Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Posts tagged ‘Japanese music’

Read any good books this summer? Special birthday wishes to Miss Yuki Kashiwagi of AKB/NGT48.

Of course I keep up with my summer reading! I am so happy that my favorite AKB48 member has made this useful reference manual to help me at my office. Even though I am very dedicated to work, and cannot blog very often these days, I am not too busy to wish my oshi a HAPPY 26TH BIRTHDAY! Please enjoy one of my favorite Yukirin moments from her solo tour last year.

(Denny sighs, swoons) … she’s my favorite niece … but I am pretty sure that she will announce her graduation from AKB this year. Alas, it is probably time for the dear young lady to move on. Yukirin may be near the end of her AKB48 career, but I am sure she will continue as a solo singer, actress and media personality.

I want to pay tribute to Yukirin History here. This is an old AKB sketch where Yuki played an old kendo master –as a man!  Note the Kashiwagi beard and mustache. There is a funny moment at about time 3:00 where her “assistant” is supposed to strike her on the head. Their timing was actually off, because Yuki really does get hit hard on the head. Ha. Watch her reaction.

Oh, Yuki, you are a real trouper!

Starlight: Yuki Kashiwagi – born July 15, 1991

See more of Miss Yuki Kashiwagi on my Pinterest board linked here.

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Growing up with Tsuri Bit: A thousand days of happiness.

Thanks for the photo, girls. Please make it out to “Uncle Denny” and write: “Thank you for all your kind advice and aged wisdom!”

A teenage girl can do a lot of growing up in 1000 days. They can make the journey from awkward teen to sophisticated young woman. About three years ago (a thousand days ago?), I discovered the Japanese Idol group Tsuri Bit. The name loosely translates as “fishing lure”. No, not “bait” mind you! (Denny looks at reader sternly.) The first music video of theirs I watched was “Odoroyo Fish” (踊ろよ、フィッシュ “Odoroyo Fisshu” or “Let’s Dance Fish” ) This fun song was a hit for Japanese singer Tatsurō Yamashita in 1987. The Tsuri Bit girls update it – and “idol” it up. They capture the spirit of the song.  They retain the original’s warmth, charm and FUN! They make it their own. Lyrics are linked here. Please SING with me!

I always wanted to be an Ichthyologist!

This might be one of the the cutest Idol videos I have ever seen — certainly the girls could not be any cuter. I used to play this one on my iphone in the grocery store. You should have seen me there in Produce, through the Dairy and Seafood isles — headphones on — movin’ and grovin’.. Imagine me spinning my cart around almost like I was dancing with it! I was trying to just  hum quietly to myself, but I probably let out a few audible sounds  … Odoroyo FISH! … O-do-ro-yo BAY-BEE … Ha. The other shoppers would think I was crazy if anyone would notice. The song starts about 59 seconds into this YT linked video from 2014. Enjoy in 1080 HD.

From there you can find links to many of their videos. KISSPOINT Records has recovered from that “Ban in America” thing. Here is an idol group you can enjoy. Tsuri Bit’s shtick is that they are the “Fishing Idols”. They have made several songs and videos about going fishing. In fact, Tsuri Bit has meet-and-greet events with fans that are FISHING TRIPS! If AKB48 are “the idols you can meet” then Tsuri Bit are “the idols you can go fishing with“!

“Scales of Clouds and Orion”

I can relate a lot to this next music video, even though I was not liking the actual song all that much at first. Sometimes with music videos I like the song but not the video, or vice versa. The Tsuri Bit girls must have been thinking about me in this next video from 2015. This early 2015 MV is about a sad “Salaryman” who is stuck in a dead-end job that he hates — just like me! He is berated by bosses — just like me!  He is not respected by coworkers or clients — just like me!.  He is behind on the technology and frustrated, he’s slow and fat and … just … like … uh … heh … heh ….. oh. (Denny slumps) Dang, this guy even LOOKS like me.

He might have to work for A-holes, but Tsuri Bit believe in him.

