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, November 29, 2016

Hiroko Yakushimaru -- Hoshi Kiko (星紀行)

"Hoshi Kiko" (Star Travelogue) is the 4th and final album by Hiroko Yakushimaru(薬師丸ひろ子)from July 1987 that went along with the pattern of a three-kanji title before she would release "Sincerely Yours" in 1988. The one other album that I've talked about so far when it comes to her discography is "Yume Juuwa"(夢十話)from 1985.

As you can see above, I bought the actual LP from Wah Yueh. It wasn't because I wanted to follow the tradition of that three-kanji title that I got it, though. Nah, it was because of that cover with Yakushimaru looking pretty darn high...and beaming a smile! When I took a gander at that album, a few words came to mind such as "electric socket" and "marijuana" since usually my image of the singer-actress had been that of the demure young lady with the bob hairdo. Instead, for "Hoshi Kiko", it looked like she fully enjoyed a university kegger!

I listened to "Hoshi Kiko" for the first time in well over 15 years on the record player, and although I can't honestly say that it is quite on the same level as "Yume Juuwa", the album has its moments. The one song that I still remember quite well is the opening and title track itself which has the added title of "Caramel no Densetsu"(キャメルの伝説...Caramel Legend).

The melody by Tetsuya Tsujimata(辻畑鉄也)reminds me of all those kayo describing exotic climes that had their heyday in the late 1970s, something that is further confirmed by Shizuka Ijuin's(伊集院静)lyrics about the trials and tribulations of love somewhere in an arid country. I gather that from the get-go, Yakushimaru and her colleagues had wanted to release an album with some more oomph this time.

The second track, "Koufuku no Kishi e"(幸福の岸へ...To The Shore of Happiness)takes things back a bit to her cuter and softer roots. However, there is a bubblier and happier layer to this song that the title hints at. With Yasuhiro Mitani(三谷泰弘)providing the music this time, Ijuin once again wrote the lyrics which seemed to hint at Hiroko-chan happily running away from home to see her true love at a new place she's never been to. The above video is a short cover by sundaytube02 and I think she does a very nice job of singing it.

The last song I could find from the album on YouTube is Track 3, "Marine Blue no Sasayaki"(マリーンブルーの囁き...Marine Blue Whipsers)which stands out for those soaring strings. The music here is provided by the late Yoshiaki Ohuchi(大内義昭), the composer who often partnered up with R&B singer Kahoru Kohiruimaki(小比類巻かほる), but this melody is all Yakushimaru as she sings Ijuin's lyrics of being blissfully in love in the summer. Of the three songs that I've put in tonight, I think this one is the most reminiscent of the mellow tunes from "Yume Juuwa" but even so there is that added layer of happiness. That certain jauntiness with "Marine Blue no Sasayaki" also had me thinking of another departed songwriter, Eiichi Ohtaki(大瀧詠一)especially when it comes to those strings..

"Hoshi Kiko" peaked at No. 3 on Oricon selling a little over 20,000 albums.


  1. Hi J-Canuck!
    I'm a big fan of her and I love this album, especially 幸福の岸へ
    Her singing voice and the bass was just really cute.

    1. Hi, Hiroki!

      Glad to hear that you are also a big fan of Hiroko and hope that you have been enjoying her other albums from those days as well.


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