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 22, 2013

Keiko Fuji -- Shinjuku no Onna (新宿の女)

I was watching NHK News this morning when I heard the report of Keiko Fuji's(藤圭子) death at the age of 62. She fell off the balcony of a high-rise apartment building in Shinjuku, but aside from the death itself, what was even sadder was that the news seemed to be shorter than the usual televised obituary for a celebrity; NHK didn't even play any of her music....just had some footage of her performing without the audio while the announcer gave a sober account of the possible suicide along with a very brief overview of her discography. It's not as if I was a huge fan of hers and what little news of her there was over the past few decades was unfortunately on her personal troubles, but I thought the national broadcaster could've given her a better sendoff.

"Shinjuku no Onna"(Shinjuku Woman) was Fuji's debut single in September 1969. Composed by Masao Ishizaka(石坂まさを) and written by Ishizaka and Minoru Mizuno(みずの稔...I hope that is the correct reading for the first name), the setting of the song was the red-light district of Kabukicho in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and the protagonist was a woman who seemed to be stuck there night after night as she kicked herself for falling for the charms of yet another man. It was those self-flagellating lyrics that got everyone's attention along with the whiskey-and-cigarettes voice of Fuji, and she was only 18 years old when she recorded this song! As I mentioned for the other song by her on the blog, "Onna no Blues"女のブルース), I'm a sucker for the bluesy side of enka from the old days with the gentle guitar and the blare of that trumpet cutting through the night like a knife.

"Shinjuku no Onna" broke the Top 10 of Oricon in January 1970, a few months after its release and peaked at No. 9. It also became the 27th-ranked song of that year, and the next 4 singles after her debut combined for a 42-week run in the Top 10. Her debut album, also titled "Shinjuku no Onna", spent 20 weeks at No. 1. By the way, the video above has her singing "Shinjuku no Onna"as the second song in the retrospective.

Heading to Shinjuku Station


  1. She has an interesting voice. Husky and lower than most female enka singers I know - that is counting out Eiko Segawa and Akiko Wada.
    You should also check out some of her former husband, (前川清) Kiyoshi Maekawa's songs. He's in this mood kayo/kayokyoku group Uchiyamada Hiroshi and Cool five (内山田洋とクール・ファイブ), now renamed Kiyoshi Maekawa and Cool five. Their songs like 'Nagasaki wa kyo mo ame datta' (長崎は今日も雨だった) and 'Awazu ni aishite' (逢わずに愛して) are pretty good.

    1. Hi, Noelle and thanks for your comments. Liked your comments on your own page about your like for enka and the older stuff. I feel the same.

      I've actually featured a couple of songs by The Cool Five. You can find the label to the right. "Nagasaki" is one of the great Mood Kayo classics, isn't it? And Frank Nagai has got some wonderful tunes from the genre as well.

    2. Holy moley! I never thought I'd hear from someone with the same views as I do! Thanks for liking one of my posts too.

      Anyway, I have listened to a couple of Frank Nagai's songs, like 'Kimi Koishi' and his duet with Kazuko Matsuo 'Tokyo Nightclub'. Good voice he had - low and smooth. Thanks for the recommendation.

    3. Hi, Noelle. Yup, I've been listening to Mood Kayo for decades now. If I ever go back to Japan again, although I love my jazz, I would probably prefer to listen to folks like The Cool Five or Nagai at the local watering hole.


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