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.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Yuuki Hide, Kotaro Asa and Singers Three -- Hitachi no Ki(日立の樹)

If memory serves me correctly, our family's very first rice cooker was from Hitachi. I still remember what it looked like: white exterior with black lid. My love of rice (which I have almost daily) is thanks to this vital appliance.

Now, there has been that certain type of commercial that I've been watching on CNN and other American channels over the past few years. You've all probably seen it involving a medicine which touts some amazing new help when the ad starts showing happy and healing folks enjoying a baseball game or a BBQ. Then the announcer suddenly quickens his delivery and blurts out all of the potential side effects (including DEATH) as Dad is grilling his ribs.

Well, when I was in Japan watching the tube, there was also a certain type of commercial that came on which had a sponsoring company for a program devote a minute or so to the nation's many subsidiaries for that company while a cheerful song plays in the background and there is some soothing nature scene. Hitachi was one such company and it had its own super-genki tune to play during its commercials.

Titled "Hitachi no Ki" (The Hitachi Tree), it's a friendly and folksy number that has had various singers and choruses perform it over the decades since its first appearance in 1973. Asei Kobayashi(小林亜星)was responsible for the down-home melody while Akira Ito(伊藤アキラ)took care of the lyrics. Apparently, Kobayashi introduced Ito as the lyricist to Hitachi while the commercial was being made up, and while the lyricist was being shown illustrations of a non-descript tree to be used, he understandably asked "What kind of tree is it?". After getting a lot of "I dunno" and "I have no idea" from the staff, Ito was then inspired to write his lyrics with the singer happily wondering aloud about what kind of tree the Hitachi tree was. Not surprisingly, the alternate title for the song has been "Kono Ki Nanno Ki"(この木なんの木...What Kind of Tree Is This Tree?).

While the first commercial aired for the first couple of years just had an animated tree forming while "Hitachi no Ki" was being played, the second version settled on a grand Albizia saman or rain tree located on Oahu in the state of Hawaii. In Japanese, the tree is known as a monkey pod which sounds a bit more imaginative. And reading through the J-Wiki article for the song, I found out that it has been an attraction for Japanese tourists over the years. In fact, I think the article reported that Hitachi itself has been helping out in its maintenance. Although for a few years in the early 1980s, it was switched to a mango tree on Hawaii Island, a banyan in Singapore and then some tree in California, due to popular demand, the rain tree came back and has stayed so since 1984.

The first six versions of "Hitachi no Ki" were performed by a collaboration among anime/tokusatsu singer Yuuki Hide(ヒデ夕木), singer/seiyuu Kotaro Asa(朝コータロー)and the female vocal group Singers Three(シンガーズ・スリー). Since the song's introduction, it has also been used in any events where Hitachi is participating, and it is played every day at noon at Osaka's famous Tsutenkaku Tower(通天閣)since the company advertises there. The J-League soccer team Kashiwa Reysols' supporters often sing (or at least clap vigorously to) "Hitachi no Ki" before games since Hitachi is a major sponsor for the team.

(check from 2:12)

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