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, January 28, 2015

Yosui Inoue/Masahiro Motoki -- Higashi e Nishi e (東へ西へ)

When it comes to the Kohaku Utagassen, the first few years that I viewed the program were the ones that I generally have a good idea about what happened there. I guess it's as the saying goes, "You always remember your first one". After the mid-80s, it was more about which highlights/lowlights I remember throughout my viewing history than the actual particular year's performances. So, of course, I can recall Sachiko Kobayashi's(小林幸子)appearances in dresses bigger than Godzilla, Rie Miyazawa's(宮沢りえ)cringeworthy cover of David Bowie's "Game", and Koji Tamaki's(玉置浩二)triumphant return from serious illness singing "Den'en"(田園)with the band TOKIO.

Then there is Masahiro 'Mokkun' Motoki(本木雅弘). I remember him from his days with Shibugakitai(シブがき隊)appearing on "The Best 10" and "The Top 10". And of course, many years later, there was his starring role in the Oscar-winning "Okuribito"(おくりびと...Departures) as the jaded cellist who finds a new calling as a mortician. However, Motoki entered my list of special Kohaku performances when he appeared on the 1992 show for the first time as a solo act. Until I looked up his article on J-Wiki and found out which year it was, I had completely forgotten when he made that notorious appearance. I certainly remember what that appearance was, though.

He sang "Higashi e Nishi e" (To The East, To The West) and the lyrics I recall were "Ganbare, ganbare"(がんばれ、がんばれ...Keep on going). However, what probably had the audience in NHK Hall in Shibuya and millions of television viewers lollygagging was him dancing about seductively with a necklace of gigantic condoms filled with stuff. I wasn't quite sure whether he was channeling a mix of Klaus Nomi and Prince, but the piece de resistance happened during the musical interlude when he turned his back on the camera and promptly unzipped his butt. GOOD NIGHT, EVERYONE! I bet the NHK switchboard lit up like a Christmas perhaps did his ardent fans during his aidoru jidai. According to that J-Wiki article, Mokkun had intended to send a message about the AIDS situation.

"Higashi e Nishi e" was Motoki's 2nd single from May 1992. What I hadn't known until I started looking up the information last night was that the song was originally by singer-songwriter Yosui Inoue(井上陽水), all the way back to his 2nd album in December 1972, "Yosui II Sentimental". Instead of the rock treatment by Mokkun, "Higashi e Nishi e" started life as a folk song in which Inoue was giving the young rebellious man's view of why people around him were just running in all directions like ants studying like crazy for university, and then once graduated and into society, why they were expending all that energy as corporate cogs or executroids day in and day out. From the way that he was singing it though, I wasn't quite sure whether he was being sarcastic or perhaps envious. In any case, I could easily imagine him strumming his guitar in front of Shibuya Station just watching the hordes zip around him everyday. Of course, Inoue wrote and composed the song but what really stuck out was the inclusion of that French horn near the end, giving the original song some more gravitas.

As for "Yosui II Sentimental", it peaked at No. 10 on the album charts, but it became the 8th-ranked release for 1974 and then the 15th-ranked album for 1975. Good ol' staying power there.

Apparently the above video features Inoue's performance of "Higashi e, Nishi e" at NHK Hall itself in March 1982. I actually like this rolling arrangement most of all out of the three versions I've featured. Aside from Motoki, Tomoyasu Hotei (2004) and Ayumi Nakamura (2010) have also covered the song. 


  1. I still like the Yousui Inoue version if this song best. I was just listening to "Yousui II Sentimental" the other day, as chance would have it. I think this and 神無月にかこまれて are my favorites, but it's a very solid album.

    1. Hi, RagnarXIV, and thanks for your comments. Yup, I'm more for the Inoue version as well. I don't have as much knowledge about his discography as I do with some of the other singers I've covered. Do you have any particular recommendations for Inoue songs?

  2. Oh man, that's a really hard one! I am only familiar with his first ten albums or so, but I just want to say "everything"! Hopefully I can get a hold of some of his more recent work, too.
    I really enjoy Kaerenai Futari, which he wrote with Imawano Kiyoshiro, and Sakura Sangatsu Sanpomichi (no clue what it's about, though!), as well as the title track from Koori no Sekai. Nishoku no Koma and Shoutaijou no Naishow are albums where it's hard for me to pull songs from them instead of just listening to the whole thing, but I think the ones from Nishoku no Koma that were released on singles are particularly strong - Zenmai Jikake no Kabutomushi, Gomen, and Tabi kara Tabi. I also like Yuudachi and London Kyuukou a lot. Some later ones I like are "Shoutaijou no Nai Show", "Ano Sora, Hitokiri", and Aoi Yami no Keikoku is a wonderful rocking start to his album "white". I'll leave it at those for now, before I end up just listing everything! But I have to mention one more, "Yamiya no Kuni kara", which is the first song I heard of his and made me interested in his other works.

    1. Hi, Ragnar.

      I have the same hard time as well when someone asks me about what my favourite songs are by my favourite singer. It's rather like asking who your favourite child is. There's no way you can choose one.

      I've read that "Koori no Sekai" is a true classic album not just for Inoue but for anyone in particular.


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