The official song of Yokohama, lyrics by Mori Ogai (1862-1922)

(Posted on July 13, 2023)

The official song of Yokohama was first sung in 1909 during a ceremony for

commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the port in Yokohama. Since then, the song has become a must for every official event in Yokohama as well as at school. A school child in Yokohama can sing the song by heart. The official song was composed by Minami Yoshie from then the Tokyo School of Music (now the Tokyo University of the Arts) and the lyrics were written by Mori Ogai, already a well-known figure at that time being a writer, translator, the Surgeon General of the Japanese army, Doctor of Literature among others.


Mori’s father was a doctor of Chinese medicine in Shimane prefecture. So, it was natural that he followed his father’s footsteps by graduating from the Tokyo University’s medical department in 1881. He became an Army surgeon straight away. Mori then went to Germany to further study medicine for four years from 1884-1888. As a writer Mori published novels after 1890. Mori’s early works reflected his stay in Germany one way or another in a contemporary environment. Later novels turned to historical events.   

The photo shows Japanese medical doctors who were studying in Germany in 1888. Mori is on the furthest left in the second row.


Here are the lyrics of the song as translated by ChatGPT!

Japan, our country, is an island nation. The towering islands stretch and shine in the morning sun, reflected in the sparkling sea. Ships from all over the world come here, passing through. That's why there are many ports in the world, but none surpass Yokohama. In the past, Yokohama was a desolate place with occasional smoke rising from modest homes as meals were being cooked. However, look now, it has become a vibrant port where many ships anchor. Ah, the treasures that adorn the reign of His Majesty the Emperor, endlessly flourishing, arrive today as well from Yokohama Port.


You can listen to the song here.






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