Ichijiku Ninjin is a traditional children's song from the Shizuoka Prefecture. It's a counting song that's a play on words (specifically the numbers one through ten in Japanese that sound like words for vegetables).

"This is a traditional children's song that's used as a bouncing ball song or a counting song. This is also good as a children's finger play. I am not sure when this song was composed, but I think this song has been sung for at least 100 years." -Sadao

いちじくにんじん - (Ichijiku Ninjin)  - Japanese Children's Songs - Japan - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

*Bulbils - A small bulb-like structure produced in the place of a flower that has the ability to develop into a new plant. These can be found on plants like garlic if they're left to grow.
**Seven edible herbs are eaten on January 7th to celebrate the upcoming Spring. The festival is called Nanakusa-no-sekku.

Pronunciation:


Ichijiku Ninjin
Sansho-ni Shiitake
Gobou-ni Mukago-ni
Nanakusa Hakusai
Kyuri-ni Tougan

Note: -ni means "and"

*****
Below you can see how this song is a play on words. Below is the number 1 - 10 with the word (of a vegetable) in the song that sounds like the number.

1. いち Ichi = One
Song word: いちじく Ichijiku = Fig
2. に Ni = Two
Song word: にんじん Ninjin = Carrot
3. さん San = Three
Song word: さんしょ Sansho = Japanese pepper
4. し Shi = Four
Song word: しいたけ Shiitake = Shiitake Mushroom
5. ご Go = Five
Song word: ごぼう Goboh = Burdock
6. ろく Roku = Six
Song word: むかご Mukago = Bulbils (see * note above)
From old counting word: むっつ - Muttsu
7. しち Sichi or Hichi = Seven
Song word: ななくさ Nanakusa = Seven herbs
From old counting word: ななつ - Nanatsu
8. はち Hachi = Eight
Song word: はくさい Hakusai = Chinese cabbage
9. きゅう Kyuu = Nine
Song word: きゅうり Kyuri = Cucumber
10. じゅう Ju = Ten  
Song word: とうがん Togan = Winter melon
From old counting word: とお - Toh


*****
Here's a non-literal translation showing one way the sounds of numbers can be made into vegetable words in English:

One-nion, two-cumber,
Three-ng-beans and fours-radish
Five-a beans, Six chard
Seven herbs and eight-plants,
Ba-nine-a and t-endives.

いちじくにんじん - (Ichijiku Ninjin)  - Japanese Children's Songs - Japan - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Comment After Song Image
Listen
Watch
Please let us know if you think this video has been taken down by YouTube.
Thanks!

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Sadao Mazuka for sharing this song with us, for the midi, comments and notes about numbers in Japanese! Translations by Lisa Yannucci.

Photo at top: Nanakusa (seven herbs) for Festival of Seven Herbs of Japan - by Nissy-KITAQ, cc.
Photo 2: Hand painted Albumen of Japanese Vegetable Peddler by Kusakabe Kimbei, circa 1880's.

Arigato gozaimasu!

Let us know what you think!

If you feel any comment below is inappropriate, please email us. Thanks!