about “my ICBMs” certainly limits your interpretation, and even to options that don’t necessarily make much sense. Are we really talking about Hatsune Miku’s ICBMs? My reading is “evil spirit dispersal: ICBMs,” i.e. “for dispersing evil spirits, there are ICBMs.”

環状線を走り抜けて
東奔西走なんのその
少年少女戦国無双
浮世の随に
Running through the loop line
Keeping yourself busy, what’s that for
Boys and girls, unparalleled in battle
Adrift at the mercy of the transient world

Running on the loop line, you’re not getting anywhere, least of all forward. “Keeping yourself busy, what’s that for” seems to be a continuation of the same idea. Two interpretations come to mind: first, Japan is immobile, or second, “we the Japanese” keep busying “ourselves” with insignificant things instead of what is actually important for the nation. As a result of this, regardless of which reading you pick, Japan’s youth, “boys and girls,” are left to go with the flow, the whims of the ukiyo, with no control of their own destiny. And this despite the fact that, as the song notes, Japan’s youth are “unparalleled in sengoku.” Sengoku (戦国) means a “warring state,” i.e. a country participating in war, and it is most often heard in the context of the Sengoku period, Japan’s Age of Warring States, when Japan was in a period of civil war with small feudal domains fighting each other for control of the country. Possibly the song means to say that they are unparalleled in military matters, alluding to the Age of Warring States as a time when their forefathers were proven to be tough fighters. I have translated this simply as “battle.”

I simply skipped that discussion above, but we have to talk a bit more about the word ukiyo (浮世), literally the “floating world,” another one of the several quintessentially Japanese terms used in the lyrics. Kotobank lists several definitions for it. Firstly, it can mean “this harsh, fleeting, easily changing world.” It can also mean “this world,” the “present world.” In Buddhism, it can mean the present, transient world, or the fleeting human life. It can mean “modern,” and it can even refer to hedonistic pleasure-seeking or lust. So, what are the youth at the mercy of—or “controlled by,” since 随に even has the sense “to act as told”? Most probably it means that Japan is only adrift in the course of world history (the easily changing world), with no control of its own destiny, and this sense is what I based the translation on. It can also be alluding critically to the Japanese seeking worldly pleasures, possibly even lewd ones, and being driven by those rather than a higher, national purpose.

千本桜 夜ニ紛レ
君ノ声モ届カナイヨ
此処は宴 鋼の檻
その断頭台で見下ろして
One thousand cherry trees, disappearing off into the night
Neither will your voice carry
Here is a banquet, and a steel cage
Look down from that guillotine

Considering what the cherry trees represent, them fading into the night means, on the metaphorical level, Japan’s glory fading or Japan’s golden age coming to an end. In such a situation, the Japanese might want to say something about it, but they cannot, since no one hears the pleas, since “neither will your voice carry.” The image of a guillotine even hints at the possibility that dissent might be penalized by the powers that be. (This paragraph is almost exactly what this previously cited explanation says as well.)

Viewed in the light of the analysis up to now, this seems to say that the Japanese wish to protest against the current state of things where what’s viewed as important for the country—autonomy and national pride, in particular—are getting lost or have already been lost, but it seems futile. Outspoken right-wing nationalism is a bit of a taboo in Japan as well, and one might get ostracized for such views. Possibly the words “look down from that guillotine” are directed at someone who did speak up and is consequently facing the backlash or sanctions—a patriot martyr, if you will. In that position, the martyr on the guillotine might command a clear vision of the full picture of Japanese society, what the state of the battle is, and pray for the success of other patriots from above.

There is another possible reading for the guillotine as well. It might refer to external perils that Japan is exposed to and, if not for staunch resistance, can easily be wiped out (executed) by. For the Meiji era, these external threats would be the imperialist Western powers that had colonized much of Asia. For the present day, it would be China, which is undoubtedly the country discussed the most in contexts such as this. Some might add North Korea for the sake of its nuclear capabilities that Japan is ill-prepared for. The words “look down from that guillotine” could then be addressed to someone who has clear vision of this real state of the world, someone who “knows better” than the naïve Japanese society at large the speaker finds themselves surrounded by.

With regard to the third line about how “here” is a feast and a steel cage at the same time, it implies that there is material prosperity, but the choices that can be made are limited. (Initially missed this, thanks to Pjoo on the European Love Livers Discord for this interpretation.) This fits neatly with the earlier discussion of how Japan has a strong economy and strong industries, but they have left their destiny in the hands of others, or how they are at the mercy of the course of world history. Somewhat similarly, this analysis reads the steel cage as referring to how Japan is surrounded by military threats.

