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.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Duke Aces -- Wakareta Hito to (別れた人と)

(cover version)

One of the interesting things about Mood Kayo group, Duke Aces(デューク・エイセス), is that from 1966 to 1969, they were involved in a project with lyricist Rokusuke Ei(永六輔)and composer Taku Izumi(いずみたく)titled "Nihon no Uta"(にほんのうた...Songs of Japan). The project had the songwriters tour the country through every prefecture and come up with a song befitting that region. Depending on their schedule, some or all of the Aces also took part in the long journey. One of the songs from that series was "Ii Yu da na"(いい湯だな), the representative tune for Gunma Prefecture commemorating the hot springs there which became even more famous when it became the ending theme for the long-running variety show "Hachiji da yo! Zen'in Shuugo"(8時だよ!全員集合)starring comedy group The Drifters.

The song for Hyogo Prefecture was "Wakareta Hito to" (With My Old Flame) which was created by Ei and Izumi in 1966. Sung with sighing wistfulness by Duke Aces, the song relates of a story of two former lovers meeting once again in the city of Kobe and perhaps kindling something out of a long-dormant spark. I could imagine a lot of couples dancing to this one in the small space of the bars that could afford some sort of dance floor.

Twenty years ago on January 17, the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck the city of Kobe and the surrounding vicinity, killing over 6,000 people and injuring many many more. I'd had the day off on that Tuesday in 1995 and was only a few months into my long stay in the Kanto region. When I turned on my tiny ancient television, I saw the now-infamous scene of that highway fallen onto its side and initially thought I was watching some sort of disaster movie. Unfortunately, it was all too real. My relatives lived in nearby Osaka so I immediately called them up to make sure they were OK. Luckily, though they received the jolt of their lives, they were otherwise fine. Still at the time, I could only look on horror at the destruction and the realization that thousands of families had been tragically affected. Judging from some of the news reports that I've seen on NHK yesterday and today, the scars still remain but Kobe and its citizens have come back up from the devastation.

Kobe (神戸)is a beautiful city with one of the major Chinatowns in the country, the Kitano Ijinkan(北野異人館)district behind Sannomiya Station filled with its wonderful Meiji and Taisho Era architecture, and the modern Port Island area which perhaps may have been inspiration to those who created the Odaiba district in Tokyo Bay. In my 1981 trip and 1989 stint on the JET Programme, I had the opportunities to visit the city. For the former trip, my classmates and I got to go to Port Island and witness some of the panda mania that gripped the country while for the latter, I actually got to see more of the city since the JET Renewers' Conference took place at the Portopia Hotel on that island.

Unfortunately, I never got to visit the city during my longest stay in Japan and after the earthquake, something that I still regret. But perhaps on the next trip, I will set my sights (and financial situation) higher and visit some of those areas way beyond the borders of Tokyo.


  1. Good to hear that your relatives are fine. Although it happened before my time, I heard that the earthquake did quite a lot of damage to Kobe, but they seem to have recovered well.

    "Wakareta hito to" sounds very Latin Mood Kayo, and that lonely trumpet in the background only adds to the lonely atmosphere. With the mostly quiet music and the group's mellow vocals, it does make for a good slow dance sequence between the two former lovers. Compared to "Ii yu da na", "Wakareta hito to" definitely has heavier feel to it.

    Speaking of "Ii yu da na", I may do a follow up on it sometime along with the song that represents Osaka, "Ichou namiki" since the two came out as one single, with "Ichou namiki" on the A-side.

    I've never been to Kobe, but it seems like a nice place and hopefully I'd be able to visit the city sometime.

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      Yeah, it was a close call for my relatives since Kobe and Osaka are very close to each other. But frankly, any place in Japan is susceptible to major earthquakes at any time unfortunately. At the same time, though, Japan has probably got the best earthquake defensive measures of any place on the planet.

      "Wakareta hito to" is a lovely song, isn't it? It would've made for a fine entry on that old TV Tokyo series "Enka no Hanamichi".

      Please feel free to do the follow-up on "Ii Yu da na". Looking forward to it.

      If you have a chance, please visit Kobe. It is lovely and I'm sure if you're in the port area at night, memories of Kiyoshi will pop into your head. :)


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