I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hitomi Ishikawa -- Machibuse (まちぶせ)

Along with "Memory Glass", this was another one of my introductions to Kayo Kyoku back in 1981. One of my classmates from Japanese Language school had brought back a ton of VHS tapes with "The Best 10"and "The Top 10", and this tune was played pretty much non-stop. It reached a peak of No. 9 on the Oricon in August.

Hitomi Ishikawa (石川ひとみ)had been an aidoru (pop idol) for 3 years before she got "Machibuse", her biggest hit. The song was written by KK legend, Yumi Matsutoya (nee Arai), and it had actually been written originally for a singer by the name of Seiko Miki, who had a very brief career in the mid-70s.

The title "Machibuse"is translated as "ambush", a pretty aggressive name for an aidoru song, but going over the lyrics, it's much more of a wistful story of unrequited love.

My personal memory of Ishikawa and "Machibuse" was when I was watching my very first viewing of the Kohaku Utagassen when she was the 2nd woman singer to appear after Naoko Kawai. Halfway through the song, she crumpled into a bag of tears since she was so happy to appear on the programme. I guess her emotions "machibuse"ed her.


  1. From my google translate of her wiki entry, it looks like she was going to retire after Machibuse, but presumably its success caused to to change her mind. If so, it explains why she was so emotional in Kohaku, having thought that her career would be over, and never dreaming that she appear in the end of year extravaganza.

    1. Hello there.

      I've seen a few cases of singers or bands that were ready to give up when that big hit finally came through, and I guess that was the case with Ishikawa. Getting onto the Kohaku was the culmination of a good year so it was no surprise that her emotions got the best of her.

  2. Amusingly, Hitomi's next single was also another Seiko Miki cover, which again outperformed the original, although it didn't do nearly as well as Machibuse.

    Having listened to the three versions (Seiko Miki, Hitomi Ishikawa, Yumi Arai), Hitomi's version is by far the best. Miki's voice is flat (a similar issue with Keiko Shimazaki and Omoidasanaide, except that Shimazaki's voice was even flatter, and Iwasaki an even better singer than Ishikawa). Arai, oddly, doesn't seem to take her own song seriously. Only Ishikawa puts a lot of feeling into her version.

    Browsing the tubes the other day, I found this clip. Forward to 3:18 for a rare clip. It seems Miki sounds a bit less flat live than recorded.

    And another clip of Hitomi, flanked by some pretty hefty big hitters (Naoko Kawai and Akina Nakamori), and backed by newcomers who would become pretty big hitters themselves (Minako Honda dates the clip to 1985), but definitely with Hitomi as the centrepiece. Not bad considering she thought her career was over in 1981.

  3. Hitomi meets Seiko.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.