The good news that the Tsuri Bit girls are there wearing cute cheerleader outfits.  (I wonder though if they are there only in his imagination.) The girls remind him of all things that are good in this world. The things worth fighting for!  They cheer him up, he gets motivated, goes back to his job, applies that fat ass to work … and he succeeds! All it took was the cuteness and encouragement of his favorite idols. Tsuri Bit are so wholesome and good, it is like they have magical girl powers. The song itself?  Well, it had to grow on me — but look how much the girls have grown.

This next one is my FAVORITE Tsuri Bit music video. I LOVE this power-pop song.  Here they are in late 2015, perfecting their idol moves on the beach.

Several months later, the girls are on a beach vacation again. This next MV reminds me of the Beatles’ movie “Help” where the fab four all live together in the same house. There is an amusing part near the start of this video where the girls are sorting through their beachwear. They are trying to gauge which swimsuit top belongs to whom.  Since the last video, it looks like Mizuki (the 19 year old) grew some BOOBIES! Somebody needs a bigger suit. The sweet little fish-scientists have a lot of fun singing, dancing and just idol-ing on the beach.

I know what you are thinking: “Denny, you are a dirty old man.”

To that I say “OH YEAH … well is that YOUR NOSE, or are you eating a TOMATO?” Then I would start throwing punches.  Uh .. Ok … er ..  maybe I should take the high road and try to explain. The Japanese Idol culture/subculture is a very difficult concept for outsiders to grock.

Idol culture offends many (stupid, American) women because Japanese Idols start out so young — and that their audience includes many middle-aged businessmen. Despite what the hags think, the middle aged fans are NOT perverts. Look, an idol show is pure entertainment. Just like that Salaryman in the video above —  Japanese men have to work many long hours for relatively pay. Being a fan, and/or going to an idol show is pure escapism. It is fun to support and cheer for your favorite idols.

That is how wota feel about their Idols. When idoling is done correctly, it becomes pure happiness. Happiness which transcends age, ethnicity and gender.  They remind us that there really can be something pure in this harsh universe … like at my work.

Older male fans are cheering the girls on, not lusting after them — Jesus.  Look, if all someone wanted to do was “look at young girls” then there would be a lot of other ways to do that.  Dirty old men, are not buying singing-and-dancing DVDs. Wota LOVE our idols because they bring HAPPINESS with their presence. There may be some perverts among the fans, but they are not the norm. Just like the pundits on the CHH news channel who are always saying that “not ALL Syrian refugees are psychotic terrorists and rapists.” Well … and … OK, maybe that’s not a very good example.

I once had an Internet feud with an anti-AKB hag. She said on her blog that wota are bad people. What was surprising was that she followed various homoerotic Korean boy-bands! So it is OK for a bitter, dried-up, middle-aged hag to follow boy idols, but a middle-aged man cannot follow idol groups? Talk about your hag privilege.

Next video — here the girls are in Shibuya — growing up, and heading out on their own. They look very sophisticated and mature in the outfits they wear here.  The music is upbeat, jazzy and sophisticated. Their concerns are that of an adult, but they can still go for a good ice cream sundae.

(Denny’s reverie:) So … it looks like my girls grew up and turned out all right. Soon they will be off to college and living on their own.  I will worry about them, but I really shouldn’t worry about them. They are fine young women now. Pure of heart and of high moral character. If aliens visited Earth and asked me to show them the best part of humanity, I would lead then to that karaoke party with Tsuri Bit. Pretty idols and ice cream.

If you want to learn more about this idol group, the official Tsuri Bit website (in Japanese) is linked hereA great fan site IN ENGLISH is linked here. The site has a lot of useful statistical information about the girls — including which species of fish they would most want to catch. 

Starlight: A thousand days of happy.  Traveling at the speed of light, Tsuri Bit’s earliest broadcasts should now be nearing the Centauri system.

Imagine the alien boys living on a planetoid which orbits Beta Centauri. They are monitoring signals from space … and then receive this devastating cuteness:

Here is how I imagine the conversation.

Alien Boy 1: “Beezit — wabba wabba zoop beena beena!”

Alien Boy 2 “Shazzbat!!! wabba wabba zoop beena beena — hoo HOO!”

