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Speak with confidence.
When one thinks of “easy languages to learn,” Japanese is rarely on that list.
In fact, according to the The American Council of Teaching Foreign Language (ACTFL), an organization dedicated to the learning and teaching of languages at all levels, Japanese is a “Group IV” language. Languages, like Korean, Arabic and Chinese, are also labeled as “Group IV” languages, because they take longer to learn than others, like Italian or Spanish.Because of this, many people may feel that it’s nearly impossible to learn Japanese.
But, it isn’t! There are dozens of methods to learn Japanese out there. Some are exhausting and a bit boring. Others, like learning through music, are more interactive and engaging.
So, we’ve compiled 15 top Japanese songs that are fun, easy to sing along to and guaranteed to make learning Japanese an exciting experience.
Why use Japanese songs to learn Japanese?
Before jumping into the songs, it’s important to understand why using top Japanese songs to learn Japanese is effective. Below are a handful of reasons:
Discover Japanese culture
Music is one of the best ways to engage with any culture. One reason is because it’s so wide-ranging. Some musicians make a point of discussing politics, others focus on everyday life that may go unnoticed, and a handful look to the more exciting parts of a people’s past, present and future. It’s also especially important in the case of the Japanese language, since Japan is the land of Karaoke (it was invented by Daisuke Inoue in 1971).
Music is portable
Instead of having to lug around a heavy textbook, listening to Japanese music is as easy as downloading some onto your cellphone and popping in your headphones. You can listen to songs on your morning commute, during workout sessions at the gym, or even right before you go to sleep. Having the flexibility to study Japanese on-the-go gives you more control in your language-learning process, which is important.
Learn more vocabulary
This one’s a no-brainer. The more Japanese songs you listen to, the more Japanese vocabulary you’ll know. Whether you’re a beginner or someone who’s spoken Japanese for years, there will always be dozens of songs for you to listen to and learn from. This is because songwriters often employ daily vernacular opposed to proper and formal ways of speaking. So, you’ll frequently hear slang, idioms and other parts of speech being used in different and unfamiliar ways, which will only help you learn more.
Sound like a native
In the same way learning vocabulary from Japanese songs will strengthen your arsenal of verbs and nouns, listening to top Japanese songs will also help you hear how words are spoken. This will allow you to pick up on accents that differ throughout the country, say from Kyoto to Tokyo. It will also help you know if your pronunciation of certain words is correct.
Repetition strengthens your memory
Ever get a song with a catchy tune stuck in your head for days? Sometimes, it’s the worst. But with learning a new language, like Japanese, it’s the best. Having songs replay in your head throughout the day will allow you to remember more of the words, sentence structures, accents and pronunciations. This will work its way into your subconscious, which means you’ll eventually start recognizing words and speaking more like a native in no time.
How to learn top Japanese songs
Learning top Japanese songs is as easy as listening to the ones we include below and replaying them. But if you want to increase the speed you learn them, below are a few tips.
Using headphones is the best way to listen to anything. It allows you to hear more nuanced sounds, focus on the song itself and not annoy people while in public.
Listen without lyrics
Once you start listening to one of the top Japanese songs below, you may find yourself confused. If you’re a beginner, this is normal. You haven’t heard many of these sounds before. We also know that this can be frustrating, but it’s important to first listen without the lyrics. Focus on identifying a few words, even if it’s just one or two out of a hundred. Listen to the sounds you’re hearing. Look for accents. Do this at least five times before moving onto the next step.
Listen with lyrics
Now that you’ve listened without the lyrics, pull them up and read along as you listen to the song. This will help you identify more words and learn how to properly pronounce them. If you come across words you don’t know (which you will), be sure to look them up in your Japanese dictionary.
Sing the song!
Yes, you read that right. After listening to the song a few times, with and without the lyrics, it’s time to actually sing along. If you’re nervous, make sure you do it in a private place or when no one’s home. This is the best way to make sure you’re actually learning. By singing along, you can perfect pronunciation, pacing, and learn a few new songs in the process. Be sure to record yourself so that you can see how you progress.
15 top Japanese songs that are surprisingly easy to sing along
Okay, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. The list of songs you’ll be able to practice and sing along with. We’ve done our best to find some of the most popular, as well as easy to sing along to, Japanese songs for your enjoyment.
1. "Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun" (およげ!たいやきくん)
Oyoge! Tayaki-kun is the bestselling Japanese song to-date. It was made by Masato Shimon, and the label he was on originally claimed it was a children’s song since it was used on the children’s television show, Hirake Ponkikki. The song is written from a fish’s perspective, and details life as a fish in Japan (hint, it’s far from great). Taiyaki’s are also delicious Japanese fish-shaped cakes. Maybe find a place that sells them and munch on one while you listen along.
2. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (おめでとうメリークリスマス)
Alright, We Wish You a Merry Christmas isn’t a Japanese song, but since Christmas isn’t a holiday restricted to one nation, it’s Japanese adaptation is certainly fair play. If you’re someone who celebrates Christmas, or is familiar with the holiday jingle, this song is a great crossover since you already have the melody down.
3. Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" (世界に一つだけの花)
This song is by a group called SMAP, and is one of the all-time best-selling songs in Japan. It’s slow, has words that are easily identifiable and is listened to by everyone from little children to older adults. The song itself uses flowers as a metaphor for people, and discusses how all of us, like flowers, have beautiful seeds of potential to plant, grow and blossom for the world to see.
4. "Onna no Michi" (女のみち)
Onna no Michi is a debut single by Shiro Miya & Pinkara Trio, and it’s a sad one. It’s about a woman who devoted herself to her husband only to have him leave. Womp womp. The lyrics aren’t complex, and easy to learn as long as you can survive how melancholy this popular song is. It was actually the best-selling song in Japan until Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun came out.
5. “Say Yes”
Say Yes is a song by Chage and Aska. It was originally intended to be a wedding song, but was used as a theme song for a popular Japanese television show. The song enjoyed 13 consecutive weeks as #1 on the Japanese Oricon charts, and in the seventh best-selling song in Japanese history. It’s a beautiful love song that will either make you want to give your significant other a kiss or burn down your ex’s house. You’ve been warned.
6. “The Ogre’s Underpants” (おにのパンツ)
Make no mistakes about it, this is a children’s song, which is great for anyone learning Japanese. It’s fun and repetitive. The main focus of the song is an ogre’s pair of underpants (we know, odd), which are incredibly strong. The video below is also weirdly addicting.
7. Tomorrow Never Knows
Tomorrow Never Knows is a song by Mr. Children. Weird name, we know. It was #1 on the Oricon charts for weeks, making it the eighth best-selling Japanese song of all time. Like other popular diddies, it was used as a television theme song, and won a bunch of awards. The song focuses on the fact that life is short, we never know when we’re going to go and that we should follow our hearts. The “light” stuff, right?
8. “Koi Suru Foochuun Kukkie” (恋するフォーチュンクッキー)
Koi Suru Foochuun Kukkie, by the girl band AKB48, is simple, fun and, best of all, catchy! It’s about heartbreak, unrequited love and other things that teens go through everyday. The title of the song means, “Love Fortune Cookie.” As you can imagine, the singers discuss the positives and negatives that the future may hold (just like a fortune cookie), as well as anxieties they have around it. The song has a whopping 123 million views on YouTube, if that means anything.
9. Love Love Love
Love Love Love, by Dreams Come True, is about love, love and, take a guess, love. After coming out in 1995, the song went on to sell more than two million copies. It’s short, repetitive and is a bit depressing. But sometimes we all need a good cry, no?
10. “Someday My Prince Will Come” (いつか王子様が)
Like We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Someday My Prince Will Come is an English-Japanese crossover. It comes from the hit Disney film, Snow White, and is instantly recognizable for any fan of the movie studio that always churns out classics. The song itself is slow, dreamlike and easy to follow along. This is one we suggest you listen before heading to bed for nothing but sweet dreams.
11. “YAH YAH YAH” (夢の番人)
Just from the title, it’s obvious this is an easy one to learn. It’s a single by Chaga and Aska, the same duo who wrote Say Yes, and is the eleventh best-selling single in Japan. That duo surely made a dent in the market! The song is about hanging in during the tough times, and features an upbeat and powerful vibe that can motivate anyone.
12. “Makenaide” (負けないで)
Makenaide is the best-selling song for the late musician, Izumi Sakai, released by her and the group she was a member of, Zard. It’s title translates into “Please don’t lose,” and was, of course, used as a theme song for a Japanese television program. Like YAH YAH YAH, the song is motivating, uplifting and resonated deeply with the Japanese public when it first came out. It’s easy to sing along to, has a memorable chorus and is a karaoke favorite.
13. “Sing Along Brushing Your Teeth” (はみがきのうた)
Yes, another children’s song. But isn’t that what we’re here for? This song is catchy, adorable and will teach you some useful vocabulary all while learning about best practices for keeping your pearly whites pearly and white. It’s by a group called Tokio Heidi who specialize in Japanese children’s songs. See more here.
14. “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
Mary Had a Little Lamb is a fan favorite around the world. It employs a limited, but useful, set of words, is easy to remember and will no doubt provide a good foundation for anyone learning Japanese. Songs that crossover from English, or another language, to Japanese are good because you may already be familiar with the melodies, which makes replacing the words a bit easier.
Pon Pon Pon isn’t a classic like a handful of the examples above, but it is wildly popular (119 million views on YouTube) and memorable. The song is by a singer who hit the scene within the last decade, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and features lyrics that anyone can learn. It’s about how the world is full of endless possibilities, and how we should all hold hands and get along. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) the song was also on an episode of The Simpsons. But beyond all that, the video below is certainly one-of-a-kind!
