Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Japanese animated film and ukulele : Ponyo

06 2009

When learning  a new language, I always try to do a reset, “forget” about my own language and try to immerse myself completely in the new language I am trying to master. I try to think in the new language to make its world my own.

In order to do this, as my budget doesn’t allow me to travel to all the places I’d like to, children songs and cartoons are a great help. Spontaneous reactions, simple questions and answers, basic adjectives and easy vocabulary are what you can get out of children’s worlds. Melodies and lyrics of children songs are the type to give you “earworms” and therefore very easy to remember.

If I were to learn Japanese, I would undoubtedly turn to the Japanese animated film called Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. Keonepax has done a great ukulele rendition of its theme song. This film, which has won the Japanese Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, tells the story of a little fish-girl who runs away from her family to discover the world.

Keonepax has provided the lyrics and their translation as well as the chords for the song in the info section of his YouTube video.


  1. Acilius on the 6th of October 2009 @ 20:13

    That’s a very sweet song. But now I have to see the movie to find out whether the fish survives!

  2. Pirate Mike on the 6th of October 2009 @ 23:26

    I love that movie, and ukuleles. Hard to say which I enjoy more. Excellent combo!

  3. Armelle Europe on the 7th of October 2009 @ 20:34

    Acilius : This song has been stuck in my head for the past few days.
    I am glad that Keonepax has given the Japanese version in the standard alphabet so I can try to hum along. I’ll have to check the film too !

    Pirate Mike : Glad you’ve enjoyed it. I think the ukulele version is better than the original :)

  4. Acilius on the 9th of October 2009 @ 19:10

    You’ve inspired me to take another look at the ukuleleist who got me back into the instrument a few years ago, Tsuji Ayano. This 3 1/2 year old story from US radio features her doing some solos:

  5. Armelle Europe on the 9th of October 2009 @ 19:35

    Acilius : Thank you for the link! I am pleased that this blog can inspire someone :)
    I have featured Ayano Tsuni once, in this post (second video):
    Now you’ve just inspired me to listen to her video again :)

  6. Acilius on the 9th of October 2009 @ 20:04

    Thank you for pointing me back to that post! I’d missed it, and had not seen the video before. Also, I hope you had a happy birthday on 8 August!

  7. Naoko on the 11th of August 2010 @ 08:17

    Hello, from another language (more specifically English) & ukulele lover from Japan!

    How funny & wired & wonderful for me to get to this website.
    A couple of days ago, I found out your blog though net surfing.
    The yesterday “Play by Ear,” which I am subscribing, features your blog.

    Well, one of my dreams is to teach kids ukulele in English or English with ukulele.
    It’s great to know there are out there someone like you who loves both language and ukulele.
    So your website might be wonderful resource to me.

    We have some ukulele tab book (for ensemble) & cd on many theme songs of movies done by studio ghibli, like ponyo, totoro, spirited away, arranged by Kiyoshi Kobayashi, famous Japanese ukulele player. Not sure if you can buy, sure from though.
    Some of the songs, I play with my groups of friends at festivals and kids love them.

    I’m looking forward to explore this blog more and your future posts.

  8. Armelle Europe on the 11th of August 2010 @ 09:51

    Naoko : welcome here and thanks for your comment! I too am very glad to hear that in Japan, there is a reader who loves both Ukulele and Languages!

    Your project of teaching English through the ukulele is very good. Children are very receptive to songs and unlike adults, they are never afraid of not sounding right.

    As I don’t speak Japanese, don’t hesitate to send me links to Japanese ukulele videos or japanese ukulele news (

    Thanks for the information about the theme song book. I will look into it.

Leave a comment

Language Fun

A place for language lovers where I’m trying to demonstrate how fun it is to learn other languages and how much of a culture you understand through its language.
Latest posts :

Monthly Archives