Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Archive for the ‘Pop Music’ Category

Ohio coffee playlist with Moritaka Chisato

When I met her in that Ohio coffee shop, I kept telling myself “Denny, don’t stare  … don’t stare at her legs… don’t stare at her legs you idiot …”

Ohio!  Ha … “Ohio” that is how you say “good morning” in Japanese!

Ha … please don’t correct me, I know that the phrase is really “Ohayō” お早う or “Ohayōgozaimasu”.  I have become a big fan of Japanese singer Moritaka Chisato these past few months. Every morning I look forward to the perfect combination of 1) my morning mug of coffee 2) my iPhone on which I can watch YourTube videos, and 3) my headphones. It is the best time of the day, sitting there, having a good morning coffee … of course my life is complete shit at work, but at least I am happy for those 25 fleeting minutes. Ahem, I am particularly happy when listening to music videos from this wonderful artist.  All Japanese culture comes to me by starlight, and Moritaka Chisato is a good example. I first learned about her from another blogger’s post (MorningBerryz48). The original post is linked here. Moritanka Chisato had her first hits in the late 1980s and was popular through the 1990s. I guess you could call her stuff “nineties music” — but she recorded a variety of great music in many different genres. She was a little different from many pop/idol singers of the time because she wrote her own music and was an accomplished instrumentalist. Ohio! Lets us get to the videos!

The first song is 気分爽快 translated as “Refreshing Feelings”.  There are several different versions and live performances of the song on YT (check out the “drums” version linked here), but this particular MV is very intriguing. I would have to ask my friend Bob to identify the guitars which the guitarist plays here. Oddly, at one point in the video, he is playing a different one than moments before! Now I have watched this MV like the Zapruder film, detailing each moment. There is a “Mystery Woman” dressed in a green sweater-top. She never turns to face the camera, even during the big wide-shot group dance part. We … never… see… her… face. I was thinking that perhaps she is the Moritaka from the future, or perhaps visiting from another dimension … but then again I’m a nut.

Moritanka Chisato portrays a teacher in this next video “Song of Study” or “Study Song” depending on which order you read it. There are a lot different versions of this MV too, but I think that this one is the most endearing. Musically, it sounds like the mid-eighties. Somewhere between Cindy Lauper and DEVO.

Ms. Chisato plays a teacher. I have taken some notes: The superiority of the Japanese educational system is clearly on display here. Ms. Chisato is clearly better than any boring teacher I ever had. Who wants to listen to some dork lecture about rocks? I prefer Ms. Chisato’s suit. Oh, man in that tight suit, nice hose and pretty shoes — she reminds me of a young Mrs. Sinnoh. I like how at one point she gives a boy the choice between a comic book and a study guide, and he chooses the manga, much to her disappointment. After she teaches for a while she gives him the choice between the workbook and a Nintendo Gameboy, and he chooses the schoolbook! (Notice how much larger Gameboys were in Japan. Those things were HUGE!) I noticed that she gives pretty big tests. They are easy (look close) but they are really BIG tests. You will also notice that the school day goes by very fast with her. The hands on the classroom clock fly around very quickly. I sure would like to be this teacher’s pet : )

“They say that the big band sound is coming back!” (Sorry about that stupid comment. I have had to put up with that one half-my life.)  Now, if you have not exited my post yet, you are in for a treat. The next song is “So Blue”. Despite the big band, dance hall atmosphere, this song rocks out pretty hard.  I might even call it “progressive” rock, as it is so interesting and complex. Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir? Forget that, you will find a much better guitar/drum/strings arrangement from Chisato-san here. (Denny sups coffee.)

This next song is “August Love”. My comic-book reading otaku friends like Matthew and The Otaku Judge should recognize the lovely Moritaka is singing inside one of Superman’s fortresses. Now, this is not his Arctic isolated fortress. Instead Superman keeps Mori-chan forever young in this PACIFIC fortress. (It has a slightly different coloration.) Can you imagine the fun Superman has in that place, listening to Ms. Chisato – trapped in time — kept forever young, singing about August Love – with that facethat hair … and that red lipstick. (Denny gulps.)

