A couple of years ago, I was searching for some Japanese music to listen to. However, as I had just barely started learning Japanese, I wasn’t sure how I could go about discovering new artists without knowing much Japanese (or even being able to type Japanese characters). On a lark, I decided to try searching for the word クリスマス—Christmas—because I figured, (a) there would be a lot of songs with the word “Christmas” in the title, and (b) it was easy for me to type because it was a completely phonetic word.
My brilliant plan didn’t work out very well, unfortunately. It turned out that most songs I downloaded were actually by American artists, simply labeled in Japanese. (Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” was apparently very popular in Japan.) I found a few interesting songs, but didn’t discover any smashing new artists whose sound I really enjoyed. Or so I thought.
Last September, I was cleaning out my downloads folder when I came across a video file I had never seen before. It had a huge filename and was obviously mislabeled with dozens of keywords one is likely to search for—one of which, I realize now, must have been クリスマス. I watched the first few seconds of it, but being short on time, simply relabeled it “Japanese Music Video”, since that’s what it was, and filed it away for another day.
Last Saturday was that day. I was cleaning out my downloads folder again, and came across the file and decided to take the time to watch it. I found it strangely moving, and (now armed with a little better grasp of the Japanese language) quickly discovered that it was called 粉雪—konayuki—and was written by a band called レミオロメン—Remioromen.
According to the Japanese Wikipedia page, the band’s name is a made-up word, consisting of a fragment meaningful to each of the three main band members. The “re” comes from the member named Fujimaki, who was fond of the band “Radiohead” (re-di-o-he-ddo in Japanese). “Mio” is from the member Jinguuji, from the name of the girlfriend he had at the time. And finally, “romen” is from the member Maeda, who took it from the Japanese word for streetcar, “romendensha” (literally road-surface electric-car).
The name of the song was “konayuki”—powdered snow. It was fitting, then, that this morning I awoke to freshly fallen snow upon the ground—as if I’d been calling it to me all weekend long.