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, November 13, 2012

Aki Yashiro -- Ame no Bojou (雨の慕情)

This was a song that I heard a fair bit in the 1980s, and it's one of my favourite enka tunes. Sung by Aki Yashiro(八代亜紀), "Ame no Bojou"(Yearning for Rain) is one of those songs that makes me imagine having a drink in an izakaya somewhere or walking along a pier in Yokohama....just like one of those scenes on "Enka no Hanamichi"(already profiled under Media), that old TV Tokyo music show on Sunday nights.

Yashiro was born in Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in 1950. Her love of music came from her father who often sang rokyoku (Japanese narrative singing) and lullabies. Yashiro had been painfully self-conscious about her raspy voice as a child, but after her father had bought some Julie London records for her to listen to, the future enka singer realized that London's husky voice could apply to her as well. After graduating from junior high school, Yashiro became a bus guide for a while until she decided to seek her fortune in Tokyo against her father's wishes. She found a job performing in a Ginza club singing pop and standards. She debuted in 1971 with the song "Ai wa Shindemo"(愛は死んでも。。。Even if Love Dies).

29 singles later, in April 1980, "Ame no Bojou"was released. The song, penned by Yu Aku and Keisuke Hama(阿久悠・浜圭介), dealt with a woman's feelings after a romantic breakup. When I first heard it, that raspy voice seemed to fit the song to a T since it sounded as if Yashiro, or the protagonist, had been crying. Also, one of the parts of the song that has become famous in the enka world was the lyric, "Ame, ame, fure, fure, motto fure"雨、雨、ふれ、ふれ、もっとふれ...Rain, rain, fall, fall, fall some more) and the gesture that the singer uses to express it.

"Ame no Bojou"would win a slew of awards by the end of the year including the Grand Prize at each of the Japan Record Awards and the Japan Kayo Awards. Of course, there was also the appearance at the Kohaku Utagassen. On Oricon, the song managed to peak at No. 9 while it ended up being the 26th-ranked song of the year.

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