Battle of the Songs: When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom

Happy mid-March! I am sorry for being absent for half the week. It is almost the end of the school year here in Japan, and I am busy with ending classes, writing reports, and having the students practice for graduation. Even though my students aren’t the ones graduating, they are going to participate in the school ceremony as it very important.

It has gotten really warm recently here in Nagoya. Next Wednesday, it is suppose to be 67°F/19°C! And in about two weeks, we get to see our first cherry blossoms bloom here! I am so excited! I love walking home under the beautiful cherry blossoms and even see them bloom next to my apartment.

So, to celebrate the coming of these magnificent blossoms, I presented you with the new Battle of the Songs: When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom!

The Meaning Behind the Blossom

If you have been in Japan in the past week or two, you have perhaps seen a flurry of cherry blossoms, especially around schools. Although most are fake and made out of plastic, they are in demand: decorations, pinned onto uniforms and shirts, at Starbucks in a seasonal frappuccino, made as tea, hair accessories, and their essence captured into traditional Japanese sweets.

Sakura, as well as spring, is the symbol of (re)birth, the start of something new, renewal, and a new year. Graduations from school — whether it is preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, junior school, high school, and college — happens in March, right before the start of spring. This is the time to remember your years in school, celebrate what you have accomplished, and look forward to the future. Come April 1, which is the traditional start of the new school and business year in Japan, many will begin a new journey with or without those attachments from the past.

The Start of Something New

Since Sakura symbolizes renewal, what part of your life do you want to renew? What have you been struggling with and are ready to change?

THIS is the season for it!

For me, I am going to commit myself to two things: 1) I WILL get this blog onto a self-host platform. Now, I probably won’t do until Golden Week at the beginning of May as I have 10 days off. I know I should do it now as I should be proactive in my goals. But, as I said earlier, I been busy with work and the play I am performing in will have it’s one weekend run at the end of this month. So, I have been spending every Sunday practicing. I instead dedicate some time for the move than haphazardly move altogether. (Plus, I am still up in arms about which is the best hosting site for me.)

I have been reading the book Get Rich, Lucky Bitch lately and one of the methods of the first chapter is to de-clutter. One of the things I want to de-clutter is my schedule. This year, I have been working way too much, much more than I wanted, because my work is trying to force more teaching hours in my schedule. And also, I cluttered my schedule with lots of activities, and thus not making time for this blog. I want to change that. I have signed for a new contract at my job that gives me less teaching hours, and I am going to step down in two activities as I want to focus on creating a profitable blog. I am debating about a third activity because I need it in my life, but I feel like I need to take a break from it till May.

I told you my spring goals, how about you? What do you want to do? It is never true late to start new goals, you don’t need New Years Resolutions for that. You can make one now. What part of your life you want change and make renew? Tell me in the comments below!

This Battle Is…

Since March 8 was International Woman’s Day and March is Women’s History Month, I thought I could blend the theme of Sakura with woman/girl singers in this battle. These two songs are from artists that have been very popular and prominent in 21st-century Japanese pop culture. One song is by a super popular and super big idol group, and one song is by an international recognized singer.

PLEASE listen and vote for your favorite in the comments below!


AKB48 – Sakura no Hanabira-tachi

I remember when “Sakura no Hanabira-tachi” The Bouquets of Sakura first came out in the winter of 2006. AKB48, at the time, was still brand-new and the group still figured out their own identity. “Sakura no Hanabira-tachi” was their first indies single and was very popular, becoming on the best-selling debut singles by a girl group since Morning Musume’s “Ai nio Tane” in 1998.

Of course, AKB48 has gotten some negative comments about their video, image, and rules. In 2010, many in the Western world raised a suspicious eyebrow when the music video for the song “Heavy Rotation” was released with girls only in lingerie, kissing each other, and other actions. And then in 2013, news of Minami Minegishi’s scandal and outcome shocked the world. Minegishi was caught in a dating scandal in the local Japanese scandal. To apology for her “sinful” actions, she shaved her hair (which is a Japanese tradition) and apology to fans on Youtube.

Despite AKB48’s questionable actions, the group has released great music. My personal favorite is “RIVER,” but “Sakura no Hanabira-tachi” is a nice tune too. I can admit, I didn’t really like this song that much when I came out; only cared for the b-side “Dear my teacher.” But over time, “Sakura no Hanabira-tachi” grew on me as a sweet, mid-tempo song about graduation. It’s not in my top 5, but I can listen to this song whenever I am working on work. But don’t show me the music video because I could watch it forever, trying to find baby Tomomi Itano (my favorite member).

