(きみ) ()
English: His Imperial Majesty's Reign
Score of "Kimigayo"

National anthem of  Japan
Lyricswaka poem,
Heian period (794–1185)
MusicYoshiisa Oku and Akimori Hayashi (arranged by Franz Eckert, 1880)
Adopted1888 (de facto, by the Empire of Japan); 13 August 1999 (de jure)
Relinquished1945 (by the Empire of Japan)
Audio sample
"Kimigayo" (instrumental)

"Kimigayo" (君が代, Japanese pronunciation: [kimiɡajo]; "His Imperial Majesty's Reign") is the national anthem of Japan. Its lyrics are the oldest among the world's national anthems, and with a length of 11 measures and 32 characters, "Kimigayo" is also one of the world's shortest. Its lyrics are from a waka poem written by an unnamed author in the Heian period (794–1185),[1] and the current melody was chosen in 1880, replacing an unpopular melody composed by John William Fenton eleven years earlier. While the title "Kimigayo" is usually translated as "His Imperial Majesty's Reign", no official translation of the title or lyrics has been established in law.[2]

From 1888 to 1945, "Kimigayo" served as the national anthem of the Empire of Japan. When the Empire was dissolved following its surrender at the end of World War II, the State of Japan succeeded it in 1945. This successor state was a parliamentary democracy, and the polity therefore changed from a system based on imperial sovereignty to one based on popular sovereignty. However, Emperor Hirohito was not dethroned and "Kimigayo" was still retained as the de facto national anthem. The passage of the Act on National Flag and Anthem in 1999 recognized it as the official national and imperial anthem.


"Kimi" has been used either as a noun to indicate an emperor or one's lord (i.e., master) since at least the Heian period.[3][4] For example, the protagonist Hikaru Genji (光源氏) of the Tale of Genji is also called "Hikaru no Kimi" or "Hikaru-gimi" (光の君 or 光君). But before the Nara period, the emperor was often called "ōkimi" (great lord); so it is controversial whether the word "kimi" in "kimigayo" had meant emperor or not originally.

In the Kamakura period, "Kimigayo" was used as a festive song among samurai and then became popular among the people in the Edo period. In the later part of the Edo period, "Kimigayo" was used in the Ōoku (harem of Edo Castle) and Satsuma-han (now Kagoshima Prefecture) as a common festive new year song. In those contexts, "kimi" never meant the emperor but only the Tokugawa shōgun, the Shimazu clan as rulers of the Satsuma-han, guests of honor or all members of festive drinking party. After the Meiji Restoration, samurai from Satsuma-han controlled the Imperial Japanese government and they adopted "Kimigayo" as the national anthem of Japan. From this time until the Japanese defeat in World War II, "Kimigayo" was understood to mean the long reign of the emperor. With the adoption of the Constitution of Japan in 1947, the emperor became no longer a sovereign who ruled by divine right, but a human who is a symbol of the state and of the unity of the people.[5] The Ministry of Education did not give any new meanings for "Kimigayo" after the war; this allowed the song to mean the Japanese people. The Ministry also did not formally renounce the pre-war meaning of "Kimigayo".[6]

In 1999, during the deliberations of the Act on National Flag and Anthem, the official definition of Kimi or Kimi-ga-yo was questioned repeatedly. The first suggestion, which was given by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka, stated that kimi meant the "emperor as the symbol of Japan", and that the entire lyrics wish for the peace and prosperity of Japan. He referred to the new status of emperor as established in Article 1 of the Constitution of Japan as the main reason for these suggestions.[7] During the same session, Prime Minister Keizō Obuchi confirmed this meaning with a statement on June 29, 1999:

"Kimi" indicates the Emperor, who is the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, and whose position is derived from the consensus-based will of Japanese citizens, with whom sovereign power resides. And, the phrase "Kimigayo" indicates our State, Japan, which has the Emperor enthroned as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people by the consensus-based will of Japanese citizens. And it is reasonable to take the lyric of "Kimigayo" to mean the wish for the lasting prosperity and peace of such country of ours.[7][8]

Parties opposed to the Liberal Democratic Party, which was in control of the government at the time Obuchi was prime minister, strongly objected to the government's meaning of kimi and "Kimigayo". From the Democratic Party of Japan, members objected, due to the lack of any historical ties to the meaning. The strongest critic was Kazuo Shii, the chairman of the Communist Party of Japan, who strongly claimed that "Japan" could not be derived from "Kimigayo", because the lyrics only mention wishing for the emperor to have a long reign. Shii also objected to the use of the song as the national anthem because for a democratic nation, a song about the emperor is not appropriate.[7]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Kimi ga Yo
asturianu: Kimi ga yo
azərbaycanca: Yaponiya himni
Bân-lâm-gú: Kun chi Tāi
беларуская: Гімн Японіі
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Кімі Га Ё
Bikol Central: Kimigayo
български: Химн на Япония
català: Kimigayo
čeština: Japonská hymna
dansk: Kimigayo
Deutsch: Kimi Ga Yo
eesti: Kimi ga yo
Ελληνικά: Kimi Ga Yo
español: Kimigayo
Esperanto: Kimi Ga Jo
euskara: Kimi Ga Yo
français: Kimi ga yo
Gaeilge: Kimi ga Yo
galego: Kimigayo
한국어: 일본의 국가
हिन्दी: किमिगायो
hrvatski: Kimi ga Yo
Bahasa Indonesia: Kimigayo
isiZulu: Kimi Ga Yo
italiano: Kimi ga yo
עברית: המנון יפן
ქართული: კიმი გა იო
қазақша: Кими га ё
Latina: Kimi ga yo
latviešu: Japānas himna
lietuvių: Japonijos himnas
मराठी: किमिगायो
Bahasa Melayu: Kimigayo
Nederlands: Kimigayo
日本語: 君が代
norsk: Kimi Ga Yo
norsk nynorsk: Kimigayo
پنجابی: کی می گائیو
ភាសាខ្មែរ: គិមិង៉ាយ៉ុ
Tok Pisin: Kimi ga Yo
polski: Hymn Japonii
português: Kimigayo
română: Kimigayo
русский: Гимн Японии
саха тыла: Kimi ga Yo
Scots: Kimigayo
shqip: Kimi Ga Yo
Simple English: Kimi Ga Yo
slovenčina: Kimigajo
slovenščina: Kimi Ga Yo
српски / srpski: Химна Јапана
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kimigayo
suomi: Kimi ga yo
svenska: Kimi ga yo
Tagalog: Kimi ga Yo
Türkçe: Kimigayo
українська: Гімн Японії
Tiếng Việt: Kimigayo
文言: 君之代
粵語: 君之代
žemaitėška: Japuonėjes himnos
中文: 君之代