Angela Aki: “The Letter” 手紙 : Hapa Sensation in Japan

The Song TEGAMI  手紙 (the Letter) was a huge sensation in Japan in 2007.

It was sung by Hapa White-Japanese singer Angela Aki, who sings in fluent Japanese and English in many of her recordings.  The song Tegami, thrust Angela Aki into the limelight for its poignant and almost all-encompassing power to bring school children of junior and senior high schools across Japan in communicating its all-too-familiar message to encourage strength through alienation, loneliness, bullying, and the compulsory examination systems through which tremendous pressures are thrusted into the lives of the Japanese youth for its capitalist machinery.  This song touched millions.  It was also a social change, social consciousness project connected to money-making as well, let us not be mistakenly naive or purist.

In listening to the lyrics and the melody and emotion, it is clear that this song is moving and touches upon something deeply engrained, resisted, endured, and made to become something the youth of Japan (and other countries) must fight against with body and mind, in order to become something our global system of dominance deems “adult.”

It was written to encourage young teenagers in Japan, suffering from the pressures of society in those school years.

Masami Goto, of Japan National Public Broadcasting System — NHK, has this to say about this song (in 2007):

This year is the 75th anniversary of the NHK Schools Chorus Contest. We asked a popular singer-song-writer, Angela Aki, to write a compulsory song called Tegami (Letter) for the junior high school division. The song is based on a letter Angela Aki wrote as a senior high school student to her future self. A related project called Tegami starts in May, in which we ask junior high school students to send in their thoughts on this song and related personal anecdotes. Angela Aki visits junior high schools and interviews the pupils for a documentary feature that will be shown on General TV at 10:00 p.m. on May 9 and again in September. We have asked Naoki Award winning non-fiction writer Eto Mori to write lyrics for the compulsory song in the elementary school division, and an another author, Hiroyuki Itsuki, to do the same for the senior high school division.


 LYRICS (courtesy of:meheartdancing.livejournal.com)
 

The Letter


Dear you,
Who’s reading this letter
Where are you and what are you doing now?

For me who’s 15 years old
There are seeds of worries I can’t tell anyone

If it’s a letter addressed to my future self,
Surely I can confide truly to myself

Now, it seems that I’m about to be defeated and cry
For someone who’s seemingly about to disappear
Whose words should I believe in?
This one-and-only heart has been broken so many times
In the midst of this pain, I live the present

Dear you,
Thank you
I have something to tell the 15-year-old you

If you continue asking what and where you should be going
You’ll be able to see the answer

The rough seas of youth may be tough
But row your boat of dreams on
Towards the shores of tomorrow

Now, please don’t be defeated and please don’t shed a tear
During these times when you’re seemingly about to disappear
Just believe in your own voice
For me as an adult, there are sleepless nights when I’m hurt
But I’m living the bittersweet present

There’s meaning to everything in life
So build your dreams without fear
Keep on believing

Seems like I’m about to be defeated and cry
For someone who’s seemingly about to disappear
Whose words should I believe in?

Please don’t be defeated and please don’t shed a tear
During these times when you’re seemingly about to disappear
Just believe in your own voice

No matter era we’re in
There’s no running away from sorrow
So show your smile, and go on living the present
Go on living the present

Dear you,
Who’s reading this letter
I wish you happiness

***********************************************

Romaji Lyrics

 TEGAMI

Haikei kono tegami yondeiru anata wa
Doko de nani wo shiteiru no darou

Juugo no boku ni wa dare ni mo hanasenai
Nayami no kanae ga aru no desu

Mirai no jibun ni atete kaku tegami nara
Kitto sunao ni uchiake rareru darou

Ima makesou de nakisou de
Kieteshimaisou na boku wa
Dare no kotoba wo
Shinji arukeba ii no?
Hitotsu shika nai kono mune ga nando mo barabara ni warete
Kurushii naka de ima wo ikiteiru
Ima wo ikiteiru

Haikei arigatou juugo no anata ni
Tsutaetai koto ga aru no desu
Jibun to wa nani de doko e mukau beki ka
Toitsu dzukereeba mietekuru

Areta seishun no umi wa kibishii keredo
Asu no kishibe e to yume no fune yo susume

Ima makenai de nakanai de
Kieteshimaisou na toki wa
Jibun no koe wo shinjiaru keba ii no?
Otona no boku mo kizutsuite
Nemurenai yoru wa aru kedo
Nigakute amai ima ikiteiru

Jinsei no subete ni imi ga aru kara
Osorezu ni anata no yume wo sodatete
La la la, la la la
Keep on believing
La la la, la la la,
Keep on believing, keep on believing, keep on believing

Makesou de nakisou de
Kieteshimaisou boku wa
Dare no kotoba wo shinji arukeba ii no?
Aa Makenaii de nakanai de
Kieteshimaisou na toki wa
Jibun no koe wo shinjiarukeba ii no
Itsu no jidai mo kanashimi mo
Sakete wa torenai keredo
Egao wo misete ima wo ikite yukou
Ima wo ikite yukou

Haikei kono tegami yondeiru anata ga
Shiawase na koto wo negaimasu

..............
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