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, August 2, 2016

Akiko Matsumoto -- Natsu Iro no Garcon (夏色のギャルソン)

Welcome to August...halfway through the summer now, and I can honestly say that it's been a good hot summer in Toronto. We haven't got a whole lot of rain but there have been scattered cloudbursts now and then which are good for the grass and reservoirs. However, according to one of my clients back in Japan, the Tokyo area has been suffering a lot from a lack of the wet stuff for some weeks, so I'm hoping that some precipitation does come my old city's way.

One observation I have about contemporary Japanese pop culture has been that although the country has been more than happy to bring in various aspects of the pop media culture from other nations such as Hollywood movies and TV shows, it is basically a thriving encapsulated phenomenon. It means that just like in the United States, all of the indigenous music, TV and the like can pretty much be generated and developed without too much of a nudge from external sources. And perhaps the fact that Japan is an island nation may have something to do with my perception, but there seems to be a tighter closeness between the celebrities in Japan and the hoi polloi. Not that the younger folks here are a jaded lot and will not go nuts at times when they see AKB 48 or Arashi in their neighbourhoods, but it seems that the incidence of stars and fans crossing paths at least in the major cities is significantly higher. Plus, I've always felt that the majority of tarento on the telly aren't all that much different from regular people (aside from being rather loud).

(excerpt only)

And even my little snark in parentheses may have gone the way of the dodo, personally speaking. Many years ago, one of my best students who has since gone on to become a teacher of English for children had a gig for a few years during which she taught the child of a TV personality by the name of Akiko Matsumoto(松本明子). I had already known of Matsumoto by her reputation as a boisterous comical tarento, but one day, I actually got the opportunity to go with my former Padawan to Ms. Matsumoto's house to observe her teaching her young charge. Meeting Ms. Matsumoto was quite the revelation since she was absolutely the nicest and most self-effacing host. In fact, I had to tip my ear a few times because she sounded so quiet in her responses sometimes.

One thing that I didn't know until later was that Akiko Matsumoto also had a brief career as an aidoru back in the 1980s. Well, it is summer so here is her 3rd single from June 1984, "Natsu Iro no Garcon" (Summer Colour Garcon). I was pleasantly surprised when I heard it for the first time last night since the arrangement seemed a cut above the usual aidoru stuff, and Ms. Matsumoto had some nice vocals.

The song was composed by Wataru Kuniyasu(国安わたる)who helped out with a lot of aidoru tunes and also took care of the music for the dramatic "Gypsy Queen" by Akina Nakamori(中森明菜). Interestingly enough, "Natsu Iro no Garcon" sounds a bit like something that Taeko Ohnuki and Ryuichi Sakamoto(大貫妙子・坂本龍一)would have concocted around this time, so I was quite attracted because of that. The lyrics were provided by veteran Machiko Ryu(竜真知子)in which Matsumoto sings about enjoying that summer day on the pool by herself and encouraging (although not desperately so) her beau to join her. Ryu also wrote that she was drinking back a ginger ale so I hoped that she had Canada Dry in mind.

Nothing was written about how well "Natsu Iro no Garcon" did on the charts so it's possible that it didn't do anything but then again at that time, female aidoru tunes were being pumped out on a daily or even hourly basis (exaggerating, of course, on those last two words). Therefore, it was truly a cause for celebration when such a song was able to even crack the Oricon Top 10, let alone hit No. 1. As I said, "Natsu Iro no Garcon" is a pretty nice little diversion to the ears.

The above video is how I usually saw Ms. Matsumoto.


  1. Hi J-Canuck... This is mostly unrelated to the song, but is that you in that photo? I'm curious.

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      Indeed it is. My Padawan is on the right, and of course, Ms. Matsumoto and her son are the left.

    2. Ah, I see. I do believe this is the first time I've ever really seen how you look like - your Google+ picture wasn't very clear. And dang, that's cool that you managed to get a photo with a celebrity!

    3. And in her home, too. Actually, I think once you live in Japan, especially in the big cities, long enough, you have a better chance of at least meeting the national celebs there than in the States or even Canada.


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