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.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kenji Sawada -- TOKIO

Yes, before he went New Wave, before he went Glam Rock, musical force of nature and bon vivant Kenji Sawada(沢田研二)had decided to take a fashion tip from Sgt. Peppers when he made his live performances of "TOKIO", his 29th single released on New Year's Day 1980. "TOKIO"is a rousing tune that Sawada rather makes into a fun tourism advertisement for Japan's largest city. According to the lyrics, it's the city where the kind girls sleep and the sad boys howl....whatever that means....must be kinda fun, though.

I first heard "TOKIO"on a spotlight episode on Sawada on "Sounds of Japan", and it reminded me of my time there in 1981. The frenzy of the electric guitar and the bubbliness of the synthesizer rather wrapped up my images of the big city....perfectly operating vending machines selling skinny 90-yen cans of Coke, cafes with video games played on the tabletops and the incredible humidity of that July.

As for those appearances by Sawada on TV, I'm not sure whether the Sgt. Peppers outfit was his idea, but apparently the parachute behind him was....which played into the oft-repeated lyric of flying. He was definitely an entertainer, that one. "TOKIO" was written by copywriter Shigesato Itoi(糸井重里)and composed by former Wild Ones guitarist Kunihiko Kase.(加瀬邦彦). Tsugutoshi Goto(後藤次利), who would later be involved in many of Shizuka Kudo's(工藤静香) songs, was the arranger, and for his efforts, he won the Best Arranger Prize at the Japan Record Awards for that year. The song peaked at No. 8 and became the 39th-ranked song of 1980, selling over 300,000 records.

The B-side to "TOKIO" is "I Am I", a much more subdued ballad which I've already profiled.


  1. Somehow this song makes me feel comforted. Tokyo is a massive city that flies through the night sky, but kind women are still sleeping peacefully there. Long may it continue to be so.

  2. Oh I just listened to this a few minutes ago. I was reviewing my Kayo Kyoku videos, and some old Go Hiromi songs, and I chanced upon this again.

    It reminds me a little of Nioku Yonsenman no Hitomi by Hiromi Go, in terms of promotion. :)

    Have you reviewed The Tiger's Smile for me? Julie's perfect english there was amazing :D

    1. Hi, Yuie-chan!

      Yes, I would say that both "TOKIO" and "Nioku Yonsenman" share a certain pedigree with their high-flying refrains and also the shouting out of "TOKIO" and "JAPAN". And of course, both songs have become trademarks for their careers.

      Haven't had a chance to take a look at "The Tiger's Smile" yet. I'd be interested in hearing how Julie pronounced his English.

    2. Hi, Yuie-chan!

      Looks like I mis-read your last paragraph there. You were talking about his old band The Tigers, weren't you? :)

    3. Haha Hi J!

      Yup, my bad. Its actually The Tigers - Smile for me.

      Great sooong. Though I really love Julie.

      He's probably only rivaled in terms of performance by Hideki Saijo.

      Though Hiromi Go likes the pageantry of performing, he always comes of as mechanical to me somehow. I do not remember a performance of his that I been drawn to tears to. That's not the case for either Julie or Hideki. They are amazing singers! I think even Noguchi Goro has more feelings when singing.

    4. Hi, Yuie-chan!

      Your reply reminded me that there was a Julie song that I yet to do which he happened to sing for one of the "Uchuusenkan Yamato" movies back in the 1970s.

      I think Go is starting to show his age in terms of performing. He looks great for a guy who just is now in his 60s but on the Kohaku, he seemed to be trying to keep up with that high school club when he did one of his biggest hits.

      Still, I liked watching the fellow in past performances on the Kohaku such as "Oyome Samba" and "Aishuu no Casablanca".


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