Sora ni Hikaru Clover / 空に光るクローバー

Sora ni Hikaru Clover / 空に光るクローバー: “The Clover that Glistens in the Sky”

sora / (そら)
ni / に
A particle indicating location, or a particle indicating the passive agent
hikaru / (ひか)
clover / KURŌBĀ / クローバー
Transliteration of “clover”

Happy birthday, Oku Hanako! Time sure flies. She turns 40 today, if you can believe it.

“Sora ni Hikaru Clover” first appeared as track 2 of her 2008 single, Tegami / 手紙, then later reappeared as track 4 on her album, Koi Tegami / 恋手紙, released a couple of months later. It is the theme song for the 2008 movie Chii-chan wa Yuukyuu no Mukou / ちーちゃんは悠久の向こう (“Chii-chan is on the Other Side of Eternity”(?); Wikipedia[jp]). I’ve included a video of the promo for the DVD.

I chose this song mostly because it was released 10 years ago, but as I was translating the song, I realized the lyrics would be a perfect message to send for her birthday: although most of us can’t practically meet her, we’d still like to thank her for the musical gifts she’s brought to us.

On that note, I made a rough translation in about 30 minutes. It should be polished enough to be readable, and thankfully this was an easy song to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are any errors. As usual, my translation notes are included.

空に光るクローバー (Sora ni Hikaru Clover) [Zing]

Musically, this song is lightly arranged and fits well with the style of the rest of the album. She does try to hit some higher notes in this song; you can tell she’s gotten better since her indies days, but she has some room to improve, as shown in her later albums. There’s nothing really that stands out about this song, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

DVD Promo and Lyrics →


Meguriau Sekai / めぐり逢う世界

Meguriau Sekai / めぐり逢う世界: “Encountering the World”

meguriau / めぐり逢う
“to meet fortuitously”. The kanji for au / 逢う (“to meet”) has the nuance of a “fate encounter”.
sekai / 世界

We open the new year with meeting the world! “Meguri Sekai” was released as the last track on Oku Hanako’s 2008 album, Koi Tegami / 恋手紙.

MAD-PV:奥華子「めぐりあう世界」×「秒速5センチメートル」 by tomoka_thanks [Nico Nico Douga]

Perhaps it’s influenced by the title, but I feel the slow tempo, broad strings and reverb creates a grand atmosphere. It’s a good contrast from the more upbeat first track of the album, Saishuu Densha / 最終電車 (“Last Train”). Interestingly, one of the lines in this song mentions two people at a (train) station.

This line caught my eye:

心の奥で君に語りかける どんな言葉も物足りなくて
kokoro no oku de kimi ni katarikakeru donna kotoba mo monotarinakute
I speak to you with my inner feelings. Words will not do.

No, I don’t have a translation of the song, but I included my translation of the line there. What caught my eye wasn’t so much the meaning, but the first three words: “kokoro no oku” / 心の奥. Does the last kanji look familiar? It should, because her name is 奥華子. The phrase itself means “inner feelings” (kokoro / 心: “heart”, “feelings”; oku / 奥: “inner part”); it’s very much a stretch, but what if we also interpret oku / 奥 to be Oku-san? If we consider Oku Hanako as the speaker, interpreting 奥 as referring to her wouldn’t really change the meaning of the line because “my inner feelings” would be the same as “Oku’s inner feelings”, but it would more strongly affirm that she writes from her heart.

Lyrics →

Sandome no Fuyu / 三度目の冬

Sandome no Fuyu / 三度目の冬 : “third winter”

sandome / 三度目

san / 三
dome / 度目
makes a number ordinal
no / の
A particle acting as a noun modifier.
fuyu / 冬

Believe it or not, this is Thoughts on Oku Hanako‘s third winter! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, my readers, for your support over the years and for contributing to meaningful discussion. I also hope you have enjoyed the content here and will continue to enjoy future content. The 2015 annual report is up if you’re interested in taking a look.

Too bad today’s song isn’t so joyous.

三度目の冬 奥華子 【ずっと味方でいるからね】 宇宙 by 宇宙

At least, I don’t think it is. It doesn’t sound very joyous, and a machine translation doesn’t really suggest it. The song has a very reflective feel to it, and for me it evokes the greyness of winter. I can’t make much sense out of the machine translation, but I get the impression that the singer was separated from a loved one. If you can come up with a better interpretation, let us know in the comments.

I’ll be honest, though: it may be Oku Hanako, but I think this may be her most boring plain song. There’s nothing about this song that really sticks out for me.

What do you think? Am I missing out on something that would make me appreciate it better? Let’s discuss it!

