‘Hana’ (花) – The Most Moving Okinawa Minyo

Last Updated 3/25/19  2:32 pm

“Hana” (花) was written and composed by Kina Shoukichi (喜納昌吉). The full title is “Subete no Hito no Kokoro ni Hana O” (すべての人の心に花を), and a rough English translation is “Flowers for Your Heart.” It’s from Kina’s 1980 album, Blood Line. Ry Cooder played guitar on that album.1 The original 1980 recording featured Kina Tomoko, Shoukichi’s wife.2

* * *

Update 7/6/15: The best version I’ve heard has once again been removed from YouTube. It’s taken me a long while to get to this update. The video below is very similar to the version, which I had considered the best, that had been removed from YouTube. This version3 is different, but they both feature Kina Tomoko, whose voice makes whatever version the best. This version also includes Ry Cooder on slide guitar, and you can hear the Hawaiian influence that he picked up while jamming with Gabby in Honolulu.


We owe the discovery of this classic to Jon, who emailed me (loochoo77@gmail.com) the link with the following message on 10/14/14:

My Mother was Japanese (born in Hawaii) and that was how I first heard Sayuri Ishikawa’s version back in the early nineties. I listen to everything from punk to classical and that got me hooked on enka music (at least Hibari & Ishikawa). Soon after, she let me know that the writer of the song was performing on Japanese television and that was when I first heard of Kina Shoukichi. I didn’t think too much of his version (he’s not much of a singer) so my interest in him stopped there. When I did the search yesterday, the first thing that popped up was a video of Kina Shoukichi & Ry Cooder. I’m a Ry Cooder fanatic and I found out that he played on the original recording. I found the original (I think) on Youtube and now I have to find that record.

P.S.: One of Ry Cooder’s records is called Chicken Skin Music and he plays with Gabby Pahinui on slack-key.

Jon, my apologies for the long delay in getting this up. We can’t thank you enough for providing this link. Hopefully, this video will remain up so that people the world over can enjoy what I consider the most moving Okinawa minyo.

* * *

Update 1/2/16: Sincerest apologies to Mimi for the long delay in adding this Malagasy group version of “Hana” to this post. I had planned to insert it in the main post but simply forgot. This morning, while adding another rendition, I stumbled upon this comment and corrected my oversight. Tarika Sammy, with Henry Kaiser and David Lindley, does a soulful rendition that captures the spirit of Kina Tomoko’s original. This has to be among the best covers to date. Thanks to Mimi for calling our attention to this version from Madagascar.


* * *

The following version — which I added to this article on 1/14/14 — by a singer (Nidawan Asavataweechok — see Haohaodangdang’s update below) that I’m not familiar with, comes very close to the original and is very moving. Her voice is much more musical, though, different from Kina Tomoko’s in the original, which was emotionally raw and, thus, moving in a different way.

นิด นิดาวรรณ [Nidawan Asavataweechok]- Hana (花). Uploaded to YouTube by nidmahuizhen on 8/9/13.

Update 7/19/14 from Haohaodangdang: “The first singer whose name is in Thai scripts, is Nidawan Asavataweechok, a Thai singer from Chulalongkorn University who won first prize in the Chinese Song singing competition. In Sep 23rd on 2012, she took the courage to take part in THE VOICE in Thailand with her Chinese songs and won many hearts and support. Her songs were usually Teresa Teng’s but she sangs other songs and Hana is her first attempt and you can see she imitated Rimi Natsugawa (夏川 りみ).”

In the 1994 video below, we see Kina Shoukichi with Cooder, Champloose, Jim Keltner, Paul “Wix” Wickens, and The Chieftains performing “Hana” at The Great Music Experience, Todai Ji, Nara, Japan. Kina’s gut-wrenching delivery gives “Hana” a different feel altogether, adding a rock element4 that reflects his activist background. I really like his version.

Hana – Rimi Natsukawa with Lyrics
Uploaded to YouTube 9/20/11

[Update 4/26/14] The Teresa Teng version from masami43 is no longer available for public viewing. Teng, from Taiwan, was well known throughout Asia in the ’70s and ’80s. She was also hugely popular in Japan. The lyrics below, in a note attached to the upload, are especially helpful because they’re in Japanese, romaji, and English.

川は流れて どこどこ行くの
Kawa wa nagarete doko doko ikuno
(Where are rivers flowing to?)

人も流れて どこどこ行くの
Hito mo nagarete doko doko ikuno
(And, where are people also headed for?)

そんな流れが つくころには
Sonna nagare ga tsuku koroniwa
(By the time when those flows reach somewhere,)

花として 花として 咲かせてあげたい
Hana to shite hana to shite sakasete agetai
(I want them bloom as flowers and as flowers.)

泣きなさい 笑いなさい
Nakinasai warainasai
(Cry as you like, and laugh as you like.)

いつの日か いつの日か
Itsuno hika itsuno hika
(Some day, and someday,)

Hana wo sakasouyo
(let us bloom flowers.)