三千世界 常世之闇
嘆ク唄モ聞コエナイヨ
青藍の空 遥か彼方
その光線銃 で打ち抜いて
Songs lamenting the everlasting darkness throughout the universe
cannot be heard either
The far horizon of the indigo sky,
batter it with your ray gun

On the first line, 三千世界 sanzensekai is a Buddhist term referring to the entirety of the universe (literally, the 1000³, i.e. one billion, worlds composing it). It is also used as a really high-language way to say “the wide world” (see Kotobank). 常世 tokoyo can mean “eternity, forever unchanging,” but it can also refer to distant lands. Together, these two expressions cover both space (the universe) and time (everlasting), and it is possible they are meant to emphasize continuity: anywhere, at any time, the themes of the song have been present. Not to forget, since it’s about an “everlasting darkness,” the themes are problems or injustices. This emphasizes the connection between the layer of the lyrics that’s talking about the Meiji Restoration and the layer talking about postwar Japan: anything said about Meiji is to apply to present-day Japan as well. However, songs lamenting this everlasting darkness everywhere cannot be heard either—the meaning is basically the same as what was discussed in the previous section with regard to the “neither will your voice carry” line.

The indigo sky is interpreted by this analysis (that I don’t find too convincing otherwise) to be the color of the sky seen at dawn, when the night is retreating. It might be meant to contrast with the eternal darkness brought up in the previous lines: there is still hope for a new dawn. What the ray gun (光線 kousen ‘beam, ray of light’ + 銃 ‘gun’) represents seems to be up in the air in the interpretations I’ve read, and I can only muster guesses as well, so I’ll leave that up to the reader’s individual interpretation here.

百戦錬磨の見た目は将校
いったりきたりの花魁道中
On the outside, that veteran of a hundred battles is a commissioned officer
The procession of courtesans is coming and going

The Japanese 百戦錬磨 hyakusenrenma is a pretty fancy word, literally meaning “trained in a hundred battles” and translating to veteran or someone who has gained a lot of experience through adversity. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “commissioned officer”: in the military, non-commissioned officers are the people who are technically officers but with embarrassingly low ranks, while the commissioned are the mid-rank and high-rank ones. The courtesans, meanwhile, are called oiran in the original language; they were traditional Japanese prostitutes that were also highly literate in the arts.

I was initially a bit stumped by these lines, but this Japanese analysis helped me here. What it is saying is basically that the veteran represents Japan, and he has the appearance of a commissioned officer, which implies that he is not actually one. This is taken to refer to Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), which look like a military force and act like a military force, but are officially not called that. Due to the aforementioned Article 9 of the constitution, they are officially a purely defensive protection force and there are legal constraints on what military equipment they are permitted (for example, bombers and ICBMs would be off-limits). This status quo is controversial, with conservatives wishing to afford the JSDF a greater role, many as a “proper” military force. Thus, similar to how Senbonzakura made fun of the “happy-go-lucky pacifist nation,” it seems to make fun of how the JSDF is not a “real” military.

The procession of courtesans—we are led to assume they’re visiting the veteran—is taken by the same analysis to refer to JSDF servicemen visiting brothels in their time off, humorously adding “or is that just the serviceman I know personally?” While I’m not sure of whether this is the intention, it could even be moral criticism of the JSDF—that they are indulging in lecherous pleasures when they should be serving the higher national ideals, similar to the earlier line about the ukiyo. But who knows.

アイツもコイツも皆で集まれ
聖者の行進 わんっ つー さん しっ
Everyone, let’s all gather
A parade of saints, one, two, 3, 4

This seems to be calling for common action to change the status quo. I’d read the “saints” in a way similar to the person on the guillotine: the enlightened, those who can clearly see what’s going on with Japan—and the previously cited analysis agrees. Of note is the progression of the numbers: the counting starts with English (though spelled in hiragana) “one, two” but then switches to Japanese “san, shi” for three and four. This could represent a return from the foreign to the authentically Japanese.

禅定門を潜り抜けて
安楽浄土厄払い
きっと終幕は大団円
拍手の合間に
Slipping through the gates of meditation
Cleansing the evil from the carefree Pure Land
Surely there’s a grand finale at the end
in between the applause

The first line talks about the gates of 禅定 zenjō, and torii gates are shown on the music video. While torii are associated with Shintoism, zenjō is—again—a Buddhist term, referring to meditation, specifically dhyāna as it is known in Sanskrit. As cited in the Wikipedia article, dhyāna is said to lead to a “state of perfect equanimity and awareness” (equanimity means a balance of the mind, undisturbed by e.g. emotion). Thus, passing through the gates of dhyāna can mean getting into a state of clear vision—i.e. not being blind to Japan’s situation, as discussed before.

