Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Posts tagged ‘Japanese music’

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.

My memories of Isao Tomita

isao tomita

It is with sadness …  I will return from my blogging exile today … in order to tell you about the recent death of Japanese musician Isao Tomita.

He was known simply as “Tomita” — and during the 1970s I was a big fan of his synthesizer-meets-classical music. I just now found out about his passing. (Cough) It was a few days ago.

His obituary in the New York Times is linked here.  I would not be able to do justice to what is in the article, or even to this discography from Wikipedia linked here. Instead, I will share some of my memories of his work. I can’t say that I was a big follower of his recent work, but his early albums are a big influence on who I am as a music listener today.

I owned his great 1976 album “The Planets” — Tomita’s version of Gustav Holst’s famous symphony. I LOVED IT! Some of it was hokey, but most of it was AMAZING!

I was working in a Chinese restaurant at the time. I was a long-haired 16-year old stoner teenager. I remember a time, when one of the cute waitresses borrowed my LP … as she was a big classical music buff. We talked. She was a nice lady. I wonder what ever happened to her?

Um … through Tomita, I learned a little more appreciation for classical music. I also loved his “Pictures at an Exhibition” from the Mussorgsky symphony. I think I might have to go out and buy another copy tomorrow.

tomita-pictures_at_an_exhibition_cover

My burn-out friends hated Tomita of course. When I would try to play it for my stoner friends they would give me the old: “Get Away From Me Man!!!” routine.

Shit … KISS and Aerosmith are OK, but sometimes a young, developing mind needs to hear something else. Also, I was having dreams and visions about the information contained in libraries. I was starting to think that maybe I should not be another stoner-loser in an industrial hick town. You see, “pictures at an exhibition”. Open up those “Great Gates of Kiev” through Tomita-visions!

Every once in a while, I would catch some Tomita music which was being used in a commercial or TV show. I would sputter … IT’S TOMITA!!! You know, like when you go to one of those Marvel “Avengers” movies, and Stan Lee makes a cameo … and you nudge your friend and then whisper – THAT”S Stan Lee!!! 

Another time in college, I heard the Tomita version of “Mars: the Bringer of War” from the Planets in an educational film about atmospheric storms. Weird.  I’m sitting there in class thinking: THAT’S TOMITA! Of course, I could not say anything. Also you can’t look at your classmates sexy legs in those tight hot pants for too long either.  Think of looking at girl’s legs is just like you are looking at the Sun. Look briefly, then away … and yes, I am digressing again. Still, no one to talk to about Tomita with — all through college.

Oh, my other Tomita story? One time in about 1976,  I made an 8-track “mix tape” of rock music and I snuck a little bit of Tomita in. When I was 16 and 17, my friends and I would get 12 packs of beer and ride around Oldsmobile 442s and drink and smoke marijuana joints. (Dear Readers: This was me long before I became anti-drugs. Thinking back, it was a pretty crazy thing to do. Drive around with drunken friends and smoke out of a bong.) Oh, back to Tomita … Um, in among the tracks by Kansas, The Who, Rolling Stones, that I taped,  I snuck in the Tomita electronic-synthesizer version of “Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells” from Pictures at an Exhibition.

We had just smoked this killer joint, and we were on the verge of tripping … it was so potent.  Anyway, they start cracking up at how ridiculous it sounded. Laughing and coughing all that marijuana smoke. You know how ANYTHING can be funny when one is really, really high? Well, that was the only time I ever got my druggie friends to like something by Tomita. Don’t worry — I changed. I’m now drug free.

Kids: Learn from your Uncle Denny’s mistakes — Don’t do drugs.

Of course my  grown-up friends still say “Get Away From Me Man” — when I talk about the music I like these days (cough .. Japanese Idols).

Tomita went on to record a lot of great electronic music in his later years. Some of it was goofy. Most of it was mystical and magical. He scored a number of  Japanese films, TV dramas and animes. I liked what he composed for “Twilight Samurai” – one of my favorite Japanese films. Really, you should watch it.

I think I am going to catch up on some Tomita now, and listen to his work from the 1990s and beyond.

Starlight: Isao Tomita 冨田 勲 (Tomita Isao),  April 22, 1932 – May 5, 2016.

“I will listen for you … out in the dark matter, Tomita-san”

Misaki sings Oku: Hatsukoi

misakisingsokufirstlovethankyoumilochiu

西浦秀樹のめざせ紅白! 初恋 / 岩佐美咲

Dear WordPress, Tumblr, Google, and Email friends,

I apologize from my break from blogging for a couple of weeks. However, as Douglas Adams wrote in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” I had to “take a year off as dead for tax purposes”.

