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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Karyudo -- Azusa Ni-go (あずさ2号)

"Azusa Ni-go"(The Azusa No. 2) is another 70s kayo kyoku classic. Sung by a brother act known as Karyudo(狩人), Takamichi and Kunihiko Kato(加藤高道・久仁彦) hail from Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture. Karyudo translates as "hunter", and the origin of the name comes from the composer of the song, Shunichi Tokura(都倉俊一) himself. Tokura acted as the lads' mentor and dubbed them as eternal hunters for that elusive hit song.

The Kato brothers didn't have to search for long. "Azusa Ni-go" was their debut song, and after its release in March 1977, it went as high as No. 4 on the Oricon weeklies and became the 15th-ranked song for the year. It also earned Karyudo the Best New Artist prize at the Japan Record Awards, and the single itself sold 800,000 records.

The lyrics were provided by Machiko Ryu(竜真知子), and talk of a woman traveling on the titular train from Tokyo with her new lover in tow, and some of the complicated feelings she's feeling. "Azusa"kinda feels like an enka song in terms of those lyrics but the melody is reminiscent of a melancholy folk ballad. My memories of seeing Karyudo perform on TV is of the two brothers singing their hearts out and on their sleeves.....something that audiences love to see.

However, it seems that the debut mega-hit was too successful for the duo. That hunt actually ended up becoming an eternal one. Despite 26 singles over the next few decades, including a 1995 version of "Azusa", Karyudo couldn't quite match that first big hit. Whenever they appeared on TV, it would always be to perform that one song.

Incidentally, the Azusa No. 2 did indeed exist. It was a special express train which went from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Hakuba Station in Nagano Prefecture. However, the train serving that route now is the Super Azusa No. 5.

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