Japanese Children Song "Donguri Korokoro"

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Many acorns can be found during this time of year. I liked the shape of acorns and enjoyed collecting them when I was small. You can make a lot of interest and different crafts with acorns, too. Here is a site that shows some unique acorn crafts. The Japanese word for acorn is "donguri"; it is usually written in hiragana. "Donguri no seikurabe" is a Japanese proverb. It literally means, "comparing the height of acorns" and refers to "there being little to choose from between them; they are all alike". "Donguri-manako" means, "big round eyes; google eyes".

Here is a popular children's song titled "Donguri Korokoro". If you enjoy this, check out "Sukiyaki."

どんぐりころころ ドンブリコ
お池にはまって さあ大変
どじょうが出て来て 今日は
坊ちゃん一緒に 遊びましょう

どんぐりころころ よろこんで
しばらく一緒に 遊んだが
やっぱりお山が 恋しいと
泣いてはどじょうを 困らせた

Romaji Translation

Donguri korokoro donburiko
Oike ni hamatte saa taihen
Dojou ga detekite konnichiwa
Bocchan isshoni asobimashou

Donguri korokoro yorokonde
Shibaraku isshoni asonda ga
Yappari oyama ga koishii to
Naitewa dojou o komaraseta

English Translation

An acorn rolled down and down,
Oh no, he fell into a pond!
Then came the loach and said Hello,
Little boy, let's play together.

Little rolling acorn was so happy
He played for a little while
But soon he started to miss the mountain
He cried and the loach didn't know what to do.


donguri どんぐり — acorn
oike (ike) お池 — pond
hamaru はまる — fall into
saa さあ — now
taihen 大変 — serious
dojou どじょう — loach (an eel-like, bottom-feeding fish with whiskers)
Konnichiwa こんにちは — Hello
bocchan 坊ちゃん — a boy
isshoni 一緒に — together
asobu 遊ぶ — to play
yorokobu 喜ぶ — to be pleased
shibaraku しばらく — for a while
yappari やっぱり — still
oyama (yama) お山 — mountain
koishii 恋しい — to miss
komaru 困る — to be at a loss


(1) "Korokoro" is an onomatopoeic expression, which expresses the sound or appearance of a lightweight object rolling about. Words that begin with unvoiced consonants, such as "​korokoro" and "tonton", represent sounds or states of things that are small, light or dry. On the other hand, words that begin voiced consonants, such as "gorogoro" and "dondon", represent sounds or states of things that are big, heavy, or not dry. These expressions are usually negative in nuance.

"Korokoro" also describes "plump" in a different context. Here is an example.

  1. Ano koinu wa korokoro futotteite, kawaii. あの犬はころころ太っていて、かわいい。 — That puppy is plump and cute.
  2. "O" is the respectful prefix (polite marker). It is used to express respect or simple politeness. "Oike" and "oyama", which appear in the lyrics, are examples of this. You can learn more about the polite marker "o".
  3. "~ mashou" is a verb ending which indicates the first person's volition or invitation informal speech. Here are some examples:
  • Isshoni eiga ni ikimashou. 一緒に映画に行きましょう。 — Let's go to a movie together.
  • Koohii demo nomimashou. コーヒーでも飲みましょう。 — Shall we have coffee or something?
  • In invitation situations, the subject is usually omitted.

"Bocchan" or "obocchan" is used to refer to a boy. It is an honorific term for "young boy" or "son". It also describes "a green boy; a greenhorn" depending on the context. Here is an example.

  • Kare wa obocchan sodachi da. 彼はお坊ちゃん育ちだ。 — He was brought up like a tender plant.
  • Female version of this term is "ojouchan" or "ojousan".

Causatives express the idea that someone or something causes, influences, or allows a third party to do something.

  • Donguri wa dojou o komaraseta. どんぐりはどじょうを困らせた。 — An acorn caused the loach trouble.
  • Chichi o hidoku okoraseta. 父をひどく怒らせた。 — I made my father very angry.
  • Kare wa kodomotachi ni sukina dake juusu o nomaseta. 彼は子供たちに好きなだけジュースを飲ませた。 — He let the children drink as much as juice they like.

Here is how to make a causative form.

  • Group 1 Verb: Verb negative form + ~seru
    kaku (to write) — kakaseru
    kiku (to listen) —kikaseru
  • Group 2 Verb: Verb tem + ~saseru
    taberu (to eat) — tabesaseru
    miru (to see) — misaseru
  • Group 3 Verb (Irregular Verb):
    kuru (to come) — kosaseru
    suru (to do) — saseru
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Abe, Namiko. "Japanese Children Song "Donguri Korokoro"." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/japanese-children-song-donguri-korokoro-2028025. Abe, Namiko. (2020, August 27). Japanese Children Song "Donguri Korokoro". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/japanese-children-song-donguri-korokoro-2028025 Abe, Namiko. "Japanese Children Song "Donguri Korokoro"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/japanese-children-song-donguri-korokoro-2028025 (accessed March 31, 2023).