Understanding his Lyrics Through the English Translation

When I went away to Japan, I could only understood basic things in Japanese. After my four years living there, I still can only understand basic things. When I left England, I stopped listening to the music I’d enjoyed in England; the most I’d done was try to rap along at Karaoke, but I soon stopped that! On my return, I had a listen again to those same tracks, but with a new perspective. Naturally, I started to think about the lyrics of Tokona’s album Tokai X Teio. I wondered about the deeper meanings I was missing and how long it would take me to uncover them.

Listening again to the music I had (not just Tokona, but other artists) was a very interesting feeling. I could now understand the odd word and if I concentrated, I could get some real meaning from parts of some tracks. As was the case before I went to Japan, I could follow the Japanese lyrics while listening, even if I couldn’t understand. I used to just follow using the Hiragana between words, but now, I could read some of the Kanji also. I guess those hours singing karaoke (pop and enka, not rap!) are paying off at last?

The version of Tokona’s album that I have came with an English translation of his lyrics. I thought I’d like to read the translations serval times, so to keep the lyrics in good condition, I made a copy of them to refer to later. I didn’t make a copy of the Japanese; probably because I had no hope of understanding them at that time. For a while, I couldn’t remember where I’d put them, but I had another look recently and managed to find them hidden away in a plastic wallet in one of my draws.

I was really excited about finding them after such a long time searching, so I decided to listen to Tokai X Teio again straight away. It made me feel happy that I was able to follow it with the English lyrics. Those English translations were especially helpful for me to understand the Japanese words he was using. The difference being that after living in Japan, I now had an idea of the words and sentences in Japanese that matched the English. As I followed along with the lyrics, I could now understand the words he’d use in Japanese to say “I was born and grown up in Yokohama” (Where’s My Hood At?) and see that the translation was right; although I might have worded it differently. I could also hear that the translation “Can I take two please” (二つバカ頂戴) (Dirty Go Around) is not very accurate at all! Because I now had a more concrete idea of what he was saying from my experience of speaking Japanese.

Even though I have a translation, it will still be good to do a translation for myself; especially as I know that there are inaccuracies. There are certain points that I think could have been translated better and other places where lines haven’t been translated (presumably because they’re quite impolite). The translated lyrics will make a good guide for me to work on and help me to make unassisted translations better. I look forward to finding some hidden gems in Tokona’s lyrics and sharing my discoveries with you all.

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