You can find the translation lyrics here:

Near the classroom window
Is a carefree, sunny spot
Very little time is left on the spring calendar


During class, if I look around
Though wearing the same school uniform,
All of my classmates
Look like adults


With each person’s own future
We start our trip
On each of our backs
Sprout wings
Of our dreams


Each time the cherry blossom petals bloom,
Somewhere hope’s bell resounds
With the freedom of tomorrow,
We’re given courage
Each time the cherry blossom petals bloom,
Somewhere someone is praying
The door to a new world
We open with our own hands


There were times when we fought,
Called each other, and cried
Why do those troubled days
Feel so nostalgic?


During the happy or sad times
If we turned back in the distance,
No matter when
We were never alone
In the middle of our graduation picture,
I smile
The passing season wants to send us off
Good-bye


The petals of these tears go pitter-patter
On these cheeks they come out, flow, and fall
As we look up to the blue sky
And breathe in deeply
The petals of these tears go pitter-patter
Memories of that part make me happy
The stairs to adulthood before our eyes
Together we climb and wave our hands


Each time the cherry blossom petals bloom,
Somewhere hope’s bell resounds
With the freedom of tomorrow,
We are given courage
Each time the cherry blossom petals bloom,
Somewhere someone is praying
The door to a new world
We open with our own hands


The petals of our tears go pitter-patter
Onto these cheeks they come out, flow, and fall
As we look up to the blue sky
And breathe in deeply
The petals of our tears go pitter-patter
The memory of that part makes me happy
The stairs to adulthood before our eyes
Together we climb and wave our hands

Source: http://stage48.net/studio48/sakuranohanabiratachi.html

And, if you like this, be sure to check out this mashup of the many covers from AKB48’s international sister groups JKT48 (Indonesia), BKT48 (Thailand), and MNL48 (the Phillipines):

And don’t forget the Chinese version:


Hikaru Utada – SAKURA Drops

Hikaru Utada has been in the professional Japanese music industry for already 20 years. With her mom being a famous singer in the 70s, Utada has a lot of musical influences when she was growing up as she also began to write lyrics and music at age 10. At the time, she formed the group U3 with her mom and released solo material under the name Cubic U in 1998. Her solo debut album failed to reach any charts, so she changed her tune and began to sing R&B-styled songs. The rest is history.

Though Utada is mainly known for her collaboration with the game series Kingdom Hearts, her Japanese discography have great tunes. “SAKURA Drops” is a gorgeous song that features Utada’s talented vocals. I love the high-tuned synthesized keyboard parts in between the chorus and verses. These keyboard solos paired with the beautiful music video makes “SAKURA Drops” seem like a song straight out from a fairy tale.

Here is the original music video, it is a very beautiful one:


What Will It Be?

Now it is your turn to vote! Who will be the victor of the first-ever “Battle of the Songs”? Tell me in the comments below! Also, tell me why you choose a particular version! I can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

I am also part of The “Battle of the Bands” blog collection. After you vote, please visit the other battles from this blogger circle. There are really exciting battles!

🌞 Visit TOSSING IT OUT by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit MIKE’S RAMBLINGS’by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit CURIOUS AS A CATHY by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING by clicking HERE
🌞 Visit JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit ANGELS BARK by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit THE DOGLADY’S DEN by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE by clicking HERE
🌞 Visit STMoC PRESENTS BATTLE OF THE BANDS by clicking HERE.


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211 thoughts on “Battle of the Songs: When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom

  1. Spring in Japan sounds lovely! And it comes much earlier than spring here in Canada. Enjoy! 🙂 Best wishes for your blogging plans. Self-hosted is challenging (I’ve been doing it for 6 years), but a great learning experience, plus, you have so much more freedom to do exactly what you want. On to your battle: AKB48 was fun and upbeat, but musically, I preferred the vocal tones of Hikaru Utada. Have a good week!

  2. Michael David Oyco says:

    Haven’t seen one yet though we have been to japan once in Osaka. Can’t understand them but the first video seems nice.

  3. Joline says:

    I didn’t know that about cherry blossoms! Nice. People over here go crazy over the 2 weeks that they’re in bloom lol. And yes, it’s never too late to set goals. One of mine would be to hit the gym at least 3x a week.

