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, September 2, 2014

Duke Aces -- Onna Hitori (女ひとり)

I would have to say that 'Onna Hitori' ('Woman by herself/alone' when literally translated) by Duke Aces (デューク・エイセス) really represents Kyoto quite nicely.

Written by lyricist Rokusuke Ei (永 六輔) and composer Taku Izumi (いずみ たく), this song is part of this series appropriately named 'Nihon no Uta series' (「にほんのうた」シリーズ) or 'Songs of Japan series', beginning in 1966 and ending in 1969. Wherein the two aforementioned fellows traveled around Japan and wrote a song (2 for Tokyo, 3 for Hokkaido though) for each of the 47 prefectures in the country, and each song tailor-made for Duke Aces to sing.

Out of the 50 songs, the most successful ones were 'Ii Yu Dana' (いい湯だな), released in 1966 which represented Gunma prefecture. And of course, 'Onna Hitori', released in 1965 representing the former capital and cultural center of Japan. Strangely enough, they did the song a year before the actual project... weird...

Anyway, like 'Ii yu dana' mentioned 4 well-known (I suppose) hot springs in Gunma, 'Onna Hitori' mentioned 3 temples in Kyoto. Namely Sanzen in in Ohara, Kosan ji in Togano and last but not least, Daikaku ji in Arashiyama, or as sung in the song, Ranzan. Same words, different pronunciation. In that particular order. To me, Sanzen in looks the most beautiful...  in pictures that is.

The quiet, relaxing, and traditional Japanese sounding instrumental. The smooth main vocals of second tenor Kazuhiko Yoshida (吉田一彦) along with the harmonizing of the 3 other Aces : Top tenor Hideki Osuga (大須賀ひでき), Baritone and leader Michio Tani(谷 道夫) and Bass Yoshitaka Makino (槇野 義孝).

Really makes me want to return to Otawa san Kiyomizu-dera up on that hill and enjoy the warm colours of autumn against the clear blue sky while sitting in a quiet, secluded corner far away from the hoards of tourists. Ah..., good times.

Here's a video of Duke Aces singing it in 2013. From left to right: OsugaYoshidaTaniMakino. Heh, I always find it amusing that Yoshida had left this streak of white hair on his head.

Sanzen in and the garden around it, Ohara.


  1. I think I remember seeing Duke Aces performing this on a recent "Kayo Concert" of the distinctive parts of the song is where Yoshida pronounces each syllable of the temple with gentle deliberation. And indeed yes, it is a very comfortable song...kinda like watching autumn leaves wafting on top of a stream.

  2. Oh cool! I've been waiting to see Duke Aces on another episode of "Kayo concert" to see them sing their other songs like this one or "Ii yu dana".

    But anyway, I suppose that was the feel (comfortable, relaxing) that the writers of this song had intended, and also how they felt while there in Kyoto. Great... now I feel like going to Kyoto again...

    1. I remember going to Kyoto back over 20 years ago. Lovely scenery but I went just when the school trip season was in full not very quiet unfortunately. Then there was back in 1981...saw the Gion Festival within a huge crowd. Considering it was over 30 degrees C there, I'm surprised that I didn't collapse from the humidity.

  3. been searching everywhere for a good version of the 'Onna Hitori'song..
    just found it on a DAM 45RPM LP and was blown away by the quality of the singing and the music..
    shame the ones on the Youtube are not same as the one on this DAM LP.
    If I ever finda way to convert LP to digital, I'll upload it for sure.
    thanks for the information on this group, it was an interesting read.
    best regards,



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