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This is an old song sung by Japanese farmers. It is a foundation-building song, sung slowly in accompaniment with the loud thuds of the logs packing the dirt. Most stanzas are 7-7-5-7-7. In lines with seven syllables, the pounder is struck twice, once on the 4th syllable and once after the line is finished. In lines with five syllables , the pounder is struck once on the 3rd syllable. The song lays out the story of Kanshiro, a young man who is lonely and so goes searching for a wife. He travels throughout the land, praying to the gods to answer his prayer for companionship. Istead of finding a wife, he only finds trouble. The moral of the story is that wishes and daydreaming cause you to lose your focus, and honest work is more valued than even a beautiful wife.

Please note : This is a very old Japanese manuscript from which I translated the song. Whomever originally wrote it must have been listening to the song while writing, which may account for the skewed Romaji. I tried to make it readable, if not completely correct. You may notice that the translation is not exact line by line - this is because the song is better read in English not literally translated. Because of context, some words may have alternate meanings. This is is no way the only translation for this work.
Kanshiro to yuu hito wa         A man named Kanshiro
Aru koto nai koto               Of things that are and
                                   things that are not      
Nozomareta                      Was asked,
Aru koto nai koto               Of things that are and
                                   things that are not
Nozomi nara                     If you wish,
Aru koto nai koto               Of things that are and
                                   things that are not
Yute miro.                      Let's name them.1

Kanshiro dono ga                When Kanshiro
Wakai toki                      Was young
Anmari nyonbo ga                He wished to have
Mochitasa ni                    A wife so badly
Shiho no kamigami               To the gods of 4 directions 
Gan tatete                      He prayed
Ichi niwa Idzumo no             First to Idzumo's shrine in
Oyashiro                        Oyashiro
Niban Ise no                    Second to Ise's in
Daijingu                        Daijinguu
San de Sanuki no                Third to Sanuki's in
Kompira                         Kompira
Shiho no kami e                 To the gods of 4 directions
Gan tatete                      He prayed 
Kami no goiji ni                To the mercy of the gods
Sugatte mo                      He appealed as well
Yoi yona nyonbo wa              Still a suitable wife
Orimo senu                      He could not find.
Shikoku mawari o                Of a walk around Shikoku
Omoitachi                       Then he thought
Shikoku hachijyuu               Shikoku's eighty-
Hachi kasho wo                  eight places2
Ura to omote o                  Back and front
Sagasedomo                      He searched
Yoi yona nyonbo                 A suitable wife
Orimasenu                       He could not find.
Saraba kore kara                After this, he went   
Saikoku ni                      To the west
Chikugo no kuni o               At the land of Chikugo 
Hajime to shi                   He began, 
Hizen Higo kara                 Through Hizen and Higo, then
Satsuma made                    As far as Satsuma
Sagashite miredo                He searched
Nao orazu                       Yet he could not find
Higo no kuni ni to              To the land of Higo3
Tachikaeri                      He returned.
Higo no Kumamoto                As through Kumamoto of Higo
Toru toki :                     He was passing :
"Kore a moshi                   "Pray, 
Kanshiro sama                   Sir Kanshiro, 4
Anata wo atashi wa              For you I have
Itsu karamo                     A long time
Shitai moshitezo                Been longing after
Koko mitoshi                    For the past 3 years
Anata no idokoro                Your whereabouts
Sagase domo                     I tried to find,
Anata no sugata wa              But your figure
Miemasenu                       Escaped me
Koko de ootaga                  After many years 
Kyoo kunenme                    Today we meet
Doozo kore kara                 Please, after this
Nyobo ja to                     Have compassion and
Yuute moraeba dono yoni         Call me your wife
Watashi wa kono mama            Here and now, as it is
Shinurutomo                     I could die
Nande yono naka                 What grudge can I have
Urami mashyoo"                  Against this world?"

