長谷川 きよし is a renowned folk singer from Japan whose songs are known for their simplicity, melody, and deep emotions. One of his most famous songs is 黒の舟唄(Kuro no Funauta), which translates to “The black ship’s song” in English. The song is about the hardships and struggles of the Japanese people during the Meiji Era, which began in 1868 and ended in 1912. The lyrics of the song highlight the pain and suffering of the people who were forced to leave their homes and families to work in faraway lands. This paper will analyze the lyrics of 黒の舟唄 and explore its themes, motifs, and symbolism.
The Meiji Era was a period of rapid modernization and industrialization in Japan. It was a time of great change, as Japan opened up to the Western world and embraced new technologies and ideas. However, this period of progress came at a great cost to the Japanese people, especially the rural farming communities. Many people were forced to leave their homes and families to work in the factories and mines of the cities. This mass migration of people from the countryside to the cities was known as the “Great Tokyo Outflow.” This migration was not voluntary; rather, it was a result of economic and social pressures that forced people to leave their homes and families behind.
Analysis of 黒の舟唄 Lyrics
The lyrics of 黒の舟唄 are simple yet profound. They capture the pain and suffering of the people who were forced to leave their homes and families behind. The song begins with the following lines:
Riding on the black ship,
We leave our hometown behind,
Leaving ourselves to the waves,
And the wind that blows as it will.
These lines set the tone for the rest of the song. They describe the act of leaving one’s home and family behind and embarking on a journey that is uncertain and fraught with danger. The use of the black ship as a symbol is significant. The black ship represents the foreign influences that were entering Japan during the Meiji Era. It also represents the forces that were driving people away from their homes and families – the economic and social pressures that were forcing people to leave their communities and seek work in the cities.
The next verse of the song describes the pain of leaving one’s loved ones behind:
My lover waves goodbye,
As I leave on a long journey,
Leaving behind only memories,
And this sad ship’s song.
These lines express the sadness and pain of leaving one’s loved ones behind. The act of waving goodbye is a powerful symbol of separation and loss. The memories that are left behind are a reminder of the life that is being left behind. The use of the phrase “sad ship’s song” is significant. It suggests that the journey is not a happy one, but a sad and painful one. The ship’s song is a mournful reminder of the hardships and struggles that lie ahead.
The next verse of the song describes the difficulties of the journey itself:
On the rough and stormy waves,
In the dark and flickering night,
We all shed tears,
Leaving ourselves to the waves.
These lines describe the physical difficulties of the journey itself. The rough and stormy waves represent the dangers and uncertainties of the journey. The use of the phrase “flickering night” is significant. It suggests that the journey is not only physically difficult but emotionally and mentally challenging as well. The tears that are shed represent the pain and suffering that the travelers are experiencing. The act of leaving themselves to the waves suggests that they have given up control of their lives and are at the mercy of the forces that surround them.
The final verse of the song describes the hope that the travelers hold onto:
Soon we will see,
A bright land in the distance,
Encouraging us to hold on,
A light shining in our hearts.
These lines express the hope and optimism that the travelers hold onto. The bright land in the distance represents the promise of a better life, a life free from the hardships and struggles of their previous existence. The use of the phrase “encouraging us to hold on” suggests that the journey is not over, and that there are still obstacles and challenges ahead. The light shining in our hearts represents the hope and optimism that we carry with us, even in the darkest of times.
黒の舟唄 is a powerful and moving song that captures the pain and suffering of the Japanese people during the Meiji Era. The lyrics are simple yet profound, and they express the emotions of the travelers who were forced to leave their homes and families behind and embark on a difficult and dangerous journey. The use of symbolism, imagery, and metaphor is significant, and it adds depth and meaning to the lyrics of the song. Overall, 黒の舟唄 is a testament to the human spirit and the resilience of the Japanese people in the face of adversity and hardship. Kiyoshi Hasegawa (長谷川 きよし) is a famous folk singer from Japan, known for his simple yet profound songs that capture the emotions of the Japanese people.  黒の舟唄 (Kuro no Funauta) is a famous song by Kiyoshi Hasegawa, which tells the story of the Japanese people during the Meiji Era, when many were forced to leave their homes and families behind and embark on a difficult and dangerous journey.  The Great Tokyo Outflow (大東京流出) was a mass migration of people from the countryside to the cities during the Meiji Era, which was caused by economic and social pressures that forced people to leave their communities and seek work in the cities.  Translation of the lyrics of 黒の舟唄 are taken from the website https://www.jpopasia.com/kiyoshihasegawa/lyrics/237537/kuro-no-funauta/