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.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Masako Mori -- Sensei (せんせい)

This is a song that has popped up now and then on the nostalgia airwaves and within my memories. Sung by a 13-year-old Masako Mori(森昌子)as her debut, she sings about an unrequited crush on an unnamed teacher and the ensuing pain. "Sensei", however doesn't go for any emotional handwringing melody. It just has Mori's sweet voice innocently conveying her simple feelings for that teacher.

"Sensei" debuted in July 1972 and peaked at No. 3 on the Oricon weeklies and was the 30th-ranked song for that year. It was lyricized by Yu Aku(阿久悠)and composed by Minoru Endo(遠藤実). She would appear on the Kohaku singing that song, but it would be 18 months later at the end of 1973....possibly because of her very young age. Even now, any underage kids performing at the Kohaku Utagassen do so at the beginning of the show since the law states that they cannot do so past 9 or 10 p.m. I'm just not sure where the dividing line is, though.

Had something similar to the story in "Sensei" happen to me back when I was teaching junior high school in Japan. Some unknown admirer left some Valentine's Day chocolates for my shoebox in my shoes. Not the wisest of added funkier dimension was infused into those eggs some hours later.


  1. Hi J-Canuck

    Yes..iam from Rijeka..any other hits from Croatia?
    iam just curious cos its very rarely to find one who liked music from Japan.
    As for Yukko judging only from comments from youtube its seems that youngster dont know much about her.But I could be wrong.
    Yup, Croatia is new thing for Japanese tourist..too bad that i cannot see what kind of documentary are TV crew making..but i guess some natural beauties..we are full of that..ha ha no many street crowds, good for relax!

    Masako Mori..yes also my fav..sensei sensei sore wa la la..

    funny story about your unknown admirer..
    too shy maybe?

    See ya

  2. Hey, Makoto-gawa.

    I've gotten some from Gorski Kotar, unless Rijeka is in that area.

    As for Yukko, since her death was long ago, it's always easy for the story to get distorted over time and rumours.

    I saw a number of photographs that my students had taken of Croatia. I would definitely agree about the natural beauty. There are some very lovely lakes there.

    I never found out who that admirer was....not that I could've done anything about it anyways (heheheheh).

    Take care,

  3. Hi J-Canuck.

    I guess that iam alone from my country..
    Your students..but how old they are?
    I will guess that pictures are from Plitvice National park..
    this is the most famous place..there are others off course.

    btw i am kinda jealous of you Tora-san story..
    and yes i can say the opening words..(hahahaha).

    Stay cool

  4. Hi, Makoto-gawa. Yeah, I have to say that I was glad to have gone to the Tora-san Museum. Anyone who was a fan has to make at least one pilgrimage to the place. I actually got a chance to walk on that riverbank that Tora-san did in the opening credits of his movies.

    The students who visited your country are in their late 50s and early 60s, but on average, the rest of my students are in their 20s and 30s.

    Just curious, but how did you get into kayo kyoku? Was it through Yukko? You may be alone in Croatia, but definitely not alone in the world. I've been getting pageviews from not just North America but also from India, Chile, and Egypt.

    Have a good weekend.

  5. Hi J-Canuck.

    Now iam even more jealous! you walk on that river bank!
    When i listen that song from Tora-san..i always have one other song on my mind..Yagiri no Watashi..Nobody sing like Hosokawa but one that I like the most is from Chiaki Naomi..are you familiar with that song?

    I was introduced to kayo kyoku by my neighbour who worked in Asia in maritime insurance business.When he was in Japan 2-3 times per year he often bring home about a dozen vinyl records each trip..I was a boy then when i first saw Cinderella front cover album from was super cute! but my really first album was Jyugatsu no Ningyo and song off course Sweet planet.
    He often buy Best/Compilation Albums..some really unknown names to me even after 20 years..The ''voices'' who do I remember the most are Hosokawa Takashi, Suizenji Kiyoko,Saori Yuki, Mori Shinichi,Mori Masako,Miyoshi Eiji,Ishikawa Sayuri..later i found out some other names to follow mostly Enka singers..this is early '90..
    And there are others singers/groups but mostly few songs at most like Chage & Aska..Say yeeeesssss! and there was a Super J-drama with that song as major theme song!

    Ohhh 60 years i told you before most tourist from Japan are older..but thats ok! My only coplain is that they are rather a little bit too shy..he he my English is so so ,their also so we understand each other perfectly well..not to mention my Japanese..oh my..

    Sooo have a nice Toronto-day..

  6. Hi, Makoto-gawa.

    I didn't come across any comedic experiences along that riverbank (those are mostly in my classes) but it was nice walking along there. I'll have to take care of "Yagiri no Watashi"in a later entry. Hosokawa is probably my favourite male enka singer. Not sure about my favourite female enka singer...perhaps Sayuri Ishikawa.

    As I've mentioned in some of the entries, I got most of my original LPs from Chinatown here in Toronto. They're stored somewhere in the locker room, but I've still got one just behind me here by Ruiko Kurahashi. If I ever get a record player again someday, I'll have to play them.

    Yes, generally, the Japanese tourists are pretty quiet. But my students seem to be a bit more outgoing than the average, so I think that's why they decided to make the trip out to Croatia.

    Busy right now since I'm trying to figure out how to write the entry on the Kohaku Utagassen.

    Take care!

  7. Here's Hiromi Iwasaki performing Hibari Misora's Ai San San in her 35th anniversary concert 2010. She says she chose to sing it after a visit to her museum in Kyoto earlier that year.

    And here is that visit, as part of a travel program on Kyoto with Masako Mori. Masako's comments during the museum sequence are especially interesting. The part where Hiromi sees the Ai San San record is 19 minutes in, Masako's memories are 20 minutes in.

  8. Something that may interest you, and idol that you've not covered before. Here is a clip about Masako's graduation ceremony, and probably unusually for a school graduation, press photographers are there in abundance. The last scene shows why. At the front, in a quartet, are (from right to left) Nana Okada, Hiromi Iwasaki, Masako Mori, and Kimiko Ikegumi.

    Kimiko Ikegumi is solely an actress I think, so she doesn't appear in this blog. However, Nana Okada, in addition to acting later in her career, was an idol earlier on. Here she is in 1976.

    1. Hi, Anonymous, and thanks for that adorable piece on seeing Iwasaki, Okada and Mori graduating from Horikoshi High School. Actually the school wasn't too far from where I used to teach; it was a stop on the bus route I often took to the subway station.

      Nana Okada is a name that I have heard over the years but never actually saw perform either in dramas or behind the mike. But that video of her on "Yoru no Hit Studio" is lovely.


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