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, July 29, 2012

Mayumi Itsuwa -- Revival (リバイバル)

In the J-Wiki write-up on singer-songwriter Mayumi Itsuwa(五輪真弓), she was called the Japanese Carole King alongside her contemporaries such as Yumi Arai(荒井由実)and Minako Yoshida(吉田美奈子). And in fact, her very first album, "Shojo"少女....The Young Lady), released in 1972, was recorded in Los Angeles under the aegis of King and Grammy Award-winning producer John Fischbach. Her eponymous first single certainly had that Carole King sound.

However, whereas Arai gradually went into a more West Coast sound, and Yoshida started exploring R&B, I'd always thought that Itsuwa diverged into a more European style...somewhat in the fashion of Taeko Ohnuki(大貫妙子) in the 1980s. The very first song I'd ever heard by Itsuwa was "Revival"in which she sang about her "....heart being an ash-coloured revival..."after a romantic breakup that had occurred " a bolt of lightning on a summer day...". Hence, the sound of that lightning at the very beginning of the song. The loss of love had been a common topic for Itsuwa to cover in her songs.

I first heard "Revival"on the 1981 Kohaku Utagassen, Itsuwa's 2nd of 5 appearances on the NHK special. It stood out for me amongst the enka and the aidoru tunes with its shibui melody, and since then, I've been a fan. And in the larger picture, Itsuwa helped spark my interest in Japanese popular music.


  1. I heard for the first time this lovely song of her on the 31th Kohaku Uta Gaseen as well! And I became her fan then. ^ ^ Her perfomance was really beautiful. This was nice surprise for me, because I don't like female voices too much. ^ ^;

  2. I would like a longer explanation of what this song means if you don't mind.

    1. Good morning, Vince.

      Thanks for your inquiry on "Revival", my first Itsuwa song and a ballad that's even sadder than I had thought.

      My first impression was that the title referred to recovering from a broken romance. However, going over Itsuwa's lyrics again, I've discovered that the heroine in the song is still going through a lot of regrets after a possibly brief but very torrid and happy affair.

      I mentioned above about an ash-coloured revival which I think was too literal a translation. I think that it should actually be a "pale revival" as in her state of mind and heart has yet to recover anywhere near completely from her sudden loss. Considering the depth of her sadness, I'm starting to think that the end of the romance may not have been due to the man declaring it finished but due to his sudden death. I believe that was also a theme of another earlier and successful Itsuwa song, "Koibito yo".

      I hope that this explanation clarifies thing a little better, Vince.


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