Yumiko Sato Music Therapy

Journey Into Wholeness

“Hamabe no uta” – Japanese folk song about memory and reflection

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Hamabe no uta (Song of the Beach) is one of the most popular and beloved Japanese folk songs written in 1914.

When I was working as a music therapist at hospice in the U.S, my patients and families often asked me to sing or play a Japanese song.   Hamabe no uta was one I often sang because of its lyric: It talks about memory and reflection, which is a fitting theme for people at hospice.

Hamabe no Uta (浜辺の歌)

By Hayashi Kokei & Narita Tamezou

Ashita hamabe o samayoeba
Mukashi no koto zo shinobaruru
Kaze no oto yo kumo no sama yo
Yosuru nami mo kai no iro mo

Yuube hamabe o motooreba
Mukashi no hito zo shinobaruru
Yosuru nami yo kaesu nami yo
Tsuki no iro mo hoshi no kage mo

Translation

In the morning as I wandered about along the seashore
I remembered things from the old times
The sound of the wind, the shape of the cloud
The wave that came and the color of the seashell too

At dusk as I wandered about along the seashore
I remembered people from the old times
The wave that came, the wave that went away
The color of the moon and the light of the star too

Hamabe no uta is a beautiful song about remembering the past.  Sometimes the patient may play an instrument, such as an ocean drum, while I sing the song with a guitar or harp accompaniment.  Upon singing the song I’d explain the meaning of the song to the patient, if that seems appropriate, which can lead to discussions about his or her own memory from the past.

Recalling memories is a natural and important process for the dying, because it helps them understand the meanings of their lives.  Music therapists play an unique role in helping them do this, using songs (this process is called musical life review).  Typically we use songs familiar to the patient to support the life review process, but I’ve found that some songs transcend borders and languages, touching peoples’ hearts and eliciting powerful memories in them.  “Hamabe no uta” is one of those special songs.

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7 comments on ““Hamabe no uta” – Japanese folk song about memory and reflection

  1. Teal Ashes
    February 10, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this sweet song, Yumi.

    • Yumi
      February 11, 2014

      You’re welcome!

  2. sehvanna
    June 11, 2014

    we sang this song in our school choir this year. thank you for sharing it.

    • Yumi
      June 11, 2014

      You’re welcome. May I ask which country you live? I’m curious, because this is not a well-known song outside Japan.

  3. Luigi
    August 14, 2014

    Beautiful song. Makes you re-live forgotten emotions. I believe I heard this song in one of the old Tora-san movies many years ago

  4. Pingback: The Last Wish of a Woman Who Survived The Battle of Okinawa | Yumiko Sato Music Therapy

  5. Pingback: The Last Wish of a Woman Who Survived The Battle of Okinawa | Discover Japan

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This entry was posted on February 9, 2014 by in End-of-Life Music Therapy, Musical life review, Songs and tagged , .
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