|Demae Itcho...in stores now!|
Being back in Toronto, I've been able to slake my ramen fix through the instant stuff and the ramen shops that have now become part and parcel of the local cuisine tapestry. Still, whenever I do visit my old stomping grounds in Tokyo, I will go to a ramen shop at least a couple of times. There is something very shibui about the taste and the atmosphere of the place. The one thing that I regret though is that I never got to have a bowl of the good stuff at those ramen wagons that pop up on the street at night. I guess that I've always been more of an indoors man.
I had no idea about this band or the fact that they did make it onto the 2002 Kohaku Utagassen with this song. In all likelihood, I had been back here for the Holidays since I was still fully engaged in my Ichikawa life but frankly, the Kohaku was no longer must-see TV for me.
The band is Kinmokusei（キンモクセイ）which can also be written in kanji as「金木犀」 , meaning fragrant olives. Starting up as a 5-person unit from Sagamihara City in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1998, their 2nd single from January 2002 became their only Top 10 hit thus far, "Futari no Akaboshi" (Morning Star for Two). Written and composed by Kinmokusei vocalist Shungo Ito（伊藤俊吾）, looking at the J-Wiki article for the song, the title's akaboshi may be a more lackadaisical reading for its kanji, myojo（明星）as in Myojo Foods which makes those packs of instant ramen such as Charumera（チャルメラ）.
In terms of the words, there is no mention of any ramen shops or wagons, although the CD cover for the song has a ramen package motif, and the lyrics do mention the actual title but I think that akaboshi in that context actually refers to the morning coming for the couple. Still, the music video is focused on a woman enjoying a bowl of ramen at a wagon.
Kinmokusei, according to J-Wiki, covers a number of genres: pop, rock, kayo kyoku and New Music. Those last two genres took me slightly for a loop since I thought that those were categories that no longer had a place in the 21st century. However, it's been stated that the band has a love of Japanese popular music from the 1970s, and I could pick up on that influence in "Futari no Akaboshi", especially through the keyboard work. Ito's lyrics paint a landscape of life in the big city as it looks like two lovers are meeting up one last time before parting for good. Strangely enough, with the mention of highway bridges and street lights, I couldn't help but get images from any Michael Mann movie.
"Futari no Akaboshi" hit No. 10 on Oricon and is Kinmokusei's biggest hit as well as the 49th-ranked single of 2002. The song can also be found on their debut album "Ongaku wa Subarashii Mono da"（音楽は素晴らしいものだ...Music is a Wonderful Thing）which was released in July of that year. That also peaked at No. 10. The band had its initial run between 1998 and 2008, a return in 2011, and then a second comeback in 2018 which is still continuing.
Just for trivia's sake, the woman in the music video is singer and poet Megumi Takeuchi（竹内めぐみ）. And no, she has no familial connection with Mariya.
|Some tan tan at Sansotei!|