Today in a second hand book shop I found a set of 3 thin textbooks from 1962 for the Junior High School curriculum (years 1,2,3) published by the Monbusho (Ministry of Education). They contain quite a few songs listed as Irish and Scottish (and Spanish, German and Italian) folk songs. The text is all in Japanese, including the lyrics (not translations but Japanese alternatives), but I could make out the tune of The Minstrel Boy and read Hotaru no Hikari (Auld Lang Syne), so I have had the set put aside. I am very excited and plotting to go through them with my fiddle and a wodge of post-its as soon as I can go back to the shop with my Y5,000 tomorrow. It'll be reinventing the wheel - there must be a list out there already - but I'll enjoy it.
By the way, this little experience really made me think about literacy - my reading of both Japanese and music is pretty basic but if I hadn't been able to read them at all I would have missed the opportunity altogether. There are always ads for EFL teachers like me to work on literacy programmes in Africa. At 43 I felt acutely the benefit of simply being able to read.
Bibliography: Western Songs in Japan