Ah, those childhood days.
Adventures, games, top-notch “No, you’re stupid!” discussions and so much more fun and joy.
Boy, don’t we all wish we could go back to that time?
We’ve got news for you: you can!
Grab your potties, your blankies and the flux capacitor and get to the DeLorean because we’re about to rewind time and delight your inner child.
That’s right, we’re taking a trip back to childhood, to listen to some children’s songs… in Japanese!
Did we forget to mention this trip will also be educational?
That’s right, you can learn Japanese from children’s music videos while also enjoying yourself way more than you thought possible during a study session.
Rewind to Childhood: 6 Japanese Music Videos for the Kid in All of Us
The first song on our list is also the simplest one. (This might have something to do with the fact that we organized this list in order of difficulty.)
This Japanese music video is actually a lullaby about a snail. There’s nothing too fancy here, only simple lyrics you’d expect from a song that’s meant for putting a kid to sleep.
This, however, doesn’t mean that the lyrics won’t make your neurons work.
Before we proceed to explain how Japanese learners can benefit from this song, you should check out the lyrics. You can see them in the music video as well but it might be easier to understand as plain text with an accompanying translation.
Just how educational is this song? Here’s a fun fact from the lyrics you might have missed:
In this video, やりだせ is translated as “Show your antennas.” But just before that, the song says “Show your horns.”
Horns and antennas? You ask the snail to do the same thing twice in succession? Of course not.
In reality, やり means spear here. What kind of spear could a snail have? A love dart.
That’s right, the Japanese teach biology to infants. How cool is that?
Grammar point: the imperative form.
With that digression out of the way, let’s get back on topic.
Aside from a surprisingly educational biological aspect, this song is an excellent Japanese learning tool. It’s incredibly simple, which makes it great for absolute beginners because it eases you into the Japanese language.
The grammar used in this song is, as you might expect, nothing complicated. Use it to learn the 命令形 (めれいけい) — imperative form. You can build this form quite easily:
With godan verbs, just change the last syllable so it ends with “e.” For instance, a verb that has a “ku” in its base form will end with “ke” in its imperative form.
With ichidan verbs, you just change the last syllable from “ru” to “ro” and you’re good to go.
Keep in mind that this form is somewhat rude so try to avoid it.
This music video is about monsters, the greatest foe of all kids, everywhere! Check out the lyrics and translation of this song, then rejoin us here for the continuation of our lesson.
You’re back? Ok, good.
The Japanese of this video is also very simple. In fact, this is a leveled-up version of the previous music video in the sense that it’s great for beginners who aren’t quite at the intermediate level yet. It’s still pretty simple but offers some more learning opportunities.
Grammar points: さ, ちゃう and たら.
So, what grammatical constructions can you pick up from this song? Let’s check them out together.
The さ particle:
This particle is similar to placing よ at the end of a sentence. It’s used when you want to emphasize your sentence or statement. Simple as that.
Since this is a particle, it has no direct translation; the closest thing to it in English is an exclamation mark (but in a very loose sense).
The verb ちゃう:
This is a bit more complex. ちゃう is the more informal version of the しまう verb.
It’s used in cases when the action is being done unwillingly or in cases when it’s finished, at last, thus pointing out your relief. Translated, it has a meaning along the lines of “to finish.”
The たら particle:
This particle is used to construct a certain conditional form and basically means “if.”
The たら conditional is a bit trickier than the other concepts in this song, so if you want to learn more about it, there’s an excellent look at when to use it in this article about common Japanese mistakes. (There’s an entire section dedicated to Japanese conditionals in that link, so it’s worth taking a look!)
Need some more help for these grammar points to really sink in? Use FluentU for more video-enhanced Japanese learning! FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Use the particles playlists or the many other playlists, flashcard decks, personalized quizzes and more to take your Japanese to the next level!
This one’s dedicated to all the guys and girls who just love those mean, steel, hotwheel machines.
That’s right, it’s a music video about cars! Oh yeah, sweet!
I love this song because it’s so cute and happy and educational.
But above all, it’s really great for Japanese language learners, no matter what level you are.
A plethora of vocabulary words.
In this music video, you’ll find plenty of new verbs such as “to transport” and “to maintain,” as well as nouns like “postcard” and “school lunch.” It’s just a part of what will be added to your Japanese vocabulary—along with good old positive energy!
Sadly, there’s no translated version of this song’s lyrics online and writing them here would make a mess out of this post.
But fear not!
