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May 31, 2009 by Korshi

shiina (1)

I first discovered the singer Shiina Ringo when I was living in Japan in 2003, and she’s been one of my favourite artists ever since.  If you’re not familiar with her eclectic stylings you might want to imagine the lyricism of Tori Amos, the endless reinvention of David Bowie and the theatricality of Bjork, combined into one chameleonic Tokyoite.

Since my Japanese has stuck resolutely around intermediate level for the past 6 years, I still need help getting the gist of most of her songs (which are especially difficult to understand given her fondness for obscure references and archaic spellings).  Translations of most of her songs are available online in various places, but there are some songs which I haven’t been able to find translations of, among them the beautiful Gamble (ギャンブル).  So with the help of my language exchange partner I thought I’d give it a go myself. There are a couple of versions of this song, the one most easily found on youtube is from a collaboration with the violinist Saito Neko, and used in the movie SAKURAN.

(If you notice any mistakes in my translation, or can improve on it in any way, let me know.)


Anata wa sotto waratte kureru kara
You softly smile at me

Akuru asa tou ni naki yandeiru no sa
You know I stop crying as the morning breaks

Kono chisa na wadachi ni “anata iki wo shiteiru”
I ask the little furrow “are you breathing?”

Semi ga naite natsu no torai wo shiru
The cicadas cry and we know of summer’s coming

Sono tsudou naze ka urayandeiru no sa
Why do I feel envious every time?

Kono senchi de tsukitara “nani ka shirahen fukuju
If I’d ended on this battlefield,  “Obedience without knowing”

Kaeru bashou nado ni doko ni arimshou
Where can I return to?

douji sugita
I‘m too agitated

Mou tsukareta
I’m already tired

Ai subeki hito wa doko ni imashou
Where is the person I’m meant to love?

Tsugo no ii kotae wa shitteiru kedo
I know the easy answer

Nakameguro eki no homu ni tatteitara
Standing at the platform of Nakameguro Station

誰かが急に背を押したんだ 本当さ
Dare ka ga kyu ni se wo oshitanda honto sa
Someone suddenly pushed me from behind, it’s true

kono shobu ni maketara, “ikite yuku shikaku mo nai”
If I lose this contest, “Unqualified to live”

Kai nasareta neko no manako
The eyes of a tamed cat

Naite miyou ka
Should I try mewing?

Yatte miyou ka
Should I try it?

Ai subeki hito wa doko ni imashou
Where is the person I was supposed to love?

Yotei no chowa nante youi da kedo
But it’s so easy to harmonise plans

Koe wo daseba donata ka miemashou
Should I see what would happen if I spoke?

Shinjitsu ga nai
There’s no truth

Mou arukenai
I can’t walk any more

Hai ni nareba mina yorokobimashou
Everyone would be happy if I turned to dust

Aishiteita yo
I loved you

Keisotsu da ne
Thoughtless, wasn’t it

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