Anyways, this brings me up to this profile on Iruka's（イルカ） "Nagori Yuki"(Winter's-End Snow). If there is a trademark song for this veteran folk/City Pop singer, this would be it. It's a slow contemplative song with Iruka's tender vocals making it even more poignant. I think any audience or listener would tend to reflexively give a wistful sigh on hearing this song. The group of teachers who were in charge of the graduating students in my junior high school during my stint on the JET Programme gave a performance of this song for the kids, and the kids bawled out like babies...even the judo team.
Iruka's version was released in November 1975 as her 8th single. It peaked at No. 4 and was the 11th-ranked song for 1976, selling about 800,000 records. It was also a track on her 3rd album, "Yume no Hito"（夢の人....Dream Person) also released in 1975.
Iruka's take on "Nagori Yuki" may arguably be the best-known cover of this classic folk song, but it wasn't the first. Shozo Ise（伊勢正三）, the composer and writer of the song, and his band, Kaguyahime（かぐや姫）, which was also behind one of the most well-known folk songs in Japan, "Kandagawa"（神田川....The Kanda River), was the original artist. As for the lyrics behind it, they talk of a bittersweet parting between boy and girl at a train station while some unseasonable snow is falling at the end of Winter. One of the great lines at the end of the chorus is: "Kyonen yori zutto kirei ni natta"（去年よりずっときれいになった....You've become even more beautiful than last year). Another interesting trait which distinguishes this original version is that whereas Iruka's version is soft and lilting throughout, Kaguyahime's "Nagori Yuki" has this rather triumphant trumpet part in the arrangement which might illustrate that although the parting is sad, there is also pride in the time that the two lovebirds had together.
The Kaguyahime original was never released as its own single, but was a track on the band's 4th album, "Sankai Tate no Uta"（三階建ての詩...Three-Floor Poem), released in March 1974. The album did very well, hitting the top spot and not only becoming the 5th-ranked album of the year but also held in there to become the 27th-ranked album for 1975.
Since Iruka's cover version, lots of singers have covered the song from aidoru Hitomi Ishikawa（石川ひとみ）to pop singer Ayaka Hirahara（平原綾香）.
Although the title is about the final snow of Winter, I still rather enjoy playing "Nagori Yuki" over the Holidays. And it's a song that I would recommend to anyone who's interested in kayo kyoku.