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.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Eye-Ai Magazine

When I first started exploring the world of kayo kyoku in the 1980s, I already had a few avenues to traverse although it was nothing like the access all of us fans have now. There were the annual Kohaku Utagassen broadcasts, the weekly "Sounds of Japan" radiocasts and then later on, my discovery of Japanese LPs and tapes at Wah Yueh.

Also, when my family got its first VCR (thanks, Panasonic) in 1983, visits to Nippon Video on Danforth and Coxwell in Toronto got us access to all sorts of dramas, variety shows and of course the music programs like "The Best 10" and "The Top 10". However, a surprise treat would also greet me at the small rental video shop. Among the shelves of VHS tapes of Japanese programming, there was a small magazine rack which held just one product. Titled "Eye-Ai", I was delighted to discover that the magazine contained information on the very topic that I had only recently gone crazy English, and apparently, it had only been in business just a little while before that fateful visit to Japan in 1981.

Got some good insight about the
magic behind Yuming's songwriting
in that article.
I distinctly remember the very first issue of "Eye-Ai" that I bought at Nippon Video. It was the one with late 70s aidoru-turned-ubiquitous tarento Ikue Sakakibara(榊原郁恵), and regrettably, it's now missing-in-action somewhere in the apartment...or not. However, I made it a habit to pick up further issues whenever they did come into the shop. At the time, there was much more of an emphasis on the geinokai so a lot of the main articles highlighted some of the big singers such as the pictured Yumi Matsutoya (松任谷由実)along with articles featuring various aspects of Japanese culture. For a guy like me who basically became a Japanophile, "Eye-Ai" was manna from heaven. When I first started buying issues, acquiring Japanese pop music was very difficult outside of "Sounds of Japan" (this was still a couple of years away from discovering Wah Yueh in Chinatown), but at least I could find out about what was going on with these various aidoru thousands of kilometres away.

Eventually when I finally did get to go to Japan to work at the very end of the decade, I was now within proximity of sources of Japanese music but I was still a pretty faithful reader of "Eye-Ai", and whenever I took the Bullet down to Tokyo from Gunma, I would stop off at Kinokuniya Bookstore and try to pick up an issue. In fact, returning to Canada in 1991 didn't stop my enjoyment of the magazine. I simply became a monthly subscriber for a couple of years. And I upped the ante by often taking advantage of the magazine's mail order shopping service. In retrospect, it was a whole lot more trouble heading to the bank to have the teller whip up a money order and filling out the order form when compared to Net shopping and PayPal now, but being able to buy several discs a shot back in Japan spoiled me. It may have taken that protracted visit to the bank and 4-6 weeks of waiting for the CDs to come in, but at the time I was more than happy to get my music even that way.

Getting back to the country in 1994 for my far longer 17-year-stay once again had me within grabbing distance of my music, but this time around my loyalty to "Eye-Ai" started fading. It was probably because my puppy love for kayo kyoku/J-Pop had become more discriminating and specific, and my comprehension of the Japanese language through TV and magazines had gotten better. But I think it was also the fact that the magazine was changing direction to a certain extent as well. I haven't bought an issue in a number of years now but I have kept my back issues and I'm still very grateful to "Eye-Ai" for the early link it provided me with the music and the rest of Japanese pop culture way back when.

Yosuke Eguchi
(aka Chisato Moritaka's husband)


  1. Wow, that was great to read. I was searching for something related to Eye-Ai and found your posting. I'm happy that you like Eye-Ai, which enters its 39th year of publication in 2015. Thank you.

    1. Hello, Eye-Ai. Thanks very much for reading the article. I had several years' of enjoyment reading the magazine and of course, there were those CDs I got through your mail-ordering service. I was also happy to use the information from a Jean Wilson article in one of the issues to talk about that late lamented show "Enka no Hanamichi".

      May "Eye-Ai" continue to inform readers on the latest in Japanese pop culture into 2015 and hope you reach that 40th anniversary in fine shape!

  2. Hi J-Canuck. It is nice to hear that you think fondly of Eye-Ai. I'll let Jean know of your mention.

    Your history with Eye-Ai is similar to mine in that I arrived in the 1980s and the magazine was the only English-language publication about Japanese culture and entertainment available in my area of Kyushu. I never thought I'd have the opportunity to work for the magazine, but for the past 11 years I have served as editor.

    We have a FB page: which, while not very active, does show upcoming cover stories and other articles. Drop by if you're interested. Best wishes to you, too.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.