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.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hiroshi Itsuki -- Ikujinashi (いくじなし)

The above is a small piece of history (and I advise not to squint too hard at it lest you end up with my poor eyesight). It's a piece of newsprint that I cut out from the local Japanese-Canadian newspaper "The Nikka Times" that had the lineup for the "Sounds of Japan" episode one day back in the 1980s. Luckily, it was sandwiched in an audiotape case all these decades along with the tape itself containing the show. Looking at the lineup, it looks like it was a mix of enka and some 80s pop. And yup, I played it and unlike a certain other tape, it didn't suffer at the hands of Jaws, my tape recorder.

(cover version)

Also if you dare squint at the photo of the lineup above, you will find that one of the songs was "Ikujinashi" by enka veteran Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし). This was actually either the B-side or the coupling song to a 1988 single released by him titled "Sore wa...Tasogare" (それは…黄昏...That's...A Sunset). And once again, this entry by Itsuki shows how a kayo can have the jauntiest and happiest of melodies express some pretty dour lyrics.

Takashi Miki(三木たかし)trumped up some pretty cheerful music and at the time since I didn't really pay attention to the lyrics, I'd had no idea that Yu Aku's(阿久悠)words were about some woman bitterly slagging off a soon-to-be ex-lover for breaking off the affair...probably because of the jerk's wife. "Ikujinashi" does mean coward, after all.

(empty karaoke version)

To be honest, I also pondered for a few minutes about how to categorize the song since Miki's music wasn't typically enka. But in the end, I decided to declare it as both enka and pop. Perhaps it might be the Teresa Teng (テレサ・テン) effect, but perhaps in the late 1980s, there was a meshing of those two genres for a brief while. In any case, "Ikujinashi" sounds like a happy-go-lucky kayo with the equivalent of a slap across the face within the lyrics. It's kinda too bad though that I couldn't find an original version of the song by Itsuki anywhere on the Net but the top video is sung quite well by a fellow who likes channeling the singer.


  1. Looks like your tape recorder's got an honorary name now. :)

    Now that's some happy music to go along with a stinging set of lyrics. And then again, I can imagine the woman in question laughing and rolling her eyes while insulting the fellow for abandoning her.

    Too bad "Ikujinashi" can't be found online. I find myself liking it quite a lot and it sort of works as a palate cleanser after all the heavy enka. At least the guy who did the cover sounds pretty decent.

    1. Hello, Noelle.

      Yes, if I hadn't understood the lyrics, I would have thought that the situation was the opposite.


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