What are your top Japanese songs to sing along to?
After listening to all of the top Japanese songs above a handful of times, memorizing the lyrics and having some private karaoke time (remember, it’s important to sing along!), you’ll be even closer to getting a handle of Japanese. Not only that, but you’ll have learned more about the culture, how to speak like a native, as well as other everyday aspects of life that Japanese people experience across the spectrum.
What are some of your own favorite top Japanese songs to sing along to? Drop them below and let us know. Sharing is caring!
Want some more language learning tips? You’ll love these articles:
- How to Learn a Language Fast (In 90 Days or Less)
- 7 Habits of Successful Language Learners
- Best Ways to Learn a Language While Living Abroad
Sub-genre of music
City pop (シティ・ポップ, shiti poppu) is a loose category of Japanese pop music that emerged in the late 1970s and peaked in the 1980s. It was originally termed as an offshoot of Japan's Western-influenced "new music", but came to include a wide range of styles – including AOR, soft rock, R&B, funk, and boogie – that were associated with the country's nascent economic boom and leisure class. It was also identified with new technologies such as the Walkman, cars with built-in cassette decks and FM stereos, and various electronic musical instruments.
There is no unified consensus among scholars regarding the definition of city pop. In Japan, the tag simply referred to music that projected an "urban" feel and whose target demographic was urbanites. Many of the artists did not embrace the Japanese influences of their predecessors, and instead, largely drew from American soft rock, boogie, and funk. Some examples may also feature tropical flourishes or elements taken from disco, jazz fusion, Okinawan, Latin and Caribbean music. Singer-songwriter Tatsuro Yamashita, who was among the genre's pioneers and most successful artists, is sometimes called the "king" of city pop.
City pop lost mainstream appeal after the 1980s and was derided by younger generations of Japanese. In the early 2010s, partly through the instigation of music-sharing blogs and Japanese reissues, city pop gained an international online following as well as becoming a touchstone for the sample-based microgenres known as vaporwave and future funk.
Definitions of "city pop" have varied and many of the artists tagged with the genre have played in styles that are significantly different from each other. Yutaka Kimura, an author of numerous books about city pop, defined the genre as "urban pop music for those with urban lifestyles." In 2015, Ryotaro Aoki wrote in The Japan Times:
The term was originally used to describe an offshoot of the emerging Western-influenced "new music" of the 1970s and ’80s. "City pop" referred to the likes of Sugar Babe [ja] and Eiichi Ohtaki, artists who scrubbed out the Japanese influences of their predecessors and introduced the sounds of jazz and R&B — genres said to have an "urban" feel — to their music. ... The term has drifted in and out of the musical lexicon ever since. ... With a term as vague and broad as city pop, it’s natural that no one seems to be agreeing on what the label actually means anymore."
Jon Blistein of Rolling Stone concurred that city pop was "less a strict genre term than a broad vibe classification." According to Japan Archival Series supervisor Yosuke Kitazawa, there "were no restrictions on style or a specific genre that we wanted to convey with these songs" but that it "was music made by city people, for city people." Kitazawa identified two distinct styles that exemplified city pop: "the former a lush, tropical romp, the latter a thumping rug-cutter".
Pitchfork's Joshua Minsoo Kim called it "a vague descriptor for Japanese music that incorporated jazz and R&B", while PopMatters' Chris Ingalls categorized it as "a type of soft rock/AOR/funk".Wax Poetics'Ed Motta offered, "City Pop is really AOR and soft rock but with some funk and boogie too. Because when you hear funkier City Pop tunes, you hear not only the influence, but in some parts they steal from groups like Skyy, BB&Q Band, and those kinda American boogie and funk groups." An Electronic Beats writer characterized city pop as Japan's "answer to synth pop and disco".
Musically, city pop applies relatively advanced songwriting and arranging techniques – such as major seventh and diminished chords – that are drawn directly from the American soft rock of the era (bands such as Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers). Yutaka cited the band Happy End as "ground zero" for the genre, whereas Motta traces it to the mid-1970s with the work of Haruomi Hosono and Tatsuro Yamashita.Vice contributor Rob Arcand similarly credited Hosono as a "key influence" on city pop. In the mid-1970s, Hosono founded the band Tin Pan Alley, which fused southern R&B, northern soul and jazz fusion with Hawaiian and Okinawan tropical flourishes. In the view of Fact Mag's Mikey I.Q. Jones, this led to the style of music that would be dubbed "city pop".
