Japanese Children's Songs

Japanese Children’s Songs: Chouchou (Butterfly)

Happy New Year, everyone!

My first post of 2021 is about another Japanese children’s song (童謡・douyou) called ちょうちょう (Chouchou or Butterfly). “Chouchou” is one of the most famous children’s songs in Japan with a simple melody and lyrics, so if you’re unfamiliar with it, you’ll remember it in no time.

This song has undergone many changes since its conception in the late 1800s. Written by Akitari Nomura, the song was “inspired” (if you will) by an American children’s song titled, “Lightly Row”, which was based on a German song called “Hänschen klein”. (All three songs have the exact same melody and I suppose back then copyright was not a thing, so it was easy to “borrow” *ahem* ideas.) Nomura also gathered inspiration from other Japanese children’s songs when writing the lyrics for “Chouchou”. The original song had four stances, the second to fourth describing other insects and animals, although Nomura only wrote the first stance.

After the Second World War, some of the lyrics were altered due to their association with Imperial Japan and only the first stance remained, taking on its final form as the popular song that Japanese children and their parents know and love.


Japanese Children’s Song:

ちょうちょう (Chouchou・Butterfly)

Written by Akitari Nomura

English translation by Kay A (please credit this post if using)


ちょうちょう ちょうちょう
さくらのはなの はなからはなへ
とまれよ あそべ
あそべよ とまれ


Chouchou chouchou
Na no ha ni tomare
Na no ha ni aitara
sakura ni tomare
Sakura no hana no hana kara hanae
Tomareyo asobe
Asobeyo tomare

English Translation

Butterfly butterfly
Land on the rapeseed flower
If you get tired of being there
Land on a cherry blossom
From one cherry blossom to another
Land and play
Play and land




This song is also available on the album 年齢別どうよう 0~2歳児向 ぞうさん on Amazon Music Unlimited. 

If you’re interested in learning about another Japanese children’s song, check out this article about a song called ぞうさん.

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Hi! I'm Kay

I’m a long-term Japan resident and parent who loves writing and traveling. My goal is to help parents from around the world navigate living and traveling with kids in Japan.

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