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Archive for April, 2014

Hanako Oku: “Why so Gloomy” ?

oku and wonder

My mistake:  Add me to the list of confused people who have misunderstood  lyrics in pop music.

One of my favorite singer-songwriters is Hanako Oku.  She sings in Japanese, which I do not speak …  but I still enjoy her beautiful songs.

The other day I was in the grocery store listening to her great “Birthday” album on my cell phone through headphones.  A trip to the store is a lot of fun if you bring Hanako Oku with you.

One of my favorite tunes on the album is チョコレート  which translates as “Chocolate”.  It is a very upbeat, happy song.   The harmonica part reminds me of  those done so well by “Little Stevie Wonder”.  I started to fantasize — right there in “Dairy” — about how Wonder-san  and Oku-san  would have made a great team-up on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand,  circa 1965.  Unfortunately, Hanako Oku was not born until 1978.

I made the collage above.  Click on it to view full size.

“Chocolate” is a great song, I’m even listening to it as I write this up.  You can listen to it on the “Zing” website!

or here

Great, isn’t it?    I love that part where she sings “Why so gloomy” in English.  Chocolate makes you happy!   In that store, I just kept getting happier and happier!  No reason to be gloomy people!  I had many strange looks from the other customers — but who cares — I’m in Oku-Heaven!

As it turn out, another blogger (The Penguin) set me straight.  She is  not singing “Why so gloomy” …  the real lyric was “massugu ni” — which means  “straight” or “straight ahead” in Japanese ( as far as I can tell from Google translate).  (Please see The Penguin’s post on his “Thoughts on Hanako Oku” blog for the full sing-along lyrics to this wonderful song.)

I will have to add my misunderstanding to a growing list of famously misunderstood song lyrics.

In Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic classic “Purple Haze” — a song about dropping acid —  a lot of people thought they heard:  “Scuse me, while I kiss this guy.”

The actual lyric is :   “Scuse me, while I kiss the sky.” 

I was not a big fan of the Bruce Springsteen- penned song “Blinded By The Light” which was a hit for the Manfred Mann Band.  This after I was often forced to listen to my drunken friends sing …

“Blinded by the light … wrapped up like a douche, another rumor in the night.”   (Those inebriated idiots would not listen to reason: ITS NOT “DOUCHE” I would proclaim.)

The car enthusiast  Mr. Springsteen of course wrote it as:  

“Revved up like a Deuce, another runner in the night.”

This link below describes some of the more famous misunderstandings.  Aging baby-boomers such as myself have watched in awe as friends of ours made these mistakes.  

As Elton John once sang:  “Hold me closer Tony Danza…”

WHY SO GLOOMY?  Please enjoy!

Koi Suru Conspiracy Theory

“AKB48 Koi Suru Conspiracy Theory”

AKB48 Music video for “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie”.  This is one the most popular AKB48 songs, released in October 2013, and is another reason WHY I LIKE AKB48.    The song also appears on the new AKB48 album “Tsugi no Ashiato” .   You can watch this music video on this YouTube link.  Make sure to turn on 1080 HD.

=====> Unless that is what the corporation WANTS you to do! … wink, wink.

At first glance, this music video may seem like a happy dance romp about Love and Fortune Cookies. There are many scenes of the AKB48 girls dancing in the street, and interacting with people engaged in everyday Japanese life – day cares, kendo schools, playgrounds, grocery stores, etc. My minions and I however are convinced that this music video masks secret messages pertaining to sinister forces at work, behind the scenes, as well as hiding in plain sight.  Like the famous “Zapruder Film” from 1963, I have analyzed this music video frame-by-frame, in order to uncover a number of truths, missing truths, half-truths, half-lies and various fingers in pies.  You seem skeptical …

Rino Sashihara had just upset Yuko Oshima in the AKB48 voting for 2013.  This is the first music video where Sashi sings center.  Some fans wonder what behind the scenes apparatus had delegated Yuko to 2nd place.  Note that “Akimoto” has seven letters.  “Kennedy” also has seven letters.  President Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin hid in a theater.   Yasushi Akimoto runs a theater where he warehouses AKB48 members.  Coincidence?

The video opens with an American(!) introducing the song.  An American in charge, eh?  Are they saying that Japan is still under the yoke of American hegemony?  Indeed the foreigner’s dialect may be difficult to interpret, but I clearly heard him say:  “Japan ain’t got no money”  … “ain’t got no jobs?”  “bad news…”  … also he says “Japan, go crazy”.  How dare he insult the nation in this way!

