easy-japanese-songs

Sing Along! 5 Easy Japanese Songs That Are a Cinch to Learn

Have you started listening to Japanese music yet?

I hear it’s pretty helpful when you’re learning.

Not to mention, knowing a song’s lyrics by heart can be a nice morale boost.

Being able to sing along smoothly is veritable proof that you’re making progress and, once achieved, it’s more than enough reason to be proud.

But wait! Before you jump into the deep end of the pool, why don’t you start out in the shallow end with some simple songs that anyone can learn by heart in a heartbeat?

This will give you a taste of success with virtually no possibility of frustration and difficulty. You’ll be learning and singing before you know it.

5 Easy Japanese Songs with Simple Lyrics Anyone Can Learn

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2014 11 22 22.17.301 A Beginners Guide to Japanese Internet Slang

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2014 11 22 22.21.42 A Beginners Guide to Japanese Internet Slang

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Learn a foreign language with videos

1.「おめでとうクリスマス」(おめでとう くりすます) – “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

This is a song that most of you readers out there will already be familiar with. While it may be a bit seasonal in nature, it’s a rather jovial song to learn and can get you in a singing mood any time of year. (If you’re alright with Christmas songs, that is.)

The key to this song’s simplicity is the fact that there are only about five different lines in the entire song. A vast majority of the song consists of the titular line, おめでとうクリスマス.

So, with that in mind, you can see how this is a perfect song for beginners: Simple yet polite language, lots of repetition and a context a good number of English speakers would likely be familiar with.

What can be learned from this song?

  • Phrases you can use around holiday time, of course!
  • Appropriate use of おめでとう, which tends to be used in the case of holidays. For example, you’ll hear it in 誕生日おめでとう (たんじょうび おめでとう – Happy birthday) or to congratulate someone in the case of a major life event, etc.
  • An interesting case of grammar with みんなして, which apparently is another way to say みんなで, 一緒に (いっしょに) or 一斉に (いっせいに), which all essentially mean for more than one person to do something together at the same time.
  • How to use ましょう, which is the polite form for proposals in Japanese. So, a proposal such as, “Let’s go to the pool,” in Japanese is「プールに行きましょう。」(ぷーるに いきましょう). We’ll get into the casual form of this later on in the list.

Before we move on, here’s some trivia for you anime lovers out there: A version of this song was included on a “Sailor Moon” Christmas album entitled “Christmas For You.” If you’re a Minako fan, this should be a particularly sweet discovery for you as she’s the one singing it. There’s a talking bit in the middle as well, making for an added bonus of extra listening practice!

歌詞 (かし – Lyrics):

おめでとうクリスマス (おめでとう くりすます) – repeated three times
Merry Christmas

お祝いしましょう (おいわいしましょう)
Let’s celebrate

みんなして遊びましょう (みんなして あそびましょう)
Let’s have a good time with everyone

おめでとうクリスマス (おめでとう くりすます)
Merry Christmas

お祝いしましょう (おいわいしましょう)
Let’s celebrate

おめでとうクリスマス (おめでとう くりすます) – repeated three times
Merry Christmas

お祝いしましょう (おいわいしましょう)
Let’s celebrate

みんなして遊びましょう (みんなして あそびましょう)
Let’s have a good time with everyone

おめでとうクリスマス (おめでとう くりすます)
Merry Christmas

お祝いしましょう (おいわいしましょう)
Let’s celebrate

おいしいお菓子を (おいしい おかしを) – repeated three times
Delicious treats

作りましょう (つくりましょう)
Let’s make

みんなして遊びましょう (みんなして あそびましょう)
Let’s have a good time with everyone

おめでとうクリスマス (おめでとう くりすます)
Merry Christmas

お祝いしましょう (おいわいしましょう)
Let’s celebrate

おめでとうクリスマス (おめでとう くりすます) – repeated three times
Merry Christmas

お祝いしましょう (おいわいしましょう)
Let’s celebrate

みんなして遊びましょう (みんなして あそびましょう)
Let’s have a good time with everyone

おめでとうクリスマス (おめでとう くりすます)
Merry Christmas

お祝いしましょう (おいわいしましょう)
Let’s celebrate

2.「鬼のパンツ」(おにの ぱんつ) – “The Ogre’s Underpants”

Here’s where we turn from the familiar to more uncharted territory in our little song celebration.

