According to 17 million Japanese people in a 1997 NHK poll, this is The Greatest Japanese Song of All Time! Its name literally translates to "Like the Flow of the River," and in addition to being an incredibly beautiful song, it is also an impressive historical artifact, showing the common feelings of the Japanese people after World War II.

This song was made famous by enka singer Misora Hibari, and is now taught to every high school music student in the country—one of the better examples of large-scale cultural indoctrination (I still have the textbook with the sheet music, somewhere).

川の流れのように "Kawa no nagare no yô ni"

秋元康作詞・見岳章作曲
Lyrics by Akimoto Yasushi - Music by Mitake Akira

(c) Nippon Columbia Records, 1985

知らず知らず 歩いてきた
細く長い この道
振り返れば 遥か遠く
故郷が見える
でこぼこ道や 曲がりくねった道
地図さえない それもまた人生
ああ 川の流れのように ゆるやかに
いくつも 時代は過ぎて
ああ 川の流れのように とめどなく
空が黄昏に 染まるだけ

生きることは 旅すること
終わりのない この道
愛する人 そばに連れて
夢 探しながら
雨に降られて ぬかるんだ道でも
いつかは また 晴れる日が来るから
ああ 川の流れのように おだやかに
この身を まかせていたい
ああ 川の流れのように 移り行く
季節 雪どけを待ちながら

ああ 川の流れのように おだやかに
この身を まかせていたい
ああ 川の流れのように いつまでも
青いせせらぎを 聞きながら

Shirazu shirazu aruite kita
Hosoku nagai kono michi
Furi kaereba haruka to'oku
Furusato ga mieru
Dekoboko michi ya magariku netta michi
Chizu saenai sore mo mata jinsei
A-a, kawa no nagare no yô ni, yuruyaka ni
Ikutsu mo jidai wa sugite
A-a, kawa no nagare no yô ni, tomedonaku
Sora ga tasogare ni somaru dake

Ikiru koto wa tabi suru koto
Owari no nai kono michi
Ai suru hito soba ni tsurete
Yume sagashi nagara
Ame ni furarete nukurunda michi de mo
Itsu ka wa, mata, hareru hi ga kuru kara
A-a, kawa no nagare no yô ni, odayaka ni
Kono mi o makasete itai
A-a, kawa no nagare no yô ni, utsuri yuku
Kisetsu yukidoke o machi nagara

A-a, kawa no nagare no yô ni, odayaka ni
Kono mi o makasete itai
A-a, kawa no nagare no yô ni, itsu made mo
Aoi seseragi o kiki nagara

Unauthorized English translation by sekicho:

There are no personal pronouns in the song, so I've interpreted it as meaning "we." It could just as easily be referring to the singer or the listener. Be advised.

This road is narrow and long
We've walked it unconsciously
If we turn our heads, far in the distance
We can see our hometown
Bumpy roads and winding roads
And uncharted roads, c'est la vie
Ah, like the flow of the river, laid back
So many years pass by
Ah, like the flow of the river, endlessly
The sky is dyed with twilight

Living is travelling
On this road without an end
People we love come near us
As we search for our dreams
Even on roads muddied by rain
Someday, again, another clear day will come
Ah, like the flow of the river, calmly
We want to lose ourselves
Ah, like the flow of the river
As we wait for the thaws of the coming seasons

Ah, like the flow of the river, calmly
We want to lose ourselves
Ah, like the flow of the river, forever
As we listen to the stream of blue

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