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, March 31, 2015

Masayuki Suzuki/Yoshiyuki Osawa -- Private Hotel (プライベートホテル)

Not sure if I ever mentioned it anywhere in the articles for "Kayo Kyoku Plus", but I have to say in all honesty that the Tokyo Prince Hotel right by Tokyo Tower is the Ground Zero for what would drive me for the rest of my life up to now. Now I did state in my early articles that my Japanese Language School graduation trip back in the summer of 1981 was the life-changing experience that had me learning about and gradually living in Japan for a good chunk of my half-century on Earth. Well, for the first five days of our stay in the country, the Prince was our amiable host. Of course, my classmates and I stayed in other accommodations such as the Chisan Hotel in Nagoya, a Kyoto hotel and three days with homestay families in Nara among other lodgings, but for me, the Prince was it. So much so that I ended up making a pilgrimage there one more time during my last visit to the country last October.

My personal prologue was for the purposes of introducing another cool Masayuki Suzuki(鈴木雅之)tune, "Private Hotel". Released as Martin's 9th single in June 1990, it was written by Hideki Ando(安藤秀樹)and composed by J-funkster/songwriter Yoshiyuki Osawa(大沢誉志幸). Some years previously, Osawa had come up with Suzuki's debut single, the haunting "Glass Goshi ni Kieta Natsu"(ガラス越しに消えた夏). And like that ballad, I was initially lukewarm to "Private Hotel" since Suzuki had so many other great tunes that I loved, but this has grown on me over the years as well. 

As is often the case with songs that have the word "hotel" in their titles, "Private Hotel" relates the adventure of a man having that fling with a woman who may or may not be his wife...keeping things as sub-rosa as possible. The song definitely hints that the accommodations in question is probably not some Motel Six out in the boonies but some nice upscale hotel in the big city...perhaps something like the Tokyo Prince or perhaps one of the major hotels up in West Shinjuku. Osawa also put in a goodly amount of funk; Martin doesn't really dance up a storm in his live performances but I could imagine Osawa putting on a show if he did do a cover of it.

Well, what do you know? I managed to find Osawa doing a cover of the song. Although he isn't exactly dancing around, his version is quite interesting done in that reggae style

"Private Hotel" did rather modestly as it only went as high as No. 60 on the charts. It was also a track on the singer's 4th album, "mood" which peaked at No. 12 on the Oricon album charts.

For a number of years now, the Tokyo Prince has been more of a "faded glory" hotel compared to the time that I visited in 1981. When I went to visit the place last October, it was celebrating an anniversary of sorts and there were plenty of photos of many high-level dignitaries such as the late British Prime Minister and Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, and former US President Jimmy Carter coming to the hotel. And I believe (not 100% sure) that Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)had held her (first) wedding reception at the Prince along with a number of sumo wrestlers and other celebs.

The lobby of the Prince seems to have stayed in stasis for the past few decades. It looks just like it did back in the summer of 1981 when a very bewildered group of Japanese-Canadian kids trundled in. I know that a new wing in the form of a tower has been built for the Tokyo Prince, but against a lot of other opinions, I still like the old place. And in fact, I rather regretted that I couldn't actually stay at least one night at the hotel before I left Japan in 2011 (the hotel is still packed to the gills in may not have the cachet it once did, but it's still popular with the business crowd).

However, I assuaged some of that pain by treating myself to a somewhat pricey dessert set at the 1st-floor cafe last year. Darn fine strawberry shortcake! And although the Tokyo Prince doesn't have as much of a high profile as it used to, I did see one celeb come traipsing in that usual celeb guise of sunglasses, a jacket turned up at the collar and a baseball cap scrunched down on the head. Couldn't recognize the lad but he did have his minders with him as they all sat around the corner from me.

Yup, that's the lobby up above. And the Iron Lady down below.

I don't know when I'm gonna hit Tokyo again in the future. But it would be nice if I could stay over at the Prince...if I can save enough of the Canadian dollar.

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