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Lisa wrote to me…

I was born in Tokyo on Johnson’s Air Force Base and have always had a fascination for anything Japanese: songs, stories, customs, and so on.

There is a song I learned to sing as a very little girl, but the only part I remember is: Mushie Mushie on na ney.

I’m not even sure if the spelling is correct, but translated roughly it is: Friends talking on the telephone.

I would appreciate it if you could tell me anything about this song.

Thank you

Sincerely,

Lisa

If anyone is familiar with this song and can help out, please comment below.

UPDATE: Here are the lyrics to The Telephone Song, followed by a loose English translation. It’s sung/chanted to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down.

The Telephone Song
(Japanese Transliteration)

Mushi, mushi ah no ne
Ah no ne
Ah no ne,
Mushi Mushi a no ne
Ah so des ka!

It’s like what you’d hear on one end of a telephone conversation. So, roughly in English, that’s…

Hello, un-huh
Un-huh
Un-huh
Hello, un-huh
You don’t say!

Many thanks to Carolyn Barras for sending this song and for the English translation and to Devon Thagard for his comments about the meaning of the words in English.

There’s more about this song in the comments below.

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This artilce was posted on Sunday, November 19th, 2006 at 5:57 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Japan, Japanese, Japanese Kids Songs, Languages, Mama Lisa, Questions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

40 Responses to “Looking for a Japanese Song about Friends Talking on a Telephone”

  1. ivani Says:

    I love your website!

  2. DevonT Says:

    I’ve asked around about this and haven’t gotten any good answers. Any idea if this was a children’s song or just a standard?…it sounds familiar.

    BTW, it’s probably best written “Moshi moshi. Ano ne…” も?も?????。。。 

    も(mo)?(shi)も(mo)?(shi)??(a)?(no)?(ne). 

    “Moshi moshi” is what you say when you answer the phone, so can be translated as “Hello”…but you wouldn’t say Moshi moshi to someone on the street. “Ano ne” is a conversational gambit people use to open stories or anecdotes, and during the story…roughly translated to “well, err, umm, y’ know, say…, hey…”.  Everyone uses it…but your average teenager uses it about every 20th word :-)

    I’ll let you know if I find anything out!

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for looking Devon!

  4. Carolyn Barras Says:

    My sisters and I used to sing this song. As I was the youngest, I thought one of my sisters made it up. It seemed to poke fun at the phone conversations my mother, who is Japanese, would have with her friends. It seemed not to matter who called or the purpose of the call, this is the conversation we would hear. It is chanted in a sing-song voice.

    Mushi, mushi ah no ne
    Ah no ne
    Ah no ne,
    Mushi Mushi a no ne
    Ah so des ka!

    Mushi, mushi is the greeting one uses to answer the telephone. “Ah no ne,” kind of means “uh-huh,” to let the caller know we are listening. “Ah so des ka!” isn’t really used as a question (”ka” at the end of a sentence indicates is it a question), it is like being incredulous, “You don’t say!”

  5. Lisa Says:

    That’s a cool story Carolyn – thanks for commenting! If you’d ever like to record yourself chanting this (perhaps with your sisters?), I’d be happy to post it!

  6. Carolyn Barras Says:

    Thanks for the offer, but anybody can sing this song–it is to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down.”

  7. Lisa Says:

    That’s interesting. I wonder if there’s a Japanese version of “London Bridge is Falling Down”, or how else that tune made it into The Telephone Song.

  8. Carolyn Barras Says:

    I feel like I keep gnawing at an old bone yet keep finding savory bits. You posed such an interesting question that I called my mother to ask her about the song. Imagine my surprise when my mother, who is 76 years old, said that she sang that song when she was a kid, and it was to the tune of “London Bridge….” She said that there was an influence of western culture in Japan for quite some time. She said she did not know that the tune she sang was from “London Bridge,” but it was the same tune. She mentioned that another Japanese childhood song was to the blackbird tune.

    I asked her to ask my aunts about “Mushi Mushi” and the tune the next time she speaks to them. Shall I keep you posted?

    Carolyn

  9. Lisa Says:

    Absolutely! If you find out, I’d also be curious what song was sung to the blackbird tune. The connections are all very interesting.

  10. Dan Says:

    The text is:

    Moshi Moshi a no ne, a no ne, a no ne.
    Moshi Moshi a no ne, ahh so desca?

    from: http://www.rainbowsongs.com/songs/MoshiMoshi.shtml

    It is to the tune of London Bridge. My son learned it in Karate but that is all I know. I was looking for the English translation, but so far nothing.

  11. Jim Says:

    From Wikipedia:
    “As “Tokyo Mose” during and after World War II, Kaner aired on US Army Radio, answering Tokyo Rose’s broadcasts. In Japan, his “Mushi, Mushi Ano-ne” theme song, sung to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down,” was so popular with Japanese children and GIs alike that Stars and Stripes , the Army paper, called it “the Japanese occupation theme song.” Elsa Maxwell’s column and radio show in 1946 referred to Kaner as “the breath of home to unknown thousands of our young men when they were lonely.”"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Kaner

    :-)

  12. hillary Says:

    i also learned this song when i was young my grandma who was japanese sang it to me and my sisters all the time ive always wondered what it ment and if it had anything to do with london bridges thank you all very much and if u fine nething else out let me know i would love to know.

