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, February 7, 2013

Kokushou Sayuri - Valentine Kiss (バレンタイン・キッス)

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, that invariably means that you'll probably be hearing this song at least once or twice at some point in Japan if not more so. 「バレンタイン・キッス」 was Kokusho Sayuri's (国生さゆり) debut single in 1986 and was an instant hit. According to J-Wiki, the single reached #2 on the オリコン/Oricon charts, #1 on the ミュージック・ラボ/Music Lab and ミュージック・リサーチ/Music Research Charts and #4 on TBS' ザ・ベストテン/Best Ten music program. It also won the 日本ゴールドディスク大賞/Japan Gold Disc Award for Best Single of the Year. Over the years it has quickly become the song of choice for many Japanese girls celebrating Valentine's Day. Now that's some debut.

さゆちゃん was born on 12/22/66 in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture. Her father named her after his favorite actress 吉永小百合/Yoshinaga Sayuri who starred in such films as キューポラのある街/Foundry Town (1962) and 男はつらいよ 柴又慕情/Otoko Wa Tsurai Yo: Shibamata Bojo AKA Tora-san's New Romance (1972).

Sayuri attended Elementary and Junior High Schools in Kanoya but moved to Kure, Hiroshima for High School. While in High School, she entered the ミス・セブンティーンコンテスト/Miss Seventeen Contest in 1984. While she didn't win the contest, she was scouted by a CBS Sony agent and offered her a modeling/talent contract. Interestingly her fellow contestants were Watanabe Misato/渡辺美里, Kudo Shizuka/工藤静香, Watanabe Marina/渡辺満里奈, Matsumoto Noriko/松本典子, Amihama Naoko/網浜直子 and Asakura Akira/麻倉あきら all of whom would go on to become either singers themselves or actresses.

After moving to Tokyo she became a model with the Shiseido/資生堂 cosmetics company, however at the urging of her agent she entered Fuji TV's popular "All Night Fuji"/オールナイトフジ program's on-air "Female High School Student Special - Beauty Contest"/女子高生スペシャル 美少女コンテスト in which she ultimately won. She then went on to make her idol debut on Fuji's new teen variety program 『夕やけニャンニャン』 as one of the first members of the Onyanko Club/おニャン子クラブ, an idol unit specifically created to host and perform on the show (Kudo Shizuka and Watanabe Marina were also recruited for the group as well). Sayuri's "Member Number" was No. 8 (会員番号8番). Since Sayuri was the oldest member in the group, she became the de facto leader of Onyanko Club.

If  おニャン子クラブ seems awfully familiar to current idol group sensation AKB48 that shouldn't come as a big surprise as they are both the brainchild of record producer Akimoto Yasushi/秋元康 who also happened to write the lyrics for a lot of the Onyanko Club songs and wrote the lyrics for Sayuri's "Valentine Kiss".

Sayuri was my favorite of the Onyanko Club girls. Not only was she athletic (she was Captain of her High School's Track and Field team) but she was also one tough chick. I remember watching on Onyanko Club, her solo cross-country motorcycle bike trek from New York to California which spanned one month. Amazing considering she did this on her own (with a camera crew in tow), in a foreign country and without any help from others (this was in 1986). From what I can remember she didn't speak much English as well. Her adventure was chronicled in a special DVD release in 2004 called 「HELLO!アメリカ」.

Sayuri went on the become both a successful actress and starred in a number of TV dramas and program specials. At age 46 さゆちゃん still looks as hot as ever.

Here's a recent appearance she made on タモリ/Tamori's 笑っていいとも!/Warate Itomo variety show.

And here's one of the many covers of the song, this one by AKB48 sub group 渡り廊下走り隊7/Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 (the original is still better IMHO).

Valentine Hearts Wallpaper
Courtesy of MyDearValentine from Flickr

1 comment:

  1. Hi, JTM.

    Thanks very much for posting THE theme song for Japanese Valentine Day. I think Kokusho and this song are tied at the hip. I had no idea about what her life was like before and after Onyanko Club (aside from her occasional acting gigs and variety show appearances), so that's some fine information there.

    Basically when February 14 rolls around, "Valentine Kiss" is heard just about everywhere. Actually, I'm not an AKB 48 fan but I think their cover of the song is pretty charming. :)



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