This song is about the underpants worn by a type of youkai known as oni, and just how strong these underpants are. In fact, the title literally translates to, “The Ogre’s Underpants.” (Oni can also be translated as demon, devil, troll or monster.)

If the video didn’t make it obvious, this is indeed a song aimed towards children. But fear not, although it may be for children, this is probably the most fantastical, out there song on the list (which makes it a bit more fun) and can lead to some great learning on related parts of Japanese lore.

Not only that, but you’ll be able to connect more with some other cultural staples that involve oni. For example, one of the most popular customs of Setsubun involves wearing an oni mask!

If all else fails, there’s a cute dance in the video you can whip out at parties or dazzle potential suitors with.

In this version of the lyrics, the main point is to sing about how strong and long-lasting the oni‘s underpants are in the simplest way. But there are some variations which present even more learning opportunities.

What can be learned from this song?

  • The verbs 履く (はく – to wear on lower half of body), たつ (to pass, in the case of time) and 破れる (やぶれる – to tear, to wear out).
  • Another casual speech tick is also used: The sentence ending ぞ, which is similar to よ but is considered masculine and possibly stronger in its emphasis than よ.
  • Loads of great vocabulary: 鬼 (おに – ogre, demon, devil, troll, monster), パンツ (ぱんつ – underpants), いい (good), 強い (つよい – strong), 年 (ねん or とし – year), あなた (you), 私 (わたし – I, me) and みんな (everyone). Along with how to say 5 (ご) and 10 (じゅう) in Japanese.

And like last time, here’s some trivia: The melody of the song comes from Neapolitan/Italian song “Funiculì, Funiculà” composed by Luigi Denza. Sound familiar? It does to me, but I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is, somehow. Hmm…

歌詞 (かし – Lyrics):

鬼のパンツはいいパンツ (おにの ぱんつは いい ぱんつ)
The ogre’s underpants are good underpants

強いぞ強いぞ (つよいぞ つよいぞ)
They’re strong, they’re strong

鬼のパンツはいいパンツ (おにの ぱんつは いい ぱんつ)
The ogre’s underpants are good underpants

履こうよ履こうよ (はこうよ はこうよ)
Let’s wear them, let’s wear them

5年たっても破れない (ごねん たっても やぶれない)
Even after five years they’re not worn out

強いぞ、強いぞ (つよいぞ つよいぞ)
They’re strong, they’re strong

10年たっても破れない (じゅうねん たっても やぶれない)
Even after ten years they’re not worn out

強いぞ、強いぞ (つよいぞ つよいぞ)
They’re strong, they’re strong

履こう、履こう、鬼のパンツ (はこう はこう おにの ぱんつ)
Let’s wear them, let’s wear them, the ogre’s underpants

履こう、履こう、鬼のパンツ (はこう はこう おにの ぱんつ)
Let’s wear them, let’s wear them, the ogre’s underpants

あなたも、私も (あなたも わたしも)
You too, me too

あなたも、私も (あなたも わたしも)
You too, me too

みんなで履こう、鬼のパンツ (みんなで はこう おにの ぱんつ)
Let’s all wear them, the ogre’s underpants

3.「もしも自由が欲しいなら」(もしも じゆうが ほしいなら) – “If You Want Freedom” 

Just a little ol’ song about catching a bus!

This song may be a good one for those of you who like music a little more on the jazzy side. Mayumi Kojima’s music tends to be in this style, so if you like what you hear, I definitely recommend looking into her catalog. (And don’t worry, I’ll help you out with some specific recommendations later.) I also find that her music sets a delightful mood for learning, if you like a sweet, quaint feeling in music.

On top of the fact that the song is a little more day-to-day in its vocabulary, it also has clear, simple language one would likely use in everyday speech. Not only is this great for comprehension purposes, this is great for the ample learning opportunities too!

