I recently came across this song that I really like, 「神居謡{かむいよう}」.
(Link to the full lyrics here.)
This sparked a few questions about archaic Japanese, which I know little of.
How would you translate 「神居謡」 anyway? "Kamuy Chant"? "Kamuy Hymn"?

In any case, I'm fairly sure that I understand the meaning of 「~ねど」, 「夢む」, and 「萌ゆ」.
What perplexes me is the usage of 「や」 in this context. I can guess, but that doesn't really help.
Also, I wonder if there are other usages of archaic Japanese here that I am misinterpreting in a modern context.

The other thing that I wonder about is the usage of 「君」. Did it mean something different than what it means now?
The reason that I ask is because I know a handful of Chinese vocabulary. As we know, kanji is borrowed from Chinese, with some things staying as is, and others being altered.

The Chinese word for "you" is "你" (ni). "君" (jun) in Chinese refers more to a lord.
So, this leads me to wonder if 君 held a different meaning at all back then. Its usage seems strange within the song, to me.

Spiritual and/or mythological references that I might be missing aside, it would be nice if I fully understood the song simply on a language base.

One last thing.

君や君や 夢む過客や
賽に玩ばれて 見失う

These two lines are doing my head in. Is it to be interpreted as saying that the singer has lost the person in question to fate?

Sorry for asking such a difficult question. I would be overjoyed if anyone can provide some insight on the matters at hand. If you have anything else to add to what I have already inquired about, I would be grateful for that, too.
Its easy enough to look up on Japanese forums the meaning of words such as 「夢む」, but when they mirror modern words, it becomes harder to source an answer.

  • 1
    It seems the word kamuy(神居)comes from Aynu word. ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%AB%E3%83%A0%E3%82%A4
    – user25382
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 10:48
  • Yes, that's right. They're similar to "kami". Ainu spirituality is often romanticised in Japanese texts these days, but that doesn't make comprehending everything else much easier. My understanding of the Ainu is also both limited and lacking.
    – Senevir
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 10:58
  • It seems more of relating to Taoism since yin and yang, fish, river are used in the lyrics. Maybe not Kamuy-you but kamuiyou.
    – user25382
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


Concerning や, you can think of it as よ (vocative marker), and 君 just seems normal "you" here. (Second person's pronoun usage of 君 dates back to ancient time, though, for example, that of 君が代 seems to have originally mean the lord of Azumi.) So, the example sentence means "You, a dreaming drifter, you were mocked by dice and at a loss".

p.s I interpret 古き魚 波に躍る as "an ancient fish drifts on waves" unlike the translation in the video.

  • Oh, I see! I did wonder if や took on an expressiveness such as English uses "oh" in this instance. Lyrics, after all, are a form of poetry. >you were mocked by dice and at a loss Though this is literally accurate, my creative mind is having trouble justifying this sentence as is in English. It seems unnatural. Are you referring to the Chinese translation? I don't understand well, but I interpret that line as most like what it says in Japanese: "An ancient fish leaps from/with the waves".
    – Senevir
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 12:18
  • As for 波に躍る, it's not really natural to interpret that way because of に.
    – user4092
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 2:31

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