top of page
  • 執筆者の写真Yuko


Since olden times, it has been said that everything has become fashionable and sooner or later abolished, this is not only for human beings but also for gods. The god of plague, god of poverty, god of blisters, and god of death, are not welcomed by people. The Grim Reaper is the best and also worst god that ever lived, existed, or perhaps was created across the globe.

Death is not able to be seen, touched or of course tasted. However, at least one of our ancestors could have sensed him before unavoidable, critical situations, such as battles, pandemics, famines and natural disasters. What did our ancestors do in order to stave off the Grim Reaper who had held their leg? Instead of thinking and asking such a question like "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile, for me?”, I believe that we could not help creating music, especially a fight song before death or a requiem after death, in order to accept a harsh reality even in the greater good.

Although there are various songs inspired by and related to death around the world, which is similar to the world of literature, here I will set wheels in motion. I am going to focus on geographic features, landforms and ecosystems to determine which two countries and their songs, either for fight or requiem, would teach us something important for life in the ever-challenging world. Those two countries are England and Japan. Both countries are islands hanging on the verge of Eurasia which occupies the largest area on Earth. Furthermore, they both have pretty similar ecosystems and it is often noted that they both have similarities such as a long existence of a royal family, overwhelming politeness, favour of the topic of weather and drinking tea as it grows on trees.

By and large, the folk music of both countries has produced tons of traditional songs in several ways, which are expressing assorted emotions seasoned with our five senses. However, when I listened to the Shimauta ( from Okinawa, Japan, it immediately began to awaken my senses to detect a sort of Death. Then coincidentally, it had me conjure up a song which I have heard in an old castle in England. It is called the Fight song ( played by bagpipes. Both tunes have strongly haunting, melancholic melodies flying freely into a gigantic space in the balmy atmosphere, nevertheless, the music is still hooked by chains of the wail of an inevitable shadow of death.

Now if I set the record straight, both songs had an indefinable quality “a bit like everywhere but totally unlike anywhere”. I would say this contains a special island quality. Unlike continents, islands have mingled vigorously with fear of nature, shuffling with winds and waves, entangled in a violent storm. As a result, the music in islands has been weathered, isolated, but tinted with a distinct identity that has descended from ancestors. Then it has evolved organically until the present day.

For the above-mentioned facts and reasons, even these small islands which lie in the opposite of the gargantuan Eurasia continent would share the same hope in the future and readiness to fight even if there is only a 1 per cent chance of success. It is a gift all we islanders are imbued with. It would be the will in England and the wisdom in Japan to make the most of our lives. To take what we have been given and turn it into something better could be considered the measuring stick of success.





bottom of page