Accomplishments and Records

The Shortest National Anthem for One of the World’s Oldest Countries


If you are the impatient type, who can’t wait for the national anthem to end so your favorite sporting event can begin, then Japan may be the place for you. It holds the distinction of having the shortest national anthem on record.

Officially referred to as “Kimi ga Yo,” the anthem of the Land of the Rising Sun is only four lines long. These lines consist of 32 characters and run for eleven measures.

Not only is “Kimi ga Yo” the world’s shortest national anthem, but it is also one of the oldest. The origin can be traced to a poem written sometime in the Heinz period, between the years A.D. 794 and 1185.

The title translates in English to “His Imperial Majesty’s Reign.” Its lyrics, in English are:

May your reign

Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations

Until the pebbles

Grow into boulders lush with moss.

Listen to Japan’s national anthem, and see its lyrics — Japanese and English translation — here.

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Read and listen to to the longest national anthem.

Read more fun facts about music.

Read about one of the longest renditions of a national anthem, caused by a king who couldn’t fit into his clothes.

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