Subliminal message moments: 

Apparently the AKB video dance had interrupted a “gay pride” parade.  A display of several “rainbow flags” are notable throughout.  Will Prime Minister Abe take a stance on this issue?   … or will chaotic, but  FABULOUS dancing in the streets force his hand?  The “Seibu Dome” clearly seen in the background has obviously been photo-shopped in — particularly since this video takes place in Tokyo.

Video time 1:36:  There is a tall, pink-haired American transvestite in a parallax view behind Tomomi Itano.  Tomo-chin in fact had graduated – and left the group shortly after this video was released.  Tomo-chin ELIMINATED, with Paruru WAITING IN THE WINGS?  Similar to JFK supplanted by LBJ?  Coincidence?

Time 1:58.  American tourists disrupt the traffic flow in the Tokyo street.  A building in the background is labeled “109”.  John F. Kennedy’s legendary PT Boat was numbered “PT109”  … Coincidence?

Time 2:02Roger Daltrey, (far right) lead singer of British rock band “The Who” is found hiding out in Japanese professional wrestling.  In all of his photos since he “disappeared” several years ago, Daltrey never seems to age.  A youth serum developed by MI-6?  … WHO can say for sure.

Time: 2:32.  AKB48 member, and weather forecaster Yuki Kashiwagi predicts that a center of “Dance Fever” will continue to sweep across  southern Japan.  Global Warming alarmists and Global Warming deniers have both agreed.  Very, very suspicious that this secret treaty (Kyoto to Tokyo) has occurred.

Time 3:17:  American comedian Phyllis Diller, or is it another of Howard Hughes disguises?  Several bottles of Howard Hughes’ urine are observable in the background.  I will not judge.

Time 3:21:  Yuko’s butt.  Or is it?    Look closely …   What are we being led to believe?  … and what does a “Fortune Cookie” resemble … hmmmm …  Skeptics demand to know what happened on her  “grassy knoll” .

Furthermore, the “Fortune Cookie” dance itself may be a complete fabrication !!!

Note that to dance the “Fortune Cookie” dance,  you need to move your arms over-and-back

OVER and back …

… over and BACK

Simply not possible from that angle.

I am being watched …


You may also watch the “English Subbed” version here on Jpopsuki.  See this link:—Koi-Suru-Fortune-Cookie-%2528eng-subbed%2529/ceb08ba5673eae7802570ae2dc6e752a

 k kashiwagi
k tomochin




k diller



k oshimak americans

k daltrey


k go crazy































This starlight took 22 days to reach my world.


Miyu Takeuchi’s Sweet “Shonichi”

This is very sweet solo version of AKB48’s song “Shonichi”  by young AKB48 member Miyu Takeuchi. (It looks and sounds amazing in the 1080 HD available on this YouTube link.)

Usually this song is performed by AKB48 as a big team “dance number”.  When “Shonichi” is performed by the group,  the  girls first get together in a circle for a big, motivational group cheer.  Then there is an audience participation part where the audience calls out to the members:  “Ah-Yossha Ikuzo!  Tiger! Fire! Cyber! Diver! Viber! Ya-Ya!”   For the sake of comparison/contrast, I am including an example of a more “typical” or group performance on the following link.

If you are already familiar with the pop/dance version above, then you can see how special Miyu’s solo performance is.  She is performing this on live, Japanese TV, and exhibits a lot of poise for an 18 year old.

This sweet, slowed down version makes the lyrics even more poignant.  The song is about a happy young “Idol” singer who is finally given her chance to live her greatest dream.   “Shonochi”  translates as “first day” or “opening day” — as in your first day of your new career.  The full lyrics and English translation are available on .  Arigatou!

Thus, Miyu is in a cute way,  singing about herself.

I’m standing
On the stage I longed for
Amidst the loud cheers, applause, and enthusiasm
With strict lessons, 
I go beyond my own limits
Today, I was accepted as a member
The seeds of chance open …

True, here is a young idol, singing about the trials-and-tribulations of being a young idol, but Miyu interprets it beautifully.  I love how she plays the piano in her idol outfit.   She looks adorable.  These “uniforms” are really made for big song-and-dance numbers as opposed to endearing piano ballads. 

Miyu is unique in some ways.  She does not have the typical “Idol” appearance.  She does not look like some singers that look like they want to be underwear models.  Miyu has a pretty big “schnoz ” on her (Jimmy Durante would be proud).  It probably is why she is such a good singer.  I do not mean that in any disparaging way — it gives her character.   Takeuchi-san is charming, and adds a lot of personality and individuality to her AKB team.  I think she is a lovely and talented young woman.  I look forward to seeing more of her  kind face : )

shonichi 4


shonichi 3

shonichi 1


shonichi 2


















It took more than eight months for this starlight to reach my world.