Gentemen, hold on to your hearts, because if you have not fallen in love with Moritaka Chisato yet, you will succumb during this next beautiful song — “Watarase Bridge”. She was going for a Beatles “Let It Be” sound and video. Well, screw the Beatles. At least Chisato-san did not have to lie about who was playing the instruments. SHE IS!  Clearly one of her best songs, even my other Jpop hero Hanako Oku loves it. Psst: Watch for the “mystery woman” to walk through right at the end.

If you love Jpop, make sure that you add some Moritaka Chisato to your collection! Her official web links are here:

Official Website: http://www.moritaka-chisato.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chisatomoritaka
Twitter: http://twitter.com/moritakastaff
Google+: http://plus.google.com/u/0/108720770772129735479/posts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/moritakachannel

She has a great volume of music and video to explore. She is older now, and not publishing as much as during her hey day in the 1990s. She is married to a nice guy and has two lovely children.

I have also started a Pinterest board for Moritaka Chisato linked hereThanks MB, for introducing me to another great artist, I might otherwise never would have known about.

Starlight: I discovered Moritaka Chisato on November 16, 2016 through MorningBerryz48’s blog. I can’t do justice to MB’s post. She has all this great album cover art, photos, live performances, songs lyrics, etc.

Wha … Why are you still here? go have  a look!

川の流れのように The greatest song of all time?

What is the greatest popular music song of all time?

Is it “She Loves You (Yeah,Yeah,Yeah)” by the Beatles? Could it be “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin? Is your choice “YMCA” by the Village People? Well, all of those are valid choices to be sure …

However, please allow me to make a case for “Kawa no Nagare no Yō ni”, which translates from Japanese as “Like the Waters of a River”.

The music was composed by Akrika Mitake with lyrics by Yasushi Akimoto. They composed this ballad for the famous Japanese enka singer Hibari Misora. The song was to be her last single, and she died shortly after it was released in 1989.

From Wikipedia:  “… was voted the greatest song of all time during a national poll in 1997 by NHK, with more than 10 million votes. It is often the song of choice for artists  performing live tributes to Misora.” According to linguistics blogger Larry Kenny “it is learned routinely by high school students in Japan.” and “The song embodies the very essence of enka, if not the very essence of the Japanese people.”  I would be able to agree with that, as it is a very moving song. Mr. Kenny has provided a great English translation, and has written a wonderful article about the song linked here.

Several famous singers have recorded the song. I am including a little YouTube playlist here.

As performed by Hibari Misora:

This recording is by Cantonese singer Teresa Teng.

Here is a version with American “soul” singer Diana Ross and opera singers Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. Dam!

How about this version by Mexican singer Mariachi Vargas?

You can probably find many others through various YuteTube links. If I was not tearing-up so much, I could probably practice the song with this karaoke:

Mr. Kenny also has created this version that [his singer Evan Ross] sings in English. Now the singing is not as “enka” as some others, I will admit, but [they have] created a very respectable, heartwarming rendition.  (Much better than I ever could.)

[Evan Ross] sings his beautiful translation of the lyrics in English. [Mr. Kenny] actually provides two English translations of the song in the article. One is a “literal” translation of the words from Japanese, and then he created another “non-literal”  descriptive version. Wow. Just wow. Mr. Akimoto’s original lyrics are so meaningful, so filled with eternal truths … that they may transcend language barriers and even create new meanings. The following is Mr. Kenny’s non-literal interpretation.

Like a dream, like a dream, passing day after day
down this long, narrow road I’ve been walking
If I turn, looking back I can see far away
the old town that I loved long ago.

Roads that wind and twist in every way,
Bumpy roads that have seen too many days
With no map to guide us, every path we cross in our lives,

Ah, just like the waters of a river, countless bygone days,
one by one how gently, how slowly they go,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, on unendingly,
into the sky painted colors of evening flow.

In our journeys and lives, though they start and they end,
still the road never stops, on forever,
as we reach toward a dream, making memories and friends,
we draw near the people who we love.

As the rain beats down upon our heads
and the mud covers all the road ahead
on we walk because soon a bright new day will come again

Ah, just like the waters of a river, slow and gracefully,
lay this body down, let them take me away,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, like the seasons flow,
as we wait for April sunshine to melt the winter grey.