Wakai doshi no                  Since they were
Kotonareba                      Both young
Sugu ni hanashi mo              Immediately discussion was
Matomatte                       Settled.
"Shibashi machiyare             "Wait a minute,
Kanshiro-san                    Mr. Kanshiro
Watashi ga chyooto              Excuse me               
Kozashiki wo                    I will prepare us
Tukurimasu kara                 A small room, so
Machinanse                      Wait a while." 
Soko de onna ga                 Then the woman
Suru koto nya                   Without more ado
Tatami o san-mai                Three tatami mats
Hikidashite                     She presented,
Roku-mai byoobu ni              A 6-part folding screen,    
Mitsu-buton                     And three quilts,
Moshi mo no kami no             And, instead of             
Kawari niwa                     paper in case of emergency
Mushiro o shigo-mai             She took out 4 or 5 mats 5
Kore o mite toru                Seeing this,
Kanshiro                        Kanshiro thought
"Tottemo kanawanu               "How unbearable
Nyobo zoto"                     My wife is!"
Idaten hashiri ni               He began to run fast
Hashiriuki                      As fast as he could run
Kore o mite toru                Seeing this,  
Sono onago                      The woman said
"Onore Kanshiro                 "You, Kanshiro6
Nigasu ka" to                   How can I let you go?" and
Izen no kozashiki               She put the small room
Katatsukete                     Into order
Shiro uma ippiki                A small white horse
Hikidashite                     She presented
Sore ni bagu o mo               And a harness too         
Hikidashite                     She presented
Sono ya uma ni                  On this horse
Uchinotte                       She rode
Otte kimasu yo                  She came chasing 
Kanshiro                        Kanshiro
Yoyaku Kanshiro                 At last Kanshiro
Nigenonde                       Escaped
Kawashimo atari ni              To a nearby stream
Mo wa kore nite                 But before he could say 
Daijoobu                        "I'm safe"
Omo ori kara                    Then a heavy
Oarashi                         storm
Ame ya arashi to                With strong wind and rain
Narimasuru                      Came down. 
Chiooto kokorade                While he stopped briefly
Ama yoke o                      The rain stopped
Itasu ori kara                  After a time,
Yuudachi mo                     The storm too
Hareta tenki to                 And the weather began to
Narimasuru                      Become clear.

Soreni tokoro no                Beside his place
Nomin wa                        There were farmers
Hoko wo katagete                Carrying tools 
Kusa kari ni                    Were out to cut grass
Tochuu yuudachi                 Meanwhile, the storm
Aimashita                       They were also encountering
Niwakani dekita                 Suddenly, there appeared
Ohotoke-iwa                     The Buddha-rock.7
Kokoni amakage                  Here the farmers
Itasoo to                       Tried to find shelter
Omo ori kara                    But then
Hotoke-iwa                      The Buddha-rock 
Iyoo na oto de                  Made a strange sound
Taoremasu                       And fell.
Kyoten itasu                    This shocked the 
Nomin wa                        Farmers, who
Nigeba ushinai                  Lost their way escaping
Sono iwa no                     The rock
Shitani narite zo               Rolled over them
Kega o suru                     And they were hurt
Mura no yakunin                 The village official
Kikitsukete                     Heard the news
Tazei nimbu o                   And many workers
Hikitsurete                     Came along with him
Kyuujo kyuujo to                To help, to help and
Dekakemasu                      They set out
Mikka miasa no                  For 3 mornings
Nezushigoto                     Without rest.
Iwa wa katazuke                 When the rock was cleared,
Ato mireba                      Look at the remains -
Sanjyuu go-nin no               Thirty-five were dead.
Shisha gozaru                   Even with this,8
Naomo Kanshiro                  Kanshiro
Nozomi kana                     Wishes for a Wife
Nozomi nareba                   If he wishes
Mata yaraoka                    We'll tell it again.
1 = The general meaning of the introduction is that there once was a man named Kanshiro and the things told of him may or may not be true; at any rate let us relate the story.
2 = Shikoku has 88 sacred sites which were established in the Heian Era by a wandering priest. Many people go there on pilgrimages. The number 88 was picked because it is believed that humans have 88 virtues and 88 worldly desires.
3 = Higo is an old name for the Kumamoto prefecture.
4 = I believe here she is trying to get him to stop, as the translation is a little unclear.
5 = This could be many things, but I am assuming from context she means it is for him to clean up with after sex. This may be Kanshiro's first clue she is not a wife sent from the gods, but rather a prostitute.
6 = "Onore" is an insulting 'you', which she probably used to get his attention.
7 = Usually these are sacred rocks located at a precarious angle on a cliff. They are carved with various Buddha images; and are there to mark a sacred site.
8 = Even all of these troubles did not phase Kanshiro's quest for a wife. Hence the moral of the story - do not lose yourself in wishes, focus on the present.

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