The Goddess of the Toilet / トイレの神様

The Goddess of the Toilet / トイレの神様

Every New Year’s Eve there is a programme on TV called Kohaku-Utagassen (紅白歌合戦 / The Red and White Song Contest). It’s like a longer version of Christmas Top of the Pops, in that it showcases the best and / or most popular songs of the past year, and the big talking point on 31st December 2010 was the song Toiré No Kami-Sama (トイレの神様 / The Goddess of the Toilet) by Kana Uemura (Tokidoki Tokyo has also written about the song here).

The unedited version of Toiré No Kami-Sama is nearly ten minutes long, and Uemura was asked to cut this down for Kohaku-Utagassen. On another programme broadcast more recently, she performed it with a full country and western band, and this worked rather well, as it is reminiscent of those oddball country ballads with resolutely down-to-earth lyrics (eg. ‘The fan belt on my truck done gone and broke on me / So I cain’t drive to the liquor store and buy me no beer’ or similar).

Toiré No Kami-Sama tells the story of a Uemura’s relationship with her grandmother, and has spawned several spin-offs, including a non-fiction book, a TV drama and a commercial for toilet cleaner. The moral of the story turns on the word kirei (奇麗), which means both ‘beautiful’ and ‘clean’, so the line, 「トイレには それはそれはキレイな女神様がいるんやで」 can be translated as either, ‘There’s a goddess of cleanliness in the toilet,’ or ‘There’s a beautiful goddess in the toilet,’ and the aspirations of Uemura’s younger self can be interpreted as both the desire to become a beautiful woman, and the desire to become the kind of wife who, whether she’s beautiful or not, will keep the family home spick-and-span.

When the title トイレの神様 came up on screen during Kohhaku-Utagassen, I burst out laughing, and told otoh-san that you could never get away with releasing a song about cleaning the toilet in the UK. Nobody would take it seriously, I said, at which he was rather offended, and explained that in Japan, keeping your house clean is considered to be very important – a tradition, even.

Indeed, as I watched Uemura’s performance of the song, my cynicism began to waver, because as well as being a tuneful little ditty, it’s actually rather moving. Uehara seemed to be on the verge of tears by the time she got to the last couple of verses, although I’m not sure if my translation of the lyrics will have quite the same effect – I haven’t, for example, tried to make them sound poetic – so you may want to check out the original to get the full emotional impact:

The Goddess of the Toilet

Lyrics: Kana Uemura / Hiroshi Yamada
Music: Kana Uemura

When I was only three, for some reason,
I lived with my grandma.
It was next door to my parents’ house,
But I lived with my grandma.

I helped her very day,
Played Othello with her,
But the only thing I was no good at was cleaning the toilet,
So my grandma said to me:

‘There’s a goddess of cleanliness in the toilet, you know.
So if you clean the toilet every day, like the goddess, you can become a beautiful woman.’

From that day, I cleaned the toilet till it was sparkling.
I scrubbed it every day because I really wanted to become a beautiful woman.

When we went out shopping,
The two of us would eat duck soup with noodles,
And when grandma forgot to record my favourite programme from the TV,
I cried and blamed her.

‘There’s a goddess of cleanliness in the toilet, you know.
So if you clean the toilet every day, like the goddess, you can become a beautiful woman.’

When I had grown up,
I argued with grandma,
And I didn’t get on with my family.
There was nowhere for me to go.

In the holidays I would go out with my boyfriend and not come home.
I wouldn’t play Othello and I wouldn’t eat duck soup with noodles –
Those things had disappeared from between us.

Why is it, I wonder, that people hurt each other?
Forget important things.
I went away and left my grandma – who had always been my friend –
On her own.

It was two years since I had moved to Tokyo.
My grandma went into hospital.
She had grown thin.
I went to meet her.

‘Hello grandma, I’m back!’ I said.
I tried to say it just like in the old days,
But even though we had only talked for a little while,
She said, ‘You can go home now,’ and sent me away.

The next morning
Grandma quietly went to sleep.
It was as if she had been waiting for me to come.
She had brought me up as best she could,
And even though I had never returned the favour,
Even though I had not been a good grandchild,
She waited for me.

‘There’s a goddess of cleanliness in the toilet, you know.’
The words grandma said to me,
I wonder if they are making me a beautiful woman today?

‘There’s a goddess of cleanliness in the toilet, you know,
So if you clean the toilet every day, like the goddess, you’ll become a beautiful woman.’
Because I always dreamed of becoming a good-natured wife,
Even today I clean the toilet deftly, until it shines.

Grandma,
Grandma,
Thank you
Grandma.
Truly,
Thank you.

トイレの神様

作詞:植村花菜・山田ひろし
作曲:植村花菜

小3の頃からなぜだか
おばあちゃんと暮らしてた
実家の隣だったけど
おばあちゃんと暮らしてた

毎日お手伝いをして
五目並べもした
でもトイレ掃除だけ苦手な私に
おばあちゃんがこう言った

トイレには それはそれはキレイな
女神様がいるんやで
だから毎日 キレイにしたら 女神様みたいに
べっぴんさんになれるんやで

その日から私はトイレを
ピカピカにし始めた
べっぴんさんに絶対なりたくて
毎日磨いてた

買い物に出かけた時には
二人で鴨なんば食べた
新喜劇録画し損ねたおばあちゃんを
泣いて責めたりもした

トイレには それはそれはキレイな
女神様がいるんやで
だから毎日 キレイにしたら 女神様みたいに
べっぴんさんになれるんやで

少し大人になった私は
おばあちゃんとぶつかった
家族ともうまくやれなくて
居場所がなくなった

休みの日も家に帰らず
彼氏と遊んだりした
五目並べも鴨なんばも
二人の間から消えてった

どうしてだろう 人は人を傷付け
大切なものをなくしてく
いつも味方をしてくれてた おばあちゃん残して
ひとりきり 家離れた

上京して2年が過ぎて
おばあちゃんが入院した
痩せて細くなってしまった
おばあちゃんに会いに行った

「おばあちゃん、ただいまー!」ってわざと
昔みたいに言ってみたけど
ちょっと話しただけだったのに
「もう帰りー。」って 病室を出された

次の日の朝 おばあちゃんは
静かに眠りについた
まるで まるで 私が来るのを
待っていてくれたように
ちゃんと育ててくれたのに
恩返しもしてないのに
いい孫じゃなかったのに
こんな私を待っててくれたんやね

トイレには それはそれはキレイな
女神様がいるんやで
おばあちゃんがくれた言葉は 今日の私を
べっぴんさんにしてくれてるかな

トイレには それはそれはキレイな
女神様がいるんやで
だから毎日 キレイにしたら 女神様みたいに
べっぴんさんになれるんやで

気立ての良いお嫁さんになるのが
夢だった私は
今日もせっせとトイレを
ピカピカにする

おばあちゃん
おばあちゃん
ありがとう
おばあちゃん
ホンマに
ありがとう

0 thoughts on “The Goddess of the Toilet / トイレの神様

  1. Excellent stuff.
    I really like the story of thsi song`s success, it`s certainly not a song title that would be marketable in many other countries in the world, although perhaps the singer and tune might.

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