Love Song 1. Hajimari no Saka (The Hill of Beginning)

Discussion topic for Track 1 of Love Song: Hajimari no Saka (The Hill of Beginning). Please support the official release by purchasing the album from iTunes! You can find a translation of the lyrics on ShiraneHito’s blog.
Please tag references to later songs or outside works with the [spoiler] tag, providing adequate context in parenthesis.

What would you rate this song?

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To me, the intricate yet soothing piano melody sounds like it’s trying to represent that the singer is expressing these thoughts in a stream of consciousness. Considering the lyrics indicate the person is simply riding their bike to school, I see that as quite plausible. The vocals, meanwhile, sound intense and retrospective. Maeda’s work often explores sentimentality and memories both good and bad from the past, so it’s no surprise to see that here.

The singer’s insistence that people don’t always bounce back, and how living a life wholly dedicated to succeeding above one’s peers suggests to me that the person he directly refers to in the last stanza emotionally supported him. This person seems to struggle with finding the motivation to live life. Without his friend (probably a past love), he can only do things ritualistically. He describes himself as “peddling mindlessly”. On the same token, however, it’s clear that this person struck a different sort of chord with him. “I’m glad it was you, I’m glad it was you / Because I’m watching you. Because I’m similar to you”. I’m curious if we’ll see in future songs what kind of person his friend was. I’m guessing she may be someone with his some internal struggles, but who dealt with her stress in a different way. Perhaps she kept an upbeat attitude where he had a downbeat one. Maybe she was the first to actually understand that his problems were problems and not just a phase, and he really appreciated her for taking the extra effort to hear him out.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure if there’s a special meaning to the clock in the third stanza. Is it just a very straightforward symbol that is simply there to “remind[s] me / that time is flowing”? Or was the clock perhaps a gift from the person he’s singing about? It’ll be interesting to see if future songs shed light on this.

The second stanza confuses me somewhat. There’s an emphasis on grass, and how people tread on it without thinking twice about the fact it’s there. From where I stand, it’s a strange follow-up to the sentiment about how the singer and his friend “could clib any hill”. Perhaps they were the type to ponder such things? Perhaps it’s a statement about what people take for granted? Maybe it relates to the fact the grass serve it’s purpose without recognition?

The last stanza is curious. Most of it is easy to follow, but there are a couple of lines I’m just not sure about. “You were just concerned that the worn out fingers were sore”. Is this a literal statement about his hands after pedaling for a long time, perhaps hinting he’s adding more depth to their “relationship” than was ever there, maybe making this a simple gesture he appreciates much like Nagisa took Tomoya’s comments to heart in Clannad. I don’t find this likely, though, because the last line “Because we’re already over”, makes it sound like there is some type of history between them. Plus, an earlier line about them experiencing the sensation of climbing a hill together, and him looking to the “distant past” at the end of the first stanza sounds like they once knew each other. Is this a childhood friendship, perhaps? Did a tragic event separate them, or some sort of misunderstanding? If he sees her (presumably her anyway) but doesn’t talk to her, there must be some type of reason. Hopefully, future songs go into this, because I’m curious to find out what he is. I, at least, don’t get the impression this friend is dead.

It’ll be interesting to see how the other songs might build off of this one. All in all, a great start.


I’m also curious about the grass here.

I guess the smell of fresh grass is meant to be a way of indicating that time continues flowing regardless of anyone’s wishes. But they really do focus on the fact that it gets trampled underfoot by people moving forward without looking back. Perhaps our protagonist relates to the grass somehow. Perhaps he is the grass, and his friend is the one going ahead.

Another thing that strikes me as odd is the clock, especially the line “I wind it for the last time”. Why is it the last time? At first I thought that maybe the protagonist is terminally ill, but I don’t think he’d be talking about being able to climb that hill if they were together if he was terminally ill. Unless… If you wanted to put a really dark interpretation here, it could be that the protagonist is contemplating suicide. Having lost the one person who supported them, they are confronted by an overwhelming despair that they can’t fight against alone.

But well, I’m probably way off the mark here…


Based on the translation provided in the topic, because I don’t know Japanese.


“Hill of Beginning” is a suitable name for the first song of the Love Song album. It’s easy to say the “beginning” part references the fact that it’s the first track in the album, so I’ll leave that at that. The “hill”, however, hints at the rest of the song and the album. A hill, compared to a mountain, has gentler slopes and is easier to traverse. Most importantly, a hill slopes upward, reaching a peak, then downward. This trend is seen throughout the album, in terms of story and song. Since most stories and songs have a beginning, climax, and end, I was led to the question: why wasn’t the song titled “Mountain of Beginning” (or something of the sort)? The key difference between a hill and a mountain is obviously that hills are lower, gentler, and easier to traverse. I’ll be revisiting the “hill” idea often.