What happens in Hanako Oku’s music video for FUYUHANABI ?

I have been enjoying my new Hanko Oku CD + DVD these past two weeks.  I am a huge Oku fan, however sometimes I cannot figure out exactly what is happening in some of her music videos.  In this report, I will provide my impression of  what is transpiring in the new video.  I know.  I might as well try to figure out the end of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” … but here goes …

Update: 01/22/2015  Record Industry Weasels took down the video posted. The official video from PonyCanyon is only 1 short preview. Sorry.

Please note that I am providing my interpretation of the VIDEO — not the song.  The music video director may have a different vision than Hanako Oku did when she wrote the song.  My null hypothesis is that the song is basically about love gone wrong, or broken hearts.  It is a general Oku theme.  However, Oku-san is very good at musically fleshing out such concepts.  I’m going to assume that the Mariya Suzuki character is supposed to represent the young Hanako Oku.  … or is at least the given Oku song protagonist.

Hanako Oku is seen throughout the video singing and playing the electric piano on a seaside beach in winter.

At time 0:45 we see Mariya sitting at the dresser mirror in her bedroom.

Oddly, as the lady gets up, her mirror refection stays seated, and even looks up and watches herself leave.  (Make sense?)

I think that this means that she is finally able to let something go.  She is willing to finally release something that has been a part of herself for a long time.

We next see Mariya riding a bus.  She is going on a trip.  Perhaps to confront something.

The bus arrives at a seaside resort.  It is the cold “off-season”.  The “winter” in “Winter Fireworks” of course.

Mariya arrives at a nearly deserted restaurant.  She sits near a window.  Outside, there are three young people – one boy and two girls – walking along.  They are all friends apparently.

The youths encounter a wall, and one of the girls decides to playfully tightrope-walk down the top of the wall, while the other girl, not noticing, walks parallel to the wall.  The boy helps the girl who wants to walk the wall.  He takes her hand.  The other girl notices.  The girls body language says that something is suddenly, terribly wrong.

I believe that this is the exact moment when she lost the love of her life.  

Because the boy took the other girl’s hand to help her up, this was the moment that the boy decided who he liked.  The helping-hands couple were at that moment …  a couple.  The girl left alone is frozen in disappointment.  If only she had been the one to take that step.   It happened that fast.   Perhaps it was one of these chance moments that could have gone either way.  Have you ever turned left, instead of your usual right, then encountered something unexpected?   One little change, one chance moment — may change the course of one’s entire life.

Mariya looks out the restaurant window.  This is where it happened.  This is the anniversary of the winter-time date it happened.  Mariya looks on at the girl left alone (herself) sadly.  This is the epiphany she has. One seemingly insignificant moment changed her life forever.  In that moment the one she loved the most was gone.

Years later, she is only now ready to let it go.  She is revisiting the scene so that she can finally let it go.

At time 3:25 during the song, Hanako Oku takes her hands off the keyboard and holds them up in front of her as she continues singing.  So who is playing the piano?  Who does she think she is … ELVIS ?   (Elvis Presley sometimes would not finish a lyric, or even a song — well, because he’s Elvis.)

There are some scenes of Oku-san playing at the keyboard, as artificial snow flies by.  There are several cascading flashbacks of the moments previously seen.  Finally we see Mariya standing next to Oku-san playing the piano.  Mariya has now moved on, and looks skyward – to the future. She has made the mindful decision to stop beating herself up — about something that happened a long time ago, and cannot be changed.  She has gained the compassion to forgive herself.

Both Oku-san and Mariya absorb this moment deeply.   Maria is having a moment of mindfulness as the video ends.

It might not look like much, but is life not punctuated by moments such as these?


It took this starlight 27 days to reach my world.

Those Annoying Housekeeping Flyers

flower housekeeping

UPDATE!!! 10-14-2015

I finally found a website — ukn48 — that posted a HD version of one of my favorite AKB music videos!

There are even English Subtitles!!!

Use the link below to watch the video on JPOPSUKI — a website I highly recommend! (Or Video  link up here for new window)—Tiny-T-shirt/940c5969e6198ca245bee1e8692d68b1

I know, I know … long Jpopsuki load times. You can also see it on this faster website, but it is lower quality.

Thank you, Radio Hanoi for posting this!

