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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Akira Kobayashi -- Akira no Zundoko Bushi (アキラのズンドコ節)

From what I've seen and read, the 'Zundoko Bushi' has had many versions sung by different artistes over the decades. Most notably the renditions done by the somewhat young and  hugely popular Enka singer Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし), Comedy group The Drifters (ザ・ドリフターズ ), and last but not least, big shot actor-singer from the 60's Akira Kobayashi (小林旭).

I would have to say that out of the 3 aforementioned versions, my vote goes to Might Guy's one. Why? Because of the lyrics... or whatever I can pick out from it. Hikawa's one mentioned something about going to your usual ramen joint and ordering your usual bowl of ramen with 2 or 3 pieces of chashu, which reminded me of this ramen joint my family would always patronize in Shinjuku's Kabuki cho (yeah, not very family friendly huh?) every time we visited Japan. Still remember seeing one of the chefs had half an ear burned/bitten off... heh... 

Gah, sorry for going on a tangent! As I was saying, while Hikawa's version brought back some nice memories, Kobayashi's one kinda talks about the fellow out on the town with his sweetheart, and then one part described their parting scene. For example, the fellow saying, "Good night!" to the lady and gives her a sly wink as he leaves. More romantic in that sense, and yes I can be a sucker for things like that. Also I feel that this set of... I suppose you could say flirty lyrics, done by lyricist Sou Nishizawa (西沢 爽), compliments the nifty music composed by Minoru Endo (遠藤 実) better. 

Anyway, 'Akira no Zundoko Bushi' was actually released twice in 1960. The first time it was released as a B-side to 'Kagoshima Ohara Bushi' (鹿児島おはら節) in June and was the theme song to one of Might Guy's movies 'Umi wo wataru hatoba no kaze' (海を渡る波止場の風) and was a hit, but I don't know how many copies were sold since the J-Wiki page never mentioned it for this one. Then about 3 months later in September it was released again - same songs, but 'Zundoko Bushi' was on the A-side, possibly because of its popularity. This one sold over 200 000 copies.

Above is Kobayashi singing what seems to be an updated version of it with the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (東京スカパラダイスオーケストラ). And man, the music for this one's groovy with all that electric guitar!


  1. Hi, Noelle.

    No problems about the tangent. After all, that's part of the point about the blog...talking about the feelings and events that the song connected you to.

    Interesting how less gravelly Akira's voice sounded way back then. I guess all those cigarettes and whiskey added quite a lot of texture to his voice as the decades passed. Also, looking at that picture of young Akira had me thinking that there is an actor right now who looks a bit like him by the name of Shido Nakamura.

    There was one ramen place in Kabukicho that my Aussie buddy and I went to. It was called Kumamoto Ramen, and, boy, the bowl had some really thick cord-like noodles and big blocks of beef in there. Very manly-man.

  2. Hi J-Canuck,

    Huh, this Shido Nakamura fella does look a little like Kobayashi in his younger days... ... Looking at Kobayashi, he looked like the type who'd smoke lots and drink more, kinda like Yujiro Ishihara, I suppose. So I wouldn't be surprised if his voice got huskier with age.

    The ramen joint that we had visited was called 'Hakata Tenji', and true to its name, it sold Hakata style ramen with the Tonkotsu soup. And the joint at Kabukicho isn't the best looking place, especially when compared to the other restaurants around it. Simple interior, rather old looking furniture, a chef with half an ear gone (I had seen him there since our first visit. Hope he'd still be there when I go back again) and if my memory serves, concrete floor. But hey, it doesn't really matter if the food's good.

    1. Yeah, I think Nakamura also has that bad-boy image so perhaps future Nakamura is current Kobayashi .

      A lot of good ramen joints out in Tokyo. We've just had quite the boom here in Toronto with ramen and izakaya over the past few years.


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