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, May 17, 2018

Hideki Saijo -- Koi suru Kisetsu(恋する季節)

I basically had the same reaction as some of the tarento present on the show clip in the top video. It seems as if the bulletin came out either a little more than half an hour or 12 hours after his passing at 11:53 pm JST on May 16th.

I found out about the death of 1970s aidoru Hideki Saijo(西城秀樹)earlier this morning on NHK's "News Watch 9" when it came out as the second headline. My reaction was "Whoa!". For the past number of years, I knew that Saijo hadn't been in peak health since his mild stroke over a decade ago but it was still a shock to hear that he had actually died from acute heart failure at the age of 63.

Saijo was one of the three male singing idols in the 1970s that were collectively named the Shin-Gosanke(新御三家...The New Big Three)as the apparent heirs to the original Gosanke from the 1960s. It would be decades before I had been aware of this grouping of Saijo, Hiromi Go(郷ひろみ)and Goro Noguchi(野口五郎), but of the three, Saijo was the one that I first knew about as a boy since his long-haired and smiling figure in the 70s cool clothing (including bell-bottoms) was plastered all over the pages of those kiddy manga that my parents used to buy me at the old Furuya Japanese food store in Chinatown. Go and Noguchi were fellows that I only got to know from the 1980s, thanks to the Kohaku broadcasts that began in Toronto from 1981.

After I started getting into Japanese pop music big time following that trip to Japan in 1981, I actually borrowed a VHS tape of one of Saijo's concerts. I wasn't converted into a dedicated fan of his, but he basically had the audience wound around his finger through his hits and dynamic presence on the stage.

His presence was even felt in the anime world, specifically "Chibi Maruko-chan"(ちびまる子ちゃん). The show took place in the 1970s so the Sakura sisters were depicted as having their own favourite singers. Older sister Sakiko was always in thrall to the charms of her Hideki. As it turned out, the singer even provided the second ending theme to the long-running series, "Hashire Shoujiki Mono"(走れ正直者)in the early 1990s.

To give my humble tribute to Saijo, I've decided to feature his debut song "Koi suru Kisetsu" (Season To Fall In Love) which came out in March 1972. I've found that whenever I listen to the first single of any veteran singer, I always peg his/her delivery as the prototype version of the familiar vocals, and Saijo's first single is no different. His voice was a shade higher, perhaps a bit rawer but I could still recognize it as Hideki's.

Kyohei Tsutsumi(筒美京平)composed the brass-and-strings song which seems to herald the arrival of a brash young man into the big city. He's coming into Tokyo to conquer it and not the other way around. Well, perhaps conquer is too strong a word but he's there to make his mark with a smile. According to the J-Wiki article for "Koi suru Kisetsu", the catchphrase for Saijo was "The Wild 17-Year-Old"(ワイルドな17歳). Takashi Taka(たかたかし)provided the lyrics under one of his other pen names, Takashi Aso(麻生たかし).

"Koi suru Kisetsu" peaked at No. 42 on Oricon, and it was also a track on his debut album "Wild na Juu-Nana Sai/Saijo Hideki"(ワイルドな17歳/西城秀樹)from November 1972.

Over the course of this blog, there have been a few singers and songwriters who have left this mortal coil over the years, but there is a certain enhanced poignancy with Saijo's passing since his face was one that I knew since early childhood. And along with Pink Lady and Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵), Hideki Saijo was, to me at least, one of those pop culture figures that best represented the 1970s in Japan. I am absolutely certain that the next few days on the various wide shows will devote some of their programming to him, but here's hoping that come this weekend, some of the customers at the many branches of Big Echo and Karaoke Kan will give some tribute by engaging in a round of "Young Man"(ヤングマン).


  1. Did you post the Yuuyake Gumo video on YouTube? That's my favorite of his songs, and I never thought I would hear it again as it's from an album.

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful rememberance. I got to meet him twice, both times in Hawaii. He was so nice.

    1. Hi, Owl Chick.

      Nope, I haven't written about "Yuuyake Gumo" yet but I plan to...perhaps sometime in June. I just listened to it right now and it's perfectly Hideki. :)

      I've never had the opportunity to personally meet a singer from the kayo period so I'm quite envious that you were able to meet him twice. Were you able to speak to him for long?

    2. I first met him when I was 12, and my friends and I totally stalked him (and his poor mum) through the Sheraton Waikiki until we had to go home and get ready to attend his concert that night.

      My sister later became a concert promoter, and Hideki came back for the anniversary of that first concert. That time, I got to meet him backstage. My sister took a picture of us together, but I don't have it any longer. This eas in 2001.

    3. You may not have his photo anymore but the experience will stick with you forever. Also, he may have left this mortal coil but his music will be with us.

  2. Hi, J-Canuck.

    This is such a nice tribute to Hideki Saijo.

    Sad news indeed. For me, Hideki Saijo and Momoe Yamaguchi were the faces that started the J-pop craze in Singapore in the early eighties. When I went home last year, I was catching up with some school mates when I found out that Hideki was the favorite of a number of my friends. I’m sure they are very sad at his passing.

    Personally, I like him the most out of the Shin Gosanke. I’m always impressed by his strong vocals and how his singing never missed a beat while displaying his nifty dance moves. I had always enjoyed his Kohaku performances too. His fight back after suffering the two strokes was also very admirable.

    Rest In Peace, Hideki. You will be missed by many.

    1. Hi, Francium.

      Thanks very much for your comments. I think 63 is too young an age for anyone to depart so I can imagine that a lot of his fans are really mourning their loss today.

      When I think about the Shin Gosanke, I always thought that Goro was the introspective balladeer while Hideki was at the other end of the spectrum with tons of emotion in his performances, and then Hiromi was somewhere in the middle...perhaps he was more of the neighbourhood charmer. Hideki struck me as being the jock of the trio and the one who would stick up for the other two in a fight.

      His death struck a lot of people from that generation hard. There is a YouTube video where one of the most consummate veteran newscasters on Japanese TV ended up crying her eyes out on live TV on the news.

  3. Hi J,

    Its been a while :)

    His death hasn't really sunk in to me. He seemed to me, the most energetic of the Shin Gosanke. Go was always the kid, Noguchi was always the melancholic.

    I read an article covering his funeral, and I can really tell how close he was to Noguchi. It still makes me sad.

    Here's to you Hideki-san! I'll play your Kidzudarake no Lola on repeat :)

    1. Hi, Yuie-chan. Good to hear from you.

      Indeed, I think Hideki seemed to appear as the protector of the melancholy Goro and the cute Hiromi. His passing has apparently continued to send echoes through some of the music programs, and I'm very sure that there will be a tribute at this year's Kohaku Utagassen.

  4. I agree with the character aspects! Go was my first crush, but I saw Hideki on a music show (I think it was called Best 30? Every week they did a count down some of the singers performed) and fell in love. I wish I had access to watch the Kohaku! I'm sure you're right! Hugs to you, Yuie-chan.

    1. Hi, Owl Chick/Yuie-chan!

      It's too bad that you don't have access to the Kohaku. Perhaps there must be some sites where you can catch past shows.


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