RED AILANTHUS AND OTHER ELEMENTS
A few months after they drowned, a song was released, the Biwako Aika (Biwa Lake Elegy), which has a sweet and plaintive melody.
Lake Biwa is Japan's largest lake. Kyoto (京都) is to the south-west, about eight kilometres away, and Hikone Castle (彦根城), which is mentioned in the first verse, is visible along the eastern shore. The Castle is about ten kilometres south of Nagahama (長浜), and looks out over the water towards Takashima (高島) on the opposite shore.
Shiga Perfecture (滋賀県), where Lake Biwa is situated, is altogether about two hundred and fifty kilometres distant from Tokyo, and much closer to Osaka (大阪) and Kobe (神戸).
You probably know the last mentioned from the Studio Ghibli film 'Grave of the Fireflies' (火垂るの墓 Hotaru no haka). If not, please see it.
The classic rendition of the song is by Shoji Taro (東海林太郎) and Ogasawara Mitsuko (小笠原美都子). The video below was made over a quarter of a century after the song was published.
It is still a favourite.
Source, along with a transcription and a translation:
To my mind the lyrics have much of the same taste as many poems from China written during the Tang Dynasty. Marsh birds, water as a backdrop to sadness, distant views of castles, or bridges, or settlements, across the lake or river, regret and remembrance.
That may just be my mind recognizing kinships which aren't there.
I am a foreigner to both Chinese and Japanese cultures.
As an outsider looking in, I see different things.
Related themes with reflected symbologies.
Of course, like a complete freak, I prize the Vocaloid version more.
And naturally I found that rendition first.
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.