This is the theme song and ending song of From up on Poppy hill. The name of the song, さよならの夏・さよならのなつ means Summer of goodbye and it is sang by 手嶌葵・てしまあおい Teshima Aoi.

Appearing at the end of the film, this song conveys a touch of sadness, echoing with some aspects of the film. It also shows how well the Ghibli films depict the complexity of emotions, when happiness and sadness sometimes coexist and melancholy is often inexplicable.

It’s not only a beautiful melody with a beautiful voice, the lyrics are also very beautiful. I found this live version and found it even more touching than the original version of the film:

光る海に かすむ船は
さよならの汽笛 のこします
ゆるい坂を おりてゆけば
夏色の風に あえるかしら

  • かすむ・霞む to grow hazy, to be misty, to get blurry
  • 汽笛・きてき steam whistle
  • ゆるい gentle (for a curve, a slope)
  • 坂・さか slope, hill
  • おりる・おりる means to descend (a mountain), to go down. Here we have おりてゆけば which is the form: 降りていく (the grammar ~ていくgiving direction) + the ~ば grammar, meaning “if”. In songs, the pronunciation ゆく for the verb 行く is often preferred than the usual pronunciation いく.
  • あえる is the potential form of 合う・あう “be able to meet”
  • かしら means “I wonder if…” She wonders whether she will be able to meet the spring-coloured wind, or the wind of the colour of summer.

わたしの愛 それはメロディー
たかく ひくく 歌うの
わたしの愛 それはカモメ
たかく ひくく 飛ぶの
夕陽のなか 呼んでみたら
やさしいあなたに 逢えるかしら

  • たかく and ひくく are both the adverbial form of the adjectives 高い・たかい and 低い・ひくい meaning “singing high and low”
  • かもめ is a seagull
  • 夕陽・ゆうひ it can also be written 夕日. It means, “evening sun”, “setting sun”.
  • 呼んでみたら is the form ~てみる (meaning “try to do”) attached to the verb 呼ぶ・よぶ to call + the grammar ~たら meaning “if”.
  • 逢う・あう means “to meet”. It is another way of writing 合う・あう

だれかが弾く ピアノの音
海鳴りみたいに きこえます
おそい午後を 行き交うひと
夏色の夢を はこぶかしら

  • 誰か means “someone”.
  • 海鳴り・うみなり rumbling of the sea.
  • みたい is a grammar point that means “to look like”, “to be similar to”
  • 聞こえる・きこえる means “to be heard”
  • 行き交う・いきかう to come and go. Here again, she pronounces “ゆく” instead of “いく”
  • はこぶ・運ぶ to carry

わたしの愛 それはダイアリー
日々のページ つづるの
わたしの愛 それは小舟
夕陽のなか 降り返れば
あなたはわたしを 探すかしら

  • つづる to compose, to frame, to write, to bind together (pages)
  • 小舟・こぶね small boat

散歩道に ゆれる木々は
さよならの影を おとします
古いチャペル 風見の鶏(とり)
夏色の街は みえるかしら
きのうの愛 それは涙
やがて かわき 消えるの

  • ゆれる to shake, to sway
  • おとす・落とす to drop, to lose, to let fall.
  • 風見・かざみ weather vane
  • とり is usually written 鳥 while 鶏 is usually pronounced にわとり and means “domestic chicken”. Here , it describes the shape of the weather vane.
  • やがて can have several meanings, but I guess that here it means “eventually”, “finally”, “in the end”.
  • かわく means “to get dry”. So, tears eventually get dry and disappear.

あしたの愛 それはルフラン
夕陽のなか めぐり逢えば
あなたはわたしを 抱くかしら

  • ルフラン is “refrain”, from French.
  • 巡り合う・めぐりあう which is written: めぐり逢う means “to meet fortuitously”, “to meet by chance”
  • 抱く・だく to embrace, to hold in one’s arms.


From page 178 to 197.

This was not a very difficult part but a rather long one.