涙ながれて どこどこ行くの
Namida nagarete doko doko ikuno
(Where are tears flowing to?)

愛もながれて どこどこ行くの
Ai mo nagarete doko doko ikuno
(And, where is love also headed for?)

そんなながれを このうちに
Sonna nagare wo kono uchi ni
(I want to welcome those flows)

花として 花として むかえてあげたい
Hana to shite hana to shite mukaete agetai
(in my house, as flowers, and as flowers.)

泣きなさい 笑いなさい
Nakinasai warainasai
(Cry, and laugh as you like.)

いつの日か いつの日か
Itsuno hika itsuno hika
(Some day, and someday,)

Hana wo sakasouyo
(let us bloom flowers.)

花は花として わらいもできる
Hana wa hana toshite warai mo dekiru
(Flowers can also laugh as flowers.)

人は人として 涙もながす
Hito wa hito to shite namida mo nagasu
(People also tear as persons.)

Sore ga shizen no uta nanosa
(This is the song of nature.)

心の中に 心の中に 花を咲かそうよ
Kokoro no naka ni kokoro no naka ni hana wo sakasouyo
(Let us bloom flowers in our heart, and in our heart.)

泣きなさい 笑いなさい
Nakinasai warainasai
(Cry, and laugh)

いついつまでも いついつまでも
Itsu itsu mademo itsu itsu mademo
(as long as you like.)

Hana wo tsukamouyo
(Let us catch flowers.)

泣きなさい 笑いなさい
Nakinasai warainasai
(Cry, and laugh)

いつの日か いつの日か
Itsuno hika itsuno hika
(Some day, and someday,)

Hana wo sakasouyo
(let us bloom flowers.)

Others who covered “Hana” are Ishimine Satoko (石嶺聡子) and Natsukawa Rimi (夏川 りみ), and their versions are just as moving.

The following is a 2012 live performance by Ishimine, uploaded to YouTube by inakape1833 on 8/17/12. It’s a cappella for nearly half the song, and the only accompaniment after that is her guitar. Despite the poor outdoor stage acoustics and crowd noise, her performance is captivating.

花 – 石嶺聡子 (Hana – Ishimine Satoko) uploaded to YouTube by James Wong on 4/14/10

“Hana” – Natsukawa Rimi, uploaded to YouTube by chumkhengot on 11 May 2007.

[Added 11/22/13] Ensemble version below, Shoukichi Kina / arr.: Yasufumi Shimano: Hana (花), uploaded to YouTube by EnsembleKoschka on 8/11/13. Live recording in Usagi Hall, Fukuroi, Japan, 19th August 2012. Ensemble Koschka: 
Jeremy Tan Jing Yuan, clarinet · Kester Hong Ching, violin · Emily Neah Yuen Sin, violin · Dalfandy Cheah Keat Onn, cello · Alyssa Khong Ying, piano

[Added 11/22/13] Below: Hana (花) Hawaiian Version (すべての人の心に花を)Pua Ka Ipo by Teresa Bright. Uploaded to YouTube by yt96822 on 10/9/08.

[Added 10/14/14; updated 7/7/15, 1/2/16] I received, from Jon via email, links to the album info and video, below, for Ishikawa Sayuri and her version of “Hana.” (Uploaded to YouTube by Hakob Hambardzumyan on 3/11/13.) I’d never heard of her until now, but she brings to the song an enka artistry that’s heart-tugging at its best. It’s growing on me. The more I hear it, the more I like it. It’s not like that heart-wrenching chicken-skin version by the unknown Okinawan artist by Kina Tomoko, Shoukichi’s wife, that was removed by YouTube, but it’s beautiful in its own way. Update 1/2/16: I definitely love this version by Ishikawa Sayuri. It moves, but subtly with an emotional force that’s feminine and heartrending.

[Added 1/28/15] Chinese version.
Uploaded by rogerxu368 on 3/30/07.

[Added 1/28/15, edited 7/7/15]
Uploaded to YouTube by TheFolsomSingers [Folsom Singers 美聲歌者, Ryerson United Church, Vancouver] on 5/29/13. See if you can keep a dry eye through this rendition.

Update 10/13/15
“The Heart of Flowers,” sung by by Emil Chau (周华健 aka Emil Chow, Wakin Chau), uploaded to YouTube by 滾石唱片 ROCK RECORDS on 19 July 2012. Heartfelt thanks to haohaodangdang who tipped us on this Chinese cover. Audio only version here. Pinyin lyrics here.

Update 1/2/16
Thanks to Xiaodingdang for calling our attention to “Hoa Sen,” a Vietnamese cover of “Hana.” Cẩm Ly and Cảnh Hàn’s duet is playful and romantic, and their performance is beautiful and touching. It’s interesting that the sense of longing remains in the music, despite the lighter subject matter. Highly recommended.

1 Iwebender, 23 Mar. 2010.
2 ahoahoman48, 31 Dec. 2010.
3 Here’s another video featuring this version.
4 In my earlier posts on “Nada Sou Sou” and the Hawaiian connection for “Nada Sou Sou,” I dwelled on the idea of fusion, of Okinawan music growing by merging with the music of other cultures. And this fusion is nowhere more evident than in Kina Shoukichi’s “Hana,” written by an Okinawan but musically linked with Western rock influences. The result is a song that touches the hearts of people the world over.