Ah, just like the waters of a river, slow and gracefully,
lay this body down, let them take me away,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, on eternally
as we hear the rushing current flow out to the bay.

http://www.larrykenny.com/enka/kawa.php

I think the lyrics are especially poignant as Hibari Misora passed on soon after the song was released. The lyrics introduce imagery about the philosophy of life — by analogy — flowing like a river. It is nostalgic in that the singer/listener is looking back over their life, not with regrets but with the appreciation of a life that was lived. I have to wonder if she knew she was near the end of her life when she made those live performances. If she had no regrets, and had nothing but love at the end … well — it shows.

I hope you can find your own fluid meaning there.

Finally, “Kawa no Nagare no Yō ni” was also recorded by my favorite enka singer Iwasa Misaki. There are no [legit] music videos of Misaki-san’s recording on YourTube. There are even a few non-Misaki fakes out there! However, let me share this SoundCloud link to Miss Misaki’s great interpretation of the song.

Are you ready? Sitting down? Clasping the armrests? Tissue box nearby?

Wasamin’s version always turns me into a big, blubbering sack of protoplasm. If you enjoy it even half as much as I do, you can order the CD single from CD-Japan linked here. The song 川の流れのように is the third song (a second B-side?) of her three-track CD-Single of Gomen ne Tokyo. Note: Only the REGULAR edition CD-single has the song!

If you want one, I will buy you a copy!

Why not listen to some Enka music? … What feelings do the lyrics pull out of you, or what pictures from your life can you imagine?  … Try to observe nature as if it were a beautiful sound of a song … think of someone you loved … Think of your favorite memories of places you enjoyed … 

Find again what you love about your life. Enka.

Starlight: It took 28 lightyears for 川の流れのように to reach my world.

PS: What is your favorite all time song? You can list your choice in the comments below. If there is a YouFlube link for your favorite please provide that too.

Happy Birthday to “The Pancake House Girl” Hanako Oku!

Japan is twelve hours ahead of me, so Snivy and I wanted to be the first in my time zone to wish “the Little Great One” Ms. Hanako Oku-san a HAPPY BIRTHDAY tomorrow (today) on March 20! She is lucky — her Birthday is always the Spring Equinox.

Ms. Oku has always been one of my favorites. Of course, Snivy is a huge fan. The adorable and talented Ms. Oku has written the opening theme song “Kimi No Hana” for the romance anime “Seiren” currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

The marketing geniuses at the Pony Canyon record company have blocked any and all Hanako Oku music videos in Unova, so it is difficult for us to share the song over YourTube, or Twatter, or Glueggle +, etc.  One of these links might work however.

https://en.musicplayon.com/Hanako-Oku-Kimi-No-Hana-635494.html

http://www.jpopasia.com/hanakooku/videos/62181/kimi-no-hana-%E3%82%AD%E3%83%9F%E3%81%AE%E8%8A%B1/

It is a pretty good anime theme. A good anime theme always gets you in the right frame of mind for the show. The song certainly does have its moments where Snivy and I are in our “Hanako Heaven”.

Something else is notable about the show. Hanako Oku also makes her voice acting debut in the series! She plays a pancake house server in the ninth episode. I freeze-framed her line in the photo below. The Little Great One’s only line was “Here’s your next plate” (in Japanese).

The next day, Snivy kept saying “Here’s your next plate … Here’s your next plate”. The cute little guy.

You only get to see the animated-Oku’s hand as she delivers another plate of pancakes to the main character at an all-you-can-eat pancake buffet. Perhaps this will mark the beginning of larger voice acting roles?

Starlight: HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANAKO OKU – BORN MARCH 20, 1978!

When I see the amazing face of SKE48 member Nao Furuhata, I feel like I am about to EXPLODE …

That’s right … explode … explode with a fury of great scrapbooking and home craft-making ideas.

These are some sample pages I made for for my scrapbook. (Click on an image to start the scrapbook.) I have also been working on Nao-inspired greeting cards, decorative throw pillows, and new laundry room shelves. I can’t help myself … I just EXPLODE with unique project ideas when I think of young Miss Furuhata.

I hope that the intriguing face of Miss Furuhata will inspire your own explosion of creative hobby ideas!

Nao says: “Now get out there and get crafting!”

Please see more of Nao on my Pinterest board for her linked here. Also, watch the YT video clip below and it will leave you exploding with unique home craft ideas!

