NHK produced the song “Hana wa Saku” (Flowers Will Bloom) to build public support for the 3.11 disaster recovery efforts. It is also the theme song of the TOMORROW series of TV documentaries produced by NHK’s Great East Japan Earthquake Project. The song’s composer, lyricist, and singers of the original Japanese recording all have strong ties to the region affected by the disaster.
The lyrics are a message from those who lost their lives to the people they left behind. The song rose to the top of Japan’s music charts and has generated compassion for survivors from across the country and around the world. The English version of the song was produced for international viewers of NHK. All royalties for musical composition and lyrics are being donated to the recovery effort.
Lyrics: IWAI Shunji
Music: KANNO Yoko
*Both are from Miyagi prefecture.
Singers on the original recording include TV personalities, actors, athletes and others with ties to
the communities affected by the disaster.
English subtitle: Roger Pulvers
English Lyrics: Roger Pulvers
Royalties are managed by the NHK Public Welfare Organization and donated to the affected areas.
Download the Japanese version, “Hana wa Saku,” from iTunes in countries where the song is distributed. Find the list of countries and their URLs here
The English version of “Flowers Will Bloom” will be available on iTunes at a date to be announced.
Lyrics and music score are here
From the Lyricist IWAI Shunji
To be honest, writing the lyrics for this song wasn’t easy. My work always requires imagining experiences I’ve never had, but my abilities were never so tested as they were with this song.
While struggling to come up with the idea for the song, I remembered the words of a friend who was directly affected by the disaster. “We can only hear the stories of the people who survived. We can never hear the stories of those who died.” He said survivors could only imagine the suffering of those who lost their lives.
This helped me a lot and I was able to let my imagination take over and follow the words where they wanted to go.
After the tsunami I was constantly tweeting, looking for family and friends living in the devastated area. I was able to find them by sharing and getting information, and passing it on to people in the same situation. One person living in the area who read my tweets even went out to find one of the friends I was looking for in the city of Ishinomaki.
I read a tweet by a young girl who was looking for a boy. She said she had a secret crush on him so she didn’t want him to know she was looking for him. I thought that was so cute, and I was amazed that even in their frenzied search, people still had feelings like this. It made me smile, and I remembered that area of Japan as a sacred place in my heart where my own first love bloomed. I thought, if the young people there can still harbor a secret love just one week after the disaster, maybe it is possible that flowers will bloom out of the rubble.
These were the things I was thinking about as I imagined the words to the song.
People who died from the disaster, people who survived it, and the people who worried about it from a distance, I tried to imagine how all of these people felt after 3.11. I knew how difficult it was to express something so unfathomable in just a few words, but I really wanted to try.
From the Composer KANNO Yoko
When I composed the music for “Flowers Will Bloom” I tried to erase my own feelings as much as possible. I wanted to make the music a transparent vessel for the emotions of the singers and listeners.
To do that, I needed to be flexible, like a child. I didn’t push myself to the extent of sitting under a cold, heavy waterfall like a monk in training, but I worked hard for a whole week, trying to shed my musical ulterior motives and let go of hesitations about hurting listeners’ feelings. Then one fine morning the lyrics arrived from film director Iwai Shunji. It was time to get to work on the melody. Iwai’s lyrics guided me along, bringing out the child in me to find the music. It was such a blessed experience to compose like that. I chose voices for the recording that would sound like people telling their loved ones in heaven that everything is okay and that their wounds will heal as time goes by.
After 100 years have passed and no one remembers anymore how or why this song was written, I hope it continues to be sung, authors unknown.