Translation for Hanabi / 花火

Hanabi / 花火: “fireworks”.

This translation is just in time for the summer, and for Oku Hanako’s 10th anniversary re-release of the same song. The lyrics of this song capture that wistful feeling of a lost summer’s love quite well (especially that last line!). One of the strongest and most poignant parts is the following few lines (direct translations in parentheses):

待ち合わせ 浴衣姿の君
Machiawase (a rendezvous) yukata-sugata no kimi (you, in the figure of a yukata)
(in embarrassment/awkwardness) nani mo ienakatta (can’t say anything)

You may have noticed that the lines above are almost entirely composed of just predicates. Aside from leaving out explicit pronouns, Japanese songs also tend to leave out prepositions and conjunctions (e.g. the Japanese particles for “at”, “in”, “and”). It’s both a cultural and a musical thing—if you think about it, many English songs also leave out those little connector words. Without these particles, it was a little tough to figure out what the song was actually trying to convey. Using the context, however, the lyrics could be interpreted as: “We met up (as planned), and you were in a yukata. (This time) It felt awkward, though, and so I wasn’t able to say anything.”

What do you think?



The summer’s day I fell in love with you,
Hearing the sound of ocean waves on the way home
That was the first time we kissed, wasn’t it?
We were always making promises to each other
Quietly sneaking out in the middle of the night, we searched for stars together

That day’s scribbles written on the sand
Still haven’t vanished from my heart, even now

The fireworks we saw as we looked up at the summer night sky
Burned in my heart until it hurt
You tried to reach for them on tiptoe countless times, and laughed
With your tears, and my weakness—I believed we would have the same future
I hid away into the night sky the feelings that threatened to spill out

If I had been more affectionate,
If I hadn’t been hesitant,
Would I have been able to take you far away?

We met up, you clad in a yukata
But in my awkwardness, I was unable to say anything

The fireworks we saw as we looked up at the summer night sky
Burned in my heart until it hurt
Colliding with a surging crowd and trying to cut through,
We were looking for a place to be alone by ourselves
I believed that the answer was on the other side of the passing breeze
I gripped your hand tightly so that our interlocked hands wouldn’t break apart

I love you,
I love you!
I shouted it out but my voice didn’t carry
The fireworks we saw as we looked up at the summer night sky
Burned in my heart until it hurt
I believed that the answer was on the other side of the passing breeze
I clung on tightly to the feelings that threatened to spill out

The summer’s day you were there

Translation by Rosanne


Here’s an odd one from her indies days. “” is the second track of her 2004 indies single, “Hanabi”. It’s odd in that it’s heavily arranged with voice layering, which contrasts almost all of her other indies works, which are hikigatari. Having said that, I’ve grown to appreciate it.

I’m surprised, that she agreed to do it, though, because the impression that I got from a machine translation of her history pages[jp] is that she refused to do anything but piano hikigatari.

Regardless, here it is for us to enjoy.

奥華子 by レオン・シュタイナー [Nico Nico Douga]

Lyrics →

Hanabi cover art (crop)

Hanabi (Piano Hikigatari) / 花火(ピアノ弾き語り)

In full:
Hanabi ~ Kimi ni Koishita Natsu no Hi (Piano Hikigatari) / 花火~君に恋した夏の日(ピアノ弾き語り

Hanabi / 花火 : “fireworks”

2015-07-25: Added translation

What’s more appropriate than having fireworks on the Fourth of July?

Ahh, “Hanabi”: the prize of Oku Hanako’s indies career. This single, released in 2004 and re-released in 2009, is probably one of her better-known indies songs. The single is also the only indies release to feature arranged songs, including the arranged version I posted earlier this year.

The hikigatari version isn’t as light and smooth-sounding as the arranged version, but I find it to be more genuine-sounding and more emotionally moving. Again, this is probably because there’s nothing in the song to distract you from its core.

【奥華子】 花火 × 埼玉:小江戸川越花火大会【Aug 06,2011】 by PretoriaCastle [YouTube]

According to one source, the old name for this song was Gin’iro no Kisetsu / 銀色の季節 (“silver season”). According to my interpretation of the machine translation of the 16th history page, the original lyrics were gin’iro no kisetsu / 銀色の季節 (how that fit, I don’t know). The crowds replaced it with hanabi / 花火, and it stuck. Either that, or people just started calling it by the frequent word in the chorus as people do for many songs, and it stuck. I’m inclined to go with the latter.

I realized something recently: one of the reasons why the hikigatari versions often sound more powerful is because you don’t get any support from the nonexistent arrangement. To make it not boring, you have to compensate with your playing or your voice. Hanako-san does a great job of doing both.

Lyrics →

Hanabi cover art (crop)

Hanabi (Arranged Version) / 花火(アレンジバージョン)

In full:
Hanabi ~ Kimi ga Ita Natsu no Hi (Arranged Version) / 花火~君がいた夏の日(アレンジバージョン)

Hanabi / 花火 : “fireworks”

Hanako-san’s new single, Fuyu Hanabi / 冬花火 , comes out next Wednesday! I can hardly wait! In consideration, I figured this week would be a good time to take a look at a little Oku history. “Hanabi” is Oku Hanako’s indies single released in 2004 with the pirisound label. It was remastered and re-released on August 7, 2009 in celebration of Oku Hanako Day (more details in the next post).

Two versions of the song “Hanabi” exist: a hikigatari one and an arranged one. The hikigatari version has the title Hanabi ~ Kimi ni Koishita Natsu no Hi (Piano Hikigatari) / 花火~君に恋した夏の日(ピアノ弾き語り), where the subtitle is taken from the first line of the song, and the arranged version has the title Hanabi ~ Kimi ga Ita Natsu no Hi / 花火~君がいた夏の日(アレンジバージョン), taken from the last line of the song. Some sources will erroneously state that the subtitle of the arranged version is the same as that of the hikigatari version.

It’s interesting that she has an arranged song (actually, two) during her indies era because, assuming I’ve interpreted her history pages correctly, she didn’t want to do arranged songs and that she’d rather go hikigatari. The producers didn’t think they would sell much if the release didn’t have anything arranged, because arranged songs were the popular thing, so they insisted on having an arranged version. (Again, please correct me if I’m wrong).

I think Oku Hanako’s songs are great, arranged or otherwise. She writes, composes, and performs all her songs herself, giving her songs that unique and genuine touch. It’s even more impressive when she goes further and arranges the song herself, but even if she wasn’t the one to arrange the song, she still sings it with the same passion, as if it were completely her own.

奥華子 花火-君がいた夏の日 アレンジVer. by zero12242000

I’m embarrassed (ashamed?) to admit that I had to listen to this arranged version to appreciate the hikigatari version. There’s nothing wrong with the arranged version, but if the story about the producers thinking that it wouldn’t sell without arranged songs is true, I’d hate to be a supporting data point. Regardless, I think it’s largely irrelevant how I came to like the two versions; what matters is that I like them both now.

Lyrics →