Your Friend in Japan

Why Do the Japanese Love Putting English Words in their Songs?

Written by HotAnime

One interesting aspect of Japan is the way they love inserting English lyrics in Japanese songs, throwing in “I can hear your heart bell, can you hear my heart bell?” or “Nice to meet you, good to see you!” or “Get chance and luck!” in between lines of Japanese. This random use of “decoration English” is done mainly because English is considered 格好いい kakko ii or “cool” by the Japanese, and also (or so I’ve heard) because it’s the one class Japanese students took in high school that they could relax and have fun in, which brings back positive memories when they hear the language. Supposedly the trend started with singer Matsutoya Yumi — if you’ve watched The Wind Rises or the Kiki’s Delivery Service subbed version you know her voice — who grew up near Yokota Air Base near Tokyo and was fluent in English since childhood. She started inserting random phrases into her songs as “emotional snapshots” to make her songs more interesting, and the practice has continued ever since.

J-List and JAST USA has been involved with licensing and translating Japanese visual novels for a mind-blowing 20 years, having published our first games all the way back in 1996. As most J-List readers will know, visual novels are amazing interactive games in which the player controls the direction of the story with the choices he makes, experiencing a highly enriching (or sometimes just “naughty”) story along the way. While some might think of visual novels as something new that sprang up in Japan, I view them as an extension of the old school text adventures from the 1970s and 80s, such as the Colossal Cave Adventure (“It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.”) and the classic Infocom text adventures of the 80s. Back in high school I had a very specific dream: to someday have a game distribution company selling adventure games, which eventually come true, though I didn’t imagine they’d be so ecchi.

The recent sudden rise in the yen and an increase in shipping prices by the Japanese post office — the first they’ve done in 10+ years — caused J-List’s shipping prices to rise, too, but we’ve got some good news: we’ve dropped them down again. Now is a great time to make an order from J-List with our new lower shipping!

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