Yasumasa’s investigation is getting further, thanks to discussions and confrontations with other characters. Here again, Kaga’s own investigation is implicitly present and we glimpse it here and there. I was used to Kaga not being constantly present in the previous Kaga’s series novels, but not that not present!

  • 折り入って・おりいって earnestly
  • 隙間・すきま gap, opening
  • 丸める・まるめる to roll up
  • 蛍光灯・けいこうとう fluorescent lamplight
  • 腐敗・ふはい decay
  • 円筒形・えんとうけい cylindrical
  • 屑籠・くずかご waste basket
  • 摘む・つむ to pick
  • ほぼ almost, roughly, approximatively
  • 閃く・ひらめく to hit on a good idea, to occur to someone
  • もたげる to lift, to raise
  • 入念・にゅうねん careful, scrupulous
  • 慰安旅行・いあんりょこう company trip
  • 隠滅・いんめつ destruction, suppression
  • 切迫・せっぱく pressure, urgency, tension
  • 便箋・びんせん writing paper
  • 筆記用具・ひっきようぐ writing implement
  • 貧相・ひんそう seedy looking, thin

Two characters appear: 山岡・やまおか, Sonoko’s section chief and the employee 笹本明世・ささもとあきよ who entered the company around the same time than Sonoko and is supposed to know her better than the other employees.

  • 咄嗟に・とつさに at once
  • 貰う is just もらう
  • 送り主・おくりぬし sender of a present
  • 趣・おもむき
  • 指先・ゆびさき fingertip
  • とぼける to play dumb, to feign ignorance
  • 弁解・べんかい justification, explanation, defence
  • 仕打ち・しうち behaviour, action
  • 宣告・せんこく verdict, sentence

Yasumasa lays his cards on the table!

Tips for studying with a book and its audiobook

Having both the book and the audio book of the same work, allows to work in different ways. Here are some ideas:

Listening practice

First listen to the audiobook several times (I think that 3 times is a good choice) and really try to understand all that you can understand (meaning, unknown words are hopeless but sometimes we don’t recognize words we actually knew, that’s what we want to work on). The best thing should be to limit yourself to a paragraph if they are short enough. Then check on the book.

At this point there are two options:

  1. If you really want to study this book and improve your vocabulary, search for unknown words and then, listen to the audiobook again, without reading, and try to understand everything.
  2. If your objective is just doing some listening practice, don’t bother searching for unknown words, and just check the words you knew but didn’t recognize. You can underline them if you don’t mind writing in your book. Then listen to the audiobook again, without reading, and try to understand those words. Also, try to understand why you didn’t recognize them the first time. Is it because of the narrator’s pronunciation, is it because you didn’t expect to see this word in this context, and so on.

I personally apply the second option and restrain myself to listening practice only.

Pronunciation practice

We have now a perfect occasion to practice our pronunciation! This time, we will have to listen and read at the same time. First, listen to a phrase, then interrupt the audio book to repeat that same phrase aloud. Try not to look for kanji words you don’t know, but to repeat them as you heard them.

To be complete, this exercise should integrate the “recording” part. While you listen to the audiobook and repeat each sentence, record yourself. Do not only record your voice, but the whole session, so that you can hear both the native version and your version.

Another way to check your pronunciation is to record yourself reading a whole paragraph. Then, listen to your audio and the audiobook to check if your intonation is correct. It can help to get rid of one’s accent.

It can be hard to listen to one’s own voice speaking in a foreign language but it helps considerably!

Immersion practice

Having an audiobook presents the big advantage that you can listen to it at any time and anywhere. Even if you don’t really pay attention to what you are listening to, because you are cooking at the same time for example, you still get used to the language’s intonations, words and so on.

But if you have the book, too, and have, let’s say, read the first chapter and know what it is talking about, then, listening repeatedly to this first chapter while doing something else, will be even more efficient. I realize that in many languages, structures or expressions I am very confident with, come from something that I studied and listened to many times, almost until I know it by heart. It usually is extract from textbooks, films I have watched many times or… audiobooks I have listened to while doing some boring housework.

