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, September 14, 2012

Sachiko Kobayashi -- Omoide Zake (おもいで酒)

Sachiko Kobayashi(小林幸子)will always strike me as that eccentric but cheerful aunt who comes but once a year to the family Xmas party. She comes with that ready smile and twinkle in her eye. And she just happens to perform in the Kohaku Utagassen annually in costumes that consume one-third of the entire stage at NHK Hall. Did I say she was a bit eccentric? To be honest, that whole thing with her wearing Titanic-sized dresses wore off for me after the first couple of times. Still, she's quite the Western fashion plate...she's not usually decked out in a kimono like some of her contemporaries in enka.

The Niigata Prefecture native first made her singing debut in 1964 as a 10-year-old with "Usotsuki Kamome"ウソツキ鴎....Lying Seagull)which also became a huge hit, selling 200,000 records. Pretty heady days back then for the girl. And a year earlier, she had been a grand champion on a kids' talent show on TV which featured boys and girls doing vocal impersonations of their favourite pop singers. Kobayashi had even been labeled as "the 2nd Hibari"for her impersonation of the legendary Hibari Misora(美空ひばり).

Afterwards, though, would follow 15 years of struggle in which no hits came about. But in January 1979, the 25-year-old Kobayashi would finally get that hit which got her permanently settled as an enka star. "Omoide Zake"(Sake of Memories) was composed by Tadahiro Umetani(梅谷忠洋)and written by Naokazu Takada(高田直和)as a song of regret while drowning one's sorrows. Along with Kobayashi's warm resonant voice, I love the strings and the melancholy arrangement.

"Omoide Zake"gradually went up the charts until some 5 months after its release, it entered the Top 10, and some 6 weeks after that, it finally reached the No. 1 spot. The accolades continued for Kobayashi as the song won a number of awards and became the 3rd-ranking song for 1979. Its staying power even went into 1980 as it hung on to become the 31st-ranking song for that year. Her very first appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen was due to "Omoide Zake", and she would continue to appear 32 consecutive times after that right up to the 2011 show.


  1. C-J, I would like you to add Sachiko Kobayashi's song "Snow" to this column. It is in U Tube uploaded by one "sachikofan".

  2. dear friend when i was 10 years old I heard Omoide Zake flute version just instrumental if you hear that your spirit will fly do you know that version i'm looking for it?


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