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.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fuyumi Sakamoto -- Fuyumi no Soran Bushi (冬美のソーラン節)

For half of the precious weekend, my high patience - I'd like to think so - had been tested as my brain wrestled with a science research proposal concerning herbal extracts and whether or not they're able to kill food-spoiling bacteria. Now here comes the reason for my burning ire, the main purpose is to get us students who don't even know what herbal extracts are - I had only heard of them, but I never knew what they really were - to learn how to write a research proposal, and this was our given topic. So there I was struggling with the decision of how much information I should put into that  because at the end of the day, it's only the structure that's important and being graded... putting in lot's of info could just be a waste of time and effort. With 40% Wikipedia, 30% food safety sites, 15% lecture notes, 5% online grocery store catalogues and 10% pure bull (reserved for desperate situations), that was probably the most effort I had put in for a topic that's probably at least 90% irrelevant to my course of study, Marine Science and Aquaculture.

Looks rather claustrophobic...(the previous video was taken down)

Well, nightmarish research proposals aside, while taking breaks from investigating mold and the anti-bacterial qualities of mint, lemongrass and rosemary, I had also been digging around for information about the "Soran Bushi" (ソーラン節), a Minyo with its origins stemming from the gritty, salty fishermen of Hokkaido to cheer themselves on while performing backbreaking labour on the high seas. And just like many other Minyo like it, this rousing sea shanty with its signature, "Yaren soran, soran, soran...!" has been sung a multitude of times by enka singers both young and old, most notably by the late veteran and resident of Hokkaido Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也), the exuberant Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし) and enka beauty Fuyumi Sakamoto (坂本冬美)... or at least those are the versions I had heard of as of now.

I had first heard of "Soran Bushi" via Hikawa with his rendition that's aptly named, "Kiyoshi no Soran Bushi" (きよしのソーラン節) on a summer festival-themed "Kayo Concert" last August. I must say that this version is very... Hikawa..., and it's sits nicely between contemporary and traditional, but I can't say I'm a fan of it. Michi's take on "Soran Bushi" (that's the title) is a lot more deconstructed and is the most traditional sounding out of the 3 I've mentioned, it doesn't sound bad, it's just that the backup singers with their squeaky "Hai! Hai!" and "Dokkoisho! Dokkoisho!" irks me to no end.

And then we have Sakamoto's version, which is my favourite. I actually heard this on the plane while on the way to Hong Kong. It was the first song under the enka album in the Japanese music section, so I gave it a shot since I had some prior experience with this Minyo. Admittedly, I thought it was quite odd to be listening to a traditional sea shanty, but the music to "Fuyumi no Soran Bushi" allowed me to settle into it quite easily. Composed by Kaoru Hanagasa (花笠薫), it is very much Pop/Rock-like with the sting of the electric guitar and the trumpets blasting away, but the flute... I think it's called the shakuhachi and the constant, manlier "Soran! Soran!" helps the song retain it's Minyo/enka-ness. The lyrics were by Yo Yashiro (やしろよう).

"Fuyumi no Soran Bushi" was released on 2nd November 2005 as the B-side to "Futari no Tairyo Bushi" (ふたりの大漁節), which is her 35th single. It peaked at 24th place on the regular charts.


  1. Hello, Noelle.

    I could use some of those herbal extracts myself since I seem to be coming down with a sore throat. At this point, I've just got salt gargles to go on.

    Anyways, Fuyumi's "Soran Bushi" is quite the bright version, thanks to her vocals.

  2. I hope you'll be better soon, and probably those herbal extracts may do some good. I usually go for something either sour or hot or both when I've come down with a sore throat.

    1. Thanks kindly, Noelle.

      I've been doing the usual salt water gargles before I hit bed. The Japanese certainly do swear by them, although I prefer the honey-and-lemon treatment.


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