When I was working as a NOVA teacher in the Asakusa branch from 1995-1997, I sometimes walked down the grand shopping street known as Shin-Nakamise Dori which started from just across Asakusa Station all the way down to Tawaramachi Station which was the next station down on the Ginza Line. Near that station was the Asakusa ROX Building which contained all sorts of stores and restaurants. It had been around a while by the time I first set foot in there, but I enjoyed checking out the CD/bookstore and then occasionally grabbing a bite to eat on the restaurant floor right at the top. No, it wasn't exactly the healthiest fare I got there, but at least it was better than my frightening diet of McDonalds/KFC several times a week. Still, looking back on those days, it was nice to get in there especially when the weather was rather inclement.
"Jitensha de Oide" (Come By Bike) was the song that was used in a commercial for ROX, and it hits that right tone in terms of how I feel about the place. Composed by Akiko Yano（矢野顕子） and written by Shigesato Itoi（糸井重里） in 1987 for her album, "Granola", I came across it through her 1996 BEST album, "Hitotsudake" (it was never released as a single...at least, not as an A-side). Ryuichi Sakamoto（坂本龍一） gives a faint echo of Yano's technopop past in the keyboards, but basically the duet with Motoharu Sano（佐野元春）is a laid-back invitation to listeners to come (by bike) and spend some relaxing off time with that friend over tea and good conversation. It must've made for a good jingle for ROX, and for the Asakusa neighbourhood in general since I could envision the old houses and narrow streets through the lyrics.
The slide guitar and the gentle piano can slow down the heartbeat quite nicely, and the distinctive voices of Yano and Sano (who also provides the whistling) make it sound as if they were intimately performing in one of those cafes, old/new or chain/mom & pop, that line Kaminarimon Dori in the area. Strangely enough, I think a light rain would be the perfect meteorological backdrop for this song.
|Shin-Nakamise Dori in Asakusa|