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, April 8, 2015

Sayuri Ishikawa -- Meoto Zenzai (夫婦善哉)

I've come to realise that Enka love songs that don't revolve around pining for their loved one or drinking away in sadness with them in mind (pretty sure I'm missing out other tragic scenes here), are always about the loving relationship between husband and wife. Some examples include Ikuzo Yoshi and Kaori Kozai's (吉幾三・香西かおり) "Asu no Meoto Zake" (明日の夫婦酒), where the couple drink over a heart-to-heart conversation, and George Yamamoto's (山本譲二) "Hana mo Arashi mo" (花も嵐も), where the man professes his undying love to his wife. Both are awe-inspiring and have lyrics with sweetness levels that are through the roof. I like songs like that, because you FINALLY have characters in the song that are happy to be together and are together. Most Enka songs are so bittersweet... or just bitter, so it's nice to have some sappy love song to balance it all out.

Coming back to the proper topic, "Meoto Zenzai", one of Sayuri Ishikawa's (石川さゆり) multiple hits also qualifies for that category of Enka. Commenter Ranawaka Aruna had actually suggested this a couple of months on the "Yotte Soro" (酔って候) article. When I saw this suggestion, I recalled seeing Ishikawa singing this song at the Hozenji in Osaka during NHK's "Osaka Melody Special" (that bit's in the video above). I did find it rather comfortable to listen to with its slow pace and soft strings, accompanying Ishikawa's gentle, mellifluous vocals. Plus, the mellow lighting of the place just added to the pleasant ambiance. Well, at least that sort of made up for the lack of Makoto Fujita's (藤田まこと) "Juso no Yoru" (十三の夜). It's one of my favourites and I was really hoping someone would sing it, so you can imagine that I was (still kinda am) rather miffed when they gave it a miss...

Anyway, composed by Tetsuya Gen (弦哲也) - I'm starting to recognize his style of music - the music makes me think of an older couple, one that had been through good times and bad over the many years, walking hand in hand under blue skies and the shade of either Sakura trees, pink in full bloom in spring, or fiery red Maple trees in autumn at some park, and enjoying each other's company. The lyrics were by Osamu Yoshida (吉岡治), and they basically talk about our lovebirds sticking together as they tackle life... or something like that.

"Meoto Zenzai" was released on 1st February 1987, peaking at 25th on the Oricon weeklies and managed to not fall too behind by the end of the year, coming in at 56th. It also helped Ishikawa bag the Gold Prize at the 29th Japan Record Awards, and she sang it twice on the Kohaku: 1987, 2006.


  1. Thanks Noelle Tham. I tried hard to find the english meaning of this beautiful song past few years. One day I found it but it is a rough translation in a jumble manner. What I gather from it as follows. "...Indefinite life drifting with laugh like a floating grass on an open field [in the rain]. On this narrow street images standing above the shoulder while the rain dancing on it. Mind no one's own mind, already used and nothing left with couple zenzai except sign post./ Our basis is your back and these basis found not to nursing different person's husband invisible to the others.Love on us and don't look for better woman you fell in Love with cold manner like a salmon fit, while in the cold night couple zenzai./ Couple zenzai standing at seven hills[or the top of the hill meaning peak of their lives]. Individual worldly life style cute and heavenly said author Ukiyo but now become a stupid thing. Today it is not without just four walls and a roof you needed a home and also the flower of patience. That's you needed and which results a flower of Heaven journey and only travel requirement is Mercy. And his wife needed a loving companion which mean couple a couple of Zenzai.Not even more events Couple Zenzai. And then you'll live in your lives.."
    I have no knowledge of Kanji. So if you find any error please let me know. I'm a Srilankan and now living in USA. Thanks to my friends and the experience I had while my brief stays in Chiba, Tokyo in 90's, I learned to listen to Japanese music.

  2. Hi there Ranawaka,

    "Meoto Zenzai" is indeed a beautiful song. Thanks for the translation, much appreciated. :) Though quite hard to understand, I think I have a slightly clearer idea about what the song is really about . While writing this article, I had read through the lyrics multiple times to see if I could get a rough idea of it - I sort of understand Kanji because some of them are Chinese characters, but add some Hiragana characters to the mix and I can get quite lost. So far I mostly understand the song's second paragraph and a little of the third.

    Oh yeah, in your other comment, you had also mentioned Ishikawa singing Anzen Chitai's hit "Kanashi mi ni Sayonara" together with Koji Tamaki. I had also watched that one, and she handled my favourite song by the band pretty well! I think I would feature it if I do an article on "Kanashi mi ni Sayonara".

    As for myself, I'm Singaporean and I got to know Japanese music through my parents when I was a kid. They introduced me to some J-Pop acts like Chage and Aska, Anzen Chitai. For Enka, I discovered it myself about a couple of years ago through watching monomane (impressionists) talents doing ridiculously funny impressions of the Enka singers, then I fully got into the genre in the middle of last year, and have been having fun discovering old but gold songs as well as quirky characters.

  3. Thanks Noelle T. I did not try to change much from the original text of that rough translation. But let me correct last paragraph like this way. "...Author Ukiyo said individual worldly life style cute and heavenly. But now it's become a stupid thing. Today it is not like that. Without just four walls you just needed a home and the house doers with the flower of [great or lot of] patience and this patience results heavenly of flower journey and only travel requirement you need for that purpose is Mercy..."

    Glad to know you from Singapore.
    And I have to make a one request from you. Please do a column about Miyako Harumi and Oka Chiaki song " Naniwa Koi Shigure" or Naniwa Love Shigure. Thanks again.

  4. Okay, I'll keep that the duet in mind. I've actually not listened to it yet, but I see it all the time.


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