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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Kiyoshi Maekawa -- Himawari (ひまわり)

I think he'd have looked better in a darker suit...

Most of what I consider to be "Summer songs" would ordinarily give me the image of soft sand beaches with the blue waters of the lagoon lazily lapping against the shore or, depending on the tune, eager surfers dudes, surf boards in hand... arm... dashing towards the large waves that would soon swallow them whole...Watch out for sharks! The latter would more often than not be derived from Yuzo Kayama's (加山雄三) discography. I can just imagine him in his Wakadaisho-movie days gliding across the surface of the sea on his board. But both of the aforementioned scenarios don't apply to Kiyoshi Maekawa's (前川清) "Himawari". Rather than the sand and the surf and tanned surfers, I think of the strong afternoon sun shining down on to rolling fields crowded with bright yellow sunflowers swaying away in the warm, gentle breeze. Actually, there is this old Oregon photo book that my parents have (they got it as a gift from friends there) that has got a picture similar to what I described above. I just love leafing through that book as it boasts the state's natural beauty.

The photo was taken by Ray Atkeson
from "Oregon III", "Cascade Range" section.
Anyway, written and composed by the popular singer-songwriter, Masaharu Fukuyama, who hails from Nagasaki as well, "Himawari" gives out this really relaxed and, in my opinion, lazy-weekend vibe with its slow yet cozy pace and Mae-Kiyo's deep, slightly husky delivery. Although it isn't one of my top favourite tunes from the veteran singer due to its length, clocking in at almost 6 minutes - I have gotten used to the briefness of most kayokyoku - and its lullaby-like music, I do appreciate it from time to time on bright, clear days with the scenery from the car or train carriage whipping by. The video below has Fukuyama's version, which is gentler and more deconstructed compared to the one he put together for Maekawa. He kinda sounds like a combination of ASKA and Keisuke Kuwata (桑田佳祐), if you ask me.

"Himawari" was released in June 2002 as Mae-Kiyo's 24th single, and by far, it his only solo single to break into the top 20 on the Oricon charts, peaking at 13th place, if I'm not wrong. He also sang "Himawari" once during his 12th appearance on the Kohaku on the same year.

(The "Kayo Concert" video was taken down but 
here is another performance by Maekawa.)

As for the video here, it was from a "Kayo Concert" episode last August, and it happened to be the first time I caught Mae-Kiyo performing on TV. Needless to say, I was... delighted. Ecstatic. On cloud nine.

Yup, that's the very expression that
sums up "Himawari" perfectly.


  1. Hi, Noelle.

    Yeah, that's quite the different vibe for Maekawa with Fukuyama taking care of the song, but kudos to the both of them for providing something new. It's indeed a very laid back and...modern...summery song which definitely brings images of hills and sunflowers instead of beach and surf.

    As for the colors of suits on the singers, I guess their managers needed some way for their clients to stand out instead of wearing the usual black or navy blue or gray. Arizona Topaz, anyone?

    1. Hi J-Canuck.

      I may have seen Mae-Kiyo in a suit with a colour similar to Arizona Topaz, probably in a lighter shade. I suppose you're right in saying that the singers need to stand out by wearing something brighter, but some of them really do take that to new heights - you watch "Kayo Concert" too, so you probably know what I mean.

    2. Yeah. Some of the more enterprising singers seem to wear stuff that I could only imagine being worn at a Comic-Con sometimes. Of course, Sachiko Kobayashi made it her duty when she used to appear on the Kohaku to wear clothes that had their own postal code.


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