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About "Sakura"

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Song Title View or Listen
Sakura (melody only) さくら mus  pdf  mid  mp3  xml
Sakura (arranged for piano by R. Dittrich, 1894) さくら mus  pdf  mid  mp3  xml
Saita-Sakurai (arranged for guitar quartet by Tom Potter) さくら mus  pdf  mid  mp3  xml

Title in English: "Cherry Blossoms "


A beloved old song, composer unknown.  Cherry blossoms symbolize love, so the blossoms’ transitory existence can symbolize the impermanence of love.


Rudolf Dittrich (1894) (see below) gives the following lyrics to the song (Japanese, German, and English)


Sakura! Sakura!
*Yayoi no sora wa
Mi-watasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka,
Nioi zo izuru.
Izaya!  Izaya!
Mi ni yukan!


Kirschblüthe!  Kirschblüthe!
In dem Lenzeshimmel,
So weit man ihn überblicken kann,
Sind es Nebel oder Wolken?
O nein! denn Blüthenduft verbreitet sich.
Wohlan denn, wohlan denn!
Lasst uns schauen gehen!

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry-blossoms!  Cherry-blossoms!
As far as one can see
In the spring heavens,
Is that mist or cloud?
No! for the fragrance of the blossoms diffuses itself.
Come then, come then!
Let us go and see them!

*Yayoi=a poetical expression for the third month of the ancient Japanese calendar.


"Sakura" is possibly the most popular Japanese song worldwide.  The song is often performed as a solo koto piece.

"Sakura" appears in Giocomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly, in oboe and strings while Butterfly shows Pinkerton her meager but treasured possessions.  Among these items is the hara-kiri dagger.

For a list of Puccini's Japanese songs, see Japanese Songs in Puccini's Madama Butterfly on this website.

"Sakura" also appears in André Messager’s 1893 opera, Madame Chrysanthème.  This work premiered 11 years before Butterfly, and the plots of the two operas have many similarities.


Dittrich, Rudolf, Nippon Gakufu (“Six Japanese Popular Songs collected and arranged for the Pianoforte”), Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig, 1894.Nagai, Y., and Kobatake, K., Japanese Popular Music, A Collection of the Popular Music of Japan Rendered in to the Staff Notation, S. Miki & Co., Nos. 106 and 107 Shinsaibashi Road, Osaka, 1892.

Piggott, Francis Taylor. The Music and the Musical Instruments of Japan. London: B.T. Batsford, 1893, page 131.  In Google books.

Powils-Okano, Kimiyo, Puccinis "Madama Butterfly", Verlag für systematische Musikwissenschaft GmbH, Bonn, 1986 (in German).

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