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, January 29, 2016

Atsuko Hiyajo/Ryusenkei -- Maware Maware (まわれまわれ)

During my usual translation work today, I put in "Light Mellow - Twilight" into the player for a second round, and I found myself starting to really like Track 1 which was "Maware Maware" (Turn, Turn) by Atsuko Hiyajo(比屋定篤子).

I had come across that name before in kanji although I didn't quite know how to read it at the time. Once again, it was through my curious searches for City Pop that I had yet to hear on YouTube that I first found the name. But it wasn't until I got "Light Mellow - Twilight" that I finally got to hear the pearly tones of Ms. Hiyajo, and in fact, I was only able to read the name finally by finding her official website.

Hiyajo, who has enjoyed singing since she was a little girl, hails from Okinawa and when she was attending Musashino Art University in the suburbs of Tokyo, she entered a circle which focused on the study of Latin music. It was from there that she got involved in a band with her as vocalist. During her time at university, she also met Jiro (or Haruo) Kobayashi(小林治郎)who was trying to become a composer, and the two started picking up gigs at the live houses in the Big Sushi. In 1997, she made her debut and it was with her 2nd album in 1999, "Sasayakareta Yume no Hanashi" (Talk of the Whispered Dream) that "Maware Maware" became a track. Hiyajo wrote the lyrics while Kobayashi composed the music.

There is some very nice and sunny groove going on with "Maware Maware" which makes it a fine tonic during the current winter and a good accompaniment for the later summer. The arrangement for the original song also had me thinking a bit of Shibuya-kei, and with Hiyajo's vocals, the band paris match in particular.

In the decade since, Hiyajo has put out a number of albums but in 2009, she had a collaboration with groovy band Ryusenkei(流線型)via the album "Natural Woman" and in that release, she and the band put out a new version of "Maware Maware" which, as one commenter put it, sounded a bit more in the TOTO vein (the band, not the toilet). Both versions sound just plummy to me.


  1. I finally got this album. It is absolutely wonderful!

    I can't stop playing it.

    Yes, it is Neo-City Pop but it is also a product of it's era. Meaning there is a tinge of Shibuya-kei which is not a bad thing.

    To try and recreate an era means that some parts of your own era leak through. Like family, you don't get to choose when or where you were born. Your influences define you and, as such, you look at all things based on those influences.

    This album came out in the late 90s and reflects that in the music. But they still did a wonderful job. I almost got Minako Yoshida vibes on some of the tracks.

    That is high praise indeed...

    1. Hello, Chasing Showa!

      Thanks for your comments. Sometimes it's difficult to categorize a song since it does meld in elements of various genres so seamlessly. And I think that's a nice thing since there are then so many angles to enjoy it from.

  2. It is difficult but a song is a song. This Wikipedia-ization of genre seems so pedantic to me. Back in the old days we were not so concerned about category.

    It is what it is ne?

  3. I find the intro of Atsuko Hiyajo's Maware Maware (1999) very reminiscent of the philly soul and orchestral disco (e.g. "Love's Theme", "Manhattan Skyline") of the 1970s.

    - roelm

    1. Hi, roelm.

      Yep, I would agree with that assessment, especially since I loved "Love's Theme" when I was a kid. It was actually used as the theme song for the 6pm news broadcast on the Toronto affiliate of CBC.


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