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About "Echigo Jishi"

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Echigo-Jishi 越後獅子 mus  pdf  mid  xml

Title in English: "Lion of Echigo"


"Echigo-Jishi" was composed in 1811 by Kineya Rokuzaemon IX, a Kabuki player/composer.  Echigo was the part of Japan now known as Niigata.  The "lion" refers to a "lion dance" of the region.


Echigo-Jishi is a humorous and satirical "patter song" listing products of the Echigo district.  One of these products is the lion dance. 


The song has a beautiful and haunting tune, with a striking melodic feature: the upward thrust to F# in measures 15 and 17; before this, we have heard F natural in the lower octave, but no F#.  The tempo is fast, and there are many verses.  This work is still well-known in Japan and is often performed as a solo koto piece.

Measures 13-18, Echigo-Jishi

"Echigo-Jishi" appears in Giocomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly.  It may have been Puccini's favorite Japanese song, since it is the only Japanese song that Puccini used in all 3 acts of the opera.  Also, Puccini especially liked the "thrust to F#" mentioned above; he uses it as a recurring symbol of Butterfly's tragic destiny.

For a list of Puccini's Japanese songs and details about where they occur in the opera, see Japanese Songs in Puccini's Madama Butterfly on this website.


Nagai, Y., and Kobatake, K., Japanese Popular Music, A Collection of the Popular Music of Japan Rendered in to the Staff Notation, S. Miki & Co., Nos. 106 and 107 Shinsaibashi Road, Osaka, 1892.

Powils-Okano, Kimiyo, Puccinis "Madama Butterfly", Verlag für systematische Musikwissenschaft GmbH, Bonn, 1986 (in German).

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