I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Refrain: Akina Nakamori 中森明菜 -- Second Love (セカンド・ラブ)

While I was visiting my parents in Toronto Canada last week, J-Canuck and I met over lunch in a Japanese restaurant.  We talked about San Francisco, Japan, Japanese music, Kayo Kyoku Plus, among other things, and I was telling him that from time to time, I got strangers asking me over email to translate this and that Japanese song for them.

Besides contributing to Kayo Kyoku Plus, I have my own blog at blogspot.  I originally conceived it to be a dumping ground for my random essays.  After a while, I changed my mind (after all, I didn't write that many random essays anyway) and wanted it to brand it as my photo blog.  That also got abandoned (why do that when I already have my own photo web site?) and the blog stayed quiet for a long while, until I finally decided to make it a blog for translated Japanese songs that I love.  It would also, albeit indirectly, let me test my Japanese, pick up some vocabulary (in fact, it's amazing how much vocabulary I've been picking up by reading the lyrics), and sort of like a self imposed "Japanese homework" outside my normal routine with my Japanese teacher.

So, I was telling J-Canuck over lunch that a guy emailed me a while ago asking for Akina's Second Love's translation, apparently after he visited my blog.  "It's so timely," J-Canuck promptly replied.  "I just wrote a piece about Second Love.  Feel free to offer your translation if you like," he said.  So, with J-Canuck's encouragement, and in response to the guy who requested it, I'm offering my translation here.  Of course, I'll post them on my blog too.

Before we jump to the translation, let's first talk about the story in the song.

Second Love is about a young girl who failed at her first love, and is on the cusp of falling in love again, thus the name Second Love.  Reflecting on her failed experience, she had some expectations in terms of adjustments she'd make in her second love.  Unfortunately, the boy that she loves, either due to lack of courage, or maybe lack of interest (who could possibly resist a 17 year old Akina?), do not show any response.  The young girl is therefore confused and feels painful at not knowing whether he likes her or not.

An ex-girlfriend of mine once told me that she feels more exciting in the period leading to a relationship, rather than during the relationship itself.  It's not even comparable to the first few months of a new relationship, which is usually considered to be "honeymoon period."  She told me that it's the guessing and flirting game that makes that "transitory period" ever so exciting.  Of course, the prerequisite is she's interested in the guy in the first place.  During that period, she would analyze every single word and every single little gesture made by her date, and would offer corresponding hints and gestures in response.  Sometimes, the guy didn't get it, and she'd be confused (frustrated?) as to whether he showed real interest.  When the guy responded, she would pretend that it's nothing and keep him guessing.

Excitement aside, it's the same emotional roller coaster that this young girl in Second Love is going through.  She's given him hints but he didn't respond.  She loves him so much that it made her more confused and painful.  When I read the lyrics, there's one part I couldn't figure out.  There 2 gestures made by the young girl: (1) picking the boy's sweater's cuff (2) fixing her bangs.  Despite not having any personal experience with the 1st one (all my ex-girlfriends found that too aggressive, I guess), I would say it is a definite gesture.  However, I wonder if (2) is any indication that the girl likes the guy.  I did a search on the Internet a bit and it looks like multiple dating advice sites say that it is indeed a gesture made by a girl when she likes the guy.  Okay, I'll let the experts out there comment further :)

Oh, one more thing that I almost forgot to mention.

Second Love was covered by Hong Kong singer Sara Lee (李麗蕊) in 1985.  Sara debuted at a very young age (when she's still in secondary school) and she's only 18 when she covered it.  The title of the song is 蛻變, or Reborn, in English.  For those interested, here's Sara Lee's version on YouTube.  I came to know about this around 5-6 years ago and I was pleasantly surprised at that time.  For a lot of Hong Kong people, Sara Lee is a forgotten name because she never had a hit, let alone coming to fame.  But I remembered her well because she introduced me to Air Supply during her radio show (She proclaimed herself to be a fanatic Air Supply fan).  I was still in secondary school at that time, sigh!

Here's the Japanese lyrics, taken from this site:


恋も二度目なら 少しは上手に
愛のメッセージ 伝えたい
あなたのセーター 袖口つまんで
帰りたくない そばにいたいの

抱きあげて つれてって 時間ごと
せつなさのスピードは 高まって

恋も二度目なら 少しは器用に
甘いささやきに 応えたい
前髪を少し 直すふりをして
舗道にのびた あなたの影を

抱きあげて 時間ごと からだごと
せつなさがクロスする さよならに

抱きあげて つれてって 時間ごと
せつなさはモノローグ 胸の中

And here's my English translation.  Japanese lyrics are famous for its ambiguity and room for imagination.  I'm only providing my own interpretation.  If you have other interpretations, feel free to let me know.

The second time I fall in love
I’d like to be a bit better at hinting my love to him
I pick your sweater's cuff while walking together
And just keep my head down...
Don’t wanna return home; just wanna be by your side
I am unable to say that in front of you

Hold me tight, and take me with you, and time
Towards somewhere afar
My pain is growing fast when I’m not seeing you
I’m totally confused now

The second time I fall in love
I’d like to be a bit better at responding to his chatters of love
I pretend to fix my bangs a little bit
And just keep my head down...
Your extending shadow over the pavement
I wish I could freeze it by stopping time

Hold me tight, with time, with my body
Please sweep me away with you
The pain that crosses me when we bid each other goodbye
I hate being chased by such feeling

Hold me tight, and take me with you, and time
Towards somewhere afar
The pain in my heart is playing its monologue
I’m totally confused now


Enjoy!  And by the way, someone once copied my translated lyrics of a Koji Tamaki song and posted it on YouTube without citing me as the source.  I don't mind having this part of my work spread all over the Internet, just remember to quote the source rather than passing it as your own work!

Akina's 1989 album: Cruise (released 2 weeks after her attempted suicide)


  1. Hello, Larry.

    I'm writing this as I'm listening to Sara Lee's cover of "Second Love". She does quite a fine job and the arrangement is very close to the original by Takao Kisugi. Thanks very much for the translation and your insights on the opening stages of trying to start a relationship. In a way, the song describes the overarching story of one of my favourite anime, "Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun" ( in which the young lass is trying to make her feelings known to a shojo manga artist but the guy is way too dense to realize it.

    As for the hints about a girl showing interest in a guy, I never heard about adjusting the bangs but I remember that a girl would help adjust a guy's necktie as a sure sign supposedly (my ex tried to strangle me with mine but that's a different story).

    I noticed your photo of "Cruise" at the bottom and the significance of the release date. I got to Japan just a few weeks after the suicide attempt and the release, and it was rather eerie going into that section of the CD shop where the album was being played and the huge poster for "Cruise" was posted. It almost seemed funereal.

    Good on you with your blog with the translations of various Japanese songs. With your permission, I'd like to add it to the KK Blog List at the bottom of the page here.

    1. J-Canuck, I'm glad you enjoyed Sara Lee's version as well. "Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun" is really funny, and I think it's like the story described in Second Love. However, I think the girl in Second Love is more passive.

      I bought Cruise from Amazon Japan. Technically, it's from a seller on Amazon as it's not sold by Amazon the company. My favorite song in that album is "Ame ga Futteta". May write about that in the future.

      Fee free to include my blog in the KK Blog List at the bottom of your blog page. It's my honor.

  2. Wow, thank you for the translation! Only been obsessed with Akina since middle of last year but I feel as though I'll forever be obsessed with her music from now on :)

    It is refreshing being able to know the lyrics now, such a sweet song. Before then, I can only pick up on the emotion of the song from her voice and the I will know the lyrics when I listen again. xx


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