A very amusing music video from AKB48 Team B!  

The song is “Tiny T-Shirt” from 2013.  This is a coupling song (aka “B-side”) from the AKB48s 33rd single “Heart Ereki”.  Pop music historians know that sometimes a “B-side” is sometimes a better song than the hit single!  It sure is an enjoyable music video — and it is another reason WHY I LIKE AKB48.

The amusing story begins with a man taking out his trash, and finds a “housekeeping flyer” so commonly distributed around suburban neighborhoods.  (photo above.)  If you ask me, this guy’s t-shirts are anything but tiny.  Finding the housekeeping flyer, the guy imagines what it would be like to have the AKB48 girls clean his house.  He is only just imagining the whole thing apparently.  Had I been the director, I may have played it out differently.   For example, as seen at one point in the video, Haruka burns a shirt while ironing, and Yuki overloads the washing machine.   They could have done more with this concept.  In my telling, I would have had the girls completely destroy his house.  Of course, the guy would not mind, just because the AKB48 girls are so cute.   I envision him smiling and waving goodbye as his house smolders.  No matter.

The video does raise a number of  Socio-Economic and Cultural questions:

1. Is the video music director trying to say that AKB48 fans are flabby, delusional nerds?  … if so then why wasn’t I chosen for the part?  : (

2. Were they trying to say that Westerners have big noses?  (See “Casablanca” movie parody segment.)

3. Was it Haruna’s banana that the homeowner slipped on, thus knocking him out?  This then compelled the Western fantasy dream sequence — cowboys drinking beer, as Santa Claus flew in.

4. For that matter, why was Santa Claus wearing a cowboy hat ?

5.  How many meals does this American guy need?  Are they saying that Westerners are overfed?

Full lyrics in Japanese, Romani and English are available from Stage48.  Also color-coding of who-sings-which- line are also provided there by Stage48!   

ありがとう !

Also of interest is the “Theater Version” of the song.  The sound/video quality is not great, but it is a great chance for fans to see them in their Akihabara (AKB) Theater.  Watch on vimeo.


It took four months for this starlight to reach my world.  DS

Why I like AKB48 (Part XXVII)

Put sun oil on my back!”
Removing swimsuit top, you lied down
That single bold sentence
gave off
 a mushy sweet scent …

So begins  one of my favorite AKB48 songs.  “Manatsu no Sounds good!”  (Translation: Midsummer: Sounds Good!)

You can watch on this YouTube link.  720 HD available.

In order to avoid potential confusion and misinterpretation, note that this Yasushi Akimoto song is another example of a “Boys perspective” song — the lyrics reflect the words of a boy, even though the song is sung by a girl.  “Boys Perspective” songs are common in the Japanese Idol genre.  Such songs may be in the format of a “pen letter”, and tell the thoughts, sayings and/or true feelings the man has for a woman.  (It should be stated that these songs are NOT meant to be sung by a woman to another woman.  Hopefully, that potential misunderstanding is avoided.)

It is a great song about a chance meeting on a beach.  A guy meets a flirtatious young woman.  She is uninhibited, but is perhaps aloof.  He thanks “chance” (not God, but chance) who has brought this woman into his life, and he wants to quickly escalate the relationship.

This is one of the most visually stunning AKB48 music videos.  For me, this was the group at their peak, just before Atsuko Maeda graduated.  All my favorites of  the AKB  first generation girls are in the front rows (Yuko, Haruna, Jurina, Tomochin, Mariko, Mayu, etc.)  Also, some of the younger members who have later become favorites are also seen in the background.  There is a lot of physical beauty to observe in this.  The singing, and dancing — all great.  AKB48 fans can especially appreciate it, as they are aware of  the character development and individual personalities of each girl.  Definitely a music video to watch over and over.

The landscape is quite striking.  I love the Zen-like meeting of the sky and the horizon, the intimate beauty of where the horizon and ocean embrace.  I like the visual contrast of the texture of the waning beach, which yields to the sea …  and … and … STOP LAUGHING at me — I’m being SERIOUS.

The full lyrics in Japanese, Romanji and English translation are available from the “Studio 48” website.    ありがとう  (Thank you) to them.


Side note:  There is another music video of this song (The Sci-Fi “alien virus” version).  I will review that one later.

(It took over two years for the starlight from this AKB music video to reach my world.)


Matter versus Anti-Matter

Matter versus Anti-Matter

PHOTO: Hanako Oku meets with AKB48 member Mariya Suzuki for the FUYU HANABI music video.