Learning by heart

If you are convinced by the advantages a language learner can get by learning something by heart, having an audiobook can only help you in this direction. Not only will it help you memorize more easily, but you will be sure that your pronunciation and your intonation are correct. Moreover, by sometimes trying to remember from the book (what you read) and sometimes from the audiobook (what you heard), you develop both types of memory faculties and memorize more efficiently.

Dictation exercise

This is a very school-like exercise but it works! I know it, because I have seen students make huge progress by doing this kind of exercise seriously.

I recommend that you first define what you want to practice. For example, a paragraph. Then listen to the audiobook as much as you need and write down what you hear. Of course, if you can, write the kanji, too. But if you don’t know them or don’t remember them, writing in hiragana is still a good exercise.

It will first help you write in Japanese, something we rarely do, unless your practice writing separately. You can check how well you really know your kanji. The most important part of this exercise is that you will hear and write the same thing. That is to say, you will mobilize two languages skills at the same time, exactly as when one reads aloud. It helps remembering structures and getting more familiar with the language.


Audiobooks really have a great potential for us language learners. I wish I could find more audiobooks of novels, though.

I like the fact that there are some many different ways to exercise with an audiobook, I really feel that the money put in both the book and the audiobook was worth it.

Immerse yourself: Set your computer to Japanese

When I learn a new language, I generally change the language of my phone and computer to the language I am learning.

Why does it help?

Obviously, to immerse oneself in Japanese, you have to surround yourself with as much Japanese as possible. But if you buy a Japanese magazine and do not read it, it does not help, does it? Switching the language of your computer has the great advantage that you will be sure to use your computer anyway, so you will be confronted with the language, if you want it or not.

At the beginning, you may just learn little words here and there but these are little words you will remember very easily. For example, the word 共有・きょうゆう is the word used to say “share”. No need to say that this is a word you will see often and won’t even need to think about.

Not only does it help you remembering words, but changing the language of your devices provides a strong reward when you realize that you are actually using your phone in Japanese. Especially at the very beginning of your study. I remember that I was so thrilled to be able to read the weekdays in Japanese or understand some of the weather forecast!

Set Siri to Japanese

This is a very funny way to check if your pronunciation is correct and if your sentences are understandable. If what you say is understood correctly by Sir, then it means that your pronunciation is not too extravagant. Siri also provides examples of what to ask it, this can be a good way to learn to say simple things like “show me the video I filmed yesterday”.

No turning back

What may happen is that: I change the language on every device, Windows is in Japanese and every software I use, too, from iTunes to Edge. I am quite satisfied of myself because I understand most of the words or short messages that are presented to me. And then one day, I want to change from Onenote to Evernote and I am overflowed with information in Japanese on how to use Evernote. And I think: “Oh no, I forgot, my computer (or was it Edge?) is in Japanese, let’s switch back momentarily…”. And I loose the biggest benefice of setting everything in Japanese: to force me to read Japanese.

In fact, the advantage of setting your computer to Japanese, is that you will read in Japanese not to read or practice Japanese, but to achieve something else (in this case, taking Evernote in hands). You will then use Japanese as a tool, exactly like Japanese people do. You will also learn new expressions and see in context words you learnt but never used or didn’t know they could be used like that, and so on… And if you do the effort to read something long and seemingly technical in Japanese, you will end up realising that it was not that hard after all.

So if you change the language of your device, you really want to play the game and never switch back.


Set every device of your daily life in Japanese and stick to it! It is when you will be presented with a long or difficult message or when you will have to search for information in a big menu all in Japanese, that you will really make progress. Even if it requires some effort at the beginning, you will get used to it and it will eventually become natural to handle things in Japanese. That’s a part of becoming familiar and be at ease with the language.


From page 66 to 72

Another great story about what you are and what you want to be, how to change and become someone better!

  • 特集記事・とくしゅうきじ special feature article

Su and the young Chika are talking about a 500 yen note. Chika finding it exciting and Su saying “懐かしい”. I had to check the Wikipedia page on Japanese banknotes to learn that the 500 yen banknote was replaced “after 1982” by coins. I guess that there still are some notes of 500 yen in circulation but that they are very rare.

