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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Momoe Yamaguchi -- Ii Hi Tabidachi (いい日旅立ち)

Well, we talked about Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子) the night before...let's talk about her legendary predecessor, Momoe Yamaguchi (山口百恵). Born in Ebisu, Tokyo (now a pretty trendy area) in 1959, she tried out for a TV talent show called...prophetically, as it were..."A Star Is Born"(スター誕生....Star Tanjou) in 1972, and from there was launched her 8-year career in show business. Her earlier hits were infamous for some very suggestive lyrics but by the time the above song came out, her voice had deepened dramatically and she was going for some more complexity in her musical choices in terms of both lyrics and melody.

The very first time I'd heard about Momoe-chan was when she sang the sultry "Imitation Gold". However, the tune that got my attention was "Ii Hi Tabidachi" (Leaving on a Good Day) when I heard it as the first tune on "Sounds of Japan", that Toronto radio show on CHIN-FM. It's memorable for the trumpet solos at the beginning and in the middle, and Momoe's singing is wistful and lonely. According to the writeup on J-Wikipedia, the song, which deals with a woman taking a solo journey, presumably post-breakup, has become a favorite at graduations and weddings for some reason! Even the composer/lyricist of the song, Shinji Tanimura (谷村新司)of Alice(アリス) fame,  once scratched his head about its popular usage in supposedly celebratory events. Since my comprehension of Japanese lyrics at the time was basically negligible, I blissfully enjoyed the song.

Released in November 1978, it rose as high as No. 3 on the Oricon charts. And its legacy is strong; it has been covered by many J-Pop artists up to the present day.


  1. Pointing out anotehr song, and it might as well go here as anywhere since it's co-written by Tanimura. Ichie was written by Yamaguchi (lyrics, under her Megumi Yokosuka alter name) and Tanimura. It was technically not her last single, as it was released after her retirement (on her wedding day to be precise), and her record company released another after this, but it's commonly recognised as her last. Strangely, it was not included on her last albums, one of 2 songs from her last concert that didn't appear on any of her albums (the other being Spring Introduction, the B side of Carnival).

    The song's lyrics, from what I can make of the google translation, seem to be about dedicating herself, presumably to her future spouse. There are a number of puns, ranging from the title itself which both refers to a shinto tradition and her own name Momoe, to the last line of the song, which both declares herself a woman, and bearing in mind when the song was released, also declares herself a married woman (which I think onna can also mean). Her alter name of course is also a pun on her own name, and can be taken to mean Momoe from Yokosuka. She seems to be fond of that trope.

    1. Hello there, and thanks for the comments on "Ichie". I had heard the song before since I've got it on one of her BEST albums. I hadn't known about the meaning behind the lyrics, though, and now that you've informed us, I gather that Momoe's words were basically a musical "I RESIGN" for everyone concerned. Years ago, I read somewhere that Momoe took a very practical approach with her career in that she didn't sing for the joy of singing, but it was the way for her to earn money for her family. Once marriage was in sight, I think she was quite happy to leave the business.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.