Saturday, 25 October 2014


A #1 hit in 1963. ""Ue o Muite Arukō" (上を向いて歩こう?, "[I] Will Walk Looking Up") is a Japanese-language song that was performed by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto, and written by lyricist Rokusuke Ei and composer Hachidai Nakamura. It is best known under the alternative title "Sukiyaki" in Anglophone countries. The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States in 1963, and remains the only Japanese-language song ever to have done so. In addition, it was and still is one of the few non-English songs, other than Italian, French, Spanish, and German, to have reached the top of the US charts. It is one of the best-selling singles of all time, having sold over 13 million copies worldwide. The original Kyu Sakamoto recording also went to number eighteen on the R&B chart. In addition, the single spent five weeks at number one on the Middle of the Road charts. The recording was originally released in Japan by Toshiba in 1961. It topped the Popular Music Selling Record chart in the Japanese magazine Music Life for three months, and was ranked as the number one song of 1961 in Japan. The lyrics tell the story of a man who looks up and whistles while he is walking so that his tears will not fall. The verses of the song describe his memories and feelings. Rokusuke Ei wrote this song while coming back from a protest against the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan and feeling dejected about the failure of the protest movement, but the lyrics were rendered purposefully generic so that they might refer to any lost love. The English-language lyrics of the version recorded by A Taste of Honey are not a translation of the original Japanese lyrics, but instead a completely different set of lyrics arranged to the same basic melody.

The title Sukiyaki, a Japanese hot pot dish, actually has nothing to do with the lyrics or the meaning of the song; the word served the purpose only because it was short, catchy, recognizably Japanese, and more familiar to most English speakers. A Newsweek Magazine columnist noted that the re-titling was like issuing "Moon River" in Japan under the title "Beef Stew." (Wikipedia)

"Sakamoto joined a local band in 1958 when he was just 16 year old. He had learned to play the trumpet at school, and taught himself guitar and piano. Due to feuding relationship for prominence with other band members that usually ended up with fist fights, Kyu Sakamoto left the band in the same year to further his studies at a university. The study came to an abrupt end when the band 'Danny Lida and the Paradise King' he joined at the same time won an award with him singing as the lead singer, gaining them a contract with JVC Records. Soon after Sakamoto left the band and began his solo career in singing with a contract with Toshiba Records Company. From 1961-1985 Sakamoto enjoyed an entertainment career as solo singers untill his sudden demise in a plane crash in 1985. It was reported that he managed to scribble some lines of words to his wife and daughters moments before the tragedy took place. He married his wife Yukiko Kashiwagi in 1971. They had two daughters, Hanako and Maiko Sakamoto. The Japanese government honoured Kyu Sakamoto for his contribution to national fame by issuing a stamp, commemorating him and the song he made famous - Sukiyaki. He was buried at the temple ground of Minato, Tokyo. " (

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