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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 11, 2015

Kaze/Kaguyahime -- Ni-juu-ni Sai no Wakare (22才の別れ)


About a couple of weeks ago, commenter Ranawaka Aruna mentioned about an old folk song by the title of "Ni-juu-ni Sai no Wakare" (Parting at 22). As is often the case with me, that title didn't ring any bells but the melody certainly did. I've heard it at different times and possibly it was even featured on "Sounds of Japan".

Singer-songwriter Shozo Ise(伊勢正三)had originally pulled double duty with the music and lyrics for "Ni-juu-ni Sai no Wakare" and the even more famous "Nagori Yuki"(なごり雪)while he was with the folk group Kaguyahime(かぐや姫). The two songs were placed into the band's 4th album, "Sankai Date no Uta"(三階建の詩...A Three-Storey Poem)which came out in March 1974 and hit the top spot on Oricon. It would not only become the 5th-ranked album for the year but would also be the 27th-ranked album of 1975. But despite the song's eventual status as one of the more well-remembered J-Folk entries, it was never released as its own single during Kaguyahime's first run between 1970 and 1975.


However, it was released for the first time as a single when Ise formed the duo Kaze(風)in 1975. In fact, "Ni-juu-ni Sai no Wakare" was the debut single for Ise and Kazuhisa Okubo(大久保一久), released in February 1975. It became the duo's biggest hit as it hit No. 1 and became the year's 7th-ranked song. According to an article by music critic Issei Tomisawa for the book "An Encyclopedia of 300 Famous Folk Songs" (title translated from the original Japanese), the ballad sold a shade over 700,000 records


Almost a decade later, the original Kaguyahime recording of "Ni-juu-ni Sai no Wakare" was used as the ending theme for an NTV drama and released as its own single. After listening to both versions, I didn't particularly hear any major differences between the Kaguyahime and Kaze takes; both of them have that appealing guitar melody as Ise sings about that venerable trope of parting being such sweet sorrow. It's the type of song that would have any generation getting a bit contemplative about life.


I did come across some interesting information at the bottom of the J-Wiki article for "Ni-juu-ni Sai no Wakare" in which Ise gave an interview for the journal "Sotetsu Kawarahan"(相鉄瓦版)Issue 126  several years back. In it, he mentioned about the circumstances behind the creation of those two songs for the album "Sankai Date no Uta". He had first written and composed "Nagori Yuki" as a creation that he personally liked, but for some reason, he became discouraged with it thinking that it would never become a hit. He then decided to burn the midnight oil one night to make "Ni-juu-ni Sai no Wakare" for the purposes of making a hit that would sell the vinyl. 

But this begets the question: Why was the latter never released as a single after all while the former was? Well, at least the long-range answer had a happier result. Both are now considered classics of the genre, although "Nagori Yuki" got its boost thanks to Iruka's(イルカ)cover. Of course, "Ni-juu-ni Sai no Wakare" has been covered by a number of artists ranging from the late Kozo Murashita(村下孝蔵)to Akina Nakamori(中森明菜).


3 comments:

  1. thank you for the information. I came across Kaguyahime's songs while watching SMAPxSMAP (ha, SMAP again did actually introduce me to many many good songs). back then then have corner called Respect 70s, where SMAP collaborated with the original artists to sing their 70s hit songs. It is now still my favorite ending songs conner.

    I also like Kandagawa. maybe this is off topic but later I discovered Kandagawa had Vietnamese version (the melody with Vietnamese lyrics). I didn't know that but it used to be popular in the 80s - 90s in Vietnam too.

    there is also another cover by Jun Shibata, released in 2012, and I was surprised that female voice actually fit the song too. or maybe Jun Shibata's voice is pretty good in her cover.

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    Replies
    1. Hi May.

      I think that kayo kyoku segment on "SMAP X SMAP" was great to re-introduce some of the classics to the younger generation. In a way, it has helped to a certain extent to keep the older songs alive into the 21st century.

      Shibata seems to be one of those singers that has been under the radar...or at least under mine. I mean, she never gained a huge profile, but I have a feeling that she has a very devoted circle of fans.

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    2. I don't remember why I listened to Shibata but at that time I was really interested in kayo kyoku but hardly know any because of the language barrier and lacking of information. Shibata's cover album was one of the great resource for me .

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