J-Pop: A Playlist for All the Seasons

These days it seems almost every passenger on a train is either listening to music or playing with their phone. But just what are they listening to?! This month we’ve been approaching the theme of time and calendars from a variety of angles, and next we got thinking about music. What are the pop songs that define the seasons in Japan? What are those tunes that everyone hums or has in their head at certain times of the year? We put together a playlist.

Spring

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Spring in Japan is all about the cherry blossom. Music is no exception; there are countless songs about sakura.

Sakura by Ketsumeishi

Sakura Drops by Hikaru Utada

Spring is also the season for students to graduate, thus creating infinite opportunities for romance among the youngsters… and ballads to immortalize them.

Sotsugyo shashin (Graduation Photo) by Yumi Arai (Yumi Matsutoya)

Gakuen tengoku (Campus Heaven) by Finger 5

Another motif of the spring is the wind (kaze), since there are strong breezes at this time of year. Cue a lot of songs waxing lyrical about windy days.

Kaze o atsumete by Happy End

Haru-kaze by Quruli

Summer

Sun. Sea. Surf. Summer is a veritable goldmine for mellow J-pop tunes to ponder the excitement of the hot weather and trips to the beach…

Manatsu no kajitsu (Midsummer Fruit) by Southern All Stars

manatsu_no_kajitsu

Ja natsu nande by Kaseki Cider

Summer Jam ’95 by Scha Dara Parr

Michishio no romansu (Full Tide Romance) by EGO-WRAPPIN’

But it’s not just trips to the seaside. You can’t have a Japanese summer without a festival!

Natsu-matsuri by JITTERIN’JINN

Here’s a more unusual entry, folklore by Clammbon. The remix by Nujabes is likely better known overseas but, with its lyrics of typhoon, we think it’s very evocative of the summer.

Imaginary Folklore by Nujabes (Clammbon folklore remix)

Autumn

Any song about autumn scenery worth its salt has to include cosmos plants.

Cosmos by Momoe Yamaguchi

Cosmos by Polaris

And here’s an autumn song that’s as straight as they come, without any of the poetry and difficult stuff.

The Autumn Song by ELLEGARDEN

Winter

As the year edges towards Christmas Eve, you can’t seem to get away from cheesy Christmas songs. Even in Japan those nostalgic hits by Wham! and John Lennon are being piped out of every store’s sound system. But here’s a more local version, this Xmas-y number by Tatsuro Yamashita.

Christmas Eve by Tatsuro Yamashita

Having pretty catholic music tastes, we are also well aware that Tatsuro Yamashita isn’t the only person to listen to in the winter…

Shiroi koibitotachi (White Lovers) by Keisuke Kuwata

Yuki ga furu machi (The Town Where Snow Falls) by Unicorn

Winter Fall by L’Arc-en-Ciel

Not everyone wants to rhapsodize about the snowy landscapes of the winter. During the colder months a lot of songs pine for the spring to arrive soon.

Haru yo, koi (Come, Spring) by Yumi Matsutoya

Did we miss any of your favorites?