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.
Sunday, October 3, 2021
Masaaki Sakai -- Namida kara Ashita e（涙から明日へ）
Masaaki Sakai（堺正章）has become quite the entertainment legend on television. He's been the veteran silver fox through his many variety show appearances, drama roles and as a recording artist, first with the Group Sounds band, The Spiders, and then as a soloist. One show that I always remember him for is "Chuubo desu yo!"（チューボーですよ!...Saturday Night Chubaw!）, the late-night cooking variety program on TBS that went on for over 20 years.
But he was once a young and lanky actor and to actually see him on the long-running series "Jikan desu yo"（時間ですよ...It's Time）, the TBS family drama centered around a sento, as a long-haired hippie type is to realize how long Sakai has been around. Sakai was one of the main cast members as he played Ken Miyazaki（宮崎健）, a university ronin who was also working at the Matsu-no-Yu（松の湯）bathhouse. In the second season in 1971, aidoru Mari Amachi（天地真理）came onto the show as young Mari（マリ）who lived next door and was studying at a dressmaking school. Of course, Ken goes cuckoo over her.
One of the many insert songs that was used in "Jikan desu yo" was actually Sakai's third single from September 1971, "Namida kara Ashita e" (From Tears to Tomorrow), a whimsical and folksy kayo with a slight country lilt. Mitsuhiko Kuze（久世光彦）, the novelist who would also pen the lyrics for the aforementioned Amachi's 1972 trademark tune, "Hitori Janaino" (ひとりじゃないの）under the pseudonym Natsu Kotani（小谷夏）, did the same for "Namida kara Ashita e" while Takeo Yamashita（山下毅雄）composed the music. The song is about pressing forward and upward despite any of the usual setbacks that are now part of the past.
"Namida kara Ashita e" is another reminder to me about how strong a singer Sakai actually is; he does pop up from time to time on other variety and music programs to sing one of his old hits.