Summary and Interpretation

The song starts with the singer pedaling by themselves. I’m inclined to think they are pedaling on a hill, because of the title, but there is no solid evidence of this. There are hints to the setting by word choice, such as “fall down” and “look back at this spot”, but these events can take place on flat ground so it isn’t definite (I like to imagine the person is biking on a hill, though). They are looking forward, literally and figuratively, to what “the ordinary life” will bring them. This “ordinary life” references a life without someone else (as told in later parts of the song). The language here hints to the mindset of the person pedaling, who heralds companionship as greater than “ordinary” life. The first clue at a theme for the album is found here: unhealthy attachment. Later songs hint at this further, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

In the next few lines, the singer laments on how “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a lie. They recant it twice to emphasize it. It’s very clear that they know this lesson on a deep, personal level. But what put them in this state, what broke them this way? This is answered when the singer then stops to reflect on their past. They reminisce about a relationship, and how they thought that together, they could “climb any hill”. It starts positive, coming back to the theme of a hill in “I think we could climb any hill”. On that hill, the “grass grows like always”; life continues. It then takes a negative turn, saying they get “trampled” and “stepped” on, when “people don’t even look back”. The relationship started strong with a feeling of invincibility, then became one-sided as the singer compares themselves to the trampled grass that goes unnoticed. This ties back to the earlier line about how “people grow stronger no matter how many times they fall down”. They are comparing themselves to grass that is simple yet helpful, resilient yet fragile, but most importantly, is always there. If you step on grass once, almost nothing happens; the grass keeps growing. Tread on it enough, and it withers away. The singer is tired of being tread on. They are seeking a way to end the relationship, or perhaps, to end it all. Another theory of the meaning of the grass is that the relationship fell through because of mundane repetition. This is enforced by later lines like “living diligently” (though it is later negated). The relationship became dull over time, leading to an eventual breakup.

Events in later tracks in the album point more towards the first theory, however. The next line brings up another motif in Love Song: the sun. The sun traditionally represents life, passion, and the cycle of life. Here, the singer says the sun still shines even when they haven’t come out. This further exemplifies the feeling of an invincible relationship. The sun shines on the when they aren’t even outside. These feelings were in the past, so they are negated in the next line, reinforcing the idea that the singer has moved on. The singer has gone so far as to buy a clock to remind them that “time is still flowing”. It’s easy to say that the clock simply represents that time moves on, as stated, but in the next line they “wind it for the last time”. The “last time” points me to believe the singer has or is trying to move on. Despite all this, and their previous attachment to this significant other, they are trying to move forward. But it is all moot.

The last stanza is the singer’s attempt to distance themselves from this other person, but it is revealed by their word choice that deep down, they are not yet over it. Switching out “we” for “I”, and repeating lines to try to convince themselves that they have moved on (“I’m glad it was with you. I’m glad it was you”). The other person has shown their concern for the singer, in worrying about the “worn out fingers that were sore”. Yet it is unknown who the fingers belong to. My only guess is that they belong to both of them, who tried to hold the relationship together but failed in the end. The fact that it was the other person who acknowledged this shows that they were ready to end it, but the singer didn’t want to. “And I could only pedal mindlessly” brings us back to the present, showing how the singer feels now–after recalling the events of their past. This also shows another attitude of the singer: they felt helpless. The phrase “I could only” makes it seem that the singer had to watch as the relationship fell apart. This is from the perspective of the singer. All other evidence from the song points to the breakup being simple and easy. It all comes to a close with the singer saying “because we’re already over”. The translation used a contraction, so I don’t know if it is present or past tense, but with my limited knowledge of Japanese I want to believe it is past tense, saying “we were already over” (correct me if I’m wrong). This is another way the singer refuses to accept their separation: by trying to split the blame between them. This adds to the idea that the singer has an (main theme)unhealthy attachment to the other person.

Musical Analysis

I realize that the whole “singer” and “other person” roles become blurred and confusing in this paragraph, so I have a key (heh) for that.

