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Posts tagged ‘Yasushi Akimoto’

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.

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KIMONOS ON MONDAY: Please don’t abandon me, Rena Matsui!

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AKB48, SKE48, Nogizaka46 member Rena Matsui has announced that she will graduate from the AKB Family this August!

The 23-year old idol has always been one of my favorites. She debuted in SKE48 in 2008, and quickly became one of the most popular members. Together with Jurina Matsui (no relation) she was the core of that sister group.

Matsui-san is special to me. I have had a special page “Bikini vs Kimono” since the start of my blog. Does Rena look most amazing in her bikini or her kimono? There was also a poll there. Results? WordPress Readers voted Bikini over kimono 54% to 46% !

Rena will pursue an acting career, which is not a big surprise. She has a beautiful, sculpted face. In fact I can’t understand why there are not more statues of Matsui-san!!! She recently had a role as a voice actress in Ultimate Otaku Teacher (as Suzane Kagami). She has also appeared in several  cute commercials.

Please enjoy this YouTube link of “Mujin Eki” (aka “The abandoned train station”. There I was at the train station turned into a ghost town. Alone with only my memories of twirling umbrellas.). This Yasushi Akimoto  song (lyrics here) was actually Iwasa Misaki’s hit single. Other members have also performed it on stage, including Mariko Shinoda. Rena does a great job with the song. It even looks like Rena is wearing Wasamin’s kimono here. (Maybe Misaki-san was out that night?)

I also snagged a few images from the performance here:

I wish Rena well in her new career!

Starlight: Rena Matsui born July 27, 1991. Happy Birthday too!

See more Rena Matsui on my Pinterest board linked here.

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First Drink with Iwasa Misaki

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Iwasa Misaki sings her new single “First Drink”: Do you remember your first drink of sake? I sure don’t. I was in college, and already drunk out of my mind by the time someone asked me if I wanted to try some. I had to go to the liquor store the next week to buy a bottle so I could get my first sake buzz. Um … long story short, I ended up having it the next morning.

What — something wrong with rice for breakfast?

This is the first live performance of “Hatsuzake” (aka “First Drink”), her 4th single, which was released April 29. (Of course I already ordered it.) The song was written by Yasushi Akimoto. Youtube user AKB48SHOW#72(mitukunsp) posted this from AKB48 Show!.  I noticed that the song is slowed down(?) from the studio version. (I am not sure if that is that is the way it was performed, or if the user was doing it for legal purposes, or what..)

Also the green lighting makes her purple kimono look much lighter than on the cover of her new CD. The light show is pretty good. She is lighted by an electric bamboo forest. Only a drunkard would think that the lighting is like absinthe.

I also snagged some images from the YouTube post. Most of them turned out OK.

Indeed, the young Idol and Enka-singer is finally able to legally drink sake, as she just turned 20 earlier this year.

a pointed wasamin point

Miss Misaki said that up to this time, her parents had forbidden her to drink it. You see, Wasamin is a “good girl”… (Denny rolls his eyes dreamily and gets a really goofy smile on his face).

sake and two cups

Two cups? Wish I could have been there for that first drink of sake.

For Fans Only: Sorry, her explanation of the event was entirely in Japanese, and is not subtitled. Still, Wasamin says it all.  See link here. I could watch it over and over again in HD, just because … you know. I could listen to her all day. I would just smile and nod.

wasamin intro the video

OK, I’m not that drunk* so I think I can handle the Karaoke … here goes …

(You have to pretend that I’m singing).

can of wasmin yum

* I only get intoxicated from Wasamin.

Starlight: Still waiting for my new CD-DVD combo from Japan, but I will post some observations when it gets here : )

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She may not be “Heavy Metal” but this lady is definitely HEAVY!

takamina guitar

Birthday wishes to Minami Takahashi (高橋 みなみ Takahashi Minami), born April 8, 1991!

I just had to have this post timed so that I could wish Ms.Takahashi-san a Happy Birthday tomorrow (Japan is 12 hours ahead of me).  April 8th will be her last birthday celebrated as a member of AKB48.

She may not be "heavy metal" but this little lady is certainly "heavy" !!!

She may not be “heavy metal” but this little lady is certainly “heavy” !!!

Some AKB101 for non-fans: Takamina is an original member, and is known as the “General Director” (総監督 sōkantoku) of AKB48 and its sister groups. She is second only to the boss — Mr. Yasushi Akimoto.  Akimoto-san describes her as the “eldest daughter of the 48 sisters”.

I have a great deal of respect for this young woman.

She may be short of stature, but I have a tall amount of respect for this young woman.

She is also a member of the AKB48 sub-group no3b (aka “No Sleeves”) subunit along with along with AKB48 members Haruna Kojima and Minami Minegishi. Takahashi-san has announced her graduation from AKB48, and this likely means the end of No Sleeves.