The video has recently been taken down from YouTube, but you can listen by ordering the complete album it’s on from Amazon or the artist’s official website.

The spirit of this song is captured in much of her other work, so her discography is worth exploring for more great lessons!

What can be learned from this song?

  • Conditional sentence forms that use もし(も) and なら(ば), explained here by Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese.
  • The verbs 飛び乗る (とびのる – to jump onto a moving object), 忘れる (わすれる – to forget) and 待つ (まつ – to wait).
  • The words 自由 (じゆう – freedom), バス (ばす – bus), 今 (いま – now), (とき – time) and あなた (you).
  • How to say “want” in Japanese, using 欲しい (ほしい).

While we’re here, I must recommend a couple other great songs by Mayumi. (I did promise, didn’t I?)

「私の恋人」 (わたしの こいびと) – “My Lover

A song about one’s lover, as well as going on boat rides, a trip to another country and to dance parties with them. This is another relatively simple song that you may want to add to your “Songs to Learn” list.

「ひまわり」 – “Sunflower(s)

As you can probably guess, this song does mention sunflowers, although it’s a bit deeper than that as well. Despite the insanely simple title, I don’t know that I would be so quick to recommend this as a bonus simple song, so to speak. This one might take a little practice, a dictionary and a hiragana version of the lyrics to learn, but if you’re determined you can definitely get it!

歌詞 (かし – Lyrics):

もしも自由が欲しいならば (もしも じゆうが ほしいならば)
If you want freedom

もしも自由が欲しいならば (もしも じゆうが ほしいならば)
If you want freedom

このバスに飛び乗らなきゃ (このばすに とびのらなきゃ)
This bus, you need to hop on

もしも今が欲しいならば (もしも いまが ほしいならば)
If you want right now

もしも今が欲しいならば (もしも いまが ほしいならば)
If you want right now

このバスに (このばすに)
On this bus

飛び乗らなきゃ (とびのらなきゃ)
You need to hop

飛び乗らなきゃ (とびのらなきゃ)
You need to hop

時間を忘れて (ときをわすれて)*
You forget the time

時間を忘れて (ときをわすれて)*
You forget the time

このバスは (このばすは)
This bus

あなたを待つ (あなたをまつ)
You’ll wait for

あなたを待つ (あなたをまつ)
You’ll wait for

もしも自由が欲しいならば (もしも じゆうが ほしいならば)
If you want freedom

もしも自由が欲しいならば (もしも じゆうが ほしいならば)
If you want freedom

このバスに (このばすに)
On this bus

飛び乗らなきゃ (とびのらなきゃ)
You need to hop

飛び乗らなきゃ (とびのらなきゃ)
You need to hop

*Note: On some lyric sites, the first line in verse three is written as 時間を忘れて (じかんをわすれて) although it’s read as ときをわすれて. This 時間 is the 熟字訓 (じゅくじくん – special kanji readings), which is a Japanese word whose kanji spelling conveys the meaning based on the individual characters, but the reading isn’t directly related to the spelling. The 熟字訓 are often used in literature.

4.「いつか王子様が」(いつか おうじさまが) – “Someday My Prince Will Come”

This is another song readers may already be familiar with, especially from childhood. For some of you, this may even be a current beloved tune! There’s nothing quite like 「白雪姫」(しらゆきひめ – Snow White) to lift one’s spirits.

The greatest part about this song is that it’s by far not the only Disney song with a Japanese rendition. Disney movies are usually dubbed before their cinematic release in Japan, from what I can tell. So go seek out Japanese versions of other Disney songs you love. There’s certainly a plethora of them. Let your curiosity run wild and free!

Personally, I am very fond of the Japanese versions of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” songs, particularly “This is Halloween” and “What’s This?” Of the non-spooky variety, “Be a Man” is pretty good and pretty funny, and “Cruella de Vil” is nice for its simplicity and the humor involved in the scene.

What can be learned from this song?

