Lyrics: Alluring Azure Sky 美貌の青空/Bibo no Aozora

美貌の青空/Bibo no Aozora was first released in 1995 as the opening track of the album Smoochy. Its instrumental version later became a regular in Sakamoto’s live performance repertoire and appeared in the soundtrack of the 2006 film Babel. Sakamoto’s long-time collaborator Taeko Ohnuki also covered this song in their joint project UTAU in 2010.
Although Sakamoto was not satisfied with his own vocal in Smoochy, and the instrumental version of Bibo no Aozora might be more well known, its lyrics are no less worthy. It is said that Sakamoto and the lyricist Masao Urino had an over eight-hour discussion- and here goes my attempt to translate this beautiful piece into English while trying my best to keep the poetic quality of the original text.

The original album version, vocal by Sakamoto
Ohnuki’s cover version

Alluring Azure Sky[1]
Composer: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Lyricist: Masao Urino

青空も 声も
In your gaze-insincere and
Sublime I drowned
Mad was the summer
The azure sky and the voices
A tiny death they seem

瞳は 傷口と知る魂の
Love, no more I will
With forbidden love
I know the eyes are wounds of the soul[2]
On separate planets
We the twins nest[3]

With the grace of a wild beast
Taste the silence on your tongue-
Like opium poppy

君の 可憐な 喉笛から
あふれ出した 虹の涯は
As sadness piercing my heart
From your sweet throat
Overflowing was the rainbow
The alluring azure sky at its end

手に触れる すべて
Mad was the summer
Everything that the hands touch
Seems a fragment of death

野蛮な 瞳 見ては
途方に暮れる 真夏の楽園
With blood running clear
Those savage eyes of yours I look at, and
At a loss, amid the midsummer paradise

Translator’s notes:
[1] On the title: I know the title is often translated as Beautiful Blue Sky. It’s correct, yes, but I always feel it’s a bit too plain to grasp the essence of the original one. 美貌 in Japanese describes the appearance of a person, thus putting the term and 青空 together makes the title a personification rather than a phrase simply depicting beautiful natural scenery. This combination is evocative, delicate, and a very clever defamiliarization of common terms. Therefore I chose “alluring” for 美貌 to indicate the haunting, personified appeal and used “azure” to convey the translucent, bright impression of 青. Also, “Alluring Azure” puts alliteration to the title as “Bi-bo” does.
[2] On poetic syntax: There are two possible interpretations of this line. You can translate it by just following the original sentence structure: 瞳 (eyes) は (are) 傷口 (wounds) と (and) 知る魂の (…of the soul I know), or, considering that poetic syntaxes are flexible, you can invert the order and translate it as 瞳 (eyes) は (are) 魂の傷口 (wounds of the soul) と知る (I know that…). Here I abided by the second option as I reckoned it more expressive.
[3] On diction: すむ means “to live, to reside,” but the lyricist Urino chose 棲む, which means “(of animals) to inhabit, to nest,” as its very kanji representation. I love his diction, for it highlights the sense of isolation as if the narrator and the addressed person are lonesome animals/birds wandering in the wild.


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