I've always considered Tulip's （チューリップ）biggest hit of "Kokoro no Tabi" (Voyage of the Heart) to be one of the great kayo send-off songs. Just imagine....a college graduate from the old countryside hometown heading for the big city to start his/her career, and the old gang provides the streamers and the stream of tears, all while this song is being sung as the young lad/lass takes the train from the tiny local station. One might say that it would be the ideal theme for one of the most important moments in life.
Well, perhaps that was a bit florid but "Kokoro no Tabi" did come from one of the big moments in Tulip's life. Kazuo Zaitsu（財津和夫）and his band hadn't made too much of an impression from their first 2 singles or their first 2 albums, and "Kokoro no Tabi" was their self-imposed last chance to make it big or head back to Fukuoka in failure. Zaitsu was behind the lyrics and music for Tulip's 3rd single from May 1973, and he created this out of his feelings before making his way to Tokyo to make it big in music. Well, there was obviously a happy ending in that "Kokoro no Tabi" went all the way up to No. 1 after debuting on Oricon at the humble ranking of No. 71. It sold slightly under a million records and ended the year as the 7th-ranked song. And why not? There is that sense of sentimentality and triumph infused into the song so that it can be used at any event from the end of a victorious Koshien high school baseball campaign to a wedding party.
What surprised me was that the original 1973 recording was not sung by leader Zaitsu but by the youngest Tulip member, Tatsuya Himeno（姫野達也）. Zaitsu was to have been the main vocal but at the last minute, it was decided by staff that Himeno had the "sweeter" voice and so he should be the one to sing it. Although "Kokoro no Tabi" did become the saviour song, Zaitsu apparently had some complicated feelings about that vocal decision. However, he has been able to sing his creation himself since then as you can see from above.
I remember "Kokoro no Tabi" all these years due to the fact that the song has been covered so often by a number of artists. One of the versions I recall the most is the thrashing version by rock band GO!GO!7188, one of the great names in Japanese music collectives and whose derivation is apparently still only known by its members: lead vocal and guitarist Yuu, bassist Akko and drummer Turkey. They may hail from Kagoshima Prefecture but I always imagine the side streets of Shibuya, Tokyo whenever I think about them. According to Wikipedia, they had influences from genres such as surf rock, punk and even enka. In that way, I've often related them to chanteuse Ringo Shiina（椎名林檎）. The band debuted in 1998 but disbanded a couple of years ago in 2012.
Their cover of "Kokoro no Tabi" came from their album of kayo kyoku covers, "Tora no Ana"（虎の穴...Tiger's Lair）from July 2002.