I (HEART) Junko

Silly me, I thought Ms. Junko Akimoto was an “Enka” singer. Music experts say that she is actually a “Kayōkyoku” singer. Enka is based on a pre-war Japanese traditional singing style called “Ryukoka”, while Kayokyoku is a much more modern pop music by instrumentation and singing style. Enka has been likened to tango, Kayokyoku is likened to jazz.  I’m not sure I could explain the distinction. I can remember back in 1979 when I could tell you the difference between Punk and New Wave music. But I digress … 

Call it what you will, I think that Junko-san is grand. She’s beautiful.

junko-51zaikqorzl-_sy355_

I’ve grown to appreciate these genres — mostly because I can’t stand what is popular in America. These songs are all about secret longings, broken hearts, guilt and atonement. It is a lot like country music actually.

I first found out about Ms. Akimoto-san from an Iwasa Misaki music video.

You will hurt my feelings if you do not watch this. You all know that I am a big fan of Iwasa Misaki, and that Wasamin has launched a successful Enka singing career. It was mostly through Misaki-san that I have grown to appreciate the traditional Enka Japanese singing style.

In Miss Iwasa’s video cover of “Ai no Mama de (The Way Love Was?) it was widely quoted that Wasamin is “tutored by Japanese Enka singer Junko Akimoto”. This particular song, lyrics linked here — was Ms. Akimoto-san’s most famous single. “Ai no Mama de ..” reached the top of the Oricon weekly single charts in January 2009. She became the oldest singer (at age 61) to top the charts in Japan. Well … this still makes her a spring chicken in comparison to any of The Rolling Stones.

Starlight: Oh what time is it? I think that Hee-Haw is on.

Denny’s Valentine’s Day Broth with Iwasa Misaki

wasasoup

I bought all the ingredients for our dinner at a “blue light” special.

You may find it hard to believe that I have never before bought an idol photo book before!

wasaminheartneobk-2056665

I recently ordered Iwasa Misaki’s first photo book from CD-Japan.  It is now shipped and in the air. I hope I get it soon (at least before my wife checks the mail). Don’t worry, I don’t think it will be a “gravure” photo book. Wasamin was never big on cheesecake photos when she was with AKB48. It was known that “showing skin” was really not her thing. I do expect there to be some photos of her great kimono outfits however. There may be one swimsuit photo, but I don’t know, I will wait and see. I also bought her latest records, but I will blog about those at another time.

Denny’s goes into another Wasa-reverie:

Wasamin was so happy that an unknown American fan pre-ordered her book, that she invited me over to her apartment for Valentine’s Day soup! [Denny bites tongue, does not make soup joke.]

She sang me this great Enka song “Blue Light Yokohama” which was one of the songs from her great 2013 album “Request Covers”.  I was thinking that she could have sung this acapella, but somehow there was musical accompaniment.

(You better watch this quick. Heck, it might already be deleted by the time you read this.)

God, I hope that Japanese cabbage does not make me gassy, because I am sitting on the floor. Ahem … Yes, I would love some sake, Miss Misaki …

What a lovely young lady.  She has graduated AKB and is no longer constrained by the “no dating” rules.  Likely, there is some young fellow she has her eye on. [Denny takes heart medication.] I think she was on the phone with him just before our soup. Still, I was happy just to keep her company.

Oh, what a dream …

Starlight: Happy Valentines day everyone!!!  

My tribute post to Morningberryz48

berryze58699e79c9f

[Readers: Please play the YouTube music while you read my post. I chose it for the special emotions I am feeling today]

Today, I wanted to discuss my blog, blogging stats, other bloggers and such. I am getting close to 200,000 views on my blog. I guess that is good. I noticed that I get a big jump in views when a new Pokemon game comes out. Perhaps I should have monetized my site. Since I started blogging in 2014, I have always used the “free” WordPress site. I have over 400 “followers” but I think that most of them are “commercial” blogs. There are only a handful of WP bloggers who actually read and comment on my blog. (I’m winking at you Mabel and the  Otaku Judge.) I subscribed to several music, anime and Pokemon blogs. I have seen them come — and I have seen the bloggers go — on this site. Some of my followers who I used to read and interact with …   only stayed around for a few months, then they would disappear into the blogging ether.

Where am I going with this? (Denny sighs sadly, exhales) …I have to be honest –

I miss MorningBerryz48.

