Ballad About The Tsugaru Channel

Courtesy of Ishikawa Sayuri, Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu Geshiki (Tsugaru Channel Winter Scenery), Japan.

For those channel swimmers heading to northern Japan who will attempt a crossing of the Tsugaru Channel between Honshu and Hokkaido, Ishikawa Sayuri’s (石川さゆり) Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu Geshiki (津軽海峡冬景色) is a wildly popular Japanese enka that they can sing in a karaoke bar.

Enka is a form of sentimental Japanese ballad music. Ishikawa has released over 100 albums and 115 singles during her career.

The English meaning of the Japanese lyrics are as follows:

When I got off the night train leaving from Ueno Station at the Aomori Station,
I found the station building surrounded in snow.
The group of people returning back north were all silent,
So I heard only the roaring of the sea.
I got on the cross-channel vessel alone as well,
And, after a while, I began to weep staring at half-frozen sea gulls.
Ah, the wintry scene of the Tsugaru Channel.
Look, that is Cape Tappi, a far northern one.
A stranger spoke to me, pointing a finger at it,
I wiped the window before me which had been fogged up with passengers’ breath to see it clearly,
But it just appeared hazy far out in the sea.
Goodbye, darling. I’m on my way to my hometown.
The sound of the wind is stirring my soul as if it told me to cry my heart out.
Ah, the winter scene of the Tsugaru Channel.


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