Kotonoha no Niwa (The Garden of Words) Soundtrack – Review

Album Title: The Garden of Words (Kotonoha no Niwa) Soundtrack
Anime Title: The Garden of Words (Kotonoha no Niwa)
Artist: KASHIWA Daisuke
Catalog Number: TBR23169D-2
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia

Review: Kotonoha no Niwa’s soundtrack starts off as a gentle drizzle, quiet and content in its delivery, until the murmuring of raindrops changes its course, growing as the sky unloads its burden upon the world below. The piano’s intensity doesn’t overreach, allowing the angst to settle in, bringing out the inner turmoils that beset Kotonoha no Niwa’s characters in Makoto Shinkai’s latest offering.

A Rainy Morning ~Main Title~

But just as the anxieties teeter on the brink of overflowing, “Greenery Rain” comes in to wash away those nagging uncertainties temporarily, revealing the happiness that yearns to sally forth and chase those dreams seemingly just out of reach. There’s a pot of contentment that simmers in the melody, bringing to light the solace that binds two troubled souls together. But not for long. The turmoil darts in, growing all the while through the piano’s melancholy air. The pain the characters experience are felt most keenly, and the emphatic chords near the halfway point drive that point home, but hope stirs yet. The piece’s dynamic shifts suggest that even with life’s ups and downs, happiness will always lurk close by, so long as the drive to endure and overcome one’s circumstances remain.

Greenery Rain

As the character backstories begin to take shape, “Rain of Recollection” steps in fittingly, with a dreamy, pensive tone. The piano melody drifts and floats without a sense of urgency or direction. Where it excels is the way in which it inspires a bout of peaceful reminiscence. This tone carries over to “While Hearing the Sound of Rain,” as an aura of quiet anticipation settles in, joining the anime’s two kindred spirits in an intimate mood that requires not the exchange of words. Though the middle section has a forlorn tone, the end leaves an unmistakable trace of joy, even if the way in which the piece trails off suggest an interruption to this wonderful shared moment.

Rain of Recollection

Perhaps this interruption is the what the next track, “A Silent Summer,” brings in. The motif in the beginning echoes the loneliness the characters experience through the piano’s delicate, but desolate melody. In its progression, the piece moves deliberately and somberly, coming back after a brief pause to emphatically unleash its tone of despair without relenting. And as this piece winds its way towards the end, the weighted delivery continues in due course, highlighting the lingering sadness that drapes over the general atmosphere.

A Silent Summer

But then “The Afternoon of a Rainy Day” comes in, spilling all of the pent-up emotions in a quiet, yet heartfelt flourish. The atmosphere that comes about delivers a hopeful melody, suggesting that the brighter future no longer seems so out of reach. The strings ooze contentment and with an emphatic chord to give the piece a greater amount of definitiveness, the emotions flow poignantly as it eases its way to the stirring conclusion. Here, the beginning motif raises one’s spirits as it provides a gentle nudge that allows one to endure past the pain and molds one’s life for the better without worrying about the obstacles lying about in the path ahead.

The Afternoon of a Rainy Day

Through it all, Kashiwa Daisuke’s work on The Garden of Words makes the title a misnomer of sorts; his minimalistic piano music is effective in conveying the moods and emotions that ebb and flow with the rain, without the need to use words. By expressing so much in so little, Daisuke demonstrates that, in a world where bombastic Hollywood-esque fare is the norm rather than the exception, there’s still room for a quieter, more nuanced soundtrack to step up and gently worm its way into our hearts and minds.

Rating: Excellent

Track Title Artist Time
01. A Rainy Morning ~Main Title~ KASHIWA Daisuke 0:50
02. Greenery Rain KASHIWA Daisuke 3:01
03. Rain Of Recollection KASHIWA Daisuke 1:08
04. While Hearing Sound Of Rain KASHIWA Daisuke 1:43
05. A Silent Summer KASHIWA Daisuke 4:09
06. The Afternoon Of Rainy day KASHIWA Daisuke 3:06
07. A Rainy Morning ~Epilogue~ KASHIWA Daisuke 0:45


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

7 thoughts on “Kotonoha no Niwa (The Garden of Words) Soundtrack – Review

  • June 27, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Big fan of Kashiwa Daisuke. I was really surprised when I saw that Shinkai got him instead of Tenmon. Apparently, according to the commentary, Shinkai made some parts of the movie specifically to play these piano pieces. He felt they really added to the scenes. Anyways, I thought this soundtrack was short but sweet.

    If you wish to hear more like this, check out Kashiwa Daisuke’s solo piano album “88”. What I’d really recommend, though it’s not solo piano, is “Program Music I” which is his magnum opus.

    • June 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

      Full context for the commentary I mentioned:

      “Watching the collage of Takao and Yukino’s meetings throughout the rainy season, Shinkai notes how they made some parts specifically to play Kashiwa Daisuke’s piano pieces. He mentions how the song in that scene is fairly dramatic for such a day-to-day scene, but he feels that it really conveys the ups and downs that Takao and Yukino have during that time in their day to day life, just getting on a train etc.”

      “About the famous feet scene, Shinkai comments that they had to make that scene lewd for it to work. He explains that allowing other people to touch one’s bare feet is a very intimate (“priceless”) act, and that for a 15 year old kid this is the first time touching someone else’s feet (except family members). Risa mentions how beautiful the feet are, and how carefully Takao handles them, as though he is touching a mystery. Shinkai mentions again how he thinks Yukino is cruel, letting Takao touch her feet even though she has yet to decide whether she likes him or not. Nevertheless, Shinkai says he wanted to portray the feelings between them as beautiful, and that the scene needed to have some seductiveness but make it a beautiful and precious thing, and that he thinks Kashiwa’s piano piece really helped that.”

      • July 1, 2013 at 10:13 am

        Well then! That’s a pretty poetic way of putting it. Both parts, in fact. Interesting representation of Yukino’s cruelty since I wouldn’t have been able to define it as such while watching the film. Makes sense though.

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