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, April 8, 2014

Tetsuji Hayashi/Mako Ishino -- Glass no Kanransha (ガラスの観覧車)

One of the most famous legends in recent Japanese history has to do with the story of Hachi, the country's most loyal dog who had always waited for his kindly master, a university professor, at Shibuya Station in Tokyo in the early part of the 20th century. This was a daily tradition for the Akita dog, and even with the passing of his master, Hachi resolutely continued to wait at the station everyday until his own death some years later. Even now, one of the most popular meeting spots in the metropolis is by the statue of Hachi at that same station....mind you, I used to find it way too popular when I was waiting for my friends to show up there; basically so many people surrounded the statue that cellphones were pretty much a necessity to track people down, especially on a Friday night.

Now, I need to back up several years...back to my own university days at U of T. I first became aware of the legend of Hachi through a movie that our professor for our 4th-Year Japanese Language class had brought for us to watch. It turned out to be "Hachiko Monogatari"(ハチ公物語...The Tale of Hachi), the greatly melodramatized motion picture about the dog with some A-list thespians such as Tatsuya Nakadai as the professor. I'll tell ya...once Professor Ueno went to that lecture room in the sky a little over half way into the movie, it was pretty much downhill for the poor pooch from there and pretty much uphill for viewers to refrain from grabbing the Kleenex. The last few minutes made up for the final dam burst of lachrymal fluid as Hachi made his final trip to Shibuya Station and then went into the eternal dream of meeting his beloved master in a pink-toned cherry blossom heaven through a slow-motion sequence of the two running joyfully toward each other before the camera returned to the final scene of the dead dog in front of the station as the view slowly panned away. Not a dry eye in the classroom, and being the only guy in the class, I had to come up with some lame excuses such as "Darn my hay fever!" and "Oh, I got something in my eye....gotta head to the washroom".

Still with that final scene and the weepy orchestral music mourning the loss of Hachi, it was somewhat jarring when a modern pop song suddenly revved up. It all felt surreal as if I had just watched the ending to a weekly suspense drama and then the Top 10 ballad started playing. Well, the song turned out to be sung by prolific songwriter Tetsuji Hayashi(林哲司), "Glass no Kanransha" (Glass Ferris Wheel), who, up to now, has been posted in this blog solely as the maestro behind the melodies of so many popular tunes such as Anri's "Kanashimi ga Tomaranai" (悲しみがとまらない)and Mariya Takeuchi's "September". Hayashi was indeed behind the melody for this one as well but Masao Urino(売野雅勇)was the lyricist.

Hayashi has been releasing singles and albums since 1973 in the soft rock/City Pop vein, and "Glass no Kanransha" has that sound of the former genre. It's a bit of an odd choice from which to begin talking about his sung discography but since there was quite a personal story behind it in terms of my own experiences with it, I just felt that I should go with this one. The singer was also behind the tearjerking scoring for "Hachiko Monogatari", so people who were ticked about having to go through so many boxes of tissue probably sent him part of the bill.

I had no idea that former aidoru Mako Ishino(石野真子) did a cover of "Glass no Kanransha" but when I saw her video on YouTube, I also decided to put this in as well. Ishino, incidentally, also had a role in the movie. Basically by the late 80s, she was more of an actress and TV personality than a singer, although her version of Hayashi's song was her 20th single, released in July 1987 just several days before the release of the movie itself. Her delivery was certainly more forceful and self-assured here, and I think it was even a bit stronger than Hayashi's own vocals.

The Japanese absolutely ADORE a good cry, and so it is perhaps with no surprise that "Hachiko Monogatari" was the No. 1 movie of 1987. It made 2 billion yen....a lot of dog chow.

Hachiko still keeping watch
at Shibuya Station.
P.S. I believe there was that Hollywood remake of the movie with Richard Gere and Joan Allen titled "Hachi: A Dog's Tale".

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