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, March 3, 2013

Momoe Yamaguchi -- Hito Natsu no Keiken(ひと夏経験)

Going back to dig out an early Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵) fact, the one that started her ascent into superstardom. "Hito Natsu no Keiken"(An Experience One Summer) was Momoe's 5th single released in June 1974, and written by Kazuya Senke(千家和也)and composed by Shunichi Tokura(都倉俊一), the same pair who had created the previous four singles for her. I guess being a budding nostalgist, what I like about the song is just the whole kayo kyoku-ness of it: the 70s twangy guitars and the orchestra horns & strings backing the 15-year-old teen. But what sets it apart is the zippy beat set right from the beginning to the staccato refrain that both the instruments and Momoe punch into everyone's ears. And I also have to say that the intro has that feel of innocence lost....or uncertainty.

In any case, what has given "Hito Natsu no Keiken" its lasting fame....or perhaps what has been or not been hinted at in the song itself. It garnered a lot of attention from probably everybody about what Momoe was trying to express through Senke's lyrics....something that was even more heightened since they were sung by a serious-looking 15-year-old in a squeaky voice...some years before her vocal cords would attain that famous lower seen-it-all done-it-all tone. Right from the first line, Momoe blurts out "I'll give you the most important thing that a girl has"; along with the innuendo-laden title (there had even been a previous idea for a title: "Amai Yuwaku"(甘い誘惑....Sweet Seduction), the inevitable assumptions of sexual de-flowering came out, although the lyrics never directly state that there was any sort of seduction involved. Kinda wondering if Senke and Tokura were doing a lot of nudge, nudge, wink, wink while they were coming up with this one. "Hito Natsu no Keiken" was its own PR machine. But Momoe herself would later deny that sex was the "thing"being offered; she insisted that it was magokoro 真心)or sincerity/devotion. When I first heard the song, I didn't know anything about the supposedly racy lyrics....just thought that it was a pretty cool tune. Little did I know.

In any case, the song managed to peak at No. 3 on Oricon and become the 15th-ranked song of 1974. Despite all the suggestiveness (which may have gotten the country's PTAs up in arms with pitchforks and torches), it won a Japan Record Award Popularity Prize and got Yamaguchi her very first appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen later that year. And to top it all off, the single sold 750,000 copies. But most of all, this song was finally the launch pad that got this unassuming girl from Yokosuka into kayo kyoku legend.

P.S. The single was also a track on Yamaguchi's 4th original album, "Juu-go Sai no Teima Hito Natsu no Keiken"(15歳のテーマ。。。ひと夏の経験....15's Theme-An Experience One Summer) which also peaked at No. 3 after its release in August 1974.


  1. Exactly the song I was thinking about yesterday. I'll get my foil hat.

    I have somewhere a clip of Kouhaku utagassen 1974. It was her first appearance. The whole akagumi cheered for her on stage and shouted "go for it, Momoe". Then she arrived and sung Hito natsu no keiken. And it was impeccable.

    This image of an idol as an serious, charismatic performer turned totally upside down in next decade after Momoe retired. 1980's underlined opposite qualities. It was like there was only one Momoe and it’s useless to hope there will ever be another. She was unique.

    Btw, what to do if I possibly have a stupid contribution written in bad English? telefunken8 at gmail dot com

  2. Hello, jari.

    Yup, Momoe was definitely one of a kind. And she knew exactly why and how to handle her success. And once she left, she resolved never to come back. The legend lives on!

    As for your concerns about your English, from what I've read of your comments over the month, you shouldn't be worried. Besides, I'm a semi-retired English teacher; if you need help, help is there! :)

  3. Thanks J-Canuck for this great post on 山口百恵's 「ひと夏の経験」. Great song by Momoe! The lyrics do sound pretty racy but like most of Momoe's songs seems to also have a strong tone of female empowerment in there as well. Over at J-Wiki it mentions that the song was covered by a number of artists. Puffy did a pretty neat rock cover version - Kind of curious to hear the リンリン・ランラン cover version from that same year ('74) as I can't really picture that duo (known for their gimmicky 恋のインディアン人形) singing this song.

  4. Hito natsu no keiken @ Kouhaku Utagassen 1974:

  5. Hi, JTM. I think there was always an overarching theme of female empowerment in Momoe's tunes, especially when she entered the late 70s. I don't think I've come across Rinrin Ranran before (or at least the name doesn't ring a pun intended); would be interesting to hear their take on the song.

  6. Hi, J-Canuck.

    This song is such a classic. But the first time I listened to it was not in Momoe's voice, but with Chisato Moritaka. She sang it in a Music Station medley from 1990 with an eurobeat arrangement coupled with Thriller's bass line (yeah, the Michael Jackson song). Strange way to be introduced on this particular song.

    Chisato was even using a cape in the video, like a super heroine. It's a pity that this video is not on YouTube anymore. I was lucky to download it a couple of years ago.

  7. I gotta admit, Marcos, your description of Chisato's version of the song has got me interested in how the song sounds like. In a way, I'm surprised she hasn't done an official cover version. Or has she?


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