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, January 13, 2015

Kazuo Funaki -- Shuugaku Ryokou (修学旅行)

I came across this 45" by Kazuo Funaki(舟木一夫)in Dad's old collection some time ago so of course, I gave it a spin on the TEAC. When one thinks of Funaki, high school memories will inevitably come up since his first number of singles were all related to those 4 years of education. Obviously, there was his signature tune, "Koukou Sannen-sei"(高校三年生)that got him immediately on the map when he debuted in June 1963, already a graduate.

Then, there was his 2nd single which came out just a couple of months following "Koukou Sannen-sei", "Shuugaku Ryokou" (School Trip). One of the prime memories of any student in the Japanese education system is when he/she gets to go with classmates and teachers on that big 3-day trip to another city in Japan. When I was on the JET Programme in Gunma, I had that one opportunity to join the senior students in junior high school on that very trip over to Kyoto and Nara. We got to see a whole bunch of temples and shrines and then there was the chance to feed the deer in Nara...while avoiding the deer "land mines" underfoot. Perhaps for a lot of the kids, it was their very first opportunity to go on a trip without the family, and so I'm pretty sure that the teachers were busy yelling at the students to refrain from gabbing away in their rooms past curfew. I've only given a tiny taste of what the experience is like but it is indeed a big deal.

So with that background information in mind, it's no surprise that a record could be made about the school tradition. "Shuugaku Ryokou" was created by the same duo behind Funaki's first hit, Toshio Oka and Minoru Endo(丘灯至夫・遠藤実). The one thing that distinguished this song from "Koukou Sannen-sei" is the nearly Latin-sounding rumbling beat, although I think composer Endo was perhaps trying to approximate the clackety-clack of the train transporting the kids and teachers. Remember this was still about a year before the first Shinkansen made its debut. Instead of the school anthem-like nature of "Koukou Sannen-sei", "Shuugaku Ryokou" was more lively, especially in the refrain starting with that "La, la, la", reflecting the students' feelings about heading off on that big tour. I guess getting to go on that (educational) vacation with the buddies instead of the parents could get any child pretty excited.

Unfortunately, I don't know exactly how successful Funaki's 2nd single became, but I'm fairly sure that it made for a good follow-up to his debut.

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