Japanese Traditional Music Workshop

      ISME 2000, Edmonton, Canada , July 21

Miyako Furiya

Professor of Miyagi University of Education

Japan is a small country, but extends a long way from south to north, so that culture in each district is very various and rich and differs greatly. There are very various and rich kinds in traditional folk music from children's games song called Warabeuta to adults' folk songs and folk festivals.

Warabeuta also has great variety and is a lot of fun for children. Warabeuta is not just enjoyable for children , but also it develops children's abilities of communication and sociality in a different-age groups and also develops their physical skills.

Warabeuta (Game songs) Cha cha tsubo cha tsubo (Teacady)

Japanese like Japanese green tea very much. and drink several times a day. Children compare one hand's fist as a teacady, and the other as a cap or bottom. Just a hand's fist has no cap neither bottom. The other hand will be cap or bottom, but at the same time there will be just only a cap or bottom. Children move their hands very fast from top to bottom with singing. The fact this song has no melody but a chanting. Firstly the chant will be sung slowly and then will be gradually faster and faster.Children compete the speed of moving hands from top to bottom with a fast chanting .


Cha cha tsubo cha tsubo

Cha cha tsubo cha tsubo, cha tsubo,

Cha chatsubo nya futa ga nai, soko o totte futa ni shi yo!

Cha cha tsubo cha tsubo, cha tsubo,

Cha chatsubo nya soko ga nai, futa o totte soko ni shi yo!


Teacady, teacady, you don't have a lid, I will take off your base and

make it into the lid! Teacady, teacady, you don't have a base, I will take off your lid and make it into the base!

Jyugoya-san no mochitsuki (Rice cake making )

In Japan the September full moon is special moon. In September the air is very clean and dry, so that full moon is very beautiful. Jyu-goya san means full moon. We used to celebrate this special full moon at the middle of September. Japanese used to believe that a rabbit lives in the moon and the rabbit makes a Mochi-Rice cake. The Mochi-Rice cake isa very important food in Japanese customs. Japanese used to make Mochi-Rice cakes at New Year and other festivals. Befor eating, we offer Mochi to God. We make Mochi, firstly by steaming the special rice calledMochi-rice, and then put on it to the big wooden bowl called Usu, then strike many times by wooden stick called Kine. The workings are dune by two, man and women, and heavy works are done by man and others are helping works and are done by women. Two works, striking and helping are very connected and if the helper does not feel breaths of the striker, the stick will hurt her. It seems big thrill. The keyword PETTANKO is imitating sound when the wooden stick strikes the steamed rice.

Jyugoya-san no mochitsuki - Rice cake at September full moon is played with one pair of children.Children imitate the various works of making rice cake in this game. One child stands and just beats the hands punctually from upper to down. And the works are done by the other child between these helper's beating. This game is also chanting and gradually sung faster and faster like a speed completion.


Jyugoya-san no mochitsuki

Jyugoya-san no mochitsuki wa, pettanko pettanko, pettan pettan pettanko,

Tottsuite tottsuite, tottsui tottsui tottsuite,

Hai konete, hai konete, hai kone hai kone hai konete,

Sha-n sha-n shan shan shan, Sha-n sha-n shan shan shan,

Shan shan shan, Shan shan shan,

Shan shan shan shan,

Shan shan shan, Shan shan shan.


Rice cake making at the September full moon,

Pettanko Pettanko, Pettan Pettan Pettanko,

Let's strike, let's strike, strike, strike , strike!

Let's kneas, let's kneas, kneads, kneads !

Sya-n sya-n syan syan syan, Sya-n sya-n syan syan syan,

Syan syan syan, Syan syan syan ,

Syan syan syan syan,

Syan syan syan, Syan syan syan!


Otedama is a girl's game with beanbags. In older times grandmother or mother used to make them for their children. The piece of the cloth is an old grandmother' or mother' Kimonos. It educate skillfulness of a hand joyfully.

Folk song with dance

Sohran -bushi

Sohran -bushi is originally a work song of Hokkaido( Northern island) herring fishermen.It is called Okiageonndo and sung during herring fishermen scoop herring fishes to the fish boat with great nets called Ohtamoami. Since the depletion of herring stocks in the sea, Sohran bushi is no longer part of the living tradition. Sohran bushi dance was arranged by Warabiza, a professional folk music and dance performing group in Japan. This dance expresses the joy of a large catch , and is characterized by the repetition of the word Sohran,but Sohran has no meaning .



Yah-ren soh-ran soh-ran soh-ran soh-ran soh-ran , hai hai!

Oki no kamome ni shiodoki to-eba

Wata sha tatsudori nami ni kike choi,

Yasa enya sa no dokkoisho, ah dokkoisho, dokkoisho!

Yah-ren Soh-ran Soh-ran Soh-ran Soh-ran Soh-ran , hai hai!

Sea gulls,where are their herrings ?

I am always flying, so that please asks for the waves.

Yasa enya sano dokkoisyo, ah dokkoisyo, dokkoidyo!

Accompaniments; Ohdaiko


This song comes from Goka village in Toyama Prefecture. There are very special old farmers' houses in Goka village and this village is one of the World heritages. This song was used to be offered for Village's god. 'Kokiriko' is an instrument made of old bamboo that was used on the roofs of old farmhouses for hundreds of years. The bamboo was dried for such a long time that the sounds it makes are really beautiful. Kokiriko-bushi was forgotten first of 20th century, but since muddle of this century Kokiriko-bushi is revived and nowadays one of the most well known folk song in Japan.



Kokiriko no otake wa shichisun-gobu jya,

Nagai wa sode no kanakai jya

Mado no sansa mo dedereko den,

Hareno sansa mo dedereko den!


Length of Kokiriko made of Bamboo is shichisun gobu

(a traditional measure, about 23cm)

If the length is more than that, it is difficult to dance

because it catch the Sode of Kimono,

Madono sansamo dedereko den,

Hareno sansamo deredeko den!








Miyako Furiya

Tel& Fax 81-24-524-2630