I like learning new facts through books 🙂

Not long ago, I saw a French banknote of 50 francs in a museum. It had the photo of Saint-Exupéry on it with the Little Prince on his planet and the drawing of the elephant in the boa. I also thought it was 懐かしい… 😳

  • 優越感・ゆうえつかん superiority complex, sense of superiority

This structure is worth noting because I didn’t understand it right away:


To the adjective うらやましい that you would use to describe your own feeling, is attached the ending “がる” replacing the final “い” of the adjective. That is used to describe the same feeling but experienced by someone else (if I am not mistaken, anyone who would like to correct me is welcome!). The “がる” form acts like a verb. Here, we have this verb うらやましがる in the passive form うらやましがられる.

If we try to translate each step, it would be:

  1. うらやましい adjective: Something (subject) is provoking a feeling of envy.
  2. うらやましがる verb: to envy something or someone (object).
  3. うらやましがれる verb, passive form: something (subject) is being envied.

BUT, in our sentence, the particle used is not が but を. The passive form should be formed with が but it is okay to use the を particle instead. I am not quite sure of the difference but I think it doesn’t change much the whole meaning.

The whole sentence would then mean: having your youth being envied (by older people) makes you happy.

I am not sure that I understand correctly the last box. I think that 空気・くうき means “mood”, “situation” here. It would then mean “the mood where you can’t say or shouldn’t say that you are satisfied with yourself or your actual life”. And this mood is “flowing” in the “world”. Is she saying that being unsatisfied with one’s life is trendy? Which would explain why she keeps wondering how to change and how to become someone better when she actually seems to be satisfied with her present life…

Sometimes, even when I understand every word, the whole sentence still does not make sense. 😢



From page 60 to 65. This is a very interesting story about Suchan’s workplace. It is a very different environment than Maichan’s but she has to face difficulties, too. Especially to keep smooth relationships with a bunch of young girls very sensible. I really like the way the author describes, in very simple drawings and dialogues, the vicissitudes of any working place and the complexity of human relations.

  • のんびり carefree, at leisure
  • やっぱ seems to be a variant of やっぱり
  • 陰で・かげで behind one’s back
  • 竹田 is a name, but I don’t know how it is pronounced… maybe たけだ?
  • 爪・つめ nail

Wait, is she telling her employee to cut her nails because they are too long? 😲

  • きつい sever, hard. I knew this word to say “tight” but I didn’t know it could be used to describe a way of speaking.
  • すねる・拗ねる to be peevish, to sulk
  • 不機嫌・ふきげん ill humour, displeasure
  • ぴりぴり the dictionary says “to tingle, sting” or “become tense”. I guess it’s just an image to convey the idea of something spreading in all directions?
  • ムカつく to feel irritated, offended, to feel angry
  • 誉める・ほめる to praise. I knew the kanji 褒める. Why do I feel like it’s never the kanji I know that comes out? 😒
  • ずらす to put off, to delay, to postpone
  • デニーズ is Denny’s, a family restaurant that serves pancakes, coffee and casual dining or something like that. It seems to be popular in many countries but as it doesn’t exist in France I didn’t know it…
  • さっぱり I don’t understand this meaning here… さっぱりする usually means “feeling refreshed” but I can hardly believe that the chief’s coming to the shop was “refreshing”. I am not at ease with those kind of words that have so many meanings…
  • うっとうしい can mean “gloomy”, “depressing” but I think that it means “irritating”, “troublesome” here.
  • 悪役・あくやく the villain’s part
  • 団結・だんけつ unity, union

Is she saying that, if there is a villain, the other members of the workplace get united? I don’t know if I understand the Japanese correctly, but it seems to make sense, I have experienced it myself.

  • さつまあげ deep-fried ball of fish paste. Now I remember that this word already appeared in one of the first stories.
  • うざがる to behave annoyed, to feel annoyed… But, it is in the passive form in the text… うざがられる. What could be the passive form of “to be annoyed”? 😟 Sometimes I just get confused with it.
  • ひょっとしたら possibly, perhaps

Learning by heart, give it a try!