  4. Janell says:

    I love cherry blossoms! We have over 3,000 in Washington DC that were gifts from Japan, celebrating the friendship between the Japanese and American people. As we jump into spring, I too could benefit from simplifying parts of my life. Good luck in your journey!

    • aisasami says:

      I am actually from the Washington DC area and would go every year to see the cherry blossoms at the tidal basin. I try to catch the Sakura parade on the livestream on WJLA’s FB page.

  5. MELANIE EDJOURIAN says:

    Self-hosted is definitely the way to go, good luck with that. The book sounds interesting. I could do with decluttering too including my schedule where possible.

  6. Angela Tolsma says:

    My husband and I are planning a vacation to Japan for cherry blossom season. It looks so beautiful and I want to see it!! Good luck on your exams and finding a place to selfhost!

  7. I’ve never seen cherry blossom trees in person, but the photos always look gorgeous! I can’t imagine thinking 67F is warm, if it’s below 75 I am cold!! Good luck with preparing the students for the graduation ceremony.

    • aisasami says:

      Thanks! I hope you get to see the blossoms someday! And, this winter was actually warm. I am used to below zero temps but this was warm. Only in the 40s this year.

  8. Geraline Batarra says:

    Japan is such a beautiful place to visit.. I really dream about having a vacation there someday. I definitely wouldn’t want to miss to see the cherry blossoms bloom…

  9. Eileen M Loya says:

    I give my vote for AKB48. Their voices are just so refreshing, the tune is catchy and upbeat. I like this group even if I don’t understand what they are saying. 🙂

  10. You, Me and Benny says:

    I like AKB48 – first of all their name is awesome and also I like anything that’s upbeat that I feel like I can bop around to!

  11. Luna S says:

    I wish you luck with all of your end of the year planning for school getting ready for the school year to end. Thank you for the information on the cherry blossoms, I didn’t know that about them!

  12. Leyla says:

    Never been to Japan, one of dream countries to visit though, but here in San Diego we get to at least experience the Japanese cherry blossom in the Japanese Garden, Balboa Park. Of course, it’s not the same, but still 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  13. Ara Patria says:

    I have never to Japan yet. This is one of the things that I want to do in Japan – to see the Cherry Blossom and experience it! Thank you for sharing this! 🙂

  14. Neil Alvin Nicerio says:

    Great song list. It’s perfect for the season. I’d love to listen to those while walking the whole length of Philosopher’s path in Kyoto.

  15. I wasn’t able to listen to the songs as I just got my sick baby to sleep 😳😳 but I am really wanting to be more disciplined this spring. Get up early work on my blog and shop and that way I can spend the day with my kids guilt free!

  16. Patricia-Ann Que says:

    always wanted to visit Japan especially this season! It must be so picturesque and the scent must be so refreshing!

  17. amayszingblogs says:

    I really love Japan their culture and music always inspire me 🙂 How I wish I have a chance to visit in Japan someday 🙂

    • aisasami says:

      I used to live in the DC area and I would love to go to DC just to see the blossoms on Tidal basin. It was beautiful!

  18. Elizabeth O says:

    Your posts are always having beautiful songs and every time I enjoy their music. It is not so easy to choose someone and cast vote. I mean they are really so great.

  19. Amy,

    Many apologizes for the late visit. It’s just been hectic on this end. My vote goes to the multi-talented & voices of AKB48. I loved their harmonizing!

    I have nothing plan specifically for spring but I do set weekly goals, mostly taking care of chores. DH & I are house hunting, so that would be an awesome thing to get accomplished before summer arrives. 🙂

    Have a great day and again I’m sorry for the late show!

    • aisasami says:

      Its ok! I am sorry for not voting in yours! I been really busy with the end of the school year and the play that I am in is opening next week!

      Japanese music is all about harmonies. There is a lot of songs with those. I love figuring out and learning harmonies just for fun.

      Good luck in house hunting!

  20. Gervin Khan says:

    This is a very interesting article to read as we all know that this kind of song genre or industry can take the world by storm To be honest, I don’t understand what this song is saying however with great melody and amazing charisma this makes an incredible song to like.

  21. Joanna says:

    How amazing that so soon you will be able to enjoy the sakura. I have always wanted to visit Japan and see the cherry trees blossom in spring, it looks magical in photos.

  22. Kristine Nicole Alessandra says:

    My vote goes to AKB48. I love their energy, and their music is more upbeat, it made me want to get up and move this old body!

