"SUKIYAKI" -Kyu Sakamoto-

"SUKIYAKI" -Kyu Sakamoto-

Dec 20 2021 0 Comments

I believe many of you have heard this song titled "SUKIYAKI". This is one of my forever favorite songs.

Today I'm writing this because 1. I love this song so much that I want to share it with everyone, and 2. I was wondering about the song title and found the reason so I thought I would share. The song was originally titled "Ue o Muite Arukou (上を向いて歩こう)" in Japanese which can be translated to "I look up as I walk" but it was all the sudden titled "SUKIYAKI" when released in overseas. Sukiyaki is a Japanese hot pot dish of sliced beef and vegetables and has nothing to do with this song. 


"SUKIYAKI" song was first released in Japan in 1961 and was a big hit. In 1962, British Dixieland jazz trumpeter, Kenny Ball performed as an instrumental song in his band, released under the title "SUKIYAKI", and ranked 10th on the UK charts. In June 1963, it went to the top of the pop charts in the U.S. and stayed there for three weeks. It also became a top ten hit in numerous other countries including Australia, Canada, Britain and Germany.  

The song title "SUKIYAKI" came from when Kenny Ball's president, Louis Benjamin, came to Japan for business. He received a few Japanese single records as souvenirs then fell in love with Kyu’s song. He promised himself that he would release it in jazz version after returning to the U.K. However the title was only written in Japanese on the record and he did not know what it said. When re-naming the song title,  he remembered the tasty food he had in Japan and that was "SUKIYAKI". He said " That's it!". On the other hand, according to Kenny Ball's testimony, the Japanese title was too long so he wanted to make it an easy-to-understand Japanese song title, but the only words he knew were "SUKIYAKI" and "SAYONARA" . Since SAYONARA (“Bye-bye” in English) sounds too sad, he chose “SUKIYAKI”.

Either way, the reason for the title name “SUKIYAKI” was named after the famous Japanese dish “Sukiyaki”. (Yes, I definitely thought there would be more proper reason for this but NO! it was this easy and simple.)

Kenny Ball "SUKIYAKI"

In1985, Kyu Sakamoto was a passenger on Japan Airlines. Shortly after takeoff, the flight suffered a decompression and crashed, killing 520 out of 524 people aboard. 

After 40 years of the first release in Japan, Kyu’s beautiful melody and voice still touch many people’s heart and soul. Looking at his smile and listening to his voice, melody and the lyrics do bring tears to my eyes that I must look up. 

Thank you for reading this far.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

-Make It Memorable with Shoran Japan-




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