"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" Christmas Song in Japanese

See the Rudolph Christmas Song Lyrics as Sung in Japan

Rudolph with sack full of gifts
nokee. Digital Vision Vectors

The New Year (shogatsu) is the biggest and the most important celebration in Japan. Christmas is not even a national holiday, although December 23rd is, because of the Emperor's birthday. However, the Japanese love to celebrate festivals and have adopted many Western customs including Christmas. The Japanese celebrate Christmas in a "Japanese way". See how to say "Merry Christmas" in Japanese.

There are many Christmas songs translated into Japanese.

Here is the Japanese version of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Akahana no Tonakai)".

Japanese Lyrics: "Akahana no Tonakai - Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"

Makka na ohana no tonakai-san wa
真っ赤なお鼻のトナカイさんは
Itsumo minna no waraimono
いつもみんなの笑いもの
Demo sono toshi no kurisumasu no hi
でもその年のクリスマスの日
Santa no ojisan wa iimashita
サンタのおじさんは言いました
Kurai yomichi wa pika pika no
暗い夜道はぴかぴかの
Omae no hana ga yaku ni tatsu no sa
おまえの鼻が役に立つのさ
Itsumo naiteta tonakai-san wa
いつも泣いてたトナカイさんは
Koyoi koso wa to yorokobimashita
今宵こそはと喜びました

Vocabulary for the Rudolph Christmas Song

makka 真っ赤 --- bright red
hana 鼻 --- nose
tonakai トナカイ --- reindeer
itsumo いつも --- always
minna みんな --- everyone
waraimono 笑いもの --- an object of ridicule
toshi 年 --- a year
kurisumasu クリスマス --- Christmas
santa サンタ --- Santa Claus
iu 言う --- to say
kurai 暗い --- dark
yomichi 夜道 --- night journey
yaku ni tatsu 役に立つ --- useful
naku 泣く --- to cry
koyoi 今宵 --- tonight
yorokobu 喜ぶ --- to be pleased

Here is the original, though it is not literally translated.

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose;
And, if you ever saw it you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.
The one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say,
"Rudolph, with your nose so bright, Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"
Then how the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee,

"Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer you'll go down in history!"

Here is the explanation of the Japanese lyrics line by line.

  • Makka na ohana no tonakai-san wa

"Ma (真)" is a prefix to emphasize the noun that comes after "ma."

makka 真っ赤 --- bright red
masshiro 真っ白 --- pure white
massao 真っ青 --- deep blue
makkuro 真っ黒 --- black as ink
manatsu 真夏 --- the middle of summer
massaki 真っ先 --- at the very first
makkura 真っ暗 --- pitch-dark
mapputatsu 真っ二つ --- right in two

The prefix "o" is added to "hana (nose)" for politeness. The names of animals are sometimes written in katakana, even if they are native Japanese words. In songs or children's books, "san" is often added to the names of the animals to make them more like humans or for friendliness.

  • Itsumo minna no waraimono

"~ mono (者)" is a suffix to describe the nature of the person.

waraimono 笑い者 --- The person who is made fun of.
ninkimono 人気者 --- The person who is popular.
hatarakimono 働き者 --- The person who works hard.
kirawaremono 嫌われ者 --- The person who is disliked.

  • Demo sono toshi no kurisumasu no hi

"Kurisumasu (クリスマス)" is written in katakana because it is an English word. "Demo (でも)" means "however" or "but". It is a conjunction used at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Santa no ojisan wa iimashita

Although "ojisan (おじさん)" means "uncle," it is also used when addressing a man.

  • Kurai yomichi wa pika pika no

"Pika pika (ピカピカ)" is one of the onomatopoeic expressions. It describes giving off a bright light or the glittering of a polished object.

* Hoshi ga pika pika hikatte iru. 星がピカピカ光っている。 --- The stars are twinkling.
* Kutsu o pika pika ni migaita. 靴をピカピカに磨いた。 --- I gave my shoes a good shine.

  • Omae no hana ga yaku ni tatsu no sa

"Omae (お前)" is a personal pronoun, and means "you" in an informal situation. It should not be used to your superior. "Sa (さ)" is a sentence ending particle which emphasizes the sentence.

  • Itsumo naiteta tonakai-san wa

"~ teta (~てた)" or "~ teita (~ていた)" is the past progressive. "~ teta" is more colloquial. It is used to describe past habitual action or past states of being. To make this form, attach "~ta" or "~ita" to "te form" of the verb.

* Itsumo naiteta tonakai-san. いつも泣いてたトナカイさん --- The reindeer that used to cry
all the time.
* Terebi o mite ita. テレビを見ていた。 --- I was watching TV.
* Denki ga tsuite ita. 電気がついていた。 --- The light was on.

  • Koyoi koso wa to yorokobimashita

"Koyoi (今宵)" means "this evening" or "tonight". It is usually used as literary language. "Konban (今晩)" or "konya (今夜)" is commonly used in conversation.