The National Anthem of Japan

The Kimigayo is recognized as one of the most dignified and most beautiful national anthems in the world. This noble and sonorous melody was harmonized by a German bandmaster, Franz Eckert, director of the Marine Band of Japan from 1879-1880. He also founded the military band of Toyama Gakko, Tokyo, and established the military band of the Imperial Guards. In his selection and harmonization of the Kimigayo, Herr Eckert's own modest statement is recorded in the Asiastic Society Transactions.

"Some time ago I was asked by the Ministry of Marine to compose a national anthem, as one did not exist at the time. Having asked for them, I received several Japanese melodies from which I selected the following. I harmonized it and arranged it for European instruments. As I think it unnecessary to write down the instrumentation, I give the original melody only. The poem is from the famous Kokinshu and is about a thousands years old."

The song goes:

Ten thousand years of happy reign be thine
Rule on, my lord, till what are pebbles now
By ages united to mighty rocks shall grow
Whose venerable sides the moss doth line.

The Kimigayo was played for the first time at Court on the birthday of Emperor Meiji in 1880.

Source: We Japanese: Being descriptions of many of the customs, manners, ceremonies, festivals, arts and crafts of the Japanese besides numerous other subjects. Fujiya Hotel. Ltd. 1950 version.

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