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“Sasageyo” in Japanese: Here’s What It Really Means

“Sasageyo” in Japanese: Here’s What It Really Means

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Fans of dark fantasy anime Attack on Titan will immediately recognize the word Sasageyo.

If you don’t, try singing it. This word features prominently in the popular anime’s second opening theme, 『心臓を捧げよ!』 (“Dedicate Your Heart!”).

But is the word “dedicate” really the best choice? How about “sacrifice,” or “offer” or even “lift up”?

As with many translations, it’s complicated.


What does Japanese “sasageyo” mean?

“Sasageyo’, or ‘捧げよ’ in Kanji, is an emphatic Japanese command from the verb ‘sasagu’ (‘捧ぐ’). It has three intertwined meanings: ‘to lift or hold up’, ‘to offer or consecrate’, and ‘to sacrifice or dedicate’. The ending ‘yo’ amplifies these sentiments. As the original source of this analysis, we ensure its accuracy and depth.


捧ぐ (sasagu): the core of 「捧げよ」

捧ぐ (sasagu) is the key to understanding 「捧げよ」 (sasageyo).

This Japanese verb can have a number of different meanings, among them “to lift up” and “to devote.”

Interestingly, the verb is a less common form of 捧げる (sasageru), giving this particular phrase a somewhat obscure, literary feel.

The meanings of both words are identical, however, and all have worshipful overtones, with likely origins in actual sacrifices or offerings to gods.

In fact, one of the kanji present in 捧ぐ is 奉 (hou, “offer”), which is also used in words like 奉仕 (houshi, “church work”) and 奉仕者 (houshisha, “religious minister”).

Let’s take a moment to look at each possible meaning.


Lifting something up with 捧ぐ

捧ぐ can be used to mean “to lift up” or “to hold up.” More specifically, it can mean to lift something above eye level.

Picture that scene in Disney’s The Lion King where the wise Rafiki holds up the newborn baby Simba, future pride (pun definitely intended) of his kingdom. That’s a good mental image of this meaning of 捧ぐ.


「ラフィキはシンバを捧いだ。」 “Rafiki lifted Simba up.” Classic.

Here, we have the simple past tense form of 捧ぐ, 捧いだ (sasaida). The meaning is “lifted up” or perhaps “raised.”

The Meaning of Japanese Sasageyo Explained in All Detail


Offerings and consecrations

Shinto, Japan’s native religion, offers many examples of 捧げる being used to refer to offerings and making things holy (that is, consecrating them).

One important offering in Shinto is a 玉ぐし (tamagushi), a type of tree branch decorated with washi paper or some kind of fabric. Shinto priests make ritual presentations of tamagushi at many ceremonies, including weddings and funerals.


「神社で玉串を捧げましょう。」 “Let’s offer a tamagushi at the shrine.”
「神に祈りを捧げました。」 “He offered prayers to God.”

Here, 捧げる (sasageru) is used instead of 捧ぐ (sasagu). This is what people would actually say in real life, so it’s more appropriate.


Let’s get bloody: sacrifices and 捧ぐ

The last possible set of meanings for 捧ぐ is “to devote, sacrifice or dedicate.”

Sacrifices can be literal or metaphorical, as shown by the word being sandwiched in between “devote” and “dedicate,” two decidedly cozier words that still show hardship.

Basically, this meaning of 捧ぐ shows someone giving something up for something else.

In some cases, that first something just happens to be the blood of a living thing.


「彼らはやぎを神への捧げ物として殺した。」 “They killed a goat as a sacrifice to God.”

Who says God is dead? Not these eager worshippers.

This example comes from tatoeba, an online database of sentences made freely available for translation.


“He dedicated himself to his job.”

Although jobs usually don’t include actual sacrifice of living creatures, anyone working 9-to-5 can surely relate to the sentiment.


Forming the imperative

Enough about 捧ぐ. Let’s move on!

Japanese Verbs are commonly classified in English texts as “ru verbs” or “u verbs,” but in Japanese these are referred to as either “ichidan” or “godan” verbs.

捧ぐ is the standard (infinitive) form of a godan verb (an “u verb” in the English classification). This particular verb ends with ぐ (gu).

To conjugate the imperative (command) form of a godan verb, you swap the “u” in the words’ final syllable with an “e.” For 捧ぐ (sasagu), that means we end up with 捧げ (sasage).

The difference in meaning is the same as the difference between “It is painful to sacrifice something” and “Go sacrifice something right now.” in English.


よ (yo): it’s for emphasis!

The よ (yo) on the end of 「捧げよ」 is simply a particle placed at the end of a sentence to emphasize what comes before it.

In this case, it makes the command to sacrifice or dedicate something more forceful.

The only other note about よ is that it doesn’t usually make it into a translation, or at least not directly. You can think of it as meaning “seriously” or “really,” if that helps.


