Masaaki Sakai（堺正章） has been a TV fixture for more than 40 years. He's been an actor, a singer, an emcee and an all-round entertainer. And in fact, I used to watch one of his shows late Saturday night on TBS, "Chuubo desu yo"（チューボーですよ....It's A Kitchen!), in which he and a guest try cooking a recipe in the studio kitchen while three professional chefs do the same at their own restaurants in Tokyo (yep, a cooking show at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday...only in Japan). Sakai is basically the equivalent of a Regis Philbin or an Uncle Miltie (if you're that old to remember Milton Berle) on Japanese TV.
Kyohei Tsutsumi（筒美京平） provided the music. And it's especially interesting to point this out since in the same year as this tune was released, he also helped launch Saori Minami's （南沙織） debut song, "Juu-nana Sai"（17才....17 Years Old). In that blog entry on "Kayo Kyoku Plus", I mentioned that Tsutsumi created the melody with inspiration from Lynn Anderson's country hit "Rose Garden". Tsutsumi did the same thing here, too, with Sakai's debut. There's definitely that stately string intro in "Saraba, Koibito"that was in Glen Campbell's "By The Time I Get To Phoenix". The other connection is that both Tsutsumi songs won Japan Music Awards: Minami got the Best Newcomer Award while Sakai got the Popularity Award. As I did with Minami and Anderson on the former's blog entry, I have done with Sakai and Campbell. Take a listen and compare.
Released in May 1971, it peaked at No. 2 on the Oricon weeklies and ended up being the 10th-ranked song of the year.
Sakai seems to be the overlord of this show and has usually been the final guy. This is the 2003 edition in which he showed his prowess as a trick billiard player.