Trust your learner skills, your enthusiasm and your knowledge.
The lyrics are written out on the music video as the song is being sung. Focus, watch what the vehicles are doing and you’ll figure out the translation of those lyrics in no time! So open up an online dictionary and get learning.
Simple grammar so you can focus on the words.
We won’t tire you with grammar here, as the lyrics translation is a big enough task.
There aren’t any complicated structures used here. You’ll find the aforementioned imperative form here, as well as the base form of certain verbs (used to indicate present or future tense).
Other than that, you might notice that the song omits a whole lot of verbs to make it more melodic and simple. That’s pretty much the entirety of the grammar in this one. Easy!
Counters are a drag no more! For we have the means to beat them, and it’s this music video.
The melody’s catchy and the lyrics are easy to remember, making this a great tool for memorizing counters.
The folks over at Matsuurian posted the lyrics and translation for you to use. That page also has short explanations of the counters, so make sure you take a look!
How much and how many?
This song introduces you to counters, which you might have figured out already! Thanks to this catchy little music video, you’ll learn how to talk about certain types of numbered objects, such as footwear, tiny things, vehicles or machines and even birds, rabbits and feathers.
You’ll literally be able to count your chickens before they hatch. Or, at least, the number of feathers they have. Convenient!
This is it, we’ve gotten to the juiciest songs on our list.
It’s time to go back 20 years and remember the great “Digimon” intro music video!
Many of you are already familiar with the beloved melody and music of the “Digimon” opening, though you might need a refresher on the lyrics.
Defeat the bad guys, learn Japanese.
In case you’re not familiar with “Digimon,” here’s a quick rundown:
This anime is about a group of kids chosen to save a digital world from destruction. In this world, they find living digital creatures called Digimon. The kids pair up with one Digimon each and together, they fight to restore order, defeat the bad guys and save the world.
I strongly recommend that you watch it right away if you haven’t seen it yet.
This song’s great for Japanese language learners for two reasons.
First is the fact that a lot of people know this song well and, because of that, they can learn the lyrics pretty fast. This way, the song becomes their cheat-sheet for recalling certain verbs and nouns as well as grammatical constructions.
The second reason is coincidentally our grammar overview at the same time. The song’s full of different kinds of grammar concepts and expressions yet all these elements are very neatly packed and organized.
Divide the song into sentences and you’ll see what I mean. For example, you’ll find informal, everyday constructions such as action sequencing: First, you become a butterfly, then ride the wind and then see someone.
You’ll also find many adjectives in this song to expand your vocabulary arsenal. Just in the first sentence, you’ll hear: pleasant, brilliant, now and soon. And that’s just the beginning!
Now I’ll inject you with a virus. It’s potent and incurable.
This virus is the love you’re about to develop for Super Sentai (Japanese superheroes).
Ha, I got you there, didn’t I? I bet you checked your antivirus to see if I was some kind of hacker genius. Well sadly I’m not, so relax.
This music video is from a Super Sentai series called Gokaiger. The show gathers together all the Super Sentai teams throughout the decades, or at least their powers and some of the characters.
The lyrics and translation are available right in the video, and, similar to the “Various Cars” song, the lyrics describe each team and their unique characteristics. But in an epic way.
A song that packs a language punch.
Why is this music video great for learners? Because a person who doesn’t know about Super Sentai is never a whole person. Either that or simply because it offers so many different options for learning.
Expand your vocabulary with nouns like rhythmic gymnastics, detonation, particles, legend, universe and so on.
Revise your grammar with connecting adjectives and even some rarely used constructions like mathematical grammar.
Nurture your soul via the hero torch heat.
Keep up or bust.
And most importantly, this song will help you with two crucial aspects of spoken Japanese: Diction and speed. And breathing, I guess, but that goes with the territory.
Try to read and pronounce the lyrics in the same manner as the singer in the music video. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Was that difficult?
It probably was. Either your tongue got tangled, or you mispronounced a word, or you couldn’t catch your breath. All of these are very important to master when you speak Japanese. This song will help you improve!
Keep listening to this song and trying to sing along, and you’ll notice your diction getting better and better.
All these children’s Japanese music videos have their own unique aspects and offer different kinds of benefits for Japanese language learners. It doesn’t matter how weak or strong your Japanese knowledge is, you’ll find at least one of these videos helpful, I guarantee it.
For a real rollercoaster ride of a study session, go through all these songs in order and enjoy everything they offer. They might be meant for kids but they sure can teach us all something new!
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