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 23, 2016

Rie Sugimoto -- Yasuragi no Yubiwa (やすらぎのゆびわ)

Recently, I was giving a listen to my favorite album by Rie Sugimoto (杉本理恵), “Heal Ring”, from August 1992. One of its songs, “Beyond The Maze”, have already been covered by me years ago, but now I’m here to talk a little bit about the album’s last song, which is called “Yasuragi no Yubiwa”.

“Yasuragi no Yubiwa” is a ballad that seems to come out from a fairy tale. As I could see while doing a little bit of research, composer and pianist Hiroko Taniyama’s (谷山浩子) music style is described as fantastic and mysterious, so the song’s vibe is not a surprise after all. As for Rie’s voice, it’s what it is: very shaky and weak (well, she was crying too, but we all know she isn’t a great singer as well). However, she sompensates being a nice and tender girl, which coupled by the song’s beautiful melody and lovely piano-centered arrangement, makes for a very beautiful aidoru ballad.

Like I said before, Rie enjoyed some underground status as an aidoru singer who made vocal renditions of songs inspired by video game music (interesting enough, “Yasuragi no Yubiwa” is “Heal Ring’s” only original song, the other being reworked versions of video game music). It was an interesting niche concept, but didn’t help her in the mainstream scene at all. By the time she was releasing songs, the aidoru scene was mostly dead anyway...

Lyrics were written by Hiroko Taniyama. She also worked on the composition, but this time with Akimitsu Honma (本間昭光).

I want this album!!!


  1. Hi, Marcos.

    Thanks for "Yasuragi no Yubiwa". Yep, Sugimoto's voice isn't exactly too hearty but somehow Taniyama's music makes it work. Like you, I'm a sucker for a good piano arrangement.

    I've come across singer-songwriter Taniyama in a couple of books and even did one article on one of her ballads. She seems to have been well represented by her many albums and singles and yet I have heard very little of them. I guess she must be one of those singers who are in those underwater nine-tenths of my iceberg of Japanese popular music.

    You mentioned about her underground status as an aidoru. I wonder what it must have been like for her and her fans, supposing that she may have been one of the very last of the aidoru (at least, back in those days)?

    1. Well, I don't think the underground status was a problem to Sugimoto and her fans. She existed as a niche artist singing rearranged vocal versions of video game music, so there wasn't much for her to do in the mainstream circle.

      As for her fans, maybe they were more game otakus than other thing, so the underground status of their aidoru was a positive thing. For them, she probably had this kind of "pure aura" the an artist loses when it becomes a true mainstream aidoru.

      Taking a look at her, she was obviously very anachronic, even for 1992's standards. However, our perception is different in comparison to the one of people living at the time. We have history on our side, so we know how things turned out at the end. By 1992, I think lots of people still looked at the frilly aidoru thing as a lucrative thing, even though it's obvious for us now that any aidoru with that aesthetic and sound - or whatever is related to the classical 80s aidoru - would not take off at all.

    2. Hi, Marcos.
      Yeah, I cannot really see short bobbed hair and frilly dresses coming back in for aidoru, no matter how nostalgic the Japanese are. Perhaps teen stars of the near future may go along the lines of how the Jackson 5 started...a bit more soul.


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