Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I'm sure most of us have had that feeling of anxiety and utter desperation as we search for something that eludes our grasp the more we try reaching for it! (Gosh... this sentence sounded awesome in Japanese! T-T)

The other day, I was watching some arbit news channel when the commercials kicked in and voila! They were playing the new (comparatively) advert for the Japanese tourism board. It had a song for background and for lack of another adjective, it sounded divine! I've been hunting that particular song ever since then! It has been months and it feels longer than that since I'd first heard that song. But with only the tune in head and a warbled sense of the words, I couldn't ask my sensei what that song was or of its origins. And so, yesterday, having conveniently forgotten about that song or the sleepless nights it had given me, I was at my grandpa's house, watching anime and practicing kanji when in the anime that I was watching, the same song started to sound! It was almost like someone had opened the floodgates of my memories and I just positively HAD to find out the name of the song.

And so, I launched my search with the name of the anime - Shangri La. I knew the episode number and searched in vain to spot some forum thread that spoke of this particularly interesting piece of music interwoven into the story. But not many were interested in that minor detail and almost everyone wanted to express their approval on how good the anime was progressing! But then, there was one entry where the person asked if anyone knew what the music that played from the very scene I was interested in, was! They also gave out the info that the traffic signals in Fukuoka play this one when the pedestrians have the green light to cross! That was quite the lead I was hoping to find! Another search on traffic lights in Japan showed me pages upon pages with info on how the Japanese played music so that visually challenged pedestrians could safely cross the roads knowing that it was green when the music was played! And without a doubt, the most favoured music was the one I was searching for!

It's called "Tō ryan se" (Please let me pass)  and is apparently a very famous rhyme from antiquated times in Japan. For the full song, click here!

Apparently, in ancient times, there was a lot of poverty and people had a lot of children. Sometimes parents found it extremely difficult to rear all of their progeny at one go and would choose to abandon their children at Shinto shrines where they hoped that the shrine would take them in and give them a living. But since children are thought to be the children of the Kami (Gods) until the age of seven, they couldn't be abandoned until then... doing so was a very heinous crime! Now, mothers found a way around this whereby they would take their children to the Shrines and would lie to the Public officers that they wish to go into the shrine to buy an amulet (ofuda) for her child who has completed seven years of age. They did this because the officer would not let her pass otherwise. But once inside, she leaves the child there and returns alone.

Moral of the story: To go somewhere without problems does not mean one can get back just as easily!

There's another legend that says that due to high infant mortality rates in Ancient Japan, this song celebrates a child having crossed seven years of life without problems! This song is also fashioned into a childrens' game. And it has become quite famous as a Warabe uta which literally means "young child song".

To listen to the song, click here!

Aaaaaah.... it feels so good when one finds what one searches for!

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