  23. The pictures are so lovely! I absolutely adore cherry blossoms. I grew up in Vancouver and they were so abundant there. Spring is that time for a fresh start again. Love it 😀 I love learning about other cultures, thanks for sharing

  24. Awesome! Another battle! thank you for all the info I really learnt a lot bout the pop culture reading you.
    My vote goes to AKB48 song as I really enjoyed it!

  25. It’s such a coincidence that you’ve been reading “Get Rich, Lucky Bitch” My friend was just recommending it last night. I seriously learned so much from this post. Thank you.

  26. I love cheery blossoms! They are simply gorgeous! I want to wish you luck on switching your blog onto a self hosted site! I do hope you make the switch soon! Best advise I can provide is invest in a Theme. You can find many free themes but they can be limiting. Get used to the customizations of them but please do consider paying for a full version. You can make your site so much better!

    XO Andie
    http://andiesparkles.com

  27. Honestly can’t pick, But good for you for your self-hosting goal (SO worth it!) – one of my “renewal” goals for the spring is to finish emptying out our garage/resettling our basement after last year’s flood in the latter :(…

  28. AnotherFoodBlogger says:

    I’ve never been to Japan but when we lived in NY we used to love it when all the cherry blossoms would bloom. They are so pretty!

  29. I prefer AKB48. The opening reminds me of cathedral bells and contemporary gospel lol. I know it’s along way from it but tht is literally how the opening and even the voices sound. I like this the best and don’t care much for the last one – Utada.

  30. mayarcenal says:

    I love what you said about Spring. ❤ A great reminder that we can start afresh all over again. Btw, it's my first time hearing AKB48. I only know about MNL48 since I'm from Manila 🙂

  31. Catherine Santiago Jose says:

    To be honest there are so many Japanese songs that I’ve love even though I don’t understand them without that caption. Utada Hikaru is also one of my favorite Japanese artist that gives us great song to remember and sing from time to time.

  32. I have always dream of seeing the full bloom of cherry blossoms and it looks like it just gave you more inspiration. Love your featured songs as always!

  33. natalielovesbeauty says:

    Cherry blossoms really are beautiful! I wish I was in Japan to witness them bloom. I really want to go back to Asia, it’s incredible out there!

  34. Alaexandra Cook says:

    I always wanted to visit Cherry Blossoms in Japan. Hoping that I could go there. I’m casting my vote for AKB48. I think they deserve to win since they performed really well.

  35. Gaica says:

    So many things to love about Japan especially it’s Cherry Blossom! It’s really beautiful out there. Truly a bucket list material. Japan music is so amazing too and I love listening to it.

  36. I might have chosen one of the others, but I love Utada Hikaru or Hikaru Utada- her voice is just amazing and it brings me back to a time when my friends all like anime and she sang songs for many of their covers.

  37. Aarika says:

    I vote the first one. =) This was such a fun post to read. I learned a lot about cherry blossoms and new music. Thanks!

  38. I liked Hikaru Utada – SAKURA Drops the best because of the 80s sounding vibe it gives. Brings me back to a fun time in my life. Also, good luck on getting your blog to a self-host platform! It is very difficult but anything is achievable!! Thanks or sharing!

  39. I think this just reminds me that I really need to get out there and give myself the most opportunities than I can. I have let myself get into a kind of stasis too long allowing me not to move forward and I need to move forward.

  40. Alexandra Cook says:

    It’s nearing the end of the school year here in the US as well. It’s been SO busy lately that I don’t know which way is up!

  41. Surekha Busa says:

    Oh I really love Japan, it was one of my favorite country. I love their culture and the people are so great.

  42. Hi Amy. This is my first time ever reading a blog from Japan. I truly felt the part where you describe the birth of a new thing. I am going through that. Creativity, Innovations, New Season, New Things. No matter what winter may feel, there is always a New Spring Ahead. Thanks for sharing.

  43. Candace Hampton says:

    Such an interesting post. I love cherry blossoms but I’ve never actually seen one in person. How interesting that Sakura symbolizes renewal. Thanks for sharing!

  44. Sania Ahmed says:

    Japanese Cherry Blossom is breathtaking your post really inspires many travelers like us to visit such places

  45. I would love to one day see spring in Japan! About going self-hosted, do it when you have the time and leisure. While the actual migration doesn’t take time, there is a slight learning curve to understand how to manage your blog, and you would also want to change other things as well – such as theme etc. Once you are self-hosted, you have so much freedom to change things around, you”ll want the time to play with all the options.

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