A Japanese Children’s Song – 童謡 “KOINOBORI” “Carp Steamer”(こいのぼり) And “SEI KURABE” (せいくらべ) “Height Comparison”

In my previous blog I write about Children’s Day. 5th of May is the Children’s Day and the Japanese put [KOINOBORI] up in the air to celebrate for their children. Also children enjoy singing special songs on 5th of May, Children’s Day. Today I introduce two children’s songs.


First introducing song is [koinobori].

[koinobori] the lyrics

There are two calls and both of them are same lyrics.

Yane yori takai koinobori/koinobori is higher than a roof.

ooki magoi wa otosan/A black big one is a father.

chiisai higoi wa kodomo tachi/A small blue/white one are children.

omoshiroso ni oyoideri/They look interesting swimming.

The verbs

「泳いでる」oyoi deru – swimming.

The adjectives

「たかい」takai – high

「おおきい」ooki – big

「ちいさい」chiisai – small

「おもしろい」omoshiroi – intersting.

The nouns

「やね」 yane – a roof

「まごい」magoi – a black carp

「ひごい」higoi - blue/white carp

「おとうさん」oto san – a father

「こどもたち」kodomo tachi – children

Now let’s hear the song

The video I have picked is romanized and so easy for you to follow and sing! Let’s sing together!

[Sei kurabe] the lyrics

The second song is called [sei kurabe]. Sei kurabe means to compare the height. The Japanese house is built with timbers. So its pillars are wood meaning it is easily mark on them. I used to stand in front of a wooden pillar and put marks of my height yearly. All parents are happy to see their children growing.

背くらべ (Sei-kurabe)


柱のきずは おととしの
五月五日の 背くらべ
粽(ちまき)たべたべ 兄さんが
計ってくれた 背のたけ
きのうくらべりゃ 何(なん)のこと
やっと羽織の 紐(ひも)のたけ

柱に凭(もた)れりゃ すぐ見える
遠いお山も 背くらべ
雲の上まで 顔だして
てんでに背伸(せのび) していても
雪の帽子を ぬいでさえ
一はやっぱり 富士の山

Height Comparison


The scratch on the pillar is the marking
Of my height on May 5th two years ago.
My brother marked it while we were eating chimaki*
It’s a nice memory of my brother,
So I compared the height yesterday.
I felt so short, barely the height of the strings of my haori**.

I can see mountains when I lean on the pillar.
Remote mountains are also comparing their height,
Each face is up above the clouds.
The highest is Fuji, without the snow cap.
I would like to compare with my brother,
Like that when he comes back home.

The source by mamalisa.com

Now let’s sing all together!

What did you do to compare your height when you were a child? Is there any special way to do it?

Hope you will enjoy both songs and be able to learn some Japanese words! Please let me know if you enjoyed it or not!


About mkchatinjapanese

I am a native Japanese who teaches Japanese to non-Japanese speaker as a private tutor. Teach from a beginner to Intermediate level. location in London.
This entry was posted in Japanese custom, JAPANESE EVENTS, JAPANESE KID'S SONGS, Japanese Language. Bookmark the permalink.

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