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.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hiroshi Itsuki -- Furusato (ふるさと)

"Hometown" and "furusato" may come from different languages but they still occupy the same place in the heart. And for matters of the Japanese heart, there is nothing like enka to stir things up when it comes to the matter of furusato. There is probably a good chunk of enka songs that directly or indirectly address the matter of home. Masao Sen's(千昌夫) "Kita Kuni no Haru"is one example and another one is yet another enka tune with the same title but totally different in composition. The Japanese, especially those who are originally from the rural areas but currently live in the big cities, are very sentimental when it comes to the old hometown with all of the childhood memories, friendships and nature, which explains the huge rush home whenever the major holidays of New Years, Golden Week and O-Bon come by.

Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし) is one of the male enka crooners who could squeeze lacrymal fluid easily from a stone. And so perhaps it wasn't all that surprising when he was asked to handle "Furusato", written by Yoko Yamaguchi(山口洋子) and composed by Masaaki Hirao(平尾昌晃). Released in July 1973, it was a song that I also heard a lot on the stereo. The lyrics speak of someone living in the city, getting a little melancholy about his happier days back home, the images of summer festivals, white flowers and green valleys percolating in his memory. The last line of the refrain is one that has always stuck with me: "There is a home for anyone."

It is an enka song, but there also seems to be a country folk-like lilt in the melody, and the chorus arrangements somehow reminds me of something Hawaiian for some reason. Indeed, there may be many homes hinted at via "Furusato". The song didn't break into the Top 10 but peaked at No. 11 but it did stay for a good 40 weeks on the Oricon charts, so it had a nice long run. And it is still a tune that people still remember as fondly as their faraway memories of home.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks J-Canuck for this great post on 五木ひろし's 「ふるさと」. I'm not much of an 演歌 fan but there are a few of Itsuki's songs that I do like (including this one) like 「夜明けのブルース」 and 「夜空」. I think next to 北島三郎 and 森進一 I think Itsuki has made the most appearances on the NHK紅白歌合戦. It seems like he has been around forever and has had quite a long and successful career spanning well over four decades.


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