ひぐらしのく頃に (When They Cry)

The red character is an official part of the title in both versions.

ひぐらしのなく頃に (higurashi no naku koro ni), in its simplest interpretation and in the sense used in the one episode where a character actually utters the line, translates to "when the higurashi cry." Higurashi (tanna japonensis) are a variety of cicada native to Japan, and are frequently heard during the series, particularly when things are going wrong. Known for their distinctive mournful sound, they also tend to make noise only after sundown. "When the higurashi cry" thus refers to dusk.

However, there's another equally relevant interpretation, made possible by soundalike words and the apparently deliberate avoidance of any kanji that would clarify the meaning. If, rather than 蜩の鳴く頃に, you read it as 日暮しの無く頃に, the meaning becomes "when there is no normal daily life." Considering how things keep going horribly wrong, this meaning is perhaps even more appropriate than the more obvious one. The English name also manages some degree of ambiguity and a similar tragic note by leaving "they" ambiguous and playing on the multiple uses of "cry" (animal noises versus weeping or crying out). Note, though, that since ひぐらしが鳴く in the lyrics below has an explicit kanji clarifying the verb to mean animals making noise, the second interpretation doesn't work there.

I'd say something about the eerie sounds in the music too, but they're nothing compared to what happens during the course of the story, though of course, the lyrics hint at that as well. This is definitely not an upbeat song. And speaking of the lyrics and eerie noises, there's a clip that keeps playing before and between stanzas that sounds like it should be words but is incomprehensible. It's apparently supposed to sound like 逃げられない (nigerarenai, you can't escape) when played backwards.

As is often true when translating Japanese with little context, it's unclear who the subject is in of most of the lines. It doesn't seem to matter all that much here, though. I'm opting to use the generic "you" for most of the song, which (along with the generic "one"), is probably the best English can do for a vague subject.


Vocals:
Lyrics:
Composition:
Arrangement:
島みやえい子
島みやえい子
中澤伴行
中澤伴行、高瀬一矢
Eiko Shimamiya
Eiko Shimamiya
Tomoyuki Nakazawa
Tomoyuki Nakazawa, Kazaya Takase
Japanese Romanization Translation
Intro ~37 seconds
振り向いた その後ろの (正面だぁれ?)1
暗闇に 爪を立てて (夜を引き裂いた)
Furimuita sono ushiro no (shoumen daare?)1
Kurayami ni tsume wo tatete (yoru wo hikisaita)
You turn around, and behind you (who's right there?)1
You raised your claws at the darkness (and tore apart the night)
雨だれは血のしずくとなって頬を
つたい落ちる
もうどこにも帰る場所が無いなら2
Amadare wa chi no shizuku to natte hoho wo
Tsutaiochiru
Mou doko ni mo kaeru basho ga nai nara2
Dripping rain turns to drops of blood
Running down your cheek
If you no longer have a home to return to2
この指止まれ 私の指に
その指ごと 連れてってあげる
ひぐらしが鳴く 開かずの森へ
後戻りは もう出来ない
Kono yubi tomare watashi no yubi ni
Sono yubi goto tsurete tte ageru
Higurashi ga naku akazu no mori e
Atomodori wa mou dekinai
Stop on this finger, on my finger,
And I'll take you, finger and all,
To the forbidden forest where the higurashi cry.
It's too late to turn back.
Interlude ~19 seconds
ひとりずつ 消されてゆく (蒼い炎3
暗闇の その向うに (朝はもう来ない)
Hitori zutsu kesarete yuku (aoi honoo3)
Kurayami no sono mukou ni (asa wa mou konai)
Extinguished, one after another (blue flames3)
Beyond the darkness (morning no longer comes)
鏡の中で 蠢き伸ばしてくる
 無数の手で
さぁ 誰かをここへ誘いなさい
Kagami no naka de ugomeki nobashite kuru
 musuu no te de
Saa dare ka wo koko e izanainasai
With countless writhing hands
 reaching out inside the mirror,
Go now, and lure someone here.
鬼さんこちら 手の鳴るほうへ4
どんなに逃げても 捕まえてあげる
ひぐらしが鳴く けもの道から
聞こえていた声はもう無い
Oni-san kochira te no naru hou e4
Donna ni nigete mo tsukamaete ageru
Higurashi ga naku kemonomichi kara
Kikoete ita koe wa mou nai
Over here, demon, toward the clapping hands.4
No matter how you run, I'll catch you.
From the animal trail where the higurashi cry,
The voice once heard is no more.
Interlude ~34 seconds
この指止まれ 私の指に
その指ごと 連れてってあげる
ひぐらしが鳴く 開かずの森へ
後戻りは もう出来ない
Kono yubi tomare watashi no yubi ni
Sono yubi goto tsurete tte ageru
Higurashi ga naku akazu no mori e
Atomodori wa mou dekinai
Stop on this finger, on my finger,
And I'll take you, finger and all,
To the forbidden forest where the higurashi cry.
It's too late to turn back.
鬼さんこちら 手の鳴るほうへ4
どんなに逃げても 捕まえてあげる
ひぐらしが鳴く けもの道から
聞こえていた声はもう無い
Oni-san kochira te no naru hou e4
Donna ni nigete mo tsukamaete ageru
Higurashi ga naku kemonomichi kara
Kikoete ita koe wa mou nai
Over here, oni, toward the clapping hands.4
No matter how you run, I'll catch you.
From the animal trail where the higurashi cry,
The voice once heard is no more.
Closing ~21 seconds

1 A reference to the children's game Kagome Kagome, in which one child who is It—the 鬼 (oni) in Japanese, as in Tag as explained below—sits with eyes covered or blindfolded in the center, while the others circle around singing a song of a same name. When the song ends, the child in the center must guess who is behind him or her, as most versions of the song end with 後ろの正面だあれ? (ushiro no shoumen daare?), for which the most straightforward interpretation is, "who is directly behind you?" However, the song's lyrics are rather odd, fairly ambiguous in parts, and vary from region to region on top of that. Unsurprisingly, they have numerous different interpretations, many of which are, appropriately enough given that this series is dropping a reference, fairly disturbing.

2 It's not clear whether this line belongs with the previous one ("dripping rain turns to drops of blood running down your cheek if you no longer have a home to return to") or the following one ("if you no longer have a home to return to, stop on this finger..."). Given that wordplay is always a possibility, it could easily be both. I've deliberately avoided punctuation here to leave all possibilities open.

3 Japanese folklore often depicts the souls of the dead as floating tongues of blue flame. Somehow, I doubt that's just a coincidence.

4 The children's game Tag is called 鬼ごっこ (oni gokko, playing oni) in Japanese, and the person in the game who is It is similarly called the 鬼 (oni). An oni is a creature from Japanese folklore similar to a demon, ogre, or troll. The line found here is accompanied by clapping hands and used as a taunt by the other players when playing a variant of the game in which the oni is blindfolded and has to find the others by sound. Think of it as Marco Polo played on land, if that helps.


Back to translations index