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, February 28, 2015

Duke Aces -- Ichou Namiki/Ii Yu Dana (銀杏並木/いい湯だな)

I've been to Osaka twice, but I can't say that I've seen much of it. That's the problem of going on those package tours, I suppose. You can never have enough time to explore the place thoroughly, and just when you're enjoying the charm of the place, you gotta leave for the next spot on the itinerary. Oh well, there's always a next time. And during that next time, I shall visit the places mentioned in "Ichou Namiki", one of the entries from Duke Aces' (デューク・エイセス) "Nihon no Uta series" (「にほんのうた」シリーズ) that represents Osaka.

"Ichou Namiki"

It sounds like a pretty fool proof tour. There's Umeda, Nakanoshima, Honmachi, Shinsaibashi, and finally Namba, so that covers quite a lot there... I think. Along with the very walk-able and warming music, the quartet narrates the progression of a couple's relationship as they take walks from the "Kita" (North; more business oriented) to the "Minami" (South; entertainment portion) part of Osaka. Joining the couple are the Ginkgo trees (what "Ichou Namiki" means). So as the young sweethearts grow closer by the season, the trees change accordingly. For example, in Spring when the leaves are young and growing back, the two are looking into each others eyes (I think), assumedly on their first date. Everything goes swell, fast forward to Autumn where the Ginkgo leaves have turned a brilliant gold - I've seen it in Asakusa, it was beautiful - and the two are engaged.

Although a pleasant sounding song, "Ichou Namiki" wasn't one of the more popular tracks from this series, despite the fact that it was on the A-side. In fact, the B-side song on the Gunma prefecture outdid it and became one of the Aces' hits.

Yes, I'm talking about "Ii Yu Dana".

Jaunty and boisterous when compared to "Ichou Namiki", "Ii Yu Dana" has the Aces singing about the four well-known hot springs in Gunma: Kusastu, Ikaho, Manza and Minakami. It's a fun song to listen to with it being so upbeat and lighthearted, and I can't remember how many times I've had this playing through my earphones during the duller, drier classes... I think there was this one time I had replayed the video above with the guys doing the abridged version of the song more than four times! The lesson was tiresome and dragged on more than it should, so I needed something to wake myself up. And Yasumasa Taniguchi's (谷口安正) exclamation after his, "Tsumete e na!" ("That's cold!") was silly and adorable.

Makino's "dancing" is amazing...

Anyway, what I enjoyed most from "Ii Yu Dana" is that all four members have a chance to sing solo. I love hearing all of their individual voices, especially Yoshitaka Makino's (槇野義孝) deep rumble that sends shivers down my spine - the good kind! I can safely say that "Ii Yu Dana" is definitely one of my top favourite Kayokyoku, besides Yuzo Kayama's (加山雄三) "O Yome ni Oide" (お嫁においで).

Since "Ichou Namiki" and "Ii Yu Dana" are part of the "Nihon no Uta series", the lyrics were done by Rokusuke Ei and composed by Taku Izumi (永六輔 . いずみたく). They must've had a jolly good time in Gunma. It was released in 1966.

J-Canuck had done an article on "Ii Yu Dana" a while ago, that article features comedy group The Drifters (ザ・ドリフターズ) take on the ditty, you can read up on it here. I don't mind their version, but I prefer the original.

"Ii Yu Dana"

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