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, January 4, 2016

Momoe Yamaguchi -- Sayonara no Mukou Gawa (さよならの向う側)

I've made a few New Year's Resolutions, one of which died a quick neck-snapping death right on January 1st. Of course, that would be "going on a diet". One other was that I personally will be taking things a bit easier when it comes to this blog that we've all been working on for almost 4 years. I think after such time, trying to put up 1~2 songs up a day is becoming increasingly more difficult since it's become harder to think up of songs that I can talk about. Of course, there are new songs that I have yet to discover that I can write about, but I think one of the main reasons for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" is talking about tunes that I've been listening to for years and how I got to know them in the first place. So I will be easing up on the reins (or try to, anyways) and not feel so pressured to get at least one article up everyday.

On that note, then, allow me to write about Momoe Yamaguchi's(山口百恵)"Sayonara no Mukou Gawa" (The Other Side of Goodbye). By the time I went fully in thrall to my kayo kyoku proclivities in the summer of 1981, Miss Yamaguchi had already become Mrs. Miura and left the stage. I had heard about her, though, in the past and even remembered some of her performances on videotape, especially for "Imitation Gold".

And some years after that, there was a spotlight episode of "Sounds of Japan" featuring Yamaguchi and some of her discography. Of course, at the very end of that tribute was this song, her 31st single from August 1980. Written by husband-&-wife songwriting duo Ryudo Uzaki and Yoko Aki(宇崎竜童・阿木燿子), "Sayonara no Mukou Gawa" was not Momoe's official final single (her 32nd single, "Ichie"/一恵 would be for her active run), but considering the title, the melody and the lyrics, no one in Japan ever doubted that this was the swan song for this aidoru of the 1970s. I mean, the song practically demanded a montage of her career (and thanks to the wonderful video above, it got it).

"Sayonara no Mukou Gawa" starts off with some very soft slow guitar and piano as if it were reflecting the start of the morning of the last day of Momoe's career as an entertainer. And then with this montage-like melody and lyrics like "...last song for you...", you can just imagine her fans seeing all of her appearances passing in front of their eyes which are probably welling up with tears as the music starts rousing up to the climax represented by that electric guitar blast at sunset.

And finally, there is the refrain:

Thank you for your kindness
Thank you for your tenderness
Thank you for your smile
Thank you for your love
Thank you for your everything
Sayonara no kawari ni(さよならのかわりに...Instead of goodbye)

It's probably at that point when the lachrymal fluid dam breaks followed by an extended instrumental bridge for fans to reflect some more. Plus there is still one more verse before the refrain repeats. That is one epic goodbye from a Japanese singer at 6 minutes plus!

There was a video (unfortunately taken down by YouTube) above showing excerpts from Momoe's final concert on October 5 1980 in which she performs "Sayonara no Mukou Gawa". Most likely, there wasn't a single dry eye in the house. And she does the remarkable thing of ceremoniously placing the microphone down on the stage when she's done and leaves. Possible precursor to the mike drop? In any case, Momoe has left the house!

The ballad hit No. 4 on Oricon and became the 41st-ranked song for 1980. It also became a track on her 21st album, "Phoenix Densetsu"(不死鳥伝説...Legend of the Phoenix)which was released at about the same time as the single. It peaked at No. 6.

Even though there was still one more single to come out in October 1980 which actually peaked higher at No. 2, "Sayonara no Mukou Gawa" was the goodbye song to everyone. And she has basically kept good on her promise although I recall at least one YouTube video where some pesky journalist managed to track her down for an impromptu interview a few years afterwards. Still, professionally, she was happy to be done and pass the baton onto Seiko and Akina.


  1. Glad you're not taking a permanent break as I love your blog dearly! Thanks so much for all of your posts. Daily posting is a breakneck speed, so no wonder you're tired!

    I just heard this song for the first time on an old Kouhaku, it really stood out because of that giant English refrain :) Didn't realize it was her last song! Thanks very much for the background!

    I wanted to ask you, have you ever heard this song by 青木リカ? I just heard 柴咲コウ talk about it on a recent TV program and found it to be really catchy :) If you know anything I'd love to hear about it!

    1. Thanks very much for the compliment! It's just gotten a bit busier with work now and since I've gone through a whole memory of songs, perhaps slowing down a bit wouldn't be a bad thing. :)

      To be honest, I've never heard of Rika Aoki but seeing the trailer, I do know of the genre of tough biker chicks; probably inspired Quentin Tarentino when it came to "Kill Bill" and maybe even Ringo Shiina.

      When you mentioned Kou Shibasaki, I just thought that I wouldn't be surprised about her talking about that movie. I've always found something rather devilish about her smile. And years ago, I heard something about in some poll with the title "Which actress would you like to be chewed out by the most?", Shibasaki topped the list. :) It takes all kinds, I'll tell you.

  2. Sayonara no Mukou Gawa was also part of a rock opera album called Phoenix Densetsu, written possibly as part of her and the Aki/Uzaki team's desire to stretch her musical horizons. Or maybe Phoenix Densetsu was supposed to be a rock opera summary of her career. Either way, Sayonara no Mukou Gawa is the last sung track on the album. The album title track itself also appears in her last concert during the blue dress portion, possibly another pointer to the album being a summary of her career. I've heard it described as the best single that Momoe never released.

    1. Interesting since I've always seen Uzaki as a hard rocker so I gather that Yamaguchi would have been interested in trying that genre out. She was also willing to try out some mellow AOR via "LA Blue". I'd be intrigued enough to purchase that album next time.


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