Well, it's March...which means that the schools are now into graduation season. For virtually the entire month, every school...from elementary to post-secondary...will be in celebratory and reflective modes as the senior class prepares to move onto the next stage in education or life. And what a backdrop...the cherry blossoms for a lot of the country will be in bloom, so the kids will be walking with their diplomas while the pink petals slowly fall over them. Tears will be shed, yearbooks will be signed, and boys' uniform buttons will be given to girls.
And of course, graduation songs will be sung or played. Yup, kayo kyoku has a seasonal subgenre. Whenever March comes....well, marchin' in....there will be many pop songs with those wistful lyrics of parting and heading into the future (....of overtime and potential bouts of alcoholism and power harassment...yeah, I know I'm a bastard, hee hee).
Probably, the most famous of these songs is "Okuru Kotoba"(Words of Sendoff). It was sung by a folk group by the name of Kaientai (海援隊）which means "Maritime Support Group". The lead vocal of the group is Tetsuya Takeda（武田鉄矢）, who is now more known as a veteran TV and movie actor and commercial pitchman. And it was on the TV show that he's most famous for "3-Nen B-Gumi, Kinpachi Sensei"（３年B組み金八先生...Mr. Kinpachi of Class 3B）, that "Okuru Kotoba"was the theme song. Since then, it's almost a capital crime NOT to play this song at any graduation ceremony. When I was on the JET Programme, the reaction was almost Pavlovian when that guitar started strumming those famous chords.
The song was released in November 1979. By April of the following year, it had been at the No. 1 spot on Oricon from March 10 to April 14, not surprisingly, well into the graduation season. It also became the 6th-ranking song of 1980, and Takeda won a writing award at the Japan Record Awards for that year.
I'll be doing more of these graduation songs over the next few days or so.
Let me thank J-Wikipedia for the data.