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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Saburo Kitajima -- Yama(山)

I was looking at the calendar from Japan I got for my parents earlier tonight and discovered that August 11th was done up in red. And the reason for that is it's Mountain Day, yet another national holiday. Supposedly the inaugural Mountain Day was last year in 2016 which I hadn't been aware of. What I am aware of is that with the exception of June, every month in Japan now has at least one national holiday. I figure that since there is also an Ocean Day in July, perhaps the somewhat geographically appropriate choice for a national holiday in June would be heiya-no-hi(平野の日)or Plains Day. On the other hand, the government can simply designate the first day of summer as an official holiday. Whatever the future holds, Japan is a national holiday-crazy country.

Now, how to commemorate this relatively newborn holiday? Well, I punched some information into the search engine, and quickly got this song by Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎)called "Yama" (Mountain). I actually wrote about another Sabu-chan song just a couple of weeks ago, so technically speaking, I'm breaking my personal rule of not writing about the same singer inside a month, but hey, I figure if I'm going to break the rule, I might as well do it for one of the best enka singers.

"Yama" was released in March 1990. It was written by enka lyricist Tetsuro Hoshino(星野哲郎)and composed by Kitajima himself under his regular songwriting pseudonym Joji Hara(原譲二). The arrangement has that usual mighty Sabu-chan brio (I think I even heard an alp horn in the intro) although the lyrics don't refer to any particular mountains in Japan themselves. In fact, Hoshino's words were meant to convey a man's attempts to be better than his old master whose legend is as big as a mountain. Kinda like Anakin besting Obi-Wan but perhaps that's not a happy example.

Some trivia I picked up from the J-Wiki article on "Yama" is that the ballad was the latest in a series of one-kanji character titles for the singer, following songs such as "Kawa"(川...River)and "Kokoro"(魂...Soul). As for this blog up to now, the only one-character title for a Kitajima song had been "Ohkami"(狼...Wolf)which I wrote up a little over a year ago.

"Yama" did moderately well by peaking at No. 39 on the Oricon weeklies. But this was the song that Kitajima sung not once but twice during his Kohaku Utagassen career. His first time was at the end of 1990 when the song was released and his second time was in 2001.

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