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, April 11, 2017

Fuji Keiko - Omokage Heiya (面影平野)

Since this is my first post, it seems a short introduction would do. I'm a young American man from Austin, Texas and currently living there. Music in general is my main passion and my love of Japanese music is a result of my broad interest in that culture and country. I hope my contributions are enjoyed.

I'll start by writing about one of my favorite Japanese vocalists, and also one of the first I came across; Fuji Keiko.
I think I can assume she is known at least by name to most of those interested in showa era japanese pop music. It seems most around my generation know her through her daughter Utada Hikaru, but I'm actually not familiar with any of Hikaru's music.
Most english language sources tend to refer to Keiko as an enka singer, but to me she is more just kayo kyoku, or as many a Tokyo record store categorizes her albums under, "Mood Kayo," though there is certainly an overlap, and some tracks of hers come pretty close to pure enka.

Here's her singing "面影平野” in 1978. It seems she is surprised before the performance by her grandmother from Hokkaido being brought on stage. A conversation follows that I understand maybe a quarter of.

a dynamic captivating performance, and those looks into the camera could pierce armor. her beauty is obvious.

I'm still kicking myself for being a cheapskate and talking myself out of buying the Fuji Keiko collected LP I saw during my last trip to Japan, thinking I'd find it somewhere else in tokyo cheaper. I did manage to snag some of my favorite singles of hers though.

It would seem impossible to write about her without mentioning her relatively recent death under unfortunate circumstances... of which I'm not sure what to say except what a loss. It's been addressed in other places more in depth and by better writers than myself.

Next time maybe I'll talk about an Idol, or a punk band, or Murata Hideo.


  1. Hi, kokoronokizu

    Welcome to the blog! And thanks very much for "Omokage Heiya". It was sweet to see Hikaru Utada's great-grandmother actually appear on stage and even better to hear the late Fuji speak in a higher register than she sings.

    Even into the late 1970s, Fuji had quite the deep chops for her brand of Mood Kayo and the husband-and-wife team of Uzaki and Aki knew how to weave the song to her abilities.

    I hear you about kicking yourself about that lost opportunity. Early in my time, I also let a lot of chances slide but I've learned now. If I come across an album that I even have a hint that I may never see again, I grab it, no matter what the price (within reason).

  2. Welcome, kokoronokizu.

    I guess everyone suffers from same "cheapskate". I had multiple struggles with Akina's albums and finally I decided iTunes was the best option because I can select only the songs I truly love (there're a lot though).

  3. Hello, kokoronokizu

    My first contact with Keiko Fuji was only last year, when I was searching for some very famous enka artists from the past to give a listen to. A lot of sources just mentioned how popular Keiko's debut album was when it was released, so I decided to give it a try.

    Like you said, she's mainly called an enka singer, but I agree that Mood Kayo is a better option. While listening to her debut album, I could hear lots of jazz and blues, but not much enka. As for her vocals, I think they're amazing. In fact, a like to thing she's a drunk woman (she sounds like one sometimes) singing about all the pain she experienced with past lovers.

    As for "Omokage Heiya", it's a little bit different from her debut album's stuff. I see it as a true Kayo Kyoku ballad and her vocals are not drunk-like (it's a pity, since I like them). Maybe she was a more mature singer at this point of her career.

    Oh, just to mention, my favorite songs from her debut album are "Casbah no Onna" (which I wrote a piece here on the blog) and "Anata no Blues".

  4. Hi, kokoronokizu.

    Nice to see an article written by a fellow Texan! Though I'm not a true blue Texan but rather an adopted one, having been living in Texas the last few years.

    I'm a relatively new reader here, stumbled on this wonderful site by chance not too long ago. I enjoy reading the many reviews here and have had some nice chats with J-Canuck and Noelle, both had very kindly indulged my blabbering, mostly about my favorite singer (Takashi Hosokawa)

    Keiko Fuji was indeed a very lovely singer with impressive vocals. The video you posted with the surprise visit from her grandmother is so sweet and charming.

    Looking forward to reading more of your articles. I think Hideo Murata is badass and insanely cool, so it will be great if you do decide to write something on him :)


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