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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Yuzu -- Natsuiro (夏色)

I remembered first seeing Yuzu (ゆず) through the video of their debut single "Natsuiro" (Summer Colour) in June 1998. Man, I thought these two were the happiest performers I had ever seen in my life. They could busk in front of Shibuya Station on a rainy day and the clouds would part immediately for them.

Yujin Kitagawa and Koji Iwasawa(北川悠仁・岩沢厚治)from Yokohama were indeed performing on the street. In fact, it all started when Kitagawa saw Iwasawa singing away (they actually have known about each other since elementary school) and got inspired. After a powwow, the duo was born in March 1996 and immediately got into the business of writing new songs while busking. Over the period of a year, Yuzu started to attract a following and by the time they did their last session on the street in August 1998, 7,500 people gathered to hear them...and this was on a day that a typhoon hit the area.

As for the duo's nom du guerre, Kitagawa and Iwasawa had first called themselves Light's after a brand of cigarette that the two of them had smoked but eventually Kitagawa came to believe that the name simply didn't match their image and sounded rather lame. Then, one day they were having some dessert in the form of a sherbet with the Japanese citrus fruit known as yuzu so they became Yuzu. Considering all of the happiness bursting from "Natsuiro", I personally thought that Yuzu was the perfect name with all that bright and spritely flavour.

And "Natsuiro" just has that nice mix of good-ol'-boy guitar folk and pop wonderfully enhanced by that official music video of Kitagawa and Iwasawa just frantically strumming away and beaming at the camera. It's a pity that I can't find an unadulterated version of it on YouTube. Kitagawa wrote and composed the song, and it managed to reach No. 17 on the Oricon weeklies, later becoming the 91st-ranked song of 1998.

Yuzu wouldn't make their first appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen until 2003 where they did a medley starting with "Natsuiro". And there has been some further legacy built at Kamiōoka Station in the guys' hometown in Yokohama where the boarding chime has been using the melody from the song since 2008.

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