Credits

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.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ichiro Fujiyama -- Tokyo Rhapsody (東京ラプソディ)



I heard this for the first time in a long while on NHK's "Kayo Concert" tonight. Never knew the original singer or the title, for that matter, until the performance a few hours ago, but I had heard it many times on the stereo when I was a youngster and then on a number of kayo kyoku shows.

"Tokyo Rhapsody" was sung by Ichiro Fujiyama(藤山一郎)who was born Takeo Masunaga(増永丈夫)in Tokyo in 1911. It was written by Yutaka Kadota(門田ゆたか)and composed by Masao Koga(古賀政男). According to J-Wiki, Koga had the seed for this song as he was driving in a new Ford Coupe along Tokyo's Meiji Jingu Gaien in the early summer. He decided that he wanted to come up with a song talking about the new modern Tokyo, and "Tokyo Rhapsody" would have that sound of jaunty industriousness. And lyricist Kadota made sure to have shout outs to neighbourhoods like Shinjuku, Asakusa and Kanda, as Fujiyama waxed in tribute to "....the capital of happiness, the capital of love, the dream paradise...". Yep, quite the florid tribute, all right.

A lot of the old songs that my father often played on the RCA Victor had the same sort of marching tone that "Tokyo Rhapsody" has. And considering those exhorting lyrics and the time that the song had been created, the feeling that it was probably heard as a patriotic anthem isn't lost on me. One of the YouTube commenters half-jokingly mentioned that it's the type of song that would be played at the annual school Sports Day festivities as the kids marched onto the field.



"Tokyo Rhapsody" was released in June 1936 and sold 350,000 records. It was also used as the theme for the movie of the same title, a movie that Fujiyama himself had also starred in. For those who have an especially eagle eye and are Kohaku Utagassen historians, Fujiyama later became, after his retirement from singing in 1954, a familiar face at the very end of the specials as he was the orchestra conductor as "Hotaru no Hikari" (蛍の光)was being played.

Sunday afternoon in Ginza

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