Translating song lyrics from Japanese to English (or trying to)

Hello Fellow Wanis and Kanis,

Prelude

Immersion is an important part of picking up any language. Therefore, I have long since listened to Japanese Songs - whether from Anime Openings/Endings, or other.
Now, when I was younger, I did try to understand English songtexts and translate them into my native Language German. Of course the results did in no way fit the song pattern or poetic style of the original, but it helped me understand, what the artists where singing about, and that was very interesting to me.
Anyway, since I am trying to do something Japanaese related every day, whether it be 5 mins or 50 mins, I thought why not try my hand at getting Japanese Songs translated to English.
Not German, since all my learning material is English <> Japanese, but that’s close enough :wink:

Long story short, I tried translating this song I have been listening to over and over recently.
The band is called “SECONDWALL” and the specific song I was looking at is named
“End of Summer” or “夏の終わり”.
But if any of you are interested, I think the entire Album, “Beautiful Lie”, is worth listening to :slight_smile:

Here is the original songtext, that I looked up on google:

End of Summer - lyrics

Verse 1
ぬるい風が
僕の髪を揺らす
欠点だらけのノート持って

描くモノは
どれもこれも似てばっか
呆れて顔上げれば
見える色はあの日のまま

Chorus 1a
全速力で駆け抜けた
蒸せるような八月の日
幼い僕は取り残されたまま
台風一過の青空に
呑み込まれてしまいそうだ
戻れない場所で彷徨う夏の日

Verse 2
何枚だって差し出した
正解さえも間違いで
描き出す答えに意味はあるの?
破いてしまった

いつかの日も
目を閉じれば鮮やかで
取り戻せないのに

Chorus 2a
僕が面倒くさいと投げ出した
蒸せるような八月の日
サボらなければ
何か変われたかな
どうでもいっかの一言に
呑み込まれてしまいそうだ
戻れない場所で彷徨う夏の日

-Bridge-

Chorus 1b
全速力で駆け抜けた
蒸せるような八月の日
幼い僕は取り残されたまま

台風一過の青空に
呑み込まれてしまいそうでも
汗をぬぐって

Chorus 2b
面倒くさいと投げ出した
蒸せるような八月の日
戻れなくてもいいんだ
忘れなければ 嗚呼
台風一過の青空に
呑み込まれてしまいそうでも
塗りつぶせ僕だけの色に
間違いでもいい 嗚呼

Outro

I have to admit, that I used a combination of deepl.com, google translator, and jisho.org to get the lyrics into english. I changed some things here and there, but kept the overall structure of the original song, and most of the rough translations.
With that in mind, the first draft that I came up with looked something like this:

English Translation - First Draft

Verse 1
The wet wind rustles through my hair
I’m holding a notebook full of flaws
The things I draw look all so alike
If I look up with a surprised face
I can see the same colors I saw on that day

Chorus 1a
With full speed I’m running past
A steaming (hot) August day
I was left behind as a little child
In the blue sky after a typhoon
I feel like I’m about to be swallowed up
By a Summer day in a place I can’t return to.

Verse 2
No matter how many I submit
even the right answers seem to be wrong
Do the answers I draw up even have meaning?
I rip them all up.
But on some days
when I close my eyes it’s so vivid
and I cannot get it back

Chorus 2a
I threw it out because it annoyed me
on a steaming (hot) August day
If I hadn’t slacked off
I wonder if I could have changed anything
In the end it doesn’t matter.
I feel like I am about to be swallowed up
By a summer day in a place i cannot return to.

- Bridge- (Accoustic)

Chorus 1b
With full speed I’m running past
a steaming (hot) August day
I was left behind as a little child
In the blue sky after the typhoon
Even though it feels like I am about to be swallowed up,
I wipe the sweat off my face

Chorus 2b
I threw it out because it annoyed me
on a steaming (hot) August day
I don’t care if I cannot go back
As long as I don’t forget
In the blue sky after a typhoon
Even though I feel like I am about to be swallowed up,
I fill it up with my own color
I don’t care if I am wrong.

