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"The Song Echo" front cover by H.S. Perkins (1871)
"Song for the close of school" (page 141) in "Song Echo" by H.S. Perkins (1871)

"Aogeba Tōtoshi" (仰げば尊し) is a song sung at graduation ceremonies in Japan. It is usually in the key of D or E-flat major, in 6



The melody is often said to be based on a traditional Scottish folk song of uncertain provenance (similar to "Hotaru no hikari" borrowing the melody of "Auld Lang Syne"); however, others insist that both lyrics and music were by Meiji-era educator Isawa Shūji (1851–1917). The lyrics are also said to have been written collectively by Ōtsuki Fumihiko (1847–1928), Satomi Tadashi (1824–1886), and Kabe Iwao. Its first known appearance was in 1884, when Isawa added it to the Ministry of Education's published collection of songs for primary-school students.

In January 2011, Hitotsubashi University professor emeritus Masato Sakurai announced that he believed he had found the origins of the song in an English school music book, "The Song Echo", published in the United States in 1871. According to Sakurai, the American music book's song "Song for the Close of School" is exactly the same as Aogeba Tōtoshi. The U.S. song's words were written by T. H. Brosnan and the music by "H. N. D.". Sakurai stated that the song is no longer known in the U.S.[1]

After the Second World War, the song's lyrics, with their worshipful attitude towards teachers, were felt inappropriate for a democracy in some quarters. This was especially true during the student protests of the 1960s, as opposition to this song was part of a larger reaction against the old regime, and schools hesitated to play the song at graduations for fear of protest. After these protests died down, the further ebb of older notions resulted in the song, which used archaic grammar and vocabulary even for the 1880s, being largely abandoned by public schools (especially primary schools), in favor of alternative songs such as "Tabidachi no hi ni", "Okuru kotoba" by Kaientai, or "Sakura" by Naotarō Moriyama. Even for those schools which continued to use this song, the second stanza, which contains the lyrics "mi o tate, na o age" (身を立て名を上げ, "stand tall, and make a name for yourself"), focusing on personal success, was felt at odds with the changing state of society and often omitted. In the postwar period, children's author Tamao Fujita published a version with modernized lyrics, but it was unpopular among parents because it did not elicit tears the way the original song did.

In 2007, "Aogeba Tōtoshi" was selected for the Nihon no Uta Hyakusen, 100 songs from Japan, by the Agency of Cultural Affairs and the National Congress of Parents and Teachers Associations of Japan.[2] As the songs are ordered by the Japanese gojūon system, "Aogeba Tōtoshi" is number one on the list.

Sakura Gakuin versionEdit

"Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014)"
Single by Sakura Gakuin
from the album Sakura Gakuin 2014 Nendo: Kimi ni Todoke
ReleasedFebruary 25, 2015 (2015-02-25)
  • DVD single
  • digital download
LabelUniversal J
Songwriter(s)Ministry of Education Songbook
Sakura Gakuin singles chronology
"Heart no Hoshi"
"Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014)"

Japanese idol group Sakura Gakuin released a cover of the song, titled "Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014)" (仰げば尊し ~ from さくら学院 2014 ~) as a digital single on February 25, 2015, and later as the second DVD single on March 4, 2015, through Universal J, from the group's fifth album Sakura Gakuin 2014 Nendo: Kimi ni Todoke.


The artwork for the DVD single release was released on February 9, 2015.[3] The four "graduate" members, Moa Kikuchi, Yui Mizuno, Hana Taguchi, and Yunano Notsu, appeared on the TV special Kazumi Nanba's Idol 36-bō on March 5, 2015, to promote the release of the single.[4]

Principal Kuramoto of Sakura Gakuin had expressed his surprise that although the song was a common graduation tune, it was not known among the members of the group. He further stated that the loss of connection between the students and the song may be due to the archaic nature of the lyrics in the song, and the song was chosen to be the graduation single as a result. During the group's various Song Archeology live events, Sakura Gakuin members would take the time to properly interpret the meaning behind it.[3] An excerpt of this would be released as a bonus feature on the A version of the DVD, while a video of the group posing a vernacular translation of the song was posted on the website Gyao!.[5]


The song was produced by bassist and Rize member KenKen. Principal Kuramoto said that he possesses the spirit of "Song Archaeology" and would be most fitting to produce the track, as he could adapt older songs to the contemporary age, while retaining respect for music of the previous generation.[3]