  • Person A is the person referred to as “I” in the lyrics
  • Person B is the person referred to as “you” in the lyrics
  • Singer is who is singing (despite what they are singing about)

The song is composed of vocals backed by a piano track. The piano follows along, but seems almost disjointed from the singer at times. If we imagine the singer and the piano as the two people that were in a relationship, they are trying their best to try to be together, come close, but returns to a disjointed state. This begs the question: in the relationship, who are the singer and the piano? One theory is that the singer is Person A and the piano is Person B, but that the roles are actually reversed. The singer, despite what they are singing about, is constant. They are always singing, occasionally changing rhythm to describe events pertaining to the hill in a sort of chant. Chants are, well, chant-y; they follow a repetitive rhythm. The nature of the repetitive chant shows that they lyrics chanted, about climbing the hill, make it seem as if this thought has crossed the singer’s mind a lot, or perhaps was pestered into them. The idea that the singer could conquer anything has become old, stale. This attitude reminds me of the other person in the song, Person B. On the other side, the piano represents Person A. The piano is playing almost throughout the song, but the intonation changes, becoming louder at times to match the singer, but always backing off at some point (gently rising and falling, like the slopes of a hill). Trying to match the singer, trying so hard, but ultimately falling short matches the attitude of Person A, who tries hard to make their relationship work but is ultimately ended by Person B. The vocals begin leading the piano, but towards the middle, they begin to start together. Also interesting is that the first note is sung by the singer, but the last note is played by the piano. I think that this is a subtle way of showing the attitude of finality Person A has, wanting to have the last word. The line “Because we’re already over” reflects those feelings with a sense of finality.

After the second stanza, the piano takes off alone, but after playing is soon accompanied by moving piano notes. I see these moving notes as Person A’s strength to move on from Person B. The notes join after a slightly sad piece before it. Those notes give it strength, and push it forward into the singer’s next stanza, which is mostly about the laments of the relationship.

One other thing to note is that this is the shortest song in Love Song, which could be a testament to how long the relationship lasted (not very long). No idea though, other opinions would help.


The picture provided in the album is what I assume is a hill, not a grassy one but a simple incline cars drive on, as shown by what appears to be a paved road and the road surface marking. What’s most important about this picture, however, is the sign in the corner. Only the bottom half is visible, showing two pictures: one with four faces and one with what appears to be a house on a hill.

I don’t have much to say about this at the moment, because to be honest I can’t tell what they are. But, a hill is a hill, and it’s there… yeah.

One Sentence Summary

Someone pedaling through life laments on a past relationship, trying to use the past as a vessel to grow, but is ultimately stopped by their own mindset.

Final Thoughts

I was overtaken by how much depth this song held. It came across as simple to me, but there was so much hidden meaning behind every little detail. Overall, I came out with one major question:

What is love?

Not the “baby don’t hurt me” kind, but what does it mean to love, to be with someone, to share time together? What is to come of one-sided friendships? How does a longing for companionship change how we think? I will keep these questions in mind as I continue listening to the album.

Opinion wise, I enjoy the melodic simplicity the song has to offer. I had no problem listening to it on repeat all day, and it didn’t hamper my mood too much. The first time I heard it, however, the melancholic piano almost brought a tear to my eye. Even before I had known the lyrics, it had me thinking about my past, and that certain sadness that comes with everything. And I think that is powerful.


I’m not going to complicate things here (and probably for the rest of the bookclub) because, well, I’m actually pretty horrible at artistic interpretation. Without putting much thought into it, the song is clearly about a person who has experienced hardships; said hardships heavily implied being due to a failed relationship. It’s something very real and very relatable to a good number of people. However, despite all these hardships, I think that the person had no regrets about it. Life was better and everything would have been better if they were still together, now they must continue on pedaling… Hopefully, the person will one day learn to pedal on their own again.

The song itself screamed “Maeda” with its irregular structure and fast-changing melodies. It’s very much a ballad but, in a way, a lively ballad. Nothing you would fall asleep to, that’s for sure. I give it a 4/5 for both story and music :kurumu:

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I can’t tell if I like this song or not. Compared to other songs on this album I suppose not. I gave it a 3 because I don’t think it is the songs fault I’m so lukewarm on it.

Also is this song just CLANNAD bad end?

There is a lot of interesting imagery in the lyrics. The singer at the bottom of the hill reminiscing about a love that now is lost. One that they clearly can’t let go of, and one that they also still treasure. This is juxtaposed on the kind of a-harmonius piano with all of the bouncing notes - it kind of makes me feel like the piano is the sound of singer crying as they try to get the words out.