  • Tons of vocabulary. Every word is useful in some way!
  • Kanji for all the vocabulary you’ll learn from this song.
  • Use of になる, which in this context means “to be” or “to become.” The example in this song is pretty good for showing how it can work, because Snow White is speaking mainly in a future tense about her prince and how she sees herself being happy then.
  • Use of でしょう to indicate that a certain outcome is likely.
  • Use of ていく, which modifies a verb to mean “to go do (something).” Maggie Sensei has a lot of examples here.
  • Use of な adjectives, which are named for the use of な after certain adjectives when placed before a noun.

歌詞 (かし – Lyrics):

とても素敵な王子様 (とてもすてきな おうじさま)
A very lovely prince

いつか必ず王子様が (いつかかならず おうじさまが)
Someday, for sure, the prince

私を見つけ出し (わたしをみつけだし)
Will find me

お城へ連れていく (おしろへつれていく)
Take me away to his castle

いつか必ず幸せになる (いつか かならずしあわせになる)
Someday, for sure, I’ll be happy

永久の愛の鐘が (とこしえのあいのかねが)
Forever love’s bell

鳴りわたるでしょう (なりわたるでしょう)
Will likely ring

5.「Ring a Ding Dong」

This cheery song by 木村カエラ (Kaela Kimura) is a great one to stick in your brain, and it’s got oodles of lessons to teach you.

What can be learned from this song?

  • A way that onomatopoeias can be used. むにゃむにゃ (in this context, to talk while asleep) is paired with と (in this context is similar to the way な is used after certain adjectives) so it can work in a sentence.
  • Several verbs. さしてあげる (compound of two different words: さす, to hold an open umbrella, and あげる, to give) あがる (to stop, in the case of rain, or in this context, tears), 分け合う (わけあう – to share), くれる (to give something to someone), 言える (いえる – to be able to say), いる (to exist), 眠る (ねむる – to sleep, although suggesting someone may not be laying down), 開く (ひらく – to open, as in making a space where there may not have been before), 鳴り響く (なりひびく – to resound, in the case of something audible), 踊り出す (おどりだす – to break into dance) and 歌い出す (うたいだす- to break into song).
  • Lots of nouns. 天気 (てんき – weather), 雨 (あめ – rain), 空 (そら – sky), 晴れ (はれ – sunny or clear weather), 傘 (かさ – umbrella), 涙 (なみだ – tears), 言葉 (ことば – words), 天使 (てんし – angel), 代わり (かわり – substitute or replacement), 夢 (ゆめ – dream), ドア (どあ – door), ファンファーレ (ふぁんふぁーれ – fanfare), 誰も彼も (だれもかれも – any and everyone, one and all), 小鳥 (ことり – small bird or songbird), 花 (はな – flower) and お日様 (おひさま – the sun).
  • Various other words. 君 (きみ – you, more casual or rude speech), ボク (ぼく – I or me), お気に入り (おきにいり – favorite), いつも (always), ありがと (thank you, usually is spelled ありがとう), 幸せ (しあわせ – happy) and おはよう (good morning, casual speech).
  • The use of the curious word とまれ, which in this song is a bit perplexing because it could potentially have so many meanings, but it likely is indicating an extended period of time, or doing something regardless of circumstances. Hard to say exactly since it’s in hiragana though!

Personally, when I was trying to remember the lyrics to this song, I used a karaoke video. That’s right. Karaoke really is helpful. You can read the lyrics in real time and go back a few seconds if you need to without having to switch windows.

And once again, thanks to the power of YouTube’s playback settings, you can also make the song go as slow or as fast as you want for the ultimate customized experience!

歌詞 (かし – Lyrics):

Ring a Ding Dong Ring a Ding Ding Dong – repeated eight times

Ding Dong

なんで?君の天気は雨? (なんで?きみの てんきは あめ?)
Why? Is your weather rainy?

