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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hibari Misora -- Yuukyou Kaidou (遊侠街道)

(karaoke version)

Somewhat along the lines of David Bowie, I've seen the late Hibari Misora(美空ひばり)in many forms: as the stoic iron lady in traditional Japanese dress, the tiny girl in the tuxedo and the genki jazzy entertainer in that sparkling gown among others. 

When it comes to her March 1964 single, "Yuukyou Kaidou" (Road of Chivalrous People), it's that first persona that I envisage. Just like the single that came out some months later that year, "Yawara"(柔), this particular song had Misora in strut-worthy proud mode as she sang about those samurai who fought the good fight while traveling down that lonely road which more than likely ended at their respective graves. Master enka composer and guitarist Masao Koga(古賀政男)was behind the quiet but grand music that melodically introduced the warriors while lyricist and scholar of French culture, Yaso Saijo(西條八十), wrote what seemed to be the code of an austere life with the Sword of Damocles always hanging over those who practice it.

Last but not least, Misora sang it the same way that Koga had composed "Yuukyou Kaidou": quietly grand. There was nothing histrionic about her pride for the warriors. It was simply a straight tale of respect. The reason I wrote about it today was that I was able to find the 45" of it and played it on the stereo. The link above will give a very clear recording as opposed to my slightly scratchy copy, but I think the static adds that extra layer of nostalgia to it, although the needle on the playing arm may not be too happy.

The above is a karaoke video showing about what the lyrics wanted to illustrate about the feelings in the song. 


  1. I've found out about Hibari Misora through an interview with Marty Friedman on Tofugu and been listening to her on Spotify non-stop for the last two weeks, and Yuukyou Kaidou was one of my favorites, so this was nice to see... except, when I listened to the version in your link at the top, they were different songs! I used the Soundhound and Shazam apps to identify the song on Spotify. Soundhound gave "Shioyamisaki", which turned out to be false. Shazam said "Hatsukoi Matroos", which YouTube confirmed. I wonder how many of the titles in that Spotify album is wrong? It's a bit frustrating.

    Anyway, Marty Friedman, if you don't know, was the lead guitarist of the thrash metal band Megadeth on their best, early albums, who then moved to Japan due to his interest in the culture, especially Enka. He says he basically developed his style trying to imitate how enka singers sang, and that Hibari Misora was the most influential among them. Listening to her, I can really hear the resemblance in some of the harmonies, which is really interesting (see, for instance, his tunes on his new age-y '92 solo album Scenes).


    1. Hi, Faruk. Good to hear from you again. I'm listening to a sample of "Hatsukoi Madros" as I write this, and yeah, they are different songs. Interesting how low Hibari's voice is in "Hatsukoi".

      I used to see Marty Friedman fairly often on Japanese TV since he's also known as a tarento over there. One show where he was a semi-regular guest was "Tamori Club" on late Friday nights. I was so envious of his ability to speak Japanese so fluently.


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