[quote]They say people will grow stronger no matter how many times they fall down
But that’s not true,
not true at all. [/quote]

[quote] The smell of fresh grass, they grow just like always.
They get stepped on.
They get trampled on.
When people don’t even look back[/quote]
The feeling I get from here is a more tragic end to love than a break up, but really the feeling that something ended before its time. The image of grass getting carelessly trampled in particular makes me think of death, and how hard it can be on people when they realize the world keeps moving even if you lose some one precious to you. “trampled grass” is pretty equatable with the breaking of youthful innocence. Of course the feeling of a “first love now over” fits the imagery fairly well too - a freshly sprouted youthful love that falls apart before the singer was ready to let go.

[quote]I even bought a clock
I wind it for the last time
It reminds me
That time is flowing
The clock sounds newly bought, and yet it is being wound for the last time here. The next stanza switches from the singer saying that if the person was there they could do it, to saying that they will show that person they can climb. This feels like the active decision of the singer to move on. To be able to draw strength from a relationship that is no longer there and continue on through time.

That was my first reading of the line, but I don’t think it fits that well overall with the tone of the song. If the singer is winding - thus making it move again - and contemplating the forward motion of time it makes it feel like winding the clock for the last time is almost symbolic of the singer giving life one more go, despite the sadness they feel at the bottom the hill.

I love this reading of it. That the piano itself is the other person changes the feel of the song for me a lot. It makes the actual relationship between the singer and the one he is lamenting over become a center piece for the song and fits really well an album called Love Song.


Dear lord… Don’t count on this being a regular thing. Here’s the deal, Shirane like to write his translations in ways that make grammatical sense. These song lyrics don’t make grammatical sense all the time, so there are going to be issues. The lyrics are extremely interpretive, so always be wary when interpreting something that is already an interpretation.

最後に巻いて can be read also as “In the end…”, so it’s not necessarily that the clock is broken.

Not sure why he put “could” there. The original 漕ぐ is in infinitive form.

First of all, contractions in English don’t affect tense or anything. I agree with the original translation. Maybe he could’ve made it future tense like “We were going to end.”


Welp, there goes one of my theories. I guess it just signifies a return to the present then, and ties everything back together a little nicer than just saying “we’re already over” at the end.

Apparently “we’re” being a contraction of “we were” is not recognized by the dictionary. Something something local dialect something something. My bad.

I sense feelings of longing in the song but with a hopeful note in it. It does seem like the singer is singing from the bottom of the hill, pedaling upward and gaining courage to face everything as the song ends…

But … I think the protag is singing from up the hill and she’s looking back to all the sad and happy memories. The song isn’t a process-- from the bottom of the hill to the top of it, from starting below to above-- it’s already been done. She’s at the top of the hill and she’s gazing at the past with a wistful tone because the person she wants to be with at the top of the hill was still at the bottom. Or perhaps she’s seeing herself climb up the hill…? It appears more likely there’s another person involved though.

I do get the same feeling for the second song, which seems like the protag is trying to reach out for the sky and her loved one is something like a dream. Rather, the protag is falling down from the sky though, I’m not sure how to elaborate this since I’ve only heard the song twice and scanned the lyrics a quick bit. Both protagonists (or are they the same one?) are singing their past experiences while showing us what they have become in the present.

Back at The Hill of Beginning. I like that exhilarating feeling in the near end that ends a bit abrupt. It’s as if all her emotions are welling and bursting out, almost like a mantra to encourage herself and the person she loves to stay strong for there are still hills to climb.

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Right from the beginning of the first song, Hajimari no Saka, Maeda reveals his sublime songwriting skills. In the first line, the singer is pedaling alone, presumably on that hill of beginnings. Pedaling is also cycle, that potentially goes on forever, much like the cycle of life. In the next line, the “ordinary life” is another cycle, as every day just seems similar to the rest.

In the next few lines, the singer strongly denies the commonly held belief that people grow stronger when life kicks them down. This shows that the singer must have experienced a hugely impactful event in order for their opinion to differ so much from the norm. By using “they say”, the singer isolates his or herself from the crowd. This indicates that no one else in the world matters to the singer, only him or herself, and the love interest. Next, the singer stops, temporarily breaking the forward motion of time, and reminisces about the past. “This spot” is significant as it is on the hill of beginnings, the first place the singer and love interest met. The singer goes on to say that he or she had faith in the relationship, that they could overcome any obstacle together, but then quickly second guesses him or herself by adding the word “think”, a sign of hesitation.