I love the music of Hanako Oku.  I also love the songs and music videos of AKB48.  Hanako Oku writes emotional piano ballads that touch the soul.  She has become one of my favorite artists.  Although I do not understand Japanese, her emotional music transcends the language barrier.

AKB48 perform all kinds of music, but they are famous as a “pop” group.   I greatly respect Yasushi Akimoto and the AKB48 family of Idol groups.  I think that AKB48 music videos are probably the most FUN things in popular culture!   They are also much more popular than Hanako Oku, and rack up greater sales.  Hanako Oku has critical acclaim, and has what we might call in America a “cult” following of dedicated listeners.   AKB48 has mass appeal, and produces a lot of mass media.  Hanako Oku is famous in Japan for writing commercial jingles, AKB48 is arguably famous for BEING commercial.   I do not believe however, that these two musical acts are worlds apart.  Broadly speaking, both Hanako Oku and AKB48 are part of the Jpop spectrum.   They are just on opposite sides of that spectrum.  They are both great … just different from each other.  There is no reason one cannot like both … in fact you SHOULD!

I have been enjoying my new Hanako Oku CD + DVD  “Kimi to Boku no Michi” this week.  On the DVD, in addition to other things, there is a “making of” documentary (in Japanese) for the “Fuyu Hanabi” music video.  The music video features AKB48 member Mariya Suzuki in an acting role.  (Here is the YouTube link if  you have not seen it.)

I will describe the actual music video in a later post, but I wanted to call attention to something in the bonus DVD.  As part of a “the making of” documentary, there is video of Oku-san and the AKB Idol Suzuki-san meeting each other.

Did my world’s collide?  Did the continents divide?  Seeing this might even be better than the Flintstones-meet-the-Jetsons cross-over episode!

The two ladies have what looks like a nice conversation.  Each is very respectful of the other.  (There are also some photos of this meeting on the official Hanako Oku website.)   I cannot say exactly what Mariya-chan says, but at one point — as she was talking (in Japanese)  I heard Mariya say the word “AKB” a couple of times.  That is when Oku-san got that shocked look on her face (see photo above!).   Here Oku-san looks like she is exclaiming “REALLY?” (only not saying “really” in English, but maybe the Japanese version of  saying “REALLY?”).

I think that given this context, the only thing this could possibly be – to get that reaction — is that Mariya Suzuki  said  “A lot of the AKB girls are big fans of yours”.

Even though it may be like mixing matter and anti-matter together — I’m going to continue to experience the joys of emotive Hanako Oku songs.  At the same time (maybe in the same time-space continuum?),  I will continue to enjoy the “J-fun-tastic” songs and music videos by Yasushi Akimoto and the AKB48 girls.

My universe explodes …

The Little Great One

HANAKO OKU: “The Little Great One”

The song “Garnet” by Hanako Oku.  End theme song from the anime movie “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”

Is my heart breaking or is it filled with happiness?

Some background:  Almost two years ago, I had stayed up late at night watching the anime film “Girl Who Leapt Through Time”.  During the end credits of the film, I heard Hanako Oku for the first time …

I felt like a building had fallen on me.  To be fair, I had just been on the emotional roller-coaster that is “TGWLTT”.    I became very interested in Oku’s music, even though I speak/understand almost no Japanese.  I started researching her on the Internet, although I did not have much luck with lyrical translations.  Most of the information about Hanako Oku on the internet was (understandably) in Japanese.   I watched a number of  videos posted on YouTube, and I sent for most of her CDs from Japan.  I enjoy her emotional piano ballads.

When I listen to Oku-san, I cannot understand the words.  I can mainly listen to it as “instrumental” I guess.  Even though I do not understand her singing in Japanese, when I listen to Hanako Oku it feels like my heart is breaking – and also filled with joy – at the same time.  Weird.  An outside observer may think this strange.  My friends were  befuddled – they would ask: “How can you understand her?”   I know it sounds strange, but when I listen to this wonderful little Japanese singer it changes my attitude.   A butterfly will fly past me while I’m mowing the lawn, and I will have a Zen moment.  I began to like and appreciate Japanese art and culture.

Oku-san has become one of my favorite artists.  If I could write a biographical book someday, I would call it “The Little Great One”.   I plan to blog about her again!

Update: 09-20-2014.  Record Industry W … I mean “bean counters” took the original theme from the credits down.  However, PonyCanyon has posted “Garnet” on YouTube, so that you can at least have the song.  This video is on the “extra features” of the DVD TGWLTT.

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