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.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hibari Misora -- Ai San San (愛燦燦)

To commemorate Hibari Misora's (美空ひばり) passing 26 years ago, the "Kayo Concert" episode a couple of days ago had just featured some of this veteran singer's songs, and I enjoyed it a lot more than last year's one (my introduction to the show). I suppose it's because most of the guests on board were recognizable by yours truly, like Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし), Aki Yashiro (八代亜紀), Yoshimi Tendo (天童よしみ), etc. and I've already been exposed to the different sorts of enka/kayokyoku that Madam Misora had been known to cover in the past year. But I have to admit, there are still some of her hits that I have yet to be agreeable with, most notably, the heartbreaking and extremely melancholic "Kanashii Sake" (悲しい酒).

Anyway, Itsuki and Yashiro started the ball rolling with one of  Misora's tunes from later in her career in 1986, "Ai San San", and although Yashiro nailed the sadness in "Kanashii Sake" near the end of the show, I felt that her vocal delivery was a little out of place when she sang half of this before passing the baton on to Itsuki. And Mom, who's a pretty big fan of Misora by now (I'm genuinely surprised), was less than happy to hear this rendition. Tendo or Natsuko Godai (伍代夏子) would've been a better choice, in my opinion.

Now about the original, "Ai San San" is a really delicate song especially in terms of its music since most of it just has the acoustic guitar tinkling away, and the strings at the later part add elegance to it. I guess you could say that its kind of like Madam Misora, who seems to be singing each word with such deliberation in a voice bigger than herself. And it just reminds me of rainy days where the rain has slowed to a drizzle, and the sun rays are slowly streaming through the dark clouds. This, including its lyrics, was brought to you by singer-songwriter, Kei Ogura (小椋佳). I don't really understand "Ai San San" lyrics-wise, but so far, I'm able to fully agree with these lines:

Jinsei te Fushigi na mono desu ne                                          Life is a strange thing, isn't it?
Jinsei te Ureshii mono desu ne                                               Life is a happy thing, isn't it?

"Ai San San" did fairly alright on the charts, peaking at 69th place, and there have been quite a number of covers over the years. It was sung twice on the Kohaku, but not by Misora though. It was first sung by fellow Sannin Musume (三人娘... female version of Sannin no Kai) member, Izumi Yukimura (雪村いづみ) on the 40th Kohaku in 1989 in honor of the Queen of Kayokyoku. And then it was sung again many years later in 2007 during the 58th edition of the year end competition by Ogura with "Misora" - video version of her.

Here's Ogura's own take of "Ai San San". He actually sounds pretty good!


  1. Hi, Noelle.

    My mother is also not a huge fan of Aki Yashiro, either, simply because she doesn't think she's all that solid a singer. However, all of her wrath for that episode of "Kayo Concert" was aimed at Hidemi Sasaki who sang "Yawara". Just to distill her commentary, it basically came down to "Why was that woman allowed to get on the stage?"

    I'm glad you wrote about "Ai San San". I've heard the song a number of times but I don't think I would've been able to bring the insight that you have about it and the show itself. As for Kei Ogura, he is indeed a quietly unassuming talent; he gives his own emotional personality to the songs that he has written for other singers. If I'm not mistaken, he used to work as an officer in a bank...I can only imagine what it must have been like to go to a karaoke bar with him after the drinking parties.

  2. Ah, one mistake to correct. Sasaki sang "Ringo Oiwake" not "Yawara".

    1. Hi J-Canuck,

      After that "Kayo Concert" episode, I'm sure my mom isn't going to be much of a fan of Yashiro either (She's only "OK" with the singer in the first place)... And coincidentally, her reaction to Yashiro singing half of "Ai San San" was exactly the same as your mom's commentary... probably with more rage in it since she likes the song.

      So Hidemi Sasaki is the name of the lady who sang the jazzier version of "Ringo Oiwake", I was wondering who she was since I've never seen/heard of her before... and your mom seems to have very strong feelings against her. I kinda hoped Ikuzo Yoshi would be back to sing it again like last year's episode.

      I was quite impressed with Ogura's voice - seems to be perfect for singing Folk songs - when I first saw him sing "Yume Shibai"; I thought he'd sound like one of the many karaoke-loving middle-aged men appearing on "Nodojiman".

    2. Yeah, I don't mind the huskiness in Yashiro's voice but I think she also tends to go a little my ears, anyways. My mom doesn't really "get" jazz which is probably why she was fairly steamed at Sasaki's performance.


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