I wanted to share this nice little YT video before it is removed by (you know who), or I jump out of my pants.

Iwasa Misaki is my favorite … No, Hanako Oku is my favorite … Wasamin! … no, Oku-san — I am having trouble deciding which is my favorite. Why would I have to decide any-who? They are both other-wordly talented and adorable women.

Miss Iwasa Misaki-san is singing karaoke here at one of those record industry promotions. Those lucky dudes. Here is the whole thing.

Wasamin sings one of my favorite songs by Hanako Oku “Hatsukoi” (First Love).

One of my fantasies is that Misaki-san and Oku-san would someday team up. Since Wasamin graduated AKB48, I think they would be great together … and .. no .. not in THAT way … you. I mean like Simon and Garfunkel. Oku-san could be Paul Simon, the writer, and Misaki-san would be Art Garfunkel, the strong vocalist. Hanako Oku writes much better songs, and Wasamin’s hair is not crazy however.

Starlight: Apple Poly Luges, I will try to catch up with my WordPress subscriptions (i.e. your posts, dear hearts) next week.

Hey —  write, don’t call: Denny.Sinnoh@gmail.com

Unboxing Hanako Oku’s 10th Anniversary Special Concert 2015 Blu-Ray set with Snivy, Tepig and Oshawatt.

unovastartersunboxhanakooku15th

Unboxing Hanako Oku’s 10th Anniversary Special Concert 2015 Blu-Ray set with Snivy, Tepig and Oshawatt.

Snivy’s order from CD-Japan has arrived! It is hard to get these three Unova Region starter Pokémon to agree on anything – but they all wanted to watch this blu-ray set of Hanako Oku’s big concert. This is the FIRST TIME that a Hanako Oku concert has been available on blu-ray! The great thing about blu-ray is that is that the discs will play on a Region-A BD player! No more hassles with DVD Region 2 being incompatible with Unova DVD players! OK guys, get unboxing!

box875IMG_0108

Go Snivy! Use VINE WHIP!

box875IMG_0114

I know how he feels: The little guy was so eager — he dived right into the box!

box875IMG_0109

Oh Tepig — you can play with that bubble-wrap later!

box875IMG_0111

Yes, Oshawatt — it is a Blu-Ray, and you are a WATER TYPE — so what’s the connection again?

box875IMG_0121

They were all so excited about the contents!

box875IMG_0113

No, Oshawatt … you spin the disc in the Playstation 3, not on your TAIL!

box875IMG_0117

Snivy was so proud. He said that holding the discs made him feel like he was hugging the real Hanako Oku!

box875IMG_0120

Maybe set a little farther away from the TV, Snivy! It is amazing to see close-ups of Miss Oku on our 46-inch TV. The picture is great, and it sounds very good considering they are just the stock TV speakers.

Snivy commented further that Hanako Oku and her band are “Fun to watch and just listen to while playing.” Tepig said “She looks beautiful.” Oshawatt says “She is super-cute in those pantaloons!”

I agree with Snivy, I think The Little Great One looks very pretty and exquisitely feminine throughout these performances. “What a nice lady …” Tepig added, “I respect her a lot.”

box875IMG_0115

Oshawatt likes the cover. (He is just pretending he knows how to read music.) We all enjoyed watching both discs. The marketing geniuses at PonyCanyon Records have banned Hanako Oku music videos in the Unova Region, so I guess we will have to rely more on Blu-Ray concert videos from now on.

The guys had a lot of fun unboxing, playing, listening, and swooning over Hanako Oku. We even watched her rehearsals that were in the BD Special Features.

During the encore, she sings “Happy Day” and walks out into the audience and high-fives everyone. I will say that she talks to the audience a lot … and explains the songs before playing them. Oh, I wish I had a better understanding …

The whole band is pretty cool, and they all get thanks and introductions. I especially enjoyed the live string section.

There is also a Hanako Oku narrated track! You can listen to the concert, but on track 2, Miss Oku describes the concert.

My Pokémon hope Hanako Oku will release more material on Blu-Ray!

box875IMG_0118

Hey, wait … what happened to Tepig? Did anyone see where he went?

Starlight: Only six days from Japan at the speed of $13.95!

Hanako Oku’s official web site (in Japanese) linked here.

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