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.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Shoko Sawada -- Campus Sketch (キャンパススケッチ)

Of course, September means that the universities are back in business. So, the fresh-faced frosh are getting that exciting first taste of campus life and adulthood. That was the same case with me back in 1984 and thinking about those early days at the U of T, I was thinking about finding a kayo kyoku that might hint at those salad days of higher learning (and playing).

That's when I remembered singer-songwriter Shoko Sawada(沢田聖子). I'd written about her lovely introspective "Ochiba no Heya"(落葉の部屋)that I'd heard on one of my old "Sounds of Japan" tapes and in researching about her, I found out that her debut was "Campus Sketch". Listening to her debut from May 1979, this was Shoko as perhaps a more naive and happy-go-lucky freshman (mind you, she was just 17 when she recorded this). And indeed her catchphrase surrounding the launch of "Campus Sketch" was "Midori no kaze ni notte sawayaka debyu"(緑の風にのってさわやかデビュー...A fresh debut on the green wind), no doubt trying to capture that freshness of starting that new phase of life.

Although Sawada is known as a songwriter, her debut was actually taken care by the late lyricist Tsuzuru Nakasato(中里綴)with folk singer Iruka(イルカ)providing the cheerful melody. In fact, Sawada's career as a singer got that boost at her audition when she caught the eye and ear of Kazuo Kanbe(神部和夫), Iruka's husband and president of Iruka Office. Apparently, she would've been happy enough to have gotten an autograph from Iruka herself but the results were far more beneficial. And she was also touted as "Iruka's kid sister" in the PR....imagine the pressure there. However, Sawada has been very grateful as she stated "If I hadn't met Kazuo Kanbe, I wouldn't be here now."

"Campus Sketch", as I said, is this melodically cheerful slice of college life distinguished by the addition of a jaunty horn (perhaps signifying the institution of higher learning?) as Sawada sings about having that tennis game with a potential love interest, pre-kokuhaku. It's all cute nostalgic innocence....think about an anime about a girl beginning her first days on campus as she juggles her much heavier texts and runs around looking for the various lecture halls. Hearing some of that skippy folk beat brought back some of my own memories walking around the St. George Campus before heading over to First Year Japanese.

University of Toronto
Athletic Centre

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