Tinsagu-nu hana

"The Balsam Flowers"; a warabe uta*; Okinawan children will squeeze the sap from balsam flowers to stain their fingernails. The lyrics of the song are Confucian teachings. Of the six verses, the first three relate to filial piety, while the latter three refer to respecting one's body and one's goals.
Each verse has exactly the same number notes using language and meter devices that are solely Ryukyuan. The English translation tells of the content of the verses but fails to convey the precision and the beauty of the song.

The centuries-old lyrics are often incomprehensible to modern Japanese (especially to children who are singing it), while others can actually be quite sinister on close analysis. Like a lot of children's songs around the world, because people are used to them from an early age, they are often oblivious to the real meanings.

[* Warabe uta are traditional Japanese songs, similar to nursery rhymes. They are often sung as part of traditional children's games. They are described as a form of min'yo - traditional Japanese song, usually sung without accompanying instruments.]


Contemporary acoustic

Tinsagu nu hana ya chimi sachi ni sumiti
Uyanu yushi gutu ya chimu ni sumiri

Tin nuburi bushi ya yumiba yuma rishiga
Uyanu yushi gutu ya yumin naran

Yuruha rasu funi ya ninu fua bushi miati
Wan na cheru uyaya wandu miati

Takaradama yatin migaka niba sabisu
Asayu chimu migachi uchiyu watara

Makutu suru hitu ya atuya ichi madin
Umuku tun kanati chiyunu sakai

Nashiba nani gutun nairu gutu yashiga
Nasan yui karadu naran sadami
Nasan yui karadu naran sadami
English translation:

Just as my fingernails are stained with the pigment from balsam flowers,
my heart is painted with the teachings of my parents.
Although the stars in the sky are countable,
the teachings of my parents are not.
Just as ships that run in the night are guided to safety by the North star,
I am guided by my parents who gave birth to me and watch over me.

There's no point in possessing magnificent jewelry if you don't maintain it;
people who maintain their bodies will live life wonderfully.
The desires of the person who lives sincerely will always run true
and as a result she will prosper.
You can do anything if you try,
but you can't if you don't.

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