Some of my fellow bloggers know her. Her homepage is linked here.

https://morningberryz48.wordpress.com/

“MB” as I will call her, was the greatest Japanese pop culture/Idol music/ AKB blogger I have known. She shares a lot of great articles and media on her blog. Also, she’s intelligent, witty, and maybe “a little naughty” at times. She was more than just a pile of random electrons to me. I miss her replies to all my goofy comments, and my weak attempts at comedy. If I ever made her smile, then that is a light upon the world. (That’s not hyperbole is it?)

Jesus, … er .. I mean Buddha … What a great lady she is. Look at her website. She likes music, but she also likes sports. The lady even likes stock-car racing. I know that I do not follow racing, but that fact that SHE likes it just adds more depth and dimension to her cultural multiverse. She lives in Hawaii, so that means that the place really is paradise.

She liked, and posted about Watarirouka Hashiritai. Do you people realize how long I have wanted to talk to another soul on this planet about the Watarirouka Hashiritai 7?  Glorious God in heaven … I am not ALONE … in this cold, cruel world. Another person who “gets” my appreciation for Idol songs. Up until now, my friend’s reactions to my AKB48 fandom has usually been the old “Get Away From Me Man”. I’m talking to you Bob, and Nate.

She introduced me to so many Japanese musical artists, who I would otherwise never know even existed. She is a great Idol historian. A true Idol scholar. She taught be about Coco, ribbon, ZARD, Qlair and many others.

When I discovered this genre of idol music from the late 80s, early 90s it was like memories were activated from my parallel life. I never knew about this stuff at the time. It was something which I always missed, but which I never knew even existed. Something was missing in my musical life in the early 1990s, but I never knew exactly what it was. MB has eased my pain. The hole in my heart was filled. Somewhere in the space-time continuum, it is 1992 and I am listening to ribbon.

Thus, she made a difference in my life — and I’m not making one of my smartass jokes here. Music is very important for me. Her blog’s influence is a big part of my current listening.

I loved reading her articles with morning coffee on the weekends, or wasting company time in the office, or checking in one a day to see if I missed anything. I learned a lot from her blog. When I first started blogging I thought I might become some type of expert on Idols/AKB. (Denny exhales.) I can’t even come close. Nothing has made me prouder however, than when she would comment on one of my posts.

(Denny sighs again — heavily):

MB has stopped writing her blog … at least for now. She said it was because of technical problems, but there may other reasons, and I respect that. For whatever reason(s) she has stopped posting. I have been going through the usual five stages of grief.

  1. Denial: “This can’t be happening” I thought. No more Idol video links? … this is NOT happening … Nope, definitely NOT happening. I had hysterical blindness when she posted that she was quitting. I was bumping into lamps, tripping over the couch.
  2. Anger: Damn that computer which crashed and caused her to lose so much work. It is a conspiracy I tell you! It is all SONY’s fault. (Denny shakes fist, imitating Homer Simpson): Your empire would lay in smoking ruins you bastards … if I didn’t need a new PS4 so much. You corporate screw-ups will pay for taking her away from me … you will ALL PAY!!!
  3. Bargaining: “Maybe she can just post once in a while”. Maybe she can stop after she finishes that big “Coco” post she was working on when her computer failed. Maybe she can just make a post when there is a new AKB48 record. Maybe just a top-ten list post at the end of the year. Maybe …
  4. Depression: “Why go on?” Why get out of bed in the morning if I can never enjoy learning about the Idol genres I love. There won’t be a post about the new HKT48 single, so nothing matters. In fact, I will stop blogging now. What’s the point if her light is not in this electronic world anymore?
  5. Acceptance: “It was good while it lasted” There are still a lot of old articles, and articles from her previous blog site. I just feel lucky to have known her. She is a great lady and has other interests. Perhaps it is time for a break. Time to concentrate on other life goals. Perhaps there may be some guy in her life who is on the receiving end of her efforts now. (The lucky bastard.)

I would be honored if I could call her “friend”. I know that some of my Internet friends, Derek, Matthew and others also miss her. You guys, if you get a chance, re-blog my article. Tweet, or Face-tube or whatever-the-devil you kids call it — to get my message in a Poke bean bottle out there.

If any of my current readers love MB’s blog even half as much as I did, please sign a tribute comment below.

Starlight: MB, if you are out there, I’m not really crazy. 

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