There are some lullabies in Japan that start with variations of the line, “Nenneko yo”. “Nenneko yo” is literally “Sleep, baby child”.
Here are some I found in an old book called “A Japanese Miscellany: Strange Stories, Folklore Gleanings, Studies Here & There” by Lafcadio Hearn (1901). They’re Japanese transliterations with translations.
Nenneko yo !
Oraga akabo no
Neta rusu ni,
Azuki wo yonagete,
Aka no mamma e
Aka no ii-ko ni
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
While my baby sleeps
I will wash some red beans
And clean some rice;
Then adding some
Fish to the red rice,
I will serve it up
To this best
of little babies.
Nenneko yo !
Oraga akabo wa
Itsu dekita ?
San-gwatsu, sakura no
Saku toki ni :
Dori de o-kao ga
Sleep, my child!
When was my
In the third month,
In the time of the blooming
Therefore the color of the honorable
Face of my child is the color of the cherry-blossom.
Nenneko, nenneko, nenneko ya !
Netara o-kaka e tsurete ina !
Okitara gagama* ga totte kama !
Sleep, sleep, sleep, my child !
If you sleep I will go home to fetch your mother!
If you stay awake the
Gagama* will catch and bite you !
* An Izumo name for some kind of Goblin.
Here’s a YouTube I found of someone singing a lovely Nenneko yo lullaby…
Here’s an English transliteration of the YouTube lullaby:
Yurika go no uta o
Yurika go no uta o,
kanari ya ga uta u yo.
Here’s an English translation I made with Ayako Egawa:
The Songs of Cradle
The songs of the cradle,
The canary sings
Here’s the Japanese text to this lullaby:
The lullaby in the video is only part of a longer song. We hope to eventually post the whole lullaby.
We’d be happy to receive the Japanese text to any of the above lullabies that don’t have it. You can email any info to me at email@example.com . Thanks in advance!
Many thanks to Linda Austin from Cherry Blossom Memories for providing the transliteration to the YouTube video! Thanks to Ayako Egawa for the Japanese text and for helping with the English translation!
This article was posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 2:42 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. 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.
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