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.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tulip -- Saboten no Hana (サボテンの花)

Back in the early 90s, our university Japanese club had one little weekly event which attracted a fair number of Canadians and Japanese. Basically on Wednesday nights at the International Student Centre at the University of Toronto, a few members showed a couple of episodes of the popular dramas of the time via rental video tapes. One of the dramas was the Fuji-TV show, "Hitotsu Yane no Shita"ひとつ屋根の下....Under One Roof) starring Yosuke Eguchi (of "Tokyo Love Story" fame and the husband of Chisato Moritaka), former aidoru Noriko Sakai and pop singer Masaharu Fukuyama as separated orphans-turned-adults getting back together as a family.

The theme song was a folksy ballad that had actually first seen the light of day almost a couple of decades earlier. Sung by New Music/Folk band Tulip(チューリップ), "Saboten no Hana"(Cactus Flower) enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in 1993 as it did back in the mid-70s. It was first released in February 1975 as Tulip's 8th single and at the time, it peaked at No. 19 on Oricon. Written and composed by vocalist Kazuo Zaitsu(財津和夫), I enjoy hearing that country-style guitar and Zaitsu's high vocals. Kinda like a breath of fresh air from simpler times. If I'm not mistaken, the above video has the original 1975 recording. The single was also a track on their 5th original album, "Mugen Kido"無限軌道)which could be translated as "Infinite Trajectory" or "Infinite Railroad Track".

For "Hitotsu Yane no Shita", Tulip re-recorded "Saboten no Hana" and did it once more for the sequel series a few years later. The band first started back in 1972 in Fukuoka and called upon The Beatles as their influence. In fact, lead vocalist Zaitsu was once labeled as Japan's Paul McCartney. The band broke up for the first time in 1989 but got back together in 1997 for another 9-year run, and they then went on a concert tour in 2012 for their 40th anniversary.


  1. Yay! Thank you for your post on Tulip. :) I was introduced to this band through "Saboten no Hana" while watching Hitotsu Yane no Shita in 2008, but only started to listen to them extensively a couple of years later. I eventually became attached to the simplicity and emotional warmth of their songs. I'm especially fond of their 70's material including "Seishun no Kage" and this one, though in the early 80's they went through an interesting phase of doing dreamy synthesized songs with a space travel theme, which I also like.

    And just to comment on the Zaitsu and McCartney comparison, I read that Zaitsu's first solo album Uchuujin is inspired by McCartney's debut in that he performed and recorded most of the album by himself.

  2. The pleasure is all mine, nikala....and belated Happy New Year, by the way. I think for a lot of viewers, "Hitotsu Yane no Shita" was the nakodo of sorts to introduce Tulip.

    On your point about the band doing a lot of dreamy synthesized songs with a space travel theme, I guess that 5th album of theirs should be translated as "Infinite Trajectory", after all.

    I had no idea about that fact concerning "Uchuujin". Thanks for that point. It's amazing how many singers in Japan have been influenced by The Beatles. I'm not gonna take anything away from Yuming, Happy End or Sugar Babe, but New Music has to doff a part of its hat to those guys.

  3. Oh, I didn't know this post existed! <3 Yey I'm thrilled. haha

    I first got to listen to this song on one of v6's program. I'm not sure if it was Owarai V6 Byoutou, but I think it was because it had the same cast. They tweaked the song to make it funny, but I liked it all the same. I think it was this ep:

    Anyway, great review! Now I want to listen to it some more. <3

    1. Hello, Yuie-chan.

      Seeing Inocchi only on NHK's "Asaichi" morning variety show through TV Japan, I didn't realize that he could laugh it up. And yep, that is indeed "Saboten no Hana".


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