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Sukiyaki

Have you noticed I took a day off yesterday? I did it on purpose because I thought it's about time for me to take a break and was a little curious to know how I would feel stopping my "winning" streak. Now I know I really enjoy blogging, so I can say it's become one of my "hobbies." ;)

Well, changing the subject, do you know there was a Japanese singer who once went to #1 on the US pop charts? The singer's name is Kyu Sakamoto. His song "Ue o Muite Aruko" (literally, "I'll walk looking up") made a smash hit in the US and UK in 1963. Later, around 1980, it was covered by A Taste of Honey. Whenever I hear his name mentioned, I'm reminded of his gentle face, always keeping smiling. He was killed in a plane crash in 1985.

I'm blogging about him because, in my message forum, den4 posted a question why "Ue o Muite Aruko" was called "Sukiyaki" in the West. Sukiyaki is a popular one-pot beef cuisine in Japan. I've wondered about it too because it has nothing to do with the song. I thought I'd heard that the song was so named simply because it sounded Japanese, but since I was not all sure, I asked some friends about it on the Net. Then, a friend found this link and another for me, saying it seems as if it would have been all right even if the name had been "Geisha" or "Fujiyama." Yeah. As it turned out, they say the song was renamed in the West so that it was "at once easily pronounceable and associated with Japan." And I found this page just now. The president of a British record company liked sukiyaki very much, so the name was given to the song?! Hmmm...in either way, the song title was decided regardless of the song itself.

It is often the case with song and movie titles that they are completely altered once in other countries, in Japan as well. But I still wonder if Kyu-chan (as he was called) was happy with it.

Comments

Great links and info! You da man... :D
den4 :o

perhaps you should make it a regular feature, trying to answer the mysteries of these situations... :D

One song put out by Kome Kome Club called Funk Fujiyama seems to take the idea of how japanese view gaijin viewing japanese to a parody extreme.... :D

I'm glad you found the links useful, den4. Kome Kome Club is very natsukashii! But I didn't know the lyrics of Funk Fujiyama. Too funny! :)

Kiyo,
o-hisashiburi desu ne!

You didn't blog for a long time, so I stopped looking at your site. Then I heard the Sukiyaki song playing at the mall (in Texas!). I couldn't remember what it was. Finally it came to me that you'd blogged about a Japanese song that became a big hit in the US with a completely different name.

I found this post and found you again. I have your RSS feed now...so I'll be keeping up with you. Glad to be back in touch.

PS.
Isn't it amazing how you helped me even though you wrote this post many years ago.