In the next lines, the singer talks about grass. Grass symbolizes the connections between people, as a blade of grass is not easily separated from another blade of grass next to it. When the grass is described as “growing just like always”, it describes another endless cycle, that is, if the conditions are right. The bonds between people should grow over time, but the next two lines quickly shut that possibility down. The grass is first stepped on, but then trampled on. It’s important to note that while the two words mean the same, trampled has a much more negative connotation, as if the person intends to kill the grass. Since the grass symbolizes the connection, the bond between the two is severed. The next line takes this further by establishing that the other person never looked back; they don’t intend on giving the relationship a second chance.

“When we’re too late, and can’t even come out,” describes the night time. This is usually associated with rough times or something of similar nature. After this break up, both people are essentially in this state. However, the sun shines even so. Day time will come after the night. This is another example of the cycle that continues endlessly.

In the next few lines, the singer again argues against a commonly held belief. The effect is largely the same as the previous instance of this. The song comes back to the point where the singer was reminiscing. This time, a clock is revealed and wound, resuming the passage of time and the cycle. The singer has accepted the events of the past and is ready to move forward.

The next lines are similar to a statement a while back, but we is replaced with I. “I will show you” indicates that the singer has a new determination to overcome his or her obstacles independently.

The next lines not only show that the singer did not regret the relationship, but also connects to other songs. “I’m watching you” is similar to words like “looking for you” in Ao no yume or “chasing you” in Hashiru. The “worn out fingers” also seem to connect to the “red fingers” in Hoshi naru ishi.

The song then ends with “pedaling mindlessly”, and so the cycle continues on. And the obstacle of acceptance was overcome.


Alright, I’m going to focus more on the music than the lyrics.

The instrumentation on this track is very simple, just a piano and voice. It’s also simple enough that a singer could accompany themselves, and that’s certainly the image that comes to mind when I hear this track.

The opening to the song lacks any bass, just a few chords with a little ornamentation. When the bass does come in, it’s slow, two notes per measure simply to mark the chord changes. Likewise, the right hand “melody” is just playing chords with a little ornamentation to transition between them. Notably, in those transition phrases between verses, the bass jumps an octave, leaving the music sort of “floating” without a strong foundation. I think this helps to add to the general sense of pensiveness and melancholy. The bass dropping back down helps to give the closing phrase a more resolute sense of purpose, even as the words themselves seem forlorn.

That brings us to the bridge. It starts off slow, with one note per measure on the bass and lingering chords on the melody hand. Moving into the second phrase, however, we get considerably more motion as the bass hand takes over with arpeggiated chords and the right hand moves into a proper melody. This is probably my favorite part of the tune, and the fact that even in it’s simplicity is more complex than any vocalized parts further reinforces that sense of this being a self-accompanied singer.

There’s one other trick that I really enjoyed. Right at 2:22 we have a repeat of one of the earlier lines of the song. You may notice that this version “feels” different, and somehow leads into another similarly metered phrase where the other one did not. Listening carefully, the difference is that the second rendition of this phrase includes a diminished chord. As a result, the chord does not feel fully resolved, allowing the composer to sneak in a whole extra phrase without it feeling forced.

There’s not much to say about the ending, aside from its abruptness. As others have commented, the last line of verse subverts the rest of the poetry, and I think the abrupt ending of the song is a good way to reinforce the finality of the statement,


Really wanted to post something more thoughtful and discussion worthy, but I agree with a lot of what people have said, and stuff I was gonna say was covered already.
I really actually like this song quite a lot. It’s definitely my 2nd favourite out of this first bunch, and possibly my 2nd favourite from the overall album.

The simplicity of the just piano and vocals is really appealing to me, and I love the melody, and repetitive parts. It makes it so catchy!

It’s a lot happier than the other songs I think. It’s not certain that anything bad happened to both of them.
Hooray, it’s a Love Song song where they lived! probably.


Looking at this song’s lyrics again, I’m impressed at how it can apply to people from virtually any age group. If I remember correctly, people of all ages use bicycles in Japan, and no lyric in this song actually indicates the characters are school-aged. Were it not for the album cover, which depicts two middle or potentially high school students, I wouldn’t have much ground to assume they were high schoolers. The sentiment shown by the singer about love lost can ring true to any number of people thanks to this.

Also, there might be one piece of evidence that the characters aren’t necessarily that young. In the first stanza, the singer mentions “the distant past”. Another ingenious use of ambiguity, as this could refer to a year or two or decades depending on the context of the person using the term. Are they, perhaps, adults preparing to venture out into the real world? One thing I would say, however, is the singer’s saying “I will show you that I can climb any hill” might indicate this person is still someone he can see but isn’t really in contact with. Potentially it’s a sentiment, but I’d like it to take it literally, as it feels like there’s an awkward distance between them rather than a literal seperation.

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