Kimonos on Monday: Iwasa Misaki at Shin-Kabukiza Theater

It seems light years since I made a post to my “Kimonos on Monday” series. It has also been a long time since I posted anything about the lovely and talented Miss Iwasa Misaki. It’s been a long time since I rock-and-rolled. Ahem. Excuse me …

Unlike me, the ex-AKB48 Idol turned Enka-singer has kept busy performing concerts, releasing new singles, albums and concert Blu-Rays. Yes I own both concert disks!

Wasamin posts a lot of her glamorous kimono photos on her Instagram page (linked here) and her Twitter site (linked here). I thought that this photo was particularly interesting. Is it a kimono or a costume? Ms. Misaki contributed to a show at the Shin-Kabukiza Theater in Osaka last month. Even though Misaki-san usually wears a stunning kimono for her Enka-music concerts, I would have to classify this kimono as a “costume” for the show.

Wasamin is wearing a WIG in case you could not tell. I wonder if she would ever style her real hair in that traditional way for a special concert.

Wasamin next to a promotion for her latest record release.

“Say Hello to my little friend!”

(Denny’s Readers groan …)

I love both the traditional and popular culture of Japan. Despite that, I could never really get too interested in Kabuki. I’ve seen some Kabuki Theater on YT videos, but I have to admit, I can’t watch for very long. The art and costumes are great of course … but I can’t really understand it. I would certainly enjoy a show if it featured Wasamin though!

The official website for the Osaka’s Shin-Kabukiza Theater is linked here: https://www.osakastation.com/osaka-shin-kabukiza-theater/

Although I do not have video of Wasamin at the SK Theater, here are some recent TV performances: How long will YT leave then up?

Starlight: What, where did they go?

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.

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.

Hanako Oku and the Forbidden Music

the-forbidden-oku

Hanako Oku and the forbidden music.

I sure wish I could have seen this video of Hanako Oku’s 2010 concert. I had this video in my YouTube “suggestions” list, but when I opened YouTube, the Record Industry Weasels at PonyCanyon Records have it region blocked (Of course the phrase “Record Industry Weasels at PonyCanyon” might actually be redundant.) As far as I know, the video is only blocked for American users, because of this year’s licensing changes at YouTube.

I know what you are going to ask: “Denny, What if you buy YouTube RED? … then is the video unblocked?”  The answer is a big NO. The licensing laws are still not congruent. The videos are still blocked.

I had seen one portion of this concert before. It was an outdoor concert. I think it was “First Love” she performed, but this was years ago. I remember that there was a lot of wind noise, but she still sang it with a lot of emotion, and I loved it. (No one sings unrequited love the way Hanako Oku does.) This was back when I was first out about Hanako Oku’s music, and before I was banned from Facebook. Someone on the Hanko Oku Discussion Group on Facebook had posted a portion of this performance.

I would love to see the entire performance. If you are one of my blog  followers outside of the US, could you please check this video out, and tell me what I am missing?

Oh look, there is a new Poll!

Denny Re-Blogs: Genki de Itene — Oku Hanako – Chinese to English

utakata CD cover

“Genki de Itene” is a track on this album. Image belongs to the artist and record company.

Dear Readers:

Please visit fellow WP Blogger Edward on his site:

https://okuhanakochinesetoenglish.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/genki-de-itene/comment-page-1/#comment-93

He always does a great job translating Hanako Oku lyrics.

Those who follow my blog know that I am a big fan of Oku Hanako, who I term “The Little Great One”.

Oh, what the little lady has done for me … Please enjoy Edward’s post — and follow him if you are a fan of Japanese music!

I added a few video links on the comments section of his blog. Better watch them quick.

Denny 

元気でいてね (Genki de Itene) · 要好好的过喔 · Stay Well In: [Album] Oku Hanako BEST -My Letters- – CD 2 track 14 [Album] Utakata – track 13 [Album] Kimi no Egao -Smile Selection- – track 7 English This is wrong! Who decided this? A round object might look rectangular from another point of view It […]

via Genki de Itene — Oku Hanako – Chinese to English

More images of Hanako Oku can be found on my Pinterest site for her linked here.

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