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, February 20, 2015

Saburo Kitajima -- Takao San (高尾山)

You should've seen the look on her face when I told her that I like this song. A look of pure disgust and resentment on Mom's face can only mean one thing when it comes to Enka, Sabu-Chan is the one behind the vocals. Well, she doesn't dislike "Takao san" per se, she just has very strong negative feelings - to put it nicely - about the veteran singer himself. I myself have gotten used to Saburo Kitajima's (北島三郎) nasally warbling in the months that followed after the discovery of "Kita no Ryoba" (北の漁場), and I am generally okay with seeing him on TV.

Well, moving back to the song itself. I recalled watching Sabu-Chan singing this song on one of my first few Kayo Concert episodes in the later half of last year. I think it may have been pre-"Kita no Ryoba", so I was quite surprised to have actually somewhat enjoyed the noble-sounding "Takao San". But of course, despite making a mental note to look up the song online after the show, it did not come to pass and I just left it in the corner for a few months until it popped back into my mind on one of those days.

As I've said earlier, "Takao San" has got a pretty dignified score, brought to you by the man himself as George Hara (原譲二). You have the manly thumping of the drums coupled with the elegant strings that gives it a gentle side, and to make it a little more realistic, there's the sound of the blistering wind at the start to simulate being up in the mountains.

It's lyrics, written by Haku Ide (いではく), seem to tap on the lush mountain's religious significance and its benevolence, and has Sabu-Chan beseeching the mountain/its "native residents" for protection, out of other things. Y'see, other than having the Yakuo-in, a Buddhist temple, up there, according to folklore, it's one of the places well-known to have this type of formerly-morally ambiguous forest/mountain Yokai called the Tengu (天狗), as well as one of the Daitengu or Great Tengu (presumably the most powerful one of the lot in the area) by the name of Naigubu (内供奉) residing there. These fearsome creatures were known for their destructive nature - as well as their red face and long proboscis, but eventually that view changed and they became seen as more of a guardian, and are considered as a Shinto deity. As someone who loves to read about mythological creatures, I have to say that the Tengu is one of the coolest of the lot I've seen.

"Takao San" was released on 5th June 2014 and it did really well on the regular charts, peaking at 21st place. From that I'm going to assume it hit 1st place on the Enka-yo charts. Also, Sabu-Chan got invited to sing this song at the temple!

Great Tengu from the game "Okami".
I've played this beautiful game, and dang,
is this fella a force to be reckoned with!

Oh yeah, and if you're currently celebrating the Chinese New Year, Happy Chinese New Year!


  1. Happy Chinese New Year to you, too, Noelle.
    With all due respect to your mother, I think "Takao-san" is a pretty comfortable enka that is right up Sabu-chan's skill set. He goes for the epic and monumental, and for the Japanese, there is nothing like paying tribute to a fine mountain.

  2. Hi J-Canuck,

    "Takao san" is indeed a nice song to listen to, and it matches the environment well too. If I ever do visit Mt.Takao, there'll be no doubt that I'd listen to this song when up there.

    And I suppose keeping his songs more down-to-earth and relatable to regular people while still having that extra pizzazz is what makes Sabu-Chan so popular with the crowd, even at this day and age!

    1. I've been to Mt. Takao once...hard to believe that that patch of wilderness is officially a part of Tokyo. Pretty nice place to have a barbecue party.

      I think Sabu-chan has always had that salt-of-the-earth quality which appealed to men and women alike.

  3. Judging by how lush the place looks through pictures, does look good for a barbecue. It also looks like a good place for a hike.

    I did find it interesting to see that it's located in the most densely populated prefecture with tons of modern infrastructure. I'd thought it'd be in a less populated corner of Japan, really! Y'know, something like Aomori.

    1. I think Aomori probably suspects that Tokyo swiped a piece of it. :)


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