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.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Naoko Kawai -- Shasou (車窓)

There's quite the love affair with trains in Japan. For the most part, they're clean, prompt and efficiently run whether they belong to JR or one of the private corporations. The train otaku treat the wide variety of rail-bound vehicles with the same sort of awe and deference that royalists would give a king or queen. And when a long-running train is put out to pasture after many years, the crowds that gather to see it off on its final voyage is nearly tear-rendering in its sentimentality, and that scene is always included in the news.

While in Canada, it could still all be about the automobile and the airplane, I think Japan's fastest-running and romantic transportation arteries still belong to the train. Most of my train rides there have been on Japan Railways with a few trips on the Bullet Train itself. Although I cannot consider myself a tore-ota by any means, I've enjoyed those railroad voyages as the trains have passed through the cities and countryside. In fact, my fantasy ride was to savor that trip on the Cassiopeia from Ueno Station to Sapporo up in Hokkaido but alas it finished its run in March 2016. Not that I could have really afforded the prices anyhow.

Allow me then to introduce Naoko Kawai's(河合奈保子)"Shasou" (Train Window). I have to thank my friend Michael for providing me with a lot of these Naoko songs since there are a few of them which perhaps didn't quite get onto her usual BEST albums. In fact, this particular song was placed onto a Naoko album that had only come out on audiotape back in March 1984, "Ai ~ Naoko no Wakakusa Iro no Tabi"(愛・奈保子の若草色の旅...Love ~ Naoko's Bright Green Trip [although the official English title is "Journey of Love"]). So "Shasou" could be one of the rarest of the rare; I certainly hadn't heard it or even heard of it until I started listening to that collection.

"Shasou" makes for a wonderfully poignant theme for one of those countryside train rides, especially if that train is an old diesel rather than a super-advanced Bullet. With that slowly undulating piano, the mellow oboe and those shimmering strings, even without the video, a very relaxing image of that ride can come into view that can put away any thoughts of the city as the listener/rider stares out the window. Plus, I can appreciate Naoko's vocals even more; for me, she probably had the finest voice among the early 80s aidoru at the very least.

Of course, for such a lush arrangement and lyrics, it would be Etsuko and Takao Kisugi(来生えつこ・来生たかお)who created the song.


  1. If you are interested, the album "Ai ~ Naoko no Wakakusa Iro no Tabi" was realeased on cd in 2007. You can find it on the box "Naoko Premium".
    I agree with you, Naoko's voice is really great.

    1. Thanks, nagaregumo. That's good information since I had thought it was only on cassette tape.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.