  13. Linda Austin Says:

    The actual spellings are:
    Moshi moshi ano ne, ano ne, ano ne.
    Moshi moshi ano ne, ah so, desu ka.

    Here’s another verse:

    Arigato minna sai, minna sai, minna sai,
    Arigato minna sai, ah so, desu ka.

    Goodbye, everyone, everyone, everyone,
    Goodbye, everyone, is that so? I see.

    (they must have had a party line)

  14. Joy Says:

    No idea where the other verse comes from, but, “arigatoo” actually means “thankyou” NOT “goodbye” (which would be “sayonara”). Also, if the translation is supposed to be “everyone”, then the correct japanese should be “minasan” (NOT “minnna sai”).

  15. Em Says:

    When I was 6-8…dad was stationed on Okinawa and we had a maid, Meoko who taught it to me!!! Wotta’ a blast from the past!!! That song has been in my head for 40 years!!! I’m blown away that other people know it too! I thought it was a special song she made up just for ME!! LOL

    Em

  16. Mike Says:

    Was just having a flashback from watching a Steven Segal Japanese style movie. I was looking up some of the things I heard and came across your page. I remembered this little ditty from spending 3 yrs. with the Navy in Japan. Brought back many memories. Do you have any translation for another little tune I remember: (The Cherry Blossom Song)…
    Something like (forgive spelling) sakuda, sakuda, ya yo ei, etc.?

  17. Lisa Says:

    That’s Sakura Sakura – I have that on my Japanese song pages. You can click the first link to go to the song directly (for the lyrics, translation, tune and to hear it sung) or to the second link for all of our Japanese songs.

    -Mama Lisa

  18. Elena Says:

    Thx for the history..this is the only song I remembered since I was three. And I had to sing this song as a bet and could not remember the ending and now I know the ending and a little about where the song came from.

  19. Anna Says:

    OMG! My grandfather used to sing that song to me all the time when I was little! I was just singing it to my newborn and thought I would look it up to see what it meant! Im so happy I found you page! Thank you!! The song will love on another generation!

  20. Ms. Ruth Says:

    I know this is about two years to late, but I am a preschool teacher needing a japanese preschool song. My family was stationed in Kanto Mura, Japan and I can remember this song even tho it was 40 years ago to the day. Thank you for this site and helping me with a not only a great song to teach my 4-5 year olds, but a pretty groovy blast from the past! :)

  21. Thao Nguyen Says:

    “Mushi, mushi ah no ne
    Ah no ne
    Ah no ne
    …..”
    do you know where i can download this song?

  22. Hector Says:

    hey guys,
    i’m looking for a japanese song (allegedly) which is heard in the following video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEQ9gJRuWiU

    if there’s anyone that can type here the name of the song (in japanese of course), i’ll be very pleased.

    thanks,
    Hector.

  23. lisa Says:

    October 2009
    I Am so very glad I found this web site.
    Thank you everyone who offered their help and comments in finding the Japanese children’s song:
    Mush mushi ah no ne Now I can teach it to the children I work with at school. This is so groovy !

  24. Jon Says:

    I was an army brat in Germany in the early 50’s, always jealous of the brats who’s Dads were stationed in the Far East. They always had cool dragon jackets and could sing Moshi Moshi.

  25. Marie Says:

    Its amazing,
    I’ve learn this song when I was about 6 years old… and I’m French Canadian. It’s amazing that this song is known over the world for generations now !
    Thank you for all the informations about it :D

  26. George Holdren Says:

    As a young man stationed at Atsugi Japan 1954-1957 I was privileged to have many Japanese friends. I am sure most have moved on to their own beautiful place. At 76 years of age I still say Moshi Moshi when the dingwa is still ringing and occasionally I entertain my colleagues with my own rendition of the children’s telephone song. Hirose,Takada, Kubo,Jimmy,Miyojan and many other names I do not remember, but I remember those wonderful times. A chapter in my life would be entitled dai itchi sho ba sho (No.1 Fire Department) Ah so des.

  27. Bambi Says:

    the other part that I remember from this as a child was:

    Arigato mina san
    mina san
    mina san
    Arigato mina san
    Hai so des ka

    the only two words I know here are
    Thankyou (Arigato)
    Yes! (Hai)

  28. Monique Says:

    arigatô mina san = thank you everyone
    Hai sô desu ka = “yes, is that so?” or “yes, really?”

  29. Robin Says:

    Hi Lisa -
    I graduated from Johnson High School. I am a concierge, and was looking for the lyrics for some children who live in the building.
    My late husband was a customer service rep, and we went to Japan 25 years after I graduated. We went to dinner at a restaurant with the Japanese sales rep and his wife, and they roared with laughter when I sang that song.
    Robin

  30. Loco Moco Says:

    I was born in Hawaii in ‘51 (spent most of my life there) and we kids all used to sing that telephone song. I couldn’t quite remember the second verse, thought it was “minasai” instead of “minasan” so was glad to see the correct version.

