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Songs of Summer with UW FLAS Fellows (Part 1: East Asia)

August 27, 2018

“During the [Hakodate Port] festival, large groups of people–usually companies, programs, etc.–dance like a squid along a 1.5km route down the streets of Hakodate.”

Songs are a wonderful way to learn language–they are easy to remember and build understanding of the cultural context of the language.  In Summer 2018, University of Washington Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) fellows studied seventeen languages in eighteen different countries on four continents.  This is the first in a series of posts with songs contributed by FLAS fellows and which capture summer moments from across the world.  This post features Japan, China and Korea.


Min Guo eating ramen in Tokyo

Min Guo

Min Guo (MA China Studies, MPA Public Administration, FLAS: East Asia, Japanese) studied Japanese at the Coto Academy in Tokyo this summer.  She hopes you like “Uchiage Hanabi” by Daoko, which is really popular this summer.  She writes:

Uchiage Hanabi” (which means “Fireworks“) by Daoko is very popular this summer. I think it was actually released last year for an anime, but it gained even more popularity this summer. It is about watching the fireworks at summer festivals and wanting summer to last forever. Since this is the final summer of the Heisei period (Japan will have a new emperor next year), people in Tokyo are feeling very nostalgic about everything they experienced in the Heisei period and this song became very popular to express that nostalgia. Some of the comments on the Youtube video are very cute–about different memories people had from their youth, and lots of comments like “Thanks for the memories!” and “It sure was fun!”

The expression of nostalgia is clear in the translated lyrics.


Isabella Tinte profile picture

Isabella Tinte

Isabella Tinte (BA Linguistics, FLAS: East Asia, Japanese) studied Japanese at the Hokkaido International Foundation in Hakodate this summer.  She celebrated at the Hakodate Minato Matsuri (Port Festival) by dancing to the “Ika-Odori (Squid Dance).”  She writes:

Every year during the first five days of August, the people of Hakodate celebrate together in their Minato Matsuri (Port Festival). Other than a great fireworks show and a plethora of food stalls, one of the things that the festival is also most famous for is the Ika-Odori (Squid Dance) Parade. Because Hakodate is well-known for their abundance of squid, this dance was created in honor and celebration of this Hakodate specialty. During the festival, large groups of people- usually companies, programs, etc.- dance like a squid along a 1.5km route down the streets of Hakodate. Since everyone follows the same, simple, and short dance moves to the same song on repeat, spectators also get a chance to participate in the end after watching and learning others do the same dance for at least a good hour!


Cameron Blecha overlooked by stone dragon statue in China

Cameron Blecha

Cameron Blecha (BA Asian Studies, FLAS: East Asia, Chinese) spent the summer in Beijing with the Department of Asian Languages & Literature UW in Beijing program.  Cameron has heard a lot of good songs this summer, but two of his favorites are “愿得一人心 (Yuan de yi ren xin (Only Wish to Win One Heart))” by 雨宗林 (Yu Zonglin) and “告白气球 (Gaobai Qiqiu (Love Confession))” by 周杰伦 (Jay Chou).  He writes:

“愿得一人心 (Only Wish to Win One Heart)” is a very beautiful love song ( as many Chinese songs are). I heard this one with a friend I made here in China who said it’s one of her favorite songs.

告白气球 (Love Confession) is another beautiful love song.  Jay Chou is a very famous singer from Taiwan who is also popular on the mainland and has some international recognition. This song is translated as “Love Confession” in English, but the actual word used in the title is the characters 气球 for balloon.  The song is a profession of his love through the balloon.



Isioma Okafor profile picture

Isioma Okafor

Isioma Okafor (M.S. Material Science & Engineering, FLAS: East Asia, Korean) is studying Korean at the Lexis Korea program in Seoul and Busan.  She reports that the top three songs of the summer in Korea are:

“사랑을 했다 (Love Scenario)” by iKon;

“켜줘 (Light)” by Wanna One; and

“Havana” by Camila Cabello.

While “Havana” isn’t Korean, she has heard it in shops and restaurants in Seoul just as much as the other two.  “Love Scenario” is her favorite, and is the most played at the noraebang (karaoke) places!



FLAS Fellowships are funded by the International and Foreign Language Education Office of the U.S. Department of Education. FLAS fellowships support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies. Students from all UW departments and professional schools are encouraged to apply. Find out more about the FLAS Fellowship here.