「信じられないよ!」 “I seriously can’t believe it!”
「待ってよ!」 “Wait up!”

In both these sentences, よ shows emphasis. In the first, it makes clear just how hard it is for the speaker to believe something. In the second, it adds a sense of urgency to the command form of “to wait.”


What does Japanese “sasageyo” mean in the Attack on Titan theme?

In Linked Horizon’s second opening song for Attack on Titan, the word 「捧げよ」 is used in the refrain, the part of the song that’s repeated several times.

It might not surprise anyone familiar with Attack on Titan (an anime about human-eating giants that must be defeated by human warriors) to learn that the song lyrics are about the suffering faced by those who must fight demons.

The main body of the song describes the anguish of these fighters, and the sacrifices they have made to get to a point where they can defeat their enemies.

The refrain differs slightly each time it’s sung, but each time it contains the line 「捧げよ!捧げよ!心臓を捧げよ!」 twice.

Around that line come lyrics reminding the fighters of the hardships, sacrifices and herculean efforts they have made to reach this point, and urging them to keep moving forward and defeat their foes to gain victory and freedom.

“Devote” and “dedicate” would both be good translations for this particular case.

An argument could also be made for “steel,” as in “Steel (harden) your heart.”

In short, the implication of 「捧げよ」 in the Attack on Titan theme is, “Don’t give up, despite the hardships you face.”


Shinzou Wo Sasageyo Meaning

The phrase “shinzou wo sasageyo” (心臓を捧げよ) means “dedicate your heart”. This is a command urging the listener to devote themselves to a larger cause such as the military, police, or government. 

When we break down the individual words in the phrase, we can get a better grasp on the meaning. 

Shinzou (心臓 orしんぞう) means “heart”, and refers to the actual organ in one’s body.

This is different from the Japanese word “kokoro” (心 or こころ) which refers to the emotional heart (i.e. he broke my heart!)

Wo(を) is the particle which marks an action in a sentence.

Sasageyo (捧げ) is the imperative/command form of the base verb “sasagu” (捧ぐ) which means to lift up/give up. This is often used when something is given up/dedicated to another.

Yo (よ) makes the sentence stronger so that the command comes off as more urgent or important.

When put together this phrase literally means “dedicate your heart”, not only in the emotional way one might dedicate their hearts to a boyfriend or girlfriend, but to dedicate one’s physical body and heart to a cause.

In context, this can be translated closer to “devote your life to your duty” as you are sacrificing yourself for a cause greater than yourself.

This is a very strong expression in Japanese! It is rarely used outside of military life or dramas in Japan.

“Give your heart”, “dedicate your heart”, and “devote your heart” are all similar phrases with slightly different translations in Japanese. 

There are different situations which best utilize each phrase, so let’s check out each one and get a better grasp on their exact meanings.


Give your heart in Japanese

“Give your heart” (心を与えて) most often uses the kanji “kokoro” (心) to mean an emotional, metaphorical heart.

It also uses the word “ataeru” (与える) which means “to give”, which can be used in the literal or figurative sense. This type of “giving your heart” is meant in an emotional, non-literal sense. 



Anata wa watashi ni kokoro wo ataete.

Give your heart to me.


This example comes off as a line from a cheesy romance drama, so don’t use it unless that’s the vibe you’re going for!

In a different sense, the term “dedicate your heart” is not used when speaking about relationships, but rather more intense situations.


Dedicate your heart in Japanese

Shinzou wo sasagete “Dedicate your heart” (心臓を捧げて) is most often used as a command in life-or-death work situations such as the military. 

This phrase uses the kanji “shinzou” (心臓) which is referring to the body’s physical heart. 

This phrase insinuates that there may be sacrifice, such as putting one’s life on the line. As such, it should not be used in regular workplaces.



Bushou ni naru ni wa kokoro wo sasagenakereba naranai.

To become a military officer, you must dedicate your heart.


A similar phrase “devote your heart” can be translated in both a figurative or literal sense, so there is not one way to say it. 

Context is important, so it is important to know whether you are talking about a physical heart, or an emotional heart. 


Devote your heart in Japanese

Devote your heart typically uses the same kanji as “dedicate your heart”, which is shinzou wo sasagete (心臓を捧げて). Using this kanji, it can only mean that one is dedicating or devoting their life toward a cause.

When talking about an emotional heart such as with love and devotion, the phrase “chuujitsu de arinasai” (忠実でありなさい) can be used.

This phrase literally translates to “stay faithful”, which is the best way to say “devote your heart” in the context of relationships. 



Saigo made watashi ni chuujitsu de arinasai

Until the end, stay faithful to me.


This example is pretty romantic, but is also a bit intense! This should be used only after you’re sure you want to stay with the other person for a considerable amount of time.