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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Masaaki Hirao and Yoko Hatanaka -- Canada Kara no Tegami (カナダからの手紙)

Yes, believe it or not, there is an example of kayo kyoku that has my country in it. Well, according to the lyrics, any country could have really stood in for the "Wish you were here" theme of this song but I guess the composer and lyricist must have found the Rockies and bracing cold weather of The Great White North the most effective backdrop.

"Canada Kara no Tegami" is often called by its English translation "Love Letter from Canada" in the karaoke bars where I had first found out about this popular duet tune. I heard it numerous times at Kuri, often by transplanted Japanese ex-pats who somehow wanted to show their appreciation for being in the home of maple syrup, ice hockey and Anne of Green Gables. And I often heard it during my first several months in Japan as a JET participant where my new comrades wanted to pay tribute to my presence there.

Masaaki Hirao(平尾昌晃) has written songs for numerous singers such as Agnes Chan(アグネスチャン), Mari Amachi(天地真理) and Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし). He even wrote the theme songs for famous TV anime Galaxy Express 999. Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子) was a graduate from his own academy. But in 1978, he composed the song which, along with Jun Hashimoto's(橋本淳) lyrics, would get him into karaoke legend. He teamed up with actress Yoko Hatanaka(畑中葉子), who had been attending Hirao's academy. Hatanaka wasn't even 20 years of age when she was picked to duet with the 40-year-old schoolmaster and singer, and this would be her debut as a singer. Hey, no pressure.

As it turned out, "Love Letter from Canada" became a huge hit, hitting the No. 1 spot a few weeks after its debut in early January 1978, and it would end up being the 7th-ranked song for the year. The cherry on this sundae was an appearance on that year's Kohaku Utagassen.

Even the other singers couldn't help themselves from singing the duet.

In any case, Happy 145th Birthday, Canada, eh!


  1. my mom made my brother and i learn and sing this song for a japanese new years party event. i think i was around gr 2 or so. i STILL remember the lyrics years and years and years later! thank you for the background info!

    1. Hello there, and thanks for your story. Unfortunately for me, I never mastered the lyrics although the melody has solidly remained in my head all these decades.

      Just imagine...the creator of a theme song for "Galaxy Express 999" going Canadian!


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