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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ujo Noguchi -- Shojoji no Tanukibayashi (証城寺の狸囃子)


I heard a grand orchestral version of this children's song being played on the musical interlude just before NHK News several minutes ago. "Shojoji no Tanukibayashi" (The Raccoon Dog Forest of Shojo Temple) has a special place in my memory (although it wasn't until those minutes ago that I finally found out what the title was) since it was a song that my mother used to sing to me when I was a little raccoon myself. Mom put me on her lap and sang it while she had me clap my hands together. I was rather bemused at the time but I have always remembered the first line from the song, "Sho-sho-shojoji..."

"Shojoji no Tanukibayashi" was written by Ujo Noguchi/野口雨情 (1882-1945) who was famous as a poet and as a lyricist of children's songs. Around the mid-1920s, Noguchi visited Shojoji Temple (which is actually depicted under different kanji...證誠寺) in Kisarazu City, Chiba Prefecture which inspired him to write "Tanukibayashi no Densetsu"(狸囃子伝説...The Legend of the Raccoon Dog Forest) in a children's magazine in 1924. Later on, composer Shinpei Nakayama (中山晋平)created some music around the words to finally make one of Japan's most famous children's songs.



Strangely enough in 1955, the late Eartha Kitt released an English version titled "Sho-Jo-Ji -- The Hungry Raccoon". 


We got plenty of raccoons here in Canada, even within the city limits of Toronto. The usual response from residents here would probably be something like: "AAUGGGGH! Raccoons! They're eating my begonias!" Apparently, raccoon dogs are somewhat different animals since despite the resemblance, they and raccoons actually belong in different families according to scientific classification. And over the centuries, a legend has grown around the beer-bellied tanuki that show them as sly shapeshifting entities that have evolved their own parallel society alongside humans. The most recent example of this that I came across was through the anime "Uchoten Kazoku"(有頂天家族...The Eccentric Family)whose wonderful ending theme song I've covered here.


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