The Music of Hayakawa Yoshio 2: “Salvia Flowers”

Salvia flowersby Michael Bourdaghs

The Jacks broke up after releasing two studio albums, and in 1969 Hayakawa recorded his first solo album, “Things That Are Cool Are Somehow So Uncool” (Kakko ii koto wa nan ka kakko warui darō). Released on the underground URC label, the LP received widespread acclaim, with critics in particular singling out the track “Salvia Flowers” (サルビアの花), with music by Hayakawa and lyrics by Aizawa Yasuko, for praise. Whereas The Jacks’ music had been primarily guitar-based, for his solo debut Hayakawa switched to piano as his main instrument.

With its achingly beautiful melody and elegiac lyrics, “Salvia Flowers” became Hayakawa’s most widely covered composition. It has subsequently been performed by numerous performers from across the popular music spectrum, ranging from Kuwata Keisuke (Southern All Stars) to Inoue Yōsui, Yuki Saori, Agata Morio, and Yamamoto Linda. It also remains a fixture of Hayakawa’s concert repertoire.

The original 1969 recording of “Salvia Flowers”

Hayakawa performing the song with violinist Honzi on Japanese television circa 2005

Salvia Flowers (Sarubia no hana)

(Music by Hayakawa Yoshio, lyrics by Aizawa Yasuko)
English translation by Michael Bourdaghs

Always, always wanted to do it: take salvia flowers Itsumo itsumo omotteta sarubia no hana o
and drop them into your room Anata no heya no naka ni nageiretakute
To cover your bed in red salvia flowers Soshite kimi no beddo ni sarubia no akai hana shikitsumete
And hold you till we die Boku wa kimi o shinu made dakishimete iyō to
And yet, and yet: you’ve gone to another Nanoni nanoni dōshite hoka no hito no tokoro ni
Even though my love is deeper Boku no ai no hō ga suteki nanoni
Weeping, I chased you through a storm of cherry blossoms Nakinagara kimi no ato o oikakete hanafubuki mau michi o
The church bell rang untrue Kyōkai no kane no ne wa nante usoppachi nanosa
The doors opened and you appeared, the false flower-bride Tobira ga aite dete kita kimi wa itsuwari no hanayome
Threw a glance at my stunned face Hoho o kowabarase boku o chiratto mita
Weeping, I chased you through a storm of cherry blossoms Nakinagara kimi no ato o oikakete hanafubuki mau michi o
Falling and stumbling, falling and stumbling, I ran on and on Korogenagara korogenagara  hashiritsuzuketa no sa