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.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Masato Shimon -- Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun (およげ!たいやきくん)

from Eliza Adam on Flickr

First off, a little lesson on Japanese confections. The above is taiyaki, a sweet bean paste-filled cake made in the shape of tai, or sea bream. The crisp outer shell is made from a pancake or waffle batter. It can be found basically anywhere in Japan, but in Tokyo, if you head over to Asakusa, you're guaranteed in finding a place that makes the stuff. I've had taiyaki myself a few times on visits to the metropolis' traditional quarter.

Now, to the story of this unlikely children's song which has become immortalized in Japanese music legend. "Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun"(Swim! Taiyaki) is a tune about a taiyaki which manages to find temporary emancipation until his inevitable end. Written by Hiroo Takada(高田ひろお) and composed by Juichi Sase(佐瀬寿一), it had been created as one of the songs for the long-running Fuji-TV kids' show, "Hirake Ponkikki".

It had been first sung on the show in early October 1975 by folk singer Keitaro Ikuta(生田敬太郎). But when an accident suddenly waylaid Ikuta for some time, singer Masato Shimon(子門真人) came to the rescue and helped in sending the song into the sales stratosphere. Released as a single on Christmas Day 1975, it soon got huge demands in the record stores in the New Year. In fact, it debuted at No. 1 on January 5 1976 and stayed there for 11 straight weeks. I don't think a real taiyaki would have quite that sort of staying power.

It also reached another yet-to-be topped record by becoming the biggest selling single of all time at 4.5 million records, something that has been noted in The Guinness Book of World Records. And so the question is begged to be asked: what was up with this taiyaki? The answer isn't a profound one. According to J-Wikipedia, it just seemed the perfect storm of melody, Shimon's voice and that mysterious ability to entrance adults as well as the little ones. There have been further examples of a children's song reaching that sort of success: one was "Dango San Kyodai"団子3兄弟....The Three Dumpling Brothers) in 1999, and perhaps a case can be made for 1990's No. 1 song, "Odoru Ponpokorin"おどるポンポコリン....Dancing Ponpokorin), the theme song for anime "Chibi Maruko Chan". And in fact, "Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun" was the No. 1 song for 1976. The eponymous album also reached the exact same heights for the year.

I think that video has also reached a certain legendary status.


  1. I was living in Japan when this song was released (I used to have a copy of the single). This song was meant to be a children's song. However, the popularity of this song was that the fate of Taiyaki-kun resonated with the Japanese salary-man of the day. I still love this song.

    1. Hello, Alex.

      No wonder "Taiyaki-kun" became such a legendary hit. Everyone could relate to the lyrics.


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