Nanatsu no ko
(Seven Baby Crows)
Year: 1921
Composer: Nagayo Motoori
Poet: Ujoo Noguchi

Click on the above link and you can play a version of the song

Lyrics and Translation:

Karasu naze nakuno

“Mother crow, why do you cry so?”

Karasu wa yama ni

“Because I have seven cute children

Kawai nanatsu no

high on the mountain.”

Ko ga aru kara yo



Kawai kawai to

“Kawai kawai” this mother crow cries.

Karasu wa nakuno

“Kawai kawai” cries the mother crow.

Kawai kawai to




Yama no hurusu ni

“You should behold the old nest

Itte mite goran

on the mountain.

Marui me o shita

And there you'll see such

Iiko da yo

round-eyed, good children.”

Ujoo Noguchi: The Children’s Poet

Set back from the two lane road winding along the seashore, a large house sits stately and serenely in the idyllic Ibaraki prefecture of Japan. Formerly the home of one of Japan's most respected and admired poets, the traditional style of the gray-tiled house and surrounding gardens evokes an era long past. Ujoo Noguchi, the author of such beloved children's songs as “Nanatsu no ko” and “Akai kutsu,” resided here for most of his long life. Known for the controversial themes in his poems and articles, Ujoo wrote often upon such topics as poverty and discrimination, anarchism, prostitution, and environmental disaster among others.

Ujoo Noguchi was born in 1882 in Ibaraki Prefecture in central Japan to a wealthy, influential and politically active family. His father was considered a village leader, and his uncle was often involved in politics. At the age of 16, Ujoo traveled to Tokyo to attend junior high and high school. He found the city to be a hotbed of political activities and remained to attend Tokyo Semongakko (now Waseda University) and study literature.

Unsurprisingly, Ujoo's first published works, the poems “The Peace of Our Village” and “Aim Towards Freedom,” appeared in political magazines. Although these early poems were not intended for children, due to the mature issues involved, Ujoo did eventually enter the realm of younger audiences. However, he could not keep his strong opinions completely masked even as he wrote the poems Nanatsu no ko, Akai kutsu and Aoi me no ningyoo for children.

“Nanatsu no ko” was first published in Kinnohune magazine, during July of 1921. The title can be translated as either seven children or seven-year-old child, and was never clarified by the poet. The song refers to a mountain, seven children (or child), and a crow crying kawai. Kawai is the Japanese word for cute, and Ujoo thought children would enjoy a crow crying familiar words. Ujoo often told the story behind the poem: A crow flies in the direction of a mountain, and two boys stand below watching. One boy says to the other, why does the bird fly and cry at the same time? His friend says, because her babies are waiting on the other side, and she is calling kawai, kawai to them since they are her cute children. Based upon commentary the poet made later in his life, Ujoo subscribed to a belief that all living things are worthy of love and respect, and reflected this view by including birds in a poem for children.