The Pure Land (浄土) is another Buddhist term. Pure Land Buddhism in its Japanese form is basically if someone reconstructed Christianity using the building blocks of Buddhist theology: if you have faith in the buddha Amitābha, through his grace you will be reborn into his Pure Land, i.e. paradise (which is apparently still not the final goal though; there are differences in the details). What initially comes to mind is that the Pure Land might represent Japan in this passage—Japan as some kind of a “promised land” stated in religious terms. Calling the Pure Land “carefree” would also fit. Cleansing the evil influence (the traditional ritual you might have seen in Japanese media, where a priest waves a wooden wand with paper streamers—Hatsune Miku is holding one in the music video) thus means “purifying” Japan, making it authentic again.

The last two lines seem to again simply point to there being concerted action in the end, and national rejuvenation happening, which would be welcomed by the Japanese at large. There’s an artistic choice where the word “end” is spelled with the more refined kanji 終幕 shūen in the lyrics (also on-screen in the video) but sung as 最後 saigo, which is an everyday word. The basic meaning is the same.

千本桜 夜ニ紛レ
君ノ声モ届カナイヨ
此処は宴 鋼の檻
その断頭台で見下ろして
三千世界 常世之闇
嘆ク唄モ聞コエナイヨ
希望の丘 遥か彼方
その閃光弾を打ち上げろ
One thousand cherry trees, disappearing off into the night
Neither will your voice carry
Here is a banquet, and a steel cage
Look down from that guillotine
Songs lamenting the everlasting darkness throughout the universe
cannot be heard either
The hill of hope, the far horizon
Shoot up that flare

The chorus repeats, with the last two lines being different. I would intuitively think KuroUsa-P had something specific in mind when writing about a “hill of hope,” but I’m not coming up with anything. The hope certainly is hope for the renewal, however. The call to shoot up a flare (閃光 senkō ‘flash of light’ + 弾 dan ‘orb, bullet, charge’) probably means to raise awareness about Japan’s plight.

After this, the “running through the loop line” bridge (or B-melo, to use the Japanese terms) repeats, without any changes, and then the chorus repeats with the last line altered:

千本桜 夜ニ紛レ
君ノ声モ届カナイヨ
此処は宴 鋼の檻
その断頭台を飛び降りて
One thousand cherry trees, disappearing off into the night
Neither will your voice carry
Here is a banquet, and a steel cage
Jump down from that guillotine

What “jumping down from the guillotine” means depends on which reading we pick for the first guillotine line. It could mean refusing to be silenced for your patriotic views, or it could mean arming yourself such that you won’t be killed with ease by hostile outside forces. This happened in the Meiji Restoration, when Japan armed itself against the Western powers, successfully pushing Russia back and discouraging the others from colonizing that corner of Asia. The song would thus be calling for the same to happen today to protect Japan from China (and possibly North Korea).

千本桜 夜ニ紛レ
君が歌い 僕は踊る
此処は宴 鋼の檻
さあ光線銃を撃ちまくれ
One thousand cherry trees, disappearing off into the night
You shall sing, and I shall dance
Here is a banquet, and a steel cage
Now, shoot that ray gun all you like!

In a final repeat of the chorus, the second and fourth lines are altered. “You shall sing, and I shall dance” refers simply to concerted action. The ray gun reappears, with a bolder command to go wild with it. Again, I’m not convinced enough of any possible reading for that to include any here.

Summary

In summary, the message of Senbonzakura seems to be that Japan, once so glorious, is losing its pride and its identity, it has given away control of its own destiny, and the population at large have closed their eyes from this disgrace, instead opting to indulge in the material abundance and wordly pleasures of postwar Japan—they have chosen hedonism over patriotism, and Japan is a shell of its former self. This must change, so all Japanese are called to work in unison to restore the true Japan, in some ways returning to the imperial days, and even if they will encounter resistance, one day the enlightened will prevail. It’s… actually not too different from what you might hear from Japanese nationalist groups in general.

But is this reading a fair representation of the song?

To reiterate, the idea that Senbonzakura might have a right-wing nationalist message is not my invention. I had heard about it before I started looking into the lyrics in detail; striving for a better understanding of what that perception is based on and whether it is justified was my very motivation for embarking on this project. This post, for example, mentions that there are many people who think it is “right-leaning,” and that there are also many who have started disliking vocaloids due to that. (Note: In Japanese, “right-wing” has a connotation of far-right, not unlike how the term works in e.g. German but somewhat unlike English and many other languages that differentiate between “right-wing” and “far-right.”) This post, one of the more detailed Japanese-language analyses I came across, comes to the conclusion it is “considerably” right-leaning. One might even consider the milieu the song came from—seeing as online communities such as 2ch are home to both netto-uyoku and otaku, not unlike 4chan, one wouldn’t be surprised of some overlap between netto-uyoku and the vocaloid community.