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19 Responses to ‘Hana’ (花) – The Most Moving Okinawa Minyo

  1. Mimi says:

    Oddly, the first time ever I heard this song was as a cover by the Malagasy group, Tarika Sammy, with Henry Kaiser and David Lindley (unfortunately, whoever posted this didn’t give due credit to Shoukichi Kina). It’s a lovely version, sung in Malagasy:

  2. I really want the sheet of this Music
    I would like to play on a Shinobue ( tradicional Jap Flute)

  3. Pingback: Flowers for your heart: Subete no Hito no Kokoro ni Hana O” (すべての人の心に花を) | Concert Blog

  4. haohaodangdang says:

    The first time I heard the melody was when it got very popularly sang by Emil Chau (周华健 – 花心- The Heart of flowers Zhou1 hua2 jian4). I have no idea it was an old Japanese song. But years later a Japanese guy told me about Emil Chau and the Japanese version of Hana, then I started researching and found it to be a very nice song. Years later, when my daughter grew up, I taught her only the Japanese version.

  5. xiaodingdang says:

    There are also Vietnamese version of ‘Hana’ at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBbokY2jVbA

  6. loochoo77 says:

    Xiaodingdang, thanks for this tip! I’ve added this MV to the original post. I really like this version by Cam Ly and Canh Han!

  7. When I went to Okinawa in 2001, Bishop Rokuro Takeyasu invited me to a front seat to Souchi Kina’s concert singing his soulful Hana’ composition. Had goosebumps up & down my spine. I got his T-shirt and an eternal fan.

  8. Anonymous says:

    this song is one of the best i hear

  9. Pingback: 花心by Emil Chau With Lyrics and English Translation | Lovely Songs

  10. Pingback: Nubui Kuduchi Radio Show! | 上り口説 Nubui Kuduchi

  11. n2uan says:

    There is a typo error in romaji version:

    Hana wo sakasouyo
    (Let us catch flowers.)

    • loochoo77 says:

      n2uan, thank you very much for catching that error. I should have caught it since it’s in hiragana. I made the correction. Please alert me when you see errors such as this in this blog. -Jim

  12. Cathy says:

    Hi, If anyone has a copy I would love to have koto music for HANA . Willing to purchase it as I need to perform with si ngers next week !! Please send me a link or anything if you know where I can get hold of the koto music sheets. Thank you !!!

  13. Tennessee Gock says:

    Your article is amazing! So much good info! Thank you for sharing! You mentioned famous Taiwanese singer, the late Teresa Teng. As much as I love Teng’s mandarin songs (many of them based on Japanese melodies), her Japanese songs and English songs are not that good (sorry, TT fans!). If one does not pay attention, one would have thought she was singing Mandarin songs because she applied the same technique used in her chinese songs to songs in other languages. See her rendition of 《Hana》, her pronunciation of し was not accurate, and she articulated too much (her enunciation as well as her facial expression were a bit pretentious and too intense. https://youtu.be/USOE_Vbizbk. On the contrary, Rimi Natsukawa’s interpretation of the same song is so much better. Her voice is like a nightingale, her manner relaxed and spontaneous. Her performance was excellent and her rendition soothed listeners. https://youtu.be/kpjVJ0eV2Ws

  14. Tennessee Gock says:

    I love Okinawa trio BEGIN! Their music is amazing and I especially the vocalist! Here is one of my favorites: https://youtu.be/dlDX2zUYcVI
    ‘Nada Sōsō’ (涙そうそう, Great Tears Are Spilling) is a song written by Japanese band BEGIN and singer Ryoko Moriyama. It was first released by Moriyama in 1998, but achieved popularity through the cover version by Rimi Natsukawa in 2001. [Wikipedia]
    I love Rimi Natsukawa, but I love BEGIN even more 🙂

    • n2uan says:

      Hi, On my recent to Naha city, Okinawa I saw the song on top of the Tentozan, next to the Peace monument:

  15. Yoko says:

    Hi Jim san! Your english translation is so beautiful! I’m from Okinawa and currently live in U.S. with my family. I’m member of Okinawa Kenjin Kai Club and play sanshin sometime. Would you mind if I use your English translation and Romaji lyrics for sing along at Kenjin kai end of the year party?

    • loochoo77 says:

      Yoko-san, apologies for the late “approval” and reply. Once a comment has been approved, subsequent comments are automatically approved. I’ve been busy at work and haven’t had much time to maintain Liuchiuan. However, I’ll try to be more timely in keeping up with discussion posts and publishing new pieces.

      I’m not the translator for the “Hana” English lyrics. I downloaded it from another site that’s no longer active. So I’m not sure who the originator is. However, I’m sure it’ll be ok for you to use the English translation and Romaji lyrics for performances. Niffee debiru for your comment.

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