Sat 22 Dec 2007
Haru koro no hana no en
Meguru sakazuki kagesashite
Chiyo no matsu ga e wakeideshi
Mukashi no hikari Ima izuko
Mukashi no hikari Ima izuko
Aki jinei no schimo no iro
Nakiyuku kari no kazu misete
Uuru tsurugi ni terisoishi
Mukashi no hikari ima izuko
Ima kojo no yowa no tsuki
Kawaranu hikari ta ga tame zo
Kaki ni nokoru wa tada kazura
Matsu ni uto wa tada arashi
Tenjokage wa kawaranedo
Eiko wa utsuru yo no sugata
Utsusan toteka ima mo nao
Ah! Kojo no yowa no tsuki
Translation ( The Japanese of the Lyric is old and poetic. The next in order is my interpretation.)
1. A banquet was held in the splendid castle in the season of the cherry blossom.
Where is the light now, that shadowed the glasses and flew through the old pines?
2. (The second verse is difficult. There are many interpretations of the text.)
The encampment was covered with frost in the autumn.
Where is the light now, that shone on the swords like plants, that were as numerous as the cackling wild geese, that flew ?
3. Now there is the moon over the desolate castle.
Whom is it shining for without change?
Only tendrils remain on the walls.
Only the storm sings between branches of the pines.
4. The shadow of the sky doesn’t change. But the moon is reflecting it as before, changing for better to worse? Ah! The moon over the desolate castle!
‘Kojo no Tsuki’ was published in ‘Songs for High School Students’ by the ‘Tokyo Music School’, that is nowadays known as ‘Tokyo Natiolnal University of Fine Arts and Music’, in 1901. The school asked Bansui Doi to write lyrics for 3 new songs including ‘Kojo no Tsuki’. After the school had gotten the all the lyrics, it held a musical prize. Three pieces by Rentaro Taki were selected including ‘Kojo no Tsuki’.
About the poet and the lyric
Bansui Doi 1871 – 1952 was an Anglicistand a democrat. He was born in Sendai on October 23, 1871. His actual name was Rinkichi Tsutsii. He studied at the ‘Tokyo – Teikoku – University’ (the nowadays known as Tokyo – University). He published under his pen name ‘Bansui’. When he wrote ‘Kojo no Tsuki’ (see below.), he was a student taking his doctorate and a teacher at Ikubunkan ・High School. He became a professor at the ‘Second Senior High School’ (the nowadays known as Tohoku – University). He studied in London, Paris and Leipzig in Germany from 1901 to 1904. He met the composer of ‘Kojo no Tsuki’, Rentaro Taki in London, when Taki was on the way back to Japan (see below). Then he taught again at the ‘Second Senior High School’ and the ‘Tohoku Teikoku University’ (the nowadays known as Tohoku University). After he had retired in 1934, he devoted himself to writing. He changed the reading of his last name ‘Tsutsii’ to ‘Doi’, as he was popularly known as. Bansui’s daughter had passed away, and her final request was that the family be known as ‘Doi’, not Tsutsii. So Bansui wanted to be known as ‘Doi’ from now on to respect his daughter’s last wishes. His private life was not so happy. During World War II, he lost his house with about 30,000 books and he lost all his five children before the war. His students and the supporters in Sendai had his house ‘Bansui ・Sodo’ rebuilt. He died there on October 19, 1952.
Bansui had heard about the ‘Aizu Wakamatsu (Tsuru ga – Jo)’ (‘Tsuru’ means a ‘crane’, ‘ga’ means ‘of’ and ‘Jo’ means a ‘castle’.) and the Boshin War (The War from the end of the Tokugawa shogunate to the beginning of the Meiji era) from his father and his grandfather, since he was a child. He went the Tsuru – ga – Jo ruined castle as a student of ‘Second Senior High School’. He was impressed by the ruined castle very much.
When Bansui was asked to write the lyrics, he quickly remembered the Tsuru ・ga – Jo and a poem by Yaeko Yamamoto. Before the castle capitulated, she wrote the poem on the wall in the castle with an arrow. The meaning was “Who he will see the shadow of the moon from tomorrow, that remains in the great castle?” She later became the wife of Jo Niijima, who was the founder of ‘Doshisha University’. Then he remembered the poem by Masamune Date, who was the feudal lord of Sendai, where Bansui was born. Inspired by the two ruined castles Bansui wrote ‘Kojo no Tsuki’.
After WWII Bansui was disheartened, what with the loss of his house and his children. The people of Aizu wanted to offer their support and encouragement. They invited Bansui to Aizu. They prepared a special stone in the castle grounds upon which Bansui wrote the lyrics of ‘Kojo no Tsuki’. They also held a festival at that time.
There are five memorials to ‘Kojo no Tsuki’ in Japan in Takeda(1934), Aizu Wakamastu(1947), Sendai(1952), Chiyodaku Ichibancho in Tokyo (1964), Nihohe in Iwate(1996). The one in Tokyo is written in musical notes.
About the composer and the music
Rentaro Taki was born in Tokyo on August 24, 1879. His father worked for local government. His father was transferred to various prefectures, so Rentaro grew up in Tokyo, Yokohama, Toyama, Oita, and Takeda in Oita prefecture. He entered Tokyo Music School (now know as Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music) at 15 years old. (the records show he was 16 years old – but this is using the calculating age, a child was one year old when he was born.) In the Meiji era it was not unusual for a gifted student in his mid teens to be admitted to university, however Taki was considered very young.
After his undergraduate studies, he remained at school as a post graduate student and a teacher. At this time he took part in the ‘Songs for High School Students’ competition.
After the competition Taki was selected to study abroad in Leipzig in Germany. However he fell ill, and studied only about 3 or 4 months. It was decided that he should return to Japan, accompanied by a Japanese doctor. On his return journey from Hamburg to London, Bansui met the ship at London and thanked Taki for composing the music to ‘Kojo no Tsuki’.
After Taki returned to Japan, he lived in Tokyo for a short time. He went to Oita for a funeral of his cousin, but tragically Taki also died in Oita at only 23 years old on June 29, 1903.
In writing ‘Kojo no Tsuki’ Taki used many eighth notes. The Original had only 8 bars. Kosaku Yamada changed the music using fourth notes and 16 bars. (Yamada was one of the most famous composers in Japan and had studied in Berlin. )
The Original had a sharp (#) on the eleventh note (“e”in “hana no e – n”). But the song has been published and sung without the sharp for a long time. I arranged both. The Original had a dot not on “Chi” in “Chiyo no matsu ga e”, but on “tsu”.
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