Outro

This of course is very rough and while it’s probably partly right, it still doesn’t read very well. Therefore, I tried to rearrange the lines, where the order doesn’t work this way in English compared to Japanese. I also tried to “smoothe” the Text, by thinking about synonyms that felt a bit more poetic (I do not have much poetic skill, but I tried^^).
Lastly, I changed some sentences, where I felt that the meaning might stay more or less the same, but this sounded better in my head. Here I might have actually distortet the meaning in the end. Anyway, here is the second version:

English Translation - Second Version

Verse 1
As the wet wind rustles through my hair
I’m holding a notebook full of flawed drawings.
The things I draw all look so reminiscent,
That when I look up I am surprised to realize,
I can see the same colors I saw back on that day.

Chorus 1a

With full speed I’m running past,
A steaming (hot) August day,
As my younger self was left behind.

I feel like I’m about to be swallowed up,
in he blue sky after a typhoon.
A Summer day in a past that’s out of reach.

Verse 2
No matter how many times I give them,
The correct answers I give all seem to be wrong.
Do the answers I come up with even have any meaning?
I rip them all up.

But on some days, when I close my eyes,
the colors I see are so vivid,
and I can’t seem to bring them back.

Chorus 2a
I threw it all out because it annoyed me,
on a steaming (hot) August day.
I wonder if I could have changed anything,
If I hadn’t slacked off so much.

I feel like I am about to be swallowed up,
By just a single passing word.
A summer day in a past that’s out of my reach.

- Bridge- (Accoustic)

Chorus 1b
With full speed I’m running past,
a steaming August day,
As my younger self was left behind.

But even though it feels like I am about to be swallowed up,
in the blue sky after the typhoon,
I wipe the sweat off my face.

Chorus 2b
I threw it all out because it annoyed me,
on a steaming August day.
I don’t care if I cannot go back,
As long as I don’t forget.

And even though I feel like I am about to be swallowed up,
in the blue sky after the typhoon.
I fill it up with my own colors,
and I don’t care if I am wrong.

I sometimes had trouble with the grouping of lines, where it felt that both the line before or after fit together, but I couldn’t decide well to which.
Examples are:

Issue 1 - Chorus1 1st part

全速力で駆け抜けた
蒸せるような八月の日
幼い僕は取り残されたまま

Here I felt, that the third line belongs to the first two, if only leaning on it.
The other option could be, that it is not really related to that part and stands by it’s own,
which could change the meaning.
Again, since I am not very familiar with things like this yet, I chose to group them based on the songs rhythm (these three lines take up 8 x 4 beats).

Issue 2 - Chorus 2nd part

台風一過の青空に
呑み込まれてしまいそうだ
戻れない場所で彷徨う夏の日

Here I eventually found out that the first two parts form a sentence, because the structure changes a bit in the later Chorus versions. Nnot sure if it is correct, but this is what I decided^^.
However again, it’s still difficult to determine, whether the last line is a sentence that stands by itself, or if the meaning should connect directly to the line before it.

There are other, minor points as well, but this post is already way too long I think, so I’ll leav it at that :slight_smile:

Why I did this

I realize that understanding and translating a song from one language to another is a difficult task by itself. Especially, since the artist might try to convey certain feelings or images in their lyrics, that you could only really grasp, if you asked them.
But then again, What you feel in a song or what you personally connect with a song might be just as valid an interpretation as the “original inteded meaning”, or at least that’s what my literature teacher used to say. “As long as you can connect your interpretation to certain phrases and explain them.” - she used to say.
Nevertheless, I was trying to get the “correct” meaning first, since just by reading / listening the original Japanese lyrics, I was unable to grasp the content and context - which is why I used deepl, translator, and dictionary in the first place.

Last words
I mostly did this to provide you, who managed to read this far, with something I did to further my Japanese understanding - in the hopes it might give you an idea or inspiration for your own studies, or just for your entertainment (hopefully).
Buuut, if some of you are quite proficient in the language and can spot a mistake or two I made, or you have some ideas or comments on the lyrics, I would be happy to hear your thoughts!

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