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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sayuri Ishikawa -- Amagi Goe (天城越え)

Probably next to "Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu Geshiki"津軽海峡・冬景色....Tsugaru Strait-Winter Scene), "Amagi Goe"(Crossing Amagi) is Sayuri Ishikawa's(石川さゆり)most representative entry in her long repertoire. It is one of the most powerfully rendered enka songs and is absolutely steeped in the genre and Japanese geography. It's almost a given that whenever the song is sung on stage by Ishikawa, there has to be a prelude of austere traditional Japanese music beforehand. The above video is no exception.

Written by Osamu Yoshioka(吉岡治), composed by Tetsuya Gen(弦哲也)and arranged by Nobuyuki Sakuraba(桜庭伸幸), the concept behind "Amagi Goe"was born when the three of them had gone to a hot spring resort in the town of Amagiyugashima, Shizuoka Prefecture in 1985 (it was amalgamated with three other towns in 2004 to form the new city of Izu). During their 2-night stay there, the song was created, infusing the story of "....frustrated longing and jealousy" involving a young boy and a beautiful geisha, along with elements of the local geography.

Watching Ishikawa perform it is like watching a velvet cloth covering an especially sharp dagger. She may look refined and demure on the outside, but her interior holds seething...perhaps even psychotic...emotion, especially when she screams the title. This is one conflicted character she's portraying here.

After its release in July 1986, the song later won a Gold Prize at the Japan Record Awards, so it's surprising to find out that it never cracked the Top 100 on Oricon at the end of the year. However, its fame has grown during the past few decades.

There is a site that has a translation of the lyrics, and I used one of the lines in there for the short quotation for which I am grateful for. It's Return of the Space Gods. Listen to the song while reading those lyrics.

In 2008, baseball player Ichiro Suzuki even used the song as his introduction song to the plate at Seattle home games.


  1. Wow... now I know why she sang this song 8 times on the Kohaku Uta Gassen! I was quite surprised that she could sound like that, since I usually see her as those very... well, demure as you mentioned, female Enka singers.

    I have a song to recommend. It's a duet by Sayuri Ishikawa and Kiyoshi Maekawa and its called 愛よ静かに眠れ (Ai yo shizuka ni nemure). Its pretty good and another male-female duet song I'd listen to other than Itsuki & Kinomi Nana's 'Izakaya' and Frank & Kazuko's 'Tokyo Nightclub'.

    It is quite a new song actually, released last year in July. It doesn't really sound like an Enka song, but I think its still considered one since its sung by 2 Enka singers. And I think the song's meaning is under the 'Enka' category, I'm not too sure since I know a little Japanese only. All I know is that its supposed to be about passionate lovers?? Or passionate love?

    Here's the link. And if you watch it, could I ask if you could tell me what the song actually means? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      Thanks for telling me about "Ai yo Shizuka ni Nemure". It has some enka elements in it but, yeah, I don't think it's quite a pure enka song. After looking at the lyrics during the performance, the words are pretty esoteric but basically the song is about the bitter and sweet of love that taunts and reassures people.

      Another thing that makes me think that this is not exactly the usual enka song is that Maekawa looks pretty animated. Usually he's about as still as a statue, but in the video, he's virtually dancing a jig.

      Ishikawa's "Amagi Goe" is one of the classics. Just a lot of power in that one. Speaking of duets, you may want to take a listen to "Otoko to Onna no Love Game". It was another popular song during karaoke. I've already written an article about it but you can check it out directly on Youtube ( Mika Hino is the name of the female singer.

  2. Thanks for telling me what it means! Much appreciated. And actually, Maekawa does move and have a little more expression when singing duets, although yes, he stands quite still most of the time.

    Anyway, I did listen to 'Otoko to onna no love game'. Definitely more up beat than 'Izakaya' and 'Tokyo Nightclub' and I kinda like it. I think I've heard it before from other singers before but I can't be too sure on that one. Thanks for the suggestion.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.