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014)" was produced by Hiroshi Minami and directed by Yasuhiro Arafune, who would proceed to win the Grand Prix award at the 13th edition of the Mito Short Film Festival. The video depicts an alien who arrives on Earth to teach the Sakura Gakuin members the meaning behind "Aogeba Totōshi", and also features a cameo appearance from KenKen,[6] who appreciated being allowed to appear, yet preferred not to be a focus of the video. A short clip of the video was released on March 4, 2015. Choreography was done by Mikiko,[7] and a choreography edit of the video was posted on Gyao!,[8] and would later be released on the "Ra" edition of Sakura Gakuin 2014 Nendo: Kimi ni Todoke.[9]

Track listings and formatsEdit

Digital single[10]

  1. Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014) (仰げば尊し) – 4:26

DVD single – Type A[3]

  1. Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014) (music video)
  2. Song Archeology: Aogeba Tōtoshi (『歌の考古学 〜仰げば尊し〜』)
  3. Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014) (making video 1)

DVD single – Type B[3]

  1. Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014) (music video)
  2. Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014) (making video 2)

Credits and personnelEdit

Credits adapted from the liner notes of "Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014)" and Sakura Gakuin 2014 Nendo: Kimi ni Todoke.[7][11]

Recording and management

  • Mastering engineering by Manabu Matsumura at Universal Music Studios Tokyo
  • Sound production by KenKen and Kei Kusama
  • Vocal direction by Yasuyuki Kondo of Grooville
  • Recording engineering by Jun Shoji
  • Recording coordination by Ryo Kusakabe of Zaza
  • Production by Mitsuru Kuramoto of Ninpop


  • Moa Kikuchi – vocals
  • Yui Mizuno – vocals
  • Hana Taguchi – vocals
  • Yunano Notsu – vocals
  • Rinon Isono – vocals
  • Saki Ooga – vocals
  • Saki Shirai – vocals
  • Sara Kurashima – vocals
  • Aiko Yamaide – vocals
  • Megumi Okada – vocals
  • Ministry of Education Songbook – lyrics, music
  • KenKen – arrangement, bass, guitar, drums, programming


Chart (2015) Peak
Japanese DVD (Oricon)[12] 4
Japanese Music DVD (Oricon)[13] 2

Release historyEdit

Region Date Format Label Ref.
Japan February 25, 2015 (2015-02-25) Digital download Universal J [10][14]
March 4, 2015 (2015-03-04) DVD [3]


  1. ^ Kyodo News, "Popular school song traced to 19th-century U.S. book," Japan Times, 26 January 2011, p. 2.
  2. ^ 親子で歌いつごう 日本の歌百選 (in Japanese). Agency of Cultural Affairs. 2007. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "さくら学院、KenKenプロデュース曲ジャケ公開&初OA決定". Natalie Music (in Japanese). Natasha, Inc. 2015-02-09. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  4. ^ "3月5日アイドル三十六房にさくら学院中等部3年の菊地最愛、田口華、野津友那乃、水野由結が出演決定". Tower Records Online. 2015-01-22.
  5. ^ "さくら学院、メンバー意訳付き「仰げば尊し」を期間限定で". Natalie Music. Natasha, Inc. 2015-03-03. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  6. ^ "さくら学院が宇宙人に遭遇!?『仰げば尊し』MV予告編が公開!". Entame Next. 2015-02-28. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  7. ^ a b Aogeba Tōtoshi (from Sakura Gakuin 2014) (Type A DVD) (DVD liner notes). Sakura Gakuin. Universal Music Japan. 2015.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ "さくら学院、「仰げば尊し」MVショートバージョンとダンスビデオを公開". Barks (in Japanese). 2015-03-04.
  9. ^ "さくら学院「さくら学院 2014年度 ~君に届け~」発売記念 菊地最愛&水野由結 / 田口華&野津友那乃 インタビュー (4/6) - 音楽ナタリー 特集・インタビュー". 音楽ナタリー (in Japanese). Natalie. Natasha, Inc. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  10. ^ a b "さくら学院「仰げば尊し ~ from さくら学院 2014 ~ - Single」をiTunesで". iTunes (in Japanese). Apple, Inc. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  11. ^ Sakura Gakuin 2014 Nendo: Kimi ni Todoke (Limited Edition "Ku") (CD liner notes). Sakura Gakuin. Universal Music Japan. 2015. p. 18.CS1 maint: others (link)
  12. ^ "オリコン週間 DVD総合ランキング 2015年03月16日付(2015年03月02日~2015年03月08日)". ORICON STYLE. Archived from the original on 2015-03-17. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
    "仰げば尊し ~From さくら学院 2014~【TYPE A】 | さくら学院". ORICON STYLE. Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  13. ^ "さくら学院のDVD売上ランキング" [Sakura Gakuin DVD Sales Rankings]. Oricon Inc. (in Japanese). Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  14. ^ "さくら学院、バレンタインライブで本年度卒業ソングを初披露". Natalie Music (in Japanese). Natasha, Inc. 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2018-02-04.

External linksEdit