What you do with this information is up to you. If you disagree with the idea of the song having this message, you’d at least now know why people might think that. (I’d also be interested in hearing the refutation, in fact.) Personally, I find the interpretation presented quite robust and thus too convincing to be ignored. But beyond that, I hope I have managed to open up the meaning of the words and expressions used and to help you get a deeper understanding of the text so that you can formulate your own reading if mine left something to be desired. That’s also what my notes on alternative meanings and interpretations are for.

If you found the analysis convincing and if it made you uncomfortable with the lyrics, I think it pays to remember what Selafi wrote: KuroUsa-P is not the only person making vocaloid songs, but only one creator among many, so in any case, one shouldn’t hold it against vocaloid as a whole. And I suppose that even if you disagree with the message, one can like the song for its melody, for nostalgia, or something similar. I would be cautious of using it as your theme song or getting passages from the lyrics tattooed, though. But while I also disagree with the ideology espoused therein, I have to admit that Senbonzakura‘s text is impressive in its multi-layered richness in meaning and its vocabulary. My translation probably cannot do the text justice either, but it ought to be better than most you can get, if only because I’ve actually put major thought into it.

Full translation

Written by KuroUsa-P. Translated by myself. For rōmaji, see here.

大胆不敵にハイカラ革命
磊々落々反戦国家
日の丸印の二輪車転がし
悪霊退散 ICBM
環状線を走り抜けて
東奔西走なんのその
少年少女戦国無双
浮世の随に
Boldly into a high-collar revolution
Happy-go-lucky pacifist nation
Pushing on my bicycle marked with the Circle of the Sun
Warding off evil spirits, ICBMs
Running through the loop line
Keeping yourself busy, what’s that for
Boys and girls, unparalleled in battle
Adrift at the mercy of the transient world
千本桜 夜ニ紛レ
君ノ声モ届カナイヨ
此処は宴 鋼の檻
その断頭台で見下ろして
三千世界 常世之闇
嘆ク唄モ聞コエナイヨ
青藍の空 遥か彼方
その光線銃 で打ち抜いて
One thousand cherry trees, disappearing off into the night
Neither will your voice carry
Here is a banquet, and a steel cage
Look down from that guillotine
Songs lamenting the everlasting darkness throughout the universe
cannot be heard either
The far horizon of the indigo sky,
batter it with your ray gun
百戦錬磨の見た目は将校
いったりきたりの花魁道中
アイツもコイツも皆で集まれ
聖者の行進 わんっ つー さん しっ
禅定門を潜り抜けて
安楽浄土厄払い
きっと終幕は大団円
拍手の合間に
On the outside, that veteran of a hundred battles is a commissioned officer
The procession of courtesans is coming and going
Everyone, let’s all gather
A parade of saints, one, two, 3, 4
Slipping through the gates of meditation
Cleansing the evil from the carefree Pure Land
Surely there’s a grand finale at the end
in between the applause
千本桜 夜ニ紛レ
君ノ声モ届カナイヨ
此処は宴 鋼の檻
その断頭台で見下ろして
三千世界 常世之闇
嘆ク唄モ聞コエナイヨ
希望の丘 遥か彼方
その閃光弾を打ち上げろ
One thousand cherry trees, disappearing off into the night
Neither will your voice carry
Here is a banquet, and a steel cage
Look down from that guillotine
Songs lamenting the everlasting darkness throughout the universe
cannot be heard either
The hill of hope, the far horizon
Shoot up that flare
環状線を走り抜けて
東奔西走なんのその
少年少女戦国無双
浮世の随に
Running through the loop line
Keeping yourself busy, what’s that for
Boys and girls, unparalleled in battle
Adrift at the mercy of the transient world
千本桜 夜ニ紛レ
君ノ声モ届カナイヨ
此処は宴 鋼の檻
その断頭台を飛び降りて
One thousand cherry trees, disappearing off into the night
Neither will your voice carry
Here is a banquet, and a steel cage
Jump down from that guillotine
千本桜 夜ニ紛レ
君が歌い 僕は踊る
此処は宴 鋼の檻
さあ光線銃を撃ちまくれ
One thousand cherry trees, disappearing off into the night
You shall sing, and I shall dance
Here is a banquet, and a steel cage
Now, shoot that ray gun all you like!

Notes on text appearing in the video:

  • At 0:35, above the door: みるくほおる miruku hooru (right to left), literally “milk hall,” meaning a milk bar
    • On the poster to the right: 初恋の味 (the taste of first love), advertising some product
  • At 1:34: 黒 休符 kuro kyūfu ‘black’ and ‘rest’
  • At 1:54: 終焉 shūen ‘demise’

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