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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Salty Sugar -- Hashire Koutarou(走れコウタロー)

Time for another slightly more adventurous article at "Kayo Kyoku Plus". I first heard this hoedown-friendly tune as an opening theme song for the 1990s anime "Midori no Makibao"(みどりのマキバオー...Midori's Makibao), about a mule who looks slightly like a svelte hippo but with the beating heart of a champion thoroughbred as he wins race after race. It apparently was performed by three Fuji-TV announcers under the name of F-MAP, one of whom was Kenji Fukui(福井謙二), the play-by-play man on the legendary "Ryori no Tetsujin"(料理の鉄人...Iron Chefs) cooking contest show.

"Hashire Makibao"(走れマキバオー...Run, Makibao) is a song that I had just treated as an especially jaunty anison for years. But then one day, I discovered that it was a cover of an original folk tune from 1970.

Salty Sugar(ソルティー・シュガー)was a folk group with a comical touch that had its origins in the late 1960s at Hibiya High School in Tokyo under an initial name. One of the members, Toshio Sato(佐藤敏夫), needed to focus on getting into university, so he pulled out of the band, but his name was left with the remainder of the group who decided to twist it around and then translate it to form the new band name of Salty Sugar.

Guitarist Koutarou Yamamoto(山本厚太郎), contrabassist Michio Tezuka(手塚通夫), guitarist Takashi Takahashi(高橋隆)and Kanekichi/Kenkichi Ikeda (池田謙吉...instrument not specified) debuted in December 1969 with "Aa, Daigaku-sei"(ああ大学生...Ah, University Students) which only sold 3000 records, according to the J-Wiki article.

However, then came their second single in July 1970, "Hashire Koutarou" (Run, Koutarou) which had been written and composed by Ikeda with Nobuo Maeda(前田伸夫)as co-composer. Sadly, though, soon after the announcement of the release of the single in May of that year, Ikeda suddenly and tragically passed away at the age of 21. However, banjo player Sato, who had promised to come back to the band in a year, did so and together they did their departed bandmate proud by scoring a massive hit that reminded me a bit of the theme song from "The Beverly Hillbillies".

The song was originally created in tribute to an actual winning racehorse from the 1960s with the same name as Yamamoto but it also soon became a humourous poke (I hope) at the guitarist who had a penchant for always running late for practice. Regardless, "Hashire Koutarou" became a No. 1 hit on Oricon, selling close to a million records, and ended up as the 26th-ranked single for 1970. The next year, it rose even higher by finishing up at No. 20. It also won Salty Sugar the Best New Artist prize at the Japan Record Awards for 1970. Strangely enough, though, the band never got invited to the Kohaku Utagassen.

It looks like anime wanted to give the song another look since "Hashire Koutarou" was adapted once more as a song for a game version of the anime "Uma Musume Pretty Derby"(ウマ娘 プリティーダービー...Horse Girls Pretty Derby) which had come out earlier this year. Eight of the many seiyuu in that cast sang the high-flying "Hashire Uma Musume"(走れウマ娘)including Azumi Waki(和氣あず未)and Naomi Ozora(大空直美)who have their own entries in the Labels. Ikeda's legacy lives on.


  1. Hello Canuck,

    When I first heard about Uma Musume, I thought, "Well, they've anthropomorphized warships, swords, countries, even cells, why not racehorses? But... does this mean that the horse girls are harnessed and mounted by jockeys with whips??". I was somewhat disappointed/relieved upon catching the anime one night while channel surfing. It was nothing more than another Idol M@ster only the girls were.... horses.

    Anywho, I've always thought Hashire Kohtaro as the faster, bluegrass version of The Ballad of Davey Crocket.

    1. Hi, Kaz.

      Yeah, I think my friend liked it somewhat better than I did when it came to "Uma Musume" to the point that he even got the Blu-Ray and the soundtrack. I mean, it's OK but I think folks who love their famous thoroughbreds and anime probably appreciated it more. I was rather glad that there was none of that jockeys and whips thing for the characters...that could have been rather uncomfortable to watch.

      Yeah, come to think of it, I can also imagine "Hashire Koutarou" as being rather reminiscent of "Davey Crockett".


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