Sōran Bushi (ソーラン節) is one of the most famous traditional songs (min'yō) in Japan. It is a Japanese sea shanty that is said to have been first sung by the fishermen of Hokkaidō, northern Japan.
Sōran Bushi accompanies the bon dance in many parts of Japan, and it has its own dancing styles that date back generations. The dance moves depict ocean waves, fishermen dragging nets, pulling ropes and lifting luggage over their shoulders. This dance is taught in many schools across Japan as part of the curriculum.
During regular intervals of the dance, the words: "DOKKOISHO!" "DOKKOISHO!" "SORAN!" "SORAN!" Are called. Those words were used in the past to encourage the fisherman during their work.
Lyrics and Translation
An excerpt from "Sōran Bushi"
Yāren sōran sōran
Sōran sōran sōran (hai hai!)
Oki de kamome no naku koe kikeba
Funanori kagyō wa yamerarenu choi
CHORUS (AKA - kakegoe)
Yasa e en ya sa dokkoisho
(a dokkoisho, dokkoisho!)
Oyaji tairyō da mukashi to chigau
toreta nishin wa ore no mono choi
Ichi-jō-go-shaku no ro o kogu fune mo
horeta ano go nya te mo choi
Tama no suhada ga shibuki ni nurerya
uwaki kamome ga mite sawagu choi
Rough English Translation:
Oh!!! Soran, soran, soran
soran, soran, soran. (yes, yes!)
When we hear the jabbering of seagulls on the high seas,
we know we can’t give up our fishing lives on the ocean.
Put your backs into it! Heave, ho! Heave, ho!
(Heave, ho! Heave, ho!)
Boss, I tell you, the size of this catch of herring
is different from all the others. And it's all MINE.
Even if I row four and a half metres,
I couldn't get that girl's attention.
A flighty seagull twitters in excitement
As it sees my bare skin, glistening with ocean surf.