To a certain extent, I can relate to "Shima Sodachi". Up to this point in my life I've been living on a tiny island close to the equator, however if Yoshio Tabata (田端義夫) were to be singing a "Shima Sodachi" based on current-day Singapore I would think that it'd be more rollicking and possibly boisterous... Actually, maybe not for just this one part of town: Changi Village and beach. Being on the eastern side of the country, despite being one of the chalet and camping hot-spots, it still (somehow) manages to retain that quaint and laid-back atmosphere of, well, a village from the days of yore. I do enjoy walking about the area after some good Nasi Lemak (a Malay dish coconut and pandan-flavored rice and stuff like a fried egg on the side) at the food center.
Coming back to the topic at hand, Tabata's "Shima Sodachi" conveys that very atmosphere I talked about. The slow, almost waltzing-like melody, brought to you by Minoru Mikai (三界稔), and the late ryukoka singer's unhurried and deliberate manner of singing seem to reflect the peaceful, worry-free way of life on some little isle our main character lived on. Initially I was quite certain that the island involved was Okinawa, especially with Batayan pronouncing a few words in what I think is the Okinawan dialect. With some research, however, I found that it wasn't Okinawa, but Amami Oshima, which sits between Kyushu and Okinawa and is officially under Kagoshima. Kunihiko Arikawa's (有川邦彦) lyrics tell of the fellow's time growing up on the island and the things he experienced when there.
"Shima Sodachi" was released in 1962 and was Batayan's comeback hit after quite a long dry spell. It sold over 400 000 copies and even gave him a ticket to the 14th edition of the Kohaku a year later in 1963 - it was his first appearance.