    The other one we knew was “Shojoji” about a rascal tanuki. I just know it phonetically, not in proper Nihongo so I’ll try and look it up.
    Very fun songs to sing, good ear training for kindergartners.

  31. Yuri Says:

    @Loco Moco

    Do you mean that you have heard that song that goes
    Sho Sho Shojo Ji,
    Shojo Ji is a Raccoon
    He is…’alaways’ hungry
    so, he sings a-koi koi koi…

    Was it that one?

  32. dillybug Says:

    Many years ago, we were stationed in Japan and Okinawa (Air Force family). My kids learned this song in school. The way I remember it, it had at least three verses. It was used to teach some polite Japanese phrases. the first verse is answering the phone, the second is (I think) something like -just a minute please, and the third of course is – thank you. I’m spelling phoenetically, so probably not entirely accurate.

    Mushi muchi ano ne
    ano ne
    ano ne
    mushi mushi ano ne
    ah so desu ka.

    Joto matat kudasai
    kudasai
    kudasai
    joto matay kudasai
    ah so desu ka.

    Arigato gosaimasu
    gosaimasu
    gosaimasu
    arigato gosaimasu
    ah so desu ka.

  33. Maddie Says:

    My friend taught my how to sing “London bridge is falling down” excuse the spelling but I’m going by pronunciation.
    Roto ishi tae sookoo re, sookoo re. Roto ishi tar sookoo rae. My fair lady.

  34. pox Says:

    Hi, I’m a native Japanese.
    Just heard this song today on radio, never heard it before. First hilarious but then I was appalled by the lyrics of turn four, so I googled around and found this site.
    Well, the transliteration is here:
    http://www.horntip.com/mp3/1940s/1940s_victor_%2878%29/5019-A_moshi_moshi_anone__johnny_watson_and_his_orchestra_with_male_chorus.htm

    Now, the meanings:
    Hello, well,…
    Hello, well, uh huh.

    Where are you? well,…
    Where are you? well,
    (I’m in) Nohonbashi (a place in Tokyo).

    Please close the door,
    Thank you.

    Beware young lady, young lady, young lady,
    Beware young lady,
    Does it hurt?

    I don’t know exactly what the last phrase implies, but it doesn’t sound like a children’s song..

    According to Wikipedia and other info, the first verse
    Moshi moshi anone, anone, anone
    along the melody of London bridge was took from a Japanese radio program which was very popular at the time (1947), and the Johnny Watson’s version which I heard was frequently aired on military radio, so probably elder generation Japanese know them, but most post WWII born (like me) don’t.

    BTW, to Maddie:
    >Roto ishi tae sookoo re, sookoo re. Roto ishi tar sookoo rae. My fair lady.
    That doesn’t sound like Japanese.
    Perhaps Korean??
    The Japanese version is:
    Rondon-bashi ochita, ochita, ochita,
    Rondon-bashi ochita, saa dou shimashou
    (translation: London bridge has fallen down, now what shall (we) do?)

  35. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for writing. From what we can tell, children only sing the first two verses of this song. But I’m glad you pointed this out. We won’t post the whole song on our Japanese pages.

  36. Alix Says:

    Oh my–for some reason, the telephone song started in my head this morning. First learned it from our maid Kozuko when we were stationed on Okinawa in 1956. So I decided to google–and what a host of memories you have all unleashed!!

  37. sandi stein Says:

    Hi So I was born in Okinawa and lived there until I was 3 and some. I had a wonderful Okinawan woman who was my nurse. I spoke no english when my mom brought me back to the states. I remember the Mushi mushi song . . .but I learned in another way also.

    Chotto matte, ano nai
    ano nai, ano nai
    Chotto matte, ano nai
    ah so desu ka!

    this mean wait a minute if you please. . .
    thanks for the lovely posts.

  38. Stacey Says:

    Oh my gosh! I’m so excited to see this thread. I was just singing this song to my 11 year old and telling her how I learned it as a little girl when we lived in Japan the 60s. My dad was in the Navy. I KNEW if if put “Mushi Mushi ano ney” in my browser something would pop up. I did not know, though, how sentimental this song is to so many other American kids who lived in Japan! Thanks for the smile everyone.

  39. Lisa Says:

    Would you like to sing it for us Stacey? :) (Or anyone else?)

  40. Mary Says:

    I learned this song when we were stationed in Tokyo 1954-57, when I was ages 4-6. Recently I met a Japanese woman my age who had spent most of her life in the US and remembered about as much Japanese as I did–a word here and there, how to count to ten, etc.–but we had a great time singing this song together. However, we both remembered it as:
    Moshi, moshi, kutasai, kutasai, kutasai,
    Moshi, moshi, kutasia
    Ah so des-ka.

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