International Shakuhachi Society Logo

The International Shakuhachi Society

Soran Bushi

ソラン節

This is a piece of genre Min'yo from the Min'yo School.

History (Takahashi Yujiro):

(Work Song Version) Herring fishing brought thousands of migrant workers to Hokkaido, Japan's northern island, each spring until early this century. Songs accompanied each stage of fishing, such as rowing and net-hauling. "Soran Bushi" was sung while transferring the herring from large drift-nets into small taxi-boats with giant hand-nets. The abundant lyrics are often improvised, erotic or comical - helping to keep workers awake during several days without sleep. This recording - which eschews the bawdier verses - gives an idea of how "Soran Bushi" would have sounded as a functioning work song, as opposed to the following track: rough-edged, spontaneous, in a northeastern accent.

(introduction: meaningless rhythmic calls)
(chorus:) Ee yaren soran soran soran soran soran (hai hai)
Yoichi's a fine place - come visit sometime: flames of gold shoot up from the waves.
If you ask the seagull, "Have the herring come?", "I'm just a migrating bird; ask the waves".
(Tonight, for one night I sleep on a damask pillow; tomorrow, on shipboard, the waves are my pillow.)

Soran Bushi appears on the following albums

AlbumShakuhachiKotoShamisen
All the Best from Japan


Flute and Koto of Japan Yamaguchi Goro
Yonekawa Toshiko
Japanese Bamboo Flute Richard Stagg

Japanese Treasures


    A folksong.

Journey of the Wind


Koto Melodies of Japan - Hogaku Yonin no Kai (The Four Players Group)


    This tune, too, is connected with fishing. Fishermen of Hokkaieo, a big island lying east of the Japanese mainland, sang this song in celebration of a good catch of herring. It conveys the toughness of fishermen who fight against a cold stormy sea.

Memories of Japan Riley Kelly Lee

Min'yo - Folk Song from Japan - Takahashi Yujiro and friends None

    (Work Song Version) Herring fishing brought thousands of migrant workers to Hokkaido, Japan's northern island, each spring until early this century. Songs accompanied each stage of fishing, such as rowing and net-hauling. "Soran Bushi" was sung while transferring the herring from large drift-nets into small taxi-boats with giant hand-nets. The abundant lyrics are often improvised, erotic or comical - helping to keep workers awake during several days without sleep. This recording - which eschews the bawdier verses - gives an idea of how "Soran Bushi" would have sounded as a functioning work song, as opposed to the following track: rough-edged, spontaneous, in a northeastern accent.

    (introduction: meaningless rhythmic calls)
    (chorus:) Ee yaren soran soran soran soran soran (hai hai)
    Yoichi's a fine place - come visit sometime: flames of gold shoot up from the waves.
    If you ask the seagull, "Have the herring come?", "I'm just a migrating bird; ask the waves".
    (Tonight, for one night I sleep on a damask pillow; tomorrow, on shipboard, the waves are my pillow.)

    Copyright 1999 - Dr David W. Hughes
    e-mail dh6@soas.ac.uk

Min'yo - Folk Song from Japan - Takahashi Yujiro and friends Takahashi Yujiro

    (Stage Version) Contrasting with Soran Bushi (Work Song Version), here is the same song in its typical stage version, with instruments, female chorus, and a clean, polished vocal in a standard Japanese accent. Women were not involved in herring netting. However, either men or women may sing any folk song.

    Copyright 1999 - Dr David W. Hughes
    e-mail dh6@soas.ac.uk

Musical Memories of Japan None

Shakuhachi Folk Tunes - Vol 1



The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018