How to make a Minami sandwich : )

How to make a “Minami” sandwich : )

It has also been announced that Miss Takahashi will also perform a solo concert on her birthday (link here). I am both happy and sad that Ms. Takahashi-san will be graduating AKB48 this year.  I am glad that she is taking the next step of her career. I do hope that she might continue to have some role in the AKB48 organization somehow, or return for special events. I wish her luck, but the group will not be the same without her. I know that Yui Yokoyama will do a great job in replacement as General Manager, but it is hard to think of AKB48 without Takamina.

Oh, the memories …

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I’m going to miss that bow!

Remember this great prank on Takamina? The only way it could have been any funnier would have been if that dude’s underwear were red polka-dots instead of just plain gray.

She sure is a good sport. Here are some other pranks where little Mina gets chairs pulled out from under her. I really don’t think this is all that funny, but fans like “reality” shows I guess. I’m glad she never got hurt. Still, it shows that she is a good sport and a person of good character.  I worry about her back now … if Takamina is ever admitted to The Betty Ford Center, it will be as a result of these pranks.

I bought this photo card on eBay!

I won her photo card by bidding on eBay!

Here is AKB48 performing “Heavy Rotation” —  with a special “oshi cam” that stays on Minami Takahashi!

I (heart) you! Please enjoy your special day Miss Minami Takahashi-san!

See more Minami Takahashi on my Pinterest board!

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The Devil you know, and the Devil you don’t.

miyuki watanabe with sayaka yamamoto NMB48 Sayaka Yamamoto and Miyuki Watanabe Namba Bishojo Koiuta 02

“I need a big strong man to help me!”

Men … we have no defense for this phrase when it is uttered by a nice lady.  We would be especially helpless if it is asked by the two AKB48/NMB48 Idols Miss Sayaka Yamamoto (“Sayanee”), and Miss Miyuki Watanabe (“Milky”).  Ladies: Be honest. You ladies know exactly what you are doing when you say things like that to us.  You KNOW there is no way that a guy can refuse.  Here are two versions of the song “Warukii” (Waru Milky) aka “Bad Milky”.  Although the song was originally intended for Miyuki, Yamamato-san does a devilishly good job here. Turn on the HD!

See what I mean? HD …Grrrrowl.  Watanabe-san will be the next little devil.

Perhaps the video quality is not strictly comparable, and the performances are slightly different as well. I think that Sayaka is a “naughty” little devil, whereas Milky is a “sweet” devil.  I might make an analogy that they are like Devils Food Cake (recipe linked here) vs. Angel Food Cake (recipe linked here), but they are both dressed as devils, and both are beautiful angels — just different.

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The song is about a young lady who is out shopping, and has a lot of packages to carry.  Of course she needs a “big strong guy, with big sexy biceps” to help her. (That big strong guy is YOU by the way!)

“Let me touch your muscles
 Just how hard are they?
 For a girl, they’re very interesting
 I want to see how strong you are
 I wonder what they’re like
 I’m trembling with excitement
 Biceps are so sexy, aren’t they?
 Hold everything for me! “

The lyrics are by Yasushi Akimoto.  A full translation from Studio48 is linked here.

These two are so good, it is hard for a fan to choose.  Sayanee and Milky are so good together… I can’t choose!  So here is a slide show of the dynamic duo. Enjoy!

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Starlight: It took a year for the light from the “Bad Milky Way” to reach my world. 

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My Gingham Checked Nostalgia

“Should I tell you how I feel inside?  … I feel just like Gingham Check”

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Young Denny was full of good ideas!

If you are following this blog, you are likely already familiar with AKB48’s fun and crazy  “Gingham Check” music video.  The official YouTube video is below. (I remind you to turn on HD and “CC” for English translated lyrics.)

I think that a lot of AKB fans — and all of the the big-butted critics — could not appreciate the nostalgic meaning contained within the lyrics however.  The lyrics may have gotten lost in these humorous parodies of Japanese horror movies.  The video was a lot of fun, but it has already been the subject of other blogs. I will not talk about that now —  but I will share this screen shot I once used as computer wallpaper:

Yuki Kashiwagi suggests this wallpaper for your computer.

Yuki Kashiwagi suggests this wallpaper for your computer.

The video is so Japan-pop-culture-bat-shit crazy, and the music is so fast paced, it may be difficult for one to catch the endearing simplicity and meaning in the lyrics.  Despite the crazy humor of the video, it is actually a sweet, nostalgic song.  The original lyrics are by Yasushi Akimoto.  The Japanese/English translation is available from Stage48 linked here. (I do think that the English translation for the JKT48 later is a much better  translation.)

I always loved the original, but now I think I like the JKT48 version more.  It is sung in an Indonesian-dialect.  Turn on the HD!

