I have to say that I hadn't heard this one by Hiroshi Itsuki（五木ひろし） in many a moon. A couple of nights ago, I was watching the latest episode of NHK's "Kayo Concert", and the theme for that show was the output of lyricist Toyohisa Araki（荒木とよひさ） who, like Yu Aku（阿久悠） and Takashi Matsumoto（松本隆）, has written for just about everybody.
"Soshite...Meguri Ai" (And Then We Meet Again) is one of those classic enka ballads that can get the middle-aged into sudden sigh mode at the local watering hole (a tokkuri of sake helps). As the title suggests, former flames get together to reminisce about the old days over a drink...perhaps in the hopes that there may still be an active ember amongst the ashes. At one point, in our family's dalliance in watching music shows on VHS tapes back in the 80s, Itsuki and this song were pretty much tied at the hip.
And it's grand Itsuki. Those strings in the intro and during the refrain virtually drip with bittersweet sentimentality. I mean, "Soshite...Meguri Ai", in a Pavlovian way, seems to spark folks of a certain age into remembering past loves. Kudos to the composer, Yasushi Nakamura（中村泰士）....not sure if he was dabbing his eyes as he was creating this song. And Itsuki himself seems to deliver vocals as tender as a filet mignon whenever he sings this one. With his distinctive style, he's been parodied by a whole bunch of comedians, so it wouldn't surprise me one bit if this were the song that these impressionists have gone by. Certainly, I think the karaoke bars and later the boxes were probably popular places for the masses to try it out.
"Soshite....Meguri Ai" was released in April 1985. It won the Grand and Gold Prizes at that year's Japan Record Awards, and it reached up to No. 12 on the Oricon weeklies and eventually became the 32nd-ranked song of the year.