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, July 7, 2018

Daisaku Ogata -- Mushaku Ryojou(無錫旅情)

Wow! This is a fellow that I haven't heard from in years. When we were still renting out VHS tapes from Nippon Video, our family used to see this young strapping lad, Daisaku Ogata(尾形大作), belt out the enka tunes.

Ogata was born Hiroyuki Matsuo(松尾浩之)in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1963. He made his debut back in 1981 with "Shiawase Namida Iro"(倖せ なみだ色...The Colour of Happy Tears), but it wasn't until his 6th single in September 1986 that he got that first huge hit with "Mushaku Ryojou". Daisaburo Nakayama(中山大三郎)was responsible for both words and music, and the lyrics are about traveling through the city of Wuxi in Jiangsu Province in China.

Now, if I were to translate the title directly, it would come out as "My Mood While Traveling Through Wuxi". For me, that sounds pretty wordy so I've decided to go with "Memories of Wuxi"; has more of that romantic feeling.

But that's ironic since Nakayama's lyrics talk of a man fleeing to China to forget about a romance gone bad. As soon as I heard Ogata sing, I was rather reminded of Sayuri Ishikawa's(石川さゆり)classic "Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu Geshiki"(津軽海峡・冬景色)from a decade earlier in that Ishikawa's protagonist is also traveling to a far-flung place outside of Tokyo to forget about love for a while. Broken hearts and traveling are a common theme in enka tunes, but I guess for the guys, there's a need to get out of the country proper.

Another observation is on hearing the piercing heroic trumpets and Ogata's delivery of "Mushaku Ryojou", I rather thought about Saburo Kitajima's(北島三郎)manly-man discography. His J-Wiki file doesn't mention any deshi relationship with a master, so currently not sure whether Ogata ever trained under Sabu-chan. Appearance-wise, he has that short hair and the really arched eyebrows.

"Mushaku Ryojou" was a mega-hit for Ogata. It hit No. 9 on the Oricon dailies and won a Gold prize at the Japan Record Awards. The singer also got onto the 1987 Kohaku Utagassen on the strength of his most famous song for the first of two consecutive appearances. By the end of the year, it actually became the 8th-ranked single for 1987 and then the 50th-ranked single for 1988, selling over 1.3 million copies.

His last single came out in December 2009, and he has been indulging his other hobby of motocross racing. Currently, he is enjoying life with his wife and daughter in Fukuoka.


  1. Hi, J-Canuck.

    Well, my poor command in Chinese shows here because I had absolutely no idea that the first couple of kanji in the title were referring to a place in China. Would've gotten another knock on my head from Mom if I mentioned it, haha!

    Anyway, "Mushaku Ryojou" does remind me of something that Sabu-chan would sing. In fact, with the blaring trumpets and overall gritty feel, the music sounds a lot like "Kita no Ryoba". Not what I was expecting from a song that would translate to "Memories of Wuxi" - I thought it'd be somewhere on the line of Hiroshi Itsuki's folksy and nostalgic "Furusato" or "Chikumagawa". But that aside, it's a pretty cool sounding tune.

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      I had absolutely no idea either that the title was referring to a city in China. I had assumed that the first two characters were referring to something that was "un-something or other". Regardless, it's a proud-sounding enka with those horns in there and I'm not surprised that it became a hit for Ogata.


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