Somehow, someway — I am transported back to my childhood.  In this twisted, time-distorted realm, the JKT48 girls are there!  We are at one of those Americana “theme” restaurants, which feature pop culture artifacts such as Marilyn Monroe posters, juke boxes, neon signs, gas stations, etc.  I do not know how, but the girls transport me back to my youth in the early sixties. This JKT48 music video is all about how I wanted to go on a date with this one girl that I liked. Somehow she has also been transferred to this time-and-space distortion.  

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Even at that age I was already girl crazy! Here I am being a little gentleman.

The Jakarta 48 girls will help me out, as you will see.

Thanks for all the advice ladies!

Thanks for all the advice ladies!

This video version is probably a little better at capturing the spirit of the original song lyrics.  Gingham Check is another “boy’s perspective” song, a format often used in the Idol genre. (i.e. although it is sung by a woman, the lyrics tell a man’s story). I think the lyrics read better if said by a male, and that is how I will explain the song.  (Although the video above does not describe the lyrics exactly, it is still closer than the AKB48 version.) The tempo of the song is the same — upbeat, fun, and contains those great searing guitar parts.  I think they used the same music track as AKB48, but just added JKT48 vocals in Indonesian. The happiness of the music perhaps masks the bittersweet nostalgia and (perhaps) emotional pain of the lyrics.

The song is about a boy and girl walking their bikes to work on a summer morning.  I will infer that they work at the same seaside resort.  The young lady wears a blue and white “Gingham Check” uniform for her job.  The boy is in love with the young girl, who, unfortunately for him is only his “friend”.

He feels very conflicted.  He likes the girl but is too afraid to ask her out.  This conflict is symbolized by the blue and white “Gingham Check” pattern on the girl’s uniform.  “Blue-White-Blue” is the pattern the pretty young lady wears, but it is also the pattern of his internal conflict.  He wants to tell her he likes her, but what if she rejects him?  His good intentions are checked by his doubt — blue-white-blue

You girls have no idea how hard it is to make that first move. If women have the physical pain of childbirth, then men have the emotional turmoil of asking a girl for a date. I know, you are sitting in the comfort of your computer chair thinking: “That’s so easy. He should just tell her!!!”  Well, he does not want to ruin their friendship.  You see, he likes her, which makes him happy, but he likes her so much it hurts. Conflicted in opposite directions … blue-white-blue … just like Gingham Check.

As the sea comes into view,

 In a single shade of blue, 

It will tell me all I have to do,

All it takes is just one word inside my mouth,

But I try to speak and nothing will come out ..

I remember having these same feelings. I think that anyone can relate.

The summer goes on. Everyday he thinks that THIS WILL BE THE DAY that he will finally tell her how he feels.  But of course he doesn’t.  Blue-White-Blue.  Of course, he is kicking himself, but there is always the next day when he will walk with her to work again.  Should he tell her?  … “Yes-No-Yes” … feeling conflicted by LOVE cross-hatched by DESPAIR  … Blue-White-Blue

The summer days, begin to shorten, the days become cooler, and the boy realizes he will never tell her.  They will work together again next summer, so he might tell her then.

Should we be critical of the boy for never having the guts to speak up?  No.  That he never tells her of his love — is maybe not such a bad thing.  One has to have compassion, even for your former self.

There was once a great movie line read by actor Jack Palance in the old Billy Crystal comedy movie “City Slickers”.  The Palance character describes a farmhouse woman he would often see while riding herds back and forth across the prairie.  He describes her beauty, and the song she often sang as she hung out her laundry.  Smiling, he tells the other cowboys that he fell in love with the woman, and goes on to say what the memory of her means to him.  The other guys exclaim: “But why didn’t you approach her … she could have been the love of your life”!   Palance replies “… She is.”

It may be difficult for a young person to understand that.  When you eventually reach the nostalgic place a mature heart has traveled, you may understand. Do we have the compassion to forgive ourselves?

I am also going to include the “English Version” performed again by JKT48.  English lines are onscreen. Although some lines feel a little forced, a little awkward, in order to match the rhythm of the song, I think that the simple sweetness of the Mr. Akimoto’s lyrics shine through.

Lastly I will share with you the cover by GooseHouse sung in Japanese.  It is very sweet.  Full of joy in the way that only GooseHouse can make it! Their version slows the song and captures the bittersweet emotions and simplicity of the original Japanese lyrics.

The music video is FUN and CUTE.  It makes me happy, in my world that is otherwise filled with ugliness. The “Big Butts” will never understand.  Yet another reason Why I Like AKB48 — and the 48 Families!

Starlight: The JKT48 Indonesian version took four months of light-speed travel to reach my world.

My mouse is very happy now!

mouse brain stimulated by nmb48I finally received my new NMB48 “Nanba Jichiku” (theater version) CD from Japan a couple of weeks ago.

nmb48 package from japan

Even the Japanese stamps make me happy!