こんなにボクの空晴れだよ (こんなに ぼくのそら はれだよ)
My sky is so very sunny

お気に入りのボクの傘を君にさしてあげるよ (おきにいりの ぼくのかさを きみに さしてあげるよ)
My favorite umbrella I’ll hold over you

涙もあがれ (なみだも あがれ)
And stop your tears

Ring a Ding Dong, Ring a Ding Ding Dong – repeated three times

みんな分け合うよ (みんなわけあうよ)
We all share

Ring a Ding Dong, Ring a Ding Ding Dong – repeated three times

ドレミファミレド (どれみふぁみれど)
Do Re Mi Fa Mi Re Do

君がいつもくれる言葉 (きみが いつも くれる ことば)
The words you always give me

天使も大好きだ「ありがと」(てんしも だいすきだ「ありがと」)
Angels also love them, “Thank you”

だからママ!ボクもちゃんと言えるよ (だから まま!ぼくも ちゃんと いえるよ)
So Mama! I can say it right too

いつもありがと
Thank you always

幸せとまれ (しあわせ とまれ)
Stay happy/Be happy no matter what

Ring a Ding Dong, Ring a Ding Ding Dong – repeated three times

代わりは いないよ
A replacement doesn’t exist

Ring a Ding Dong, Ring a Ding Ding Dong – repeated three times

ドレミファミレド (どれみふぁみれど)
Do Re Mi Fa Mi Re Do

むにゃむにゃと眠る (むにゃむにゃと ねむる)
Talking in my sleep

夢のドア開く (ゆめの どあ ひらく)
The door I dream of cracks open

ファンファーレ鳴り響いて (ふぁんふぁーれ なりひびいて)
A fanfare resounds

誰も彼も踊り出す (だれもかれも おどりだす)
Everybody bursts into a dance

小鳥や花やボクも歌い出す (ことりや はなや ぼくも うたいだす)
Songbirds, flowers and I all burst into song

お日様顔出してもうおはよう (おひさま かお だして もう おはよう)
The face of the sun comes out, it’s already time to say good morning!

1・2・3・4・5・6

Ring a Ding Dong – repeated six times

I must warn, this song is slightly more complicated than the others. Although the speech is casual, and several simple words are used, there’s also some tricky stuff going on due to it being slightly poetic with some of the meanings, lots of words being stuffed into the bridge and having a very mild case of wonky sentence structure.

Meaning, for the sake of sounding great as song lyrics, some sentences can seem a little… weird, maybe. This definitely doesn’t show up a lot, but it might be something you’ll notice. (Though I suppose if you’ve watched any anime or dramas with frequency, sentences that become oddly segmented as a result of hurried, casual or dramatic speech may be normal to you by now.)

All that said, if you’re someone who enjoys pop music, this may be a more suitable song for you than others. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easier for you to learn, it does mean it may be easier for you to want to work through it!

Please don’t be discouraged if any of these songs are difficult for you to learn. While these songs may be simple, and I may have said that they’re “easy to learn,” this doesn’t mean they’ll all be easy for you.

Go at your own pace and don’t worry about how long it may be taking you. If you’re struggling, take comfort in the fact that mastering the lyrics will only make for an even sweeter victory in the end, and be patient with yourself.

Remember, these are just lyrics. They’re supposed to be a fun, supplementary part of your learning experience, not a serious do-or-die one!

For those of you who prefer more technical guidance, how about some lyric site recommendations?

Chinese lyric website mojim.com is good for all your lyric copying and pasting needs (in my experience Japanese lyric sites typically don’t let you copy any of the lines), just watch out for the sneaky promotional line they have snuck in the middle of the song somewhere. In songs full of hiragana it’s pretty easy to catch. Not to mention it blatantly says “Mojim,” so if you’re looking you’ll most likely find it.

Otherwise, some lyric sites you can’t go too wrong with include uta-net.com, and j-lyric.net. Generally, if you look up a song you’re interested in finding the lyrics for, along with the artist name, you’ll likely come across several lyric sites. Adding 歌詞 (かし) to your search and making sure everything is written in at least kana can also really help bring up native sites.

There’s also this handy FluentU guide that talks about finding song lyrics with ease, which goes into far more detail than I do here. (And has more music recommendations, wink wink!)

Are you feeling ready to seek out more simple songs now?

Or maybe just get through these to see how you like learning the lyrics?

Then slip into your favorite music listening position, get your vocal chords ready and get to learning those songs!

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