Asadoya Yunta

Posted By at 8:42 AM on Sunday February 15, 2009

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After becoming entranced by Okinawan folk singer Rimi Natsukawa’s version of Shima Uta, I was browsing more of her performances on YouTube and found the equally enchanting Asadoya Yunta.

The song is sung in the Okinawan dialect of Japanese, making some of the words and phrases difficult for me to understand. I tried Google for an English translation of the lyrics but netted no results. Still curious about the meaning, I decided to translate it myself. This time I attempted a Google search for a version of the lyrics translated from the Okinawan dialect into plain Japanese, and instead found a curious mystery.

There appear to be at least two versions of Asadoya Yunta floating around the internet and performed by singers in Japan. The first is the version sung by Rimi Natsukawa, and we shall begin with that.

Asadoya Yunta (Rimi Natsukawa)

This version of the song seems fairly modern. It is sung in a lighter Okinawan dialect. The vocabulary, accent, and grammar differ from everyday Japanese, but the song is reasonably understandable.

Lyrics:

 

Japanese Lyrics

English Lyrics

サー君は野中の いばらの花か

(サーユイユイ)

暮れて帰れば やれほに引き止める

マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

Are you a thorny flower of the fields?

(Saa yui yui)*

When the day darkens and I return home, you keep me

Matahaari nu tsindara kanu shama yo

Matahaari nu tsindara kanu shama yo**

サー嬉し恥かし 浮名をたてて

(サーユイユイ)

主は白百合 やれほにままならぬ

マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

Happy, shy, with a light reputation

(Saa yui yui)*

The white lily will not match you

Matahaari nu tsindara kanu shama yo

Matahaari nu tsindara kanu shama yo**

サー田草取るなら 十六夜月

(サーユイユイ)

二人で気がねも やれほに水入らず

マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

The arrowhead harvest is on the 16th day of the moon

(Saa yui yui)*

We will be alone with our feelings

Matahaari nu tsindara kanu shama yo

Matahaari nu tsindara kanu shama yo**

サー染めてあげましょう 紺地の小袖

(サーユイユイ)

掛けておくれよ 情のたすき

マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

Let us dye the blue silk garments
(Saa, yui yui)*
Please bind the chords of your passion
Matahaari nu tsindara kanushama yo
Matahaari nu tsindara kanushama yo**

*(Saa, yui yui) is simply a melodic phrase which is said to have no meaning, much like singing “lalala” in English.

**Matahaari nu tsindara kanushamayo is a very mysterious phrase. It seemed that a lot of natives of Okinawa believed these words to be from a dialect of Taketomi Island where the song was written. Those who asked their aging Okinawan parents and grandparents were told it meant something like “Such a lovely girl.” However, the fellow at the website above wrote that the sentence was actually in Malay, a language spoken in Indonesia. Unsure if I could take his claims for granted, I looked it up myself. You can see the truth at the following links.

MATAHARI – (sun)
MU – (your)
CINTARA – (to love)
KAMI – (we)
SAMA-YO (equally)

The phrase can be interpreted as “Your sun loves us equally.” How interesting to find the translation of 300-year-old lyrics so easily. A look at Wikipedia lists Austronesia as a trading partner in Okinawa‘s history, a group of peoples and languages in which Malay is included, which may explain the way the language found its way into the song.

Asadoya Yunta (Traditional)

The language used in this version is far more antiquated and difficult to understand. The only video I could find to match with the following lyrics is here, where the computer voice sings a verse from Rimi Natsukawa’s version followed by the equivalent verse in the (presumably) more traditional version below.

Original lyrics & plain Japanese translation found at this page.

 

Japanese Lyrics

English Lyrics

サー 安里屋ぬ くやまにやぅ 
サーユイユイ
あん美らさ 生りばしやぅ
マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

 

Kuyama Asadoya
(Saa, yui yui)*
She was born so lovely
Matahaari nu tsindara kanushamayo**
サー 幼しゃから 美り生りばしい 
サーユイユイ
小ゆさから 白さ産でぃばしい
マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

 

Born lovely, since youth
(Saa, yui yui)*
Born pale, since she was small
Matahaari nu tsindara kanushamayo**

 

サー 目差主ぬ 乞ようたらやぅ 
サーユイユイ
当親ぬ 望みよたやぅ
マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

 

Mizasuishuu’s request
(Saa, yui yui)*
Her parents’ hope
Matahaari nu tsindara kanushamayo**
サー 目差主や 我な否やぅ 
サーユイユイ
当親や くり嫌やぅ
マタハーリヌ ツィンダラ カヌシャマヨ

 

I say no to Mizasuishuu
(Saa, yui yui)*
I hate my parents
Matahaari nu tsindara kanushamayo**

 

*(Saa, yui yui) is simply a melodic phrase which is said to have no meaning, much like singing “lalala” in English.

**Matahaari nu tsindara kanushamayo is a very mysterious phrase. It seemed that a lot of natives of Okinawa believed these words to be from a dialect of Taketomi Island where the song was written. Those who asked their aging Okinawan parents and grandparents were told it meant something like “Such a lovely girl.” However, the fellow at the website above wrote that the sentence was actually in Malay, a language spoken in Indonesia. Unsure if I could take his claims for granted, I looked it up myself. You can see the truth at the following links.

MATAHARI – (sun)
MU – (your)
CINTARA – (to love)
KAMI – (we)
SAMA-YO (equally)

The phrase can be interpreted as “Your sun loves us equally.” How interesting to find the translation of 300-year-old lyrics so easily. A look at Wikipedia lists Austronesia as a trading partner in Okinawa‘s history, a group of peoples and languages in which Malay is included, which may explain the way the language found its way into the song.

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Comments

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4 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    I believe that MATAHARI means something like “until we meet again”. It’s quite a common phrase which seems to crop up.

  2. chibi says:

    It’s true “Matahari” has the same meaning with Indonesian Bahasa, which means “SUN”.

    One of the Okinawan folk singer who came to perform Okinawan cultural dance and song in Jakarta told us that it has the same meaning. :D

  3. Mario says:

    Nice! Thanks for sharing!

    Makes a lot of sense.

  4. Adam says:

    Here is a modern version/rendition of the song. I thought this modern and light twist to the song gives it a more joyful expression.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfZ_1DxQ_hU

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