The genre became closely tied to the tech boom in Japan during the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the Japanese technologies which influenced city pop included the Walkman, cars with built-in cassette decks and FM stereos, and various electronic musical instruments such as the Casio CZ-101 and Yamaha CS-80 synthesizers and Roland TR-808 drum machine. According to Blistein, electronic instruments and gadgets "allowed musicians to actualise the sounds in their heads" and cassette decks "allowed fans to dub copies of albums". According to Blistein: "An opulent amalgamation of pop, disco, funk, R&B, boogie, jazz fusion, Latin, Caribbean and Polynesian music, the genre was inextricably tied to a tech-fueled economic bubble and the wealthy new leisure class it created."
City pop became a distinct regional genre that peaked in popularity during the 1980s. According to Vice, the most popular figures of the genre were "accomplished composers and producers in their own right, with artists like Tatsuro Yamashita and Toshiki Kadomatsu incorporating complex arrangements and songwriting techniques into their hits, ... The booming economy also made it easier for them to get label funding". Yamashita is sometimes referred to as the "king" of city pop. The genre lost mainstream appeal after the 1980s. In the description of Kitazawa, "Many Japanese people who grew up with this kind of music considered city pop as cheesy, mainstream, disposable music, going so far as calling it 'shitty pop'.""
Since the 2010s, city pop has seen a resurgence with artists such as Mariya Takeuchi gaining an international online following, as well as becoming a touchstone for the sample-based microgenres known as vaporwave and future funk. Kim credited "Blogspot blogs and Japanese reissues" circa 2010 with "introduc[ing] music nerds to a strain of AOR, funk, disco, and yacht rock trafficked under the amorphous term ... The music had largely been neglected by Westerners and derided by many Japanese as cheesy, but as YouTube algorithms launched songs into the wider collective consciousness, city pop surged in popularity ..." In 2020, The Japan Times contributor Patrick St. Michel reported that, "Abroad, boutique labels are reissuing rare records or releasing compilations, though millions have largely experienced city pop through songs such as [Takeuchi's 1984 song] "Plastic Love" or the seemingly endless playlists backed by anime snippets on YouTube."
- ^ abcdefghijBlistein, Jon (2 May 2019). "City Pop: Why Does the Soundtrack to Tokyo's Tech Boom Still Resonate?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
- ^ abcdefgAoki, Ryotaro (5 July 2015). "City pop revival is literally a trend in name only". The Japan Times.
- ^ abcdefgh"Ed Motta drops exclusive City Pop Vol. 2 mixtape of smooth and funky Japanese AOR - Wax Poetics". Wax Poetics. April 28, 2016. Archived from the original on June 29, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
- ^ abcKim, Joshua Minsoom (June 2, 2020). "Pacific Breeze 2: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1972-1986". Pitchfork.
- ^ abc"City Pop: A Guide To Japan's Overlooked '80s Disco In 10 Tracks". Electronic Beats. November 1, 2016.
- ^ abcJones, Mikey I.Q. (January 22, 2015). "The Essential... Yellow Magic Orchestra". FACT Magazine.
- ^ abcdefArcand, Rob; Goldner, Sam. "The Guide to Getting Into City Pop, Tokyo's Lush 80s Nightlife Soundtrack". vice.com. Vice. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
- ^ ab"Japanese City Pop – A Quick Introduction To Tokyo's 80s Soundtrack". Vinyl of the day. February 21, 2019.
- ^Ingalls, Chris (May 13, 2020). "'Pacific Breeze 2' Is Another Refreshing Dive into the Waters of City Pop". PopMatters.
- ^Arcand, Rob (October 10, 2018). "Haruomi Hosono Is the Japanese Experimenter Who Changed Pop Music Forever". Noisey.
- ^Markowitz, Douglas (October 10, 2018). "5 Vaporwave and Future Funk Tracks to Get You Ready for YUNG BAE". Phoenix New Times.
- ^St. Michel (August 6, 2020). "City Pop on Vinyl brings back the glitzed-out sounds of Japan's bubble". The Japan Times.
- Kimura, Yutaka (2011). Japanese City Pop Disc Collection (Shohan ed.). Tōkyō. ISBN .
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Japanese songs soft
The sisters will take care of them, - Edith nodded to the sea, where triangular fins were already flashing in the silvered water surface. - asked Malia. Take the boat, get to the shore, - Edith ordered, - I will say that you were killed along with the others.soft japanese playlist to study/chill/sleep ✧
My penis was eager to enter the hot pussy of my girl. But I restrained myself and played with Irishka's holes with my fingers. With one finger I deeply entered her pussy, and with the second I stretched the anus. Ira began to move her hips again, her pussy was getting wetter. It seemed to me that she began to touch her breast with her hand.
My aunt pinched my husband's forearm, he pushed me backwards onto the edge of the table, and held me in his arms without removing his penis. Let go of your prey, do you hear, she demandedly pounded her fist on back of an African wife. Hes not ready now, he doesnt want to. No, auntie, I want, I cried.