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, April 21, 2014

Ikuzo Yoshi -- Sake yo (酒よ)

Well, seeing that Ikuzo Yoshi's (吉幾三)"Yukiguni" (雪国)was the topic of my first enka article for "Kayo Kyoku Plus", it was time to devote another article for the veteran singer. However, unlike "Yukiguni" which became my trademark song at karaoke, I never tried "Sake yo" (Sake) which was another later hit for Yoshi. It was a little too maudlin for me, compared with my jaunty juu-hachi-ban.

"Sake yo", which came out in September 1988, is definitely in that corner of enka which talks about crying in your beer and lost loves. Yoshi wrote and composed this ballad which has him performing the song perfectly on an episode of "Enka no Hanamichi": a dapper and sad figure drowning his sorrows via ochoko and tokkuri of the clear stuff in a snowbound traditional bar. Perhaps the only thing missing is the mama-san to provide a shoulder and copious amounts. The singer also does a fine job via a haggard and tear-choked voice of vocalizing about his heart being ripped out and stomped upon. Ahhh...only the rice wine will understand.

The listeners certainly understood about the troubles he's seen. "Sake yo" got all the way up to No. 3 on the singles charts and became the 26th-ranked song for 1989. And even before that accolade, Yoshi appeared on the 1988 Kohaku Utagassen to perform the song there and five years later on the same program. Of course, its memory has also been secured in tons of karaoke lounges for folks of a certain age.


  1. Hi I just found our your blog. I am from Taiwan and we have many Taiwanese songs which are covered those Japanese enka. This "Sake Yo"by Ikuzo Yoshi are also covered by two important Taiwanese singers. Every Taiwanese knows that song. Here's the video:

    1. Hi, Smog and thanks very much for your comments and the link. Over the years, I have heard that a number of Japanese pop songs and kayo kyoku have been covered by artists from a number of other Asian countries. This may sound a bit corny but I'm happy that music has found a way to link the nations culturally.


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