"Japanese To English" as written by and Mark Edward Kozelek....
I went as far as losing sleep
I went as far as messing up my life
Unloving still strike me different
A million miles away from home
And fifteen from a payphone

Where we sat lonely on the sand

You're ten years older
We translate Japanese to English
And English to Japanese

It's not that simple
This dictionary never has a word
For the way I'm feeling
It's nothing plain for me

Of a different god and moral
What if I laid my head down on your stomach
Or put my mouth to your hand
I cannot translate

Japanese to English
Or English to Japanese

What I had to say is unsaid
What I had to do is undone
And if it was done
I'm sure it would have killed our hour

Where we sat lonely on the stand

Above the water the awful gray
Our current from japan
Didn't sweep away

Lyrics submitted by ThreeMilesDown, edited by BekayVD

"Japanese to English" as written by Mark Edward Kozelek

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Japanese To English song meanings
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  • +3
    Song ComparisonSomeone else pointed out on another "Down Colorful Hill" song that this album has a lot of Japanese references, this one being the most obvious. Notice the lines "I drank so much tea / I wrote my letters in Kanji" on Medicine Bottle and "put me to sleep here / and wake me in Japan. / I want to speak a new language" on Lord Kill the Pain. Interesting how Japan is used in three different ways: in this song language seems like an awful barrier which keeps us alone; in Lord Kill the Pain the idea of a new language seems to offer some hope to what is otherwise a pretty fed up speaker; and in Medicine Bottle Japan seems to invoke a kind of quiet contemplation, like a zen monk the country is so famous for.

    I just think it's interesting sometimes how a place can capture our imagination, sometimes even if we've never been there.
    paranoid schizoidon August 08, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is a quitessential RHP song. No Mix tape to an old girlfriend your trying to woo back would be complete without it.
    eddiebon July 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti cant beleive anyone who likes this band would not comment on this song. i think they must just be totally pussy. if your reading this now your obviously not pussy because here you are n all, unless you actually came here earlier and were all like "ohh nah im not gonna write anything its not that great.." cause id be like "ohh man thats so pussy... it is that great and your just timid, weak, wussy, frigid and fraidy cat that you dont fucking love this kick ass song.... yeah hows your band going?"
    fallenhorseson October 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's like crossing over the cultural boundaries for love..........good stuff, i love this song.
    atomsplitteron January 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is fucking amazing!

    "It's not that simple
    this dictionary never has a word
    for the way i'm feeling.."

    RHP are Brilliant!
    brkn social sceneon July 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhat i had to say is unsaid
    what i had to do is undone

    you still got hope when you got something more to say, and you're a living individual...love this song...it would be so nice to have a japanese lover...and maybe it would be difficult to understand even her face and behaviour...
    RHP right at the aim one more time
    koutaon February 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow. That last comment is marginally offensive.

    I don't think this song is literally about taking a Japanese lover. I mean maybe it is, but it seems to really be about being somewhere else in the world and feeling completely alone and unable to relate both literally and metaphorically. The "we" is clearly NOT a happy pair.
    robwyattfanon May 09, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIf you've ever been with someone 10 years older than you, you will definitely understand this song and how sometimes, it feels like translating english to japanese and japanese to english.
    octoberlanguageon October 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor years, I imagined him talking about an onsen (Japanese word for a hot spring) instead of 'on the sand'. Always found onsens a scary experience when you're not sure of the culture mores. But can be such a beautiful, relaxing experience in an outdoor onsen. You can be warm yet it's snowing on your head. I imagined the connection to onsens with "this dictionary never has the word for the way I'm feeling"
    jameswiaon October 28, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat a beautiful, haunting song about a relationship gone wrong. Really gets to me. Fantastic album as well.
    BekayVDon May 17, 2016   Link

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