I have decided to start learning by heart the first chapter of 星の王子さま which is the Japanese translation of The Little Prince. I explained the benefit of learning by heart in this post and so far, it totally works for me.

What helps me is that The Little Prince is a story I know very well. I had to learn some passages by heart at school because we staged it in the class. Much later, when I studied German, I listen many times to the audiobook read by Ulrich Mühe.

Anyway, by learning sentences by heart, I really feel comfortable with grammar structures I had to think of before.

Let’s take some examples:

なら I know that it is used with the casual form of verbs, but having learned: 再現してみるなら it comes more naturally if I need to use this structure. It’s the difference between knowing how a grammar should be formed and being able to use it correctly without even think of it.

もう動けなくなり to the negative form 動けない is attached the grammar point なる which is formed by replacing the い ending by く. It’s all easy grammar really but if I have had to form this sentence by myself, I think that I would have had to think about it for a few seconds.

ジャングルでの冒険 I would never have thought of putting the で in this sentence. In fact, I was maybe not aware that it is possible to do that…

帽子なんかじゃない Here, I found the use of なんか which is something I often see and want to get more familiar with.

大人たちにも分かるように I often forgot that 分かる is used with に. It is counterintuitive to me.

… 置いときなさい Here is an example of the contractive form of the grammar ~ておく. I really had troubles with that before I knew that とく was the contraction of ておく.

…というわけで  It is something that I really hear a lot. In most videos I watch, people will end up saying something like “はい、というわけで”. I will try to use it in my writing exercises, it sounds cool.

いやになる another expressions I knew because it was in my Anki deck, but I hadn’t really appropriated it. Now I think that I have.

Those are only examples taken from the beginning of chapter 1. In fact, I find something interesting in almost every sentence.

I really think that learning by heart can have two major benefits:

  1. It allows you to transform passive knowledge into active competence. The problem with self-taught languages is that there is often a gap between what we know/recognize, and what we are able to use, learning by heart can help shrink this gap.
  2. In all language learning experience, there is this moment when you find yourself able to say almost everything you want to say in a more or less correct way. The difficult thing is to not stagnate at this level and to take the next step that will bring you from “being able to communicate” to “being fluent, using colloquial expressions, impressing native speaker, etc”. Taking this last step surely requires a lot of efforts and learning by heart is one of the strategies to get there.

都はるみ ~愛は花、君はその種子

The song “愛は花、君はその種子” sung by 都はるみ・みやこはるみ appears at the end of the Ghibli film “Only Yesterday”, directed by Isao Takahata. It is a Japanese cover of “The Rose” by Amanda McBroom.

I don’t know if I would have loved that song so much, hadn’t I seen the film. It’s only the ending film song but it accompanies a very moving scene that retrospectively gives a new dimension to the whole film. The emotion conveyed in this last scene only proves the great quality of Ghibli films that make them so different from any other anime films, in my opinion.

It is very hard, if not impossible, to find the original version (I mean, the version of the film) on YouTube. I have to link to a cover then… If you haven’t seen “Only Yesterday”, I hope you will have a chance to watch it and listen to the ending song!


