I’ve learned many great sea shanties since I started playing folk music with Dan Zanes and Friends. It seems that coastal and island cultures the world over all have their own stock of beautiful and salty maritime tunes. This is an old fishing song from far northern Japan, in and around the Hokkaido region. Envisioning groups of men on boats singing it, I decided to give it a different flavor and invited Akiko Hiroshima to lend her beautiful and powerful voice to this track. Like many sea shanties around the world, this is a type of call and response. My friend Leyna and I sing the ainote, or answers (“hai, hai! ah, dokkoisho!”), in response to Akiko’s lead lines. Also joining us on fue (Japanese flute) and taiko drum is Kaoru Watanabe.
Yasa e en ya sa dokkoisho = Put your backs into it!
a dokkoisho, dokkoisho! = heave, ho! heave, ho!
hai, hai! = oh, yeah!