The Music of Hayakawa Yoshio 4: “Letter to My Father”

Letter to my father“Letter to My Father” 「父さんへの手紙」 appears on Hayakawa’s sixth solo album, Uta wa uta no nai tokoro kara kikoete kuru (Sony, 2000). Taking autobiographical materials as its source, the song explores a topic that Hayakawa also sometimes writes about in his published essays: his relations with his own family. Simultaneously elegiac and celebratory, the song explores the possibility that music can help us accomplish the work of mourning.

Video of Hayakawa performing “Letter to My Father” in a television appearance

“Letter to My Father”
(Music and lyrics by Hayakawa Yoshio)

English translation by Michael Bourdaghs

Back in the days when my father was dating my mother Mukashi, tōsan ga kaasan to deito shita toki
That line Dad spoke in front of the shaved-ice café: Kōriya no mae de tōsan ga itta serifu
‘I’ll wait here outside, so Watashi wa soto de matte imasu kara
You go in by yourself and have some.’ Anata dake tabete kinasai
Such a funny dad Sonna okashi na tōsan ga
Drove me crazy, but I love him Boku wa komaru kedo suki da yo
The same blood flows in me Onaji chi ga nagarete iru
Hey, Dad, how you doing? Nee tōsan, ogenki desu ka
I’m still singing my songs Are kara boku wa uta o utattemasu
About that uncontrollable part inside of me Jibun no naka no te ni oenu bubun ya
About those sad thoughts with nowhere to go Yukiba no nai kanashimi ya omoi o
Still don’t understand a thing Nani hitotsu wakatte nai kedo
Still seeking out beauty Utsukushii mono o tsukamitakute
Wish you could hear them, Dad Tōsan ni mo kiite moraitakute
Hey, Dad, there’s this great place in Hakone Okuyumoto Nee tōsan, Hakone Okuyumoto ni ii onsen ga arunda
Let’s go soak in the hot springs and watch the moon together Nee tōsan, tsuki o minagara issho ni atatamarō yo
Me, I haven’t changed a bit, still a difficult person Aimokawarazu boku wa henkutsu na no de
Never feel the same as others do Hito to onaji kimochi ni narenai
Never go visit your grave, Dad Tōsan no hakamairi ni mo ikazu
Just stare absentminded at the sky Bonyari to sora o nagametemasu
But it’s not as if you were Kurai tsuchi no naka ni tōsan ga
Really there beneath the black soil; Nemutte iru wake wa nai
Look within each heart Sorezore no kokoro no naka sa
Hey, Dad, all those rituals and ceremonies, they’re just pointless, for show, right? Nee tōsan, arayuru gishiki wa wazatorashiku muda de kokkei na mono da yo ne
Hey, Dad, how do I become a good person? Nee tōsan, dōshitara boku wa sunao ni nareru no deshō ka
Hey, Dad, I wish we’d shared more laughs, more heart-to-heart talks Nee tōsan, motto uchitokete shimijimi to katari warai aitakatta
Hey, Dad, let’s take Mom to watch the fireworks again someday Nee tōsan, mata kaasan to issho ni hanabi o miyō ne