Lyrics →

Saishuu Densha / 最終電車

Saishuu Densha / 最終電車: “Last Train”

saishuu / 最終
“last”. sai- / 最: “most”; shuu / 終: “end”
densha / 電車
“electric train”. den / 電: “electric”; sha / 車: “vehicle”

I went on a three-day train ride last year and “Saishuu Densha” was the song that I thought of the most.

This song is the opening track of Oku Hanako’s 2008 album, Koi Tegami / 恋手紙, and it serves well as an opening track. It’s a love song with some sad undertones (typical of her) and its style is more or less representative of that of the album: soft and lightly arranged.

I’m a little confused about the lyrics. Everything seems consistent except for the first verse, the one about the number of emails and calls decreasing. From the lyrics, I get the impression that there’s a couple who are being separated temporarily (perhaps because of work, school, or a long-distance relationship) and the speaker, who I’m going to assume is female, does not want to be separated, even for a short while. The chorus implies that they’ll be reunited soon, but I find the first verse implies that they’re drifting further apart from each other. Perhaps this is just me and my inability to analyze poetry, but maybe one of you can offer an explanation.

奥華子_最終電車 [Nico Nico Douga]
Lyrics →

Tegami / 手紙

Tegami / 手紙: “letter” (written note). Made of the kanji te / 手 (“hand”) and kami / 紙 (“paper”; pronounced “gami” / がみ due to rendaku)

“Tegami” is Oku Hanako’s single from 2008. For once, I don’t have anything to say; the song is… just there.

I’ll leave the floor open to all of you to voice your opinions and fill in the gap.

Hanako Oku – Tegami [JPopsuki]

To be honest, it’s a good song, but I don’t find it to be anything too special. Perhaps I’ll appreciate it more once I read a proper translation. Denny Sinnoh has just brought one to my attention, and it seems that it has only marginally increased my appreciation for the song. I still think it’s a good song, though.

Lyrics →

Taiyou no Shita de / 太陽の下で

Taiyou no Shita de / 太陽の下で: “under the sun”

taiyou / 太陽
“sun”. Breaking down the kanji, I think it is literally “great light” (太: “great”, “big”; 陽: “sun”, “light”)
shita / 下
“under”, “below”
de / で
“indicates being at a location” (Wiktionary)

“Taiyou no Shita de” was one of the first few songs I found while scouring through YouTube in the few weeks after watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I thought it was really good, but I ignored it afterwards because I didn’t know where it was from. After all, the only thing I had to go from was the list of her singles on Wikipedia.

Months later, I came across it again when I found the Generasia wiki.

I was having yet another struggle with “The Predicament” because my Oku Hanako songs were slowly outnumbering my Peter Cetera songs. This is the song which I claimed at the time “cured me of The Predicament”: after hearing it, I no longer cared about how different her music was compared to the rest of my library and that it’s technically J-pop. (I had a small bout about it later on, but that’s another story).

奥華子 ♪太陽の下でin蕨小中学校閉校式にて by NPO shimabito

To add a little trivia, Taiyou no Shita de is the “image song” of Sun Street Hamakita[jp].

I love it! Her singing, her playing, the instrumentation, it’s all beautiful. And that trumpet in the interlude: oh, it makes me close my eyes and forget that I ever had a problem with Oku Hanako. I’m somewhat partial to horns because of Peter Cetera and Chicago. I wonder if it’s Hanako-san herself playing the trumpet bit; after all, she does play the trumpet, too.

I find this song to be a precursor of sorts to the style of her next “era” of songs (again, when I get around to posting my “theory of threes”, this will make more sense). As an example, compare it to Ashita Saku Hana / 明日咲く花.

All in all, it’s a very pleasing song to listen to. Too bad we don’t hear too many of these in her discography.

Lyrics →

Kagami / 鏡

Kagami / 鏡 : “mirror”

“Kagami” is perhaps Oku Hanako’s best-played song. Its hikigatari nature means there’s nothing to distract you from her singing and playing. This is one of those songs where an arrangement would do very little to enhance the piece. When I listen to this song, I barely notice it’s hikigatari, anyway.

Just let yourself get carried away with this one. If you don’t quit before the interlude, get ready to be wowed.

奥華子 – 鏡.flv by nokia972000 [YouTube]

I could just fall out of my chair! That was amazing! Perfectly timed, great dynamic contrast, well-played musical accents; just perfect. Just the right amount of “oomph”, too.

I have no words to describe that interlude, but to give a gross understatement, it was really, really, really good. The bridge would have been very easy to rush, and she nailed it. And just after the bridge, there’s a pedal thud; it may seem small, but it’s very important as it fills the gap.

The song ends with perfect finishing touch: her vocalizing. I’m already awestruck by the rest of the song, and this just “hits the spot”. She caps it all off with her signature arpeggiated chord, leaving me in silence with time to soak it all in.

“Kagami” is definitely one of my favourites.