I have been happily playing in on my morning commute every day. It is a lot of happiness, and I am not just referring to the cover photo.  I know — there is a lot of skin, but that is not the reason I have been enjoying it so much…

nmb48 cd cover

What’s the deal with the mouse, you ask?

Are any of you familiar with the famous experiment conducted by scientists studying addiction? These scientists would put a mouse in a box, and see if it could perform a task, such as picking the correct shape when prompted, or solving a puzzle, or running on a little wheel. If he performed the trick correctly, he would get a little reward. At first they tried rewarding the mice with food, and other things mice like.

Then the scientists got the idea that they could reward the mouse by just putting an electrode in a mouse’s brain that is set to stimulate his pleasure center if he presses the lever in his box. If he performs the right task, he gets to press the little level and get a dose of euphoria.

Turns out the mouse liked having his pleasure center stimulated by the electrode better than anything. The electrode charge was better than getting a drink of fresh water. It was better than sleeping in a soft pile of woodchips. The artificial stimulus was better than any food.  The electrode stimulation of the brain was even preferred over getting some mouse nookie with his mouse girlfriend.  Indeed, NOTHING was better than getting his brain’s pleasure center directly stimulated by the electrode.

Does the mouse live in an artificial word? Maybe.  The mouse is happy.

Who are we to judge this mouse who has found his own happiness?

mouse loves nmb48

Well, I have been very happy listening to my new NMB48 CD. I love it. I can share one song with you here.  You can watch the “Ibiza Girl” video linked here on Jpopsuki.  It is a high quality video, and takes a little longer to load than YouTube videos.  Breathe …

http://www.jpopsuki.tv/video/NMB48—Ibiza-Girl-%2528Dancing-Version%2529/1a22d37c37afa0c57727f3a3037f6d15

… but OH MY BUDDHA!!! … Guam has never looked better!

Please do not watch this while driving. I know, I know — there is a lot of skin, but that is not the point …

Actually, most of the album does not all sound like the dance pop hit single. There is also a lot of sugary 1960s and 1970s flavored pop, some 1980s power pop, and some that are hard to describe. Like a “Rare Candy” it is a treat full of energy, sweetness and happiness.

I just bought the “Theater Version” on eBay. It is CD only, so no extra DVDs for me.

Wow! You get a LYRICS booklet!!!

Wow you get a LYRICS booklet!!!

That is OK, because I do not have a region-free DVD player. This is the list of tracks:

  1. Ibiza Girl 02. Bokura no Eureka 03. Kamonegikkusu 04. Takane no Ringo 05.”Seito Techou no Shashin wa Ki ni Haitte Inai” no Housoku 06. Souzou no Shijin (Kenykuusei) 07. Todokanasou de Todoku Mono 08. Sunglasses to Uchiakebanashi (Kenkyuusei) 09. Kasa wa Iranai 10. Toki wa Katarihajimeru 11. Isshukan, Zenbu ga Getsuyoubi nara II no ni 12. Sayanee 13. Kamonegikkusu <Remo-Con REMIX> 14. Kimi to Deatte Boku wa Kawatta

I like all of them, but I have been pressing the lever a lot for tracks 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 … well, ALL of them!i like all the tracks

They are not all dance numbers, though. I dare say that the structure of some of them are a even little Beatles-esque.  I can just imagine Ringo, bobbing his head back and forth as he keeps the beat. 

… or maybe that is just the electrode talking!

Is my happiness only an ILLUSION?

Is my happiness only an ILLUSION?

I also invite you to watch the “Ibiza Girl” music videolinked on Jpopsuki here.(Sorry for the long Jpopsuki load times.  Breathe … Breathe … Breathe… ) The music video features a story about a guy that makes a good impression on all the NMB48 girls. It is pretty funny because the guy is played by Vanilla Ice, that white rapper from the 1980s. … or maybe it is Rick Astley (the “I’m never going to give you up” British singer kid). It is one of those two … I’m not sure.

Well, “word to your mother” … I am “never going to give up” liking this music video.

http://www.jpopsuki.tv/video/NMB48—Ibiza-Girl/7fcf9b132ff0d1ad6e4e2406a0dddac7

I know, there is still a lot of skin.  If you ask me, that guy should use some sunblock.  The dude gets so lucky with the NMB48 girls, that he even gets bored of Sayaka Yamamoto … DAM.

I also need to apologize to Mr. Yasushi Akimoto. Mr. Akimoto-san, at first I questioned the wisdom of your reassignments from AKB48.  At first I thought: Yukirin to the NMB48? What? Why?  … Now I realize what a stroke of genius it was to put Yuki Kashiwagi in with Sayaka Yamamoto and Miyuki Watanabe. I bow respectfully to you sir.

buddha smiling

Until next time, dear friends …

May you find your own path to happiness … press your lever now …

 

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