We already have plenty of “Western” songs that reference the big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka either in the title itself or the lyrics, but I was surprised to find songs inspired by our beloved Nara prefecture, the birthplace of Japan! Here’s a small collection of what I’ve found so far, but as for any other obscure songs that happen to mention Nara in the lyrics, I’ll have to keep treasure hunting!
First up is Nara by E.S. Posthumus, recommended to me by one of my best friends, Ethan! I love this band, and had already heard the song back in the States, but somehow didn’t make the Nara connection until he mentioned it to me! I think the sound perfectly captures the surreal feeling I had walking amongst the Temples and Shrines of Nara Park for the first time and imagining what life must have been like for ancient people. If I had to choose one moment to match this song, however, it would be the breath-taking moment I saw the Daibutsu, the World’s Largest Buddha, in Todaiji Temple.
The boys of Alt-J, bless their hearts, were so impressed with Nara that they dedicated an entire three songs on their album This is All Yours. While E.S. Posthumus draws from Nara’s ancient past, this particular trio of songs seem to reflect the Nara of here and now- personal reflections of love and existential heartbreak in a city that precariously balances tradition, nature, and modernity.
Last up is Nara Dreamland by Nicole Dollanganger. I’ll go ahead and say that I really don’t care for her baby-doll voice, even if I appreciate the creep-aesthetic she’s shooting for. I remember looking out the window of my job orientation in Nara city and seeing something that conspicuously looked like a fake mountain amidst real mountains. Little did I know at the time that it was a part of Nara Dreamland, Japan’s last abandoned theme park. Despite shutting down in 2006, it was never demolished. Many people say it’s hhhaaaaunteeeddd. Apparently you can still sneak in if you slip through walls of barbed wire, and avoid security guards. That’s not something I plan on doing, so I included a skurry video of the park filmed by a faithful deviant!
This isn’t exactly a “Nara” song as much as it is just a “Japan” song, but I didn’t want to leave this post on a disturbing note, haha. Cherry blossom (sakura) season is in full swing here in Japan, and I always find this familiar folk song comforting. Plus, Yoshino (in southern Nara) is the hanami (sakura viewing) capital of Japan!
Babymetal fans will also recognize the spot lifted for Megitsune (another awesome song by the way).
I hope you enjoyed these little gems, and if you happen to find other songs about Nara city or Nara Prefecture, leave me a comment!