やさしさを 押し流す
愛 それは川
魂を 切り裂く
愛 それはナイフ
とめどない 渇きが
愛だと いうけれど
愛は花 生命の花
君は その種子
  • やさしい means “tender”, “kind”. the “さ” ending nominalize it to “tenderness”
  • 押し流す・おしながす to wash away
  • 魂・たましい soul, spirit
  • 切り裂く・きりさく to cut off, to cut up, to tear to pieces
  • とめどない endless, ceaseless
  • 渇き・かわき thirst
  • 生命・いのち life. It is usually written 命・いのち
  • 種子・たね seed. Again, I think it is usually written 種・たね
挫けるのを 恐れて
躍らない きみのこころ
醒めるのを 恐れて
チャンス逃す きみの夢
奪われるのが 嫌さに
与えない こころ
死ぬのを 恐れて
生きることが 出来ない
  • 挫ける・くじける to be crushed, to be broken
  • 恐れる・おそれる to fear, to be afraid of
  • 躍る・おどる to pound (one’s heart)
  • 醒める・さめる to wake
  • 逃す・のがす to miss (an occasion)
  • 奪われる・うばわれる is the passive form of 奪う・うばう to snatch away, to dispossess, to steal
  • 与える・あたえる to give
長い夜 ただひとり
遠い道 ただひとり
愛なんて 来やしない
そう おもうときには
思い出してごらん 冬
雪に 埋もれていても
種子は春 おひさまの
愛で 花ひらく
  • 来やしない・きやしない ”やしない” is an emphatic negative form used after -masu stem
  • ~てごらん ”ごらん” is used after -te form of a verb to say “please, try to…”
  • 埋もれる・うもれる to be buried, to be covered, hidden
  • おひさま the sun
  • ひらく to spread out, to open up (for a flower)

The translation is very close to the original English one… I tend to like this version better but I am sure that I am influenced by the film which is one of my favourite Ghibli films.


From page 169 to 178.

We are beginning chapter 4 and have almost reached the middle of the book! In this chapter, Yasumasa has returned to work but pursues his investigation. There are a lot of words I didn’t know, especially at the beginning…

  • 分離帯・ぶんりたい I have no idea how to say that in English… On a road, the two directions are sometimes separated by a concrete railing or parapet, that’s 分離帯.
  • ボネット car hood (from “bonnet”)
  • 紙屑・かみくず paper scraps, paper waste
  • ひしゃげる to be crushed, to be squashed
  • 破片・はへん fragment, broken piece

坂口 Sakaguchi is the junior colleague from Yasumasa, he already appeared during Sonoko’s funeral.

  • 実況見分・じっきょうけんぶん on-the-spot investigation
  • 格段・かくだん special, exceptional
  • 緩やかな・ゆるやかな gentle, easy, slow
  • 居眠り・いねむり dozing, nodding off (I had totally forgot this word…)
  • 鑑識・かんしき forensics, crime lab (hard to remember…)
  • 鑑定・かんてい judgement, expert opinion
  • 損傷・そんしょう damage, injury (a word easy to guess thanks to the kanji)
  • 微量・びりょう minuscule amount
  • 含有・がんゆう contain, include
  • 元素・げんそ chemical element
  • 杓子定規・しゃくしじょうぎ a hard and fast rule, stick fast to rules
  • 極端・きょくたん extreme
  • 非番・ひばん off duty
  • 処方・しょほう prescription
  • 面食らう・めんくらう to be confused, to be taken aback
  • 釈然・しゃくぜん fully satisfied
  • 拘る・こだわる to fuss over, to be particular about
  • 警戒・けいかい vigilance, precaution
  • 免れる・まぬかれる to escape from, to avoid
  • 却って・かえって on the contrary, all the more, instead, rather
  • 陥る・おちいる to fall, to trap

I found the beginning of this part rather difficult, as every descriptive passage.

Once again, Kaga does not appear here but he is nonetheless present, and the reader knows that he is investigating, too.


From p.53 to 59. In this new story, Maichan has to go to the housewarming party of the managing director, as promised in the previous story. Even though it is Sunday, she has to give away this “part of her life” to work.


  • おおげさ grandiose, exagerated
  • 帳消し・ちょうけし cancellation, writing off
  • 媚・こび flattery, cajolery

So, Maichan is ready to pretend being interesting in her chief’s son to keep smooth working relationship but she won’t go as far as flattering the dog to please the manager.

  • 接待・せったい I think it means entertaining a guest, especially in a working context, when you have to treat a business partner for example. But here, I guess it just means to eat and drink.
  • 唄う・うたう just another way to write 歌う 😤


そろそろ起きなくちゃ: That’s what I should tell myself every morning in Japanese!

これでもあたし、営業よ。That’s what Maichan says when they talk about knowing recent songs. Is it a way to say “know a thing or two about”?