mahabis music // kyu sakamoto and the legacy of the sukiyaki
if you are feeling like something a little sweet from the east that has a retro kick, we've dug up some classic sukiyaki for your listening pleasure. in 1963, the ballad was a world wide smash.
sukiyaki was the first and only japanese song to make number one on america's billboard chart. it was written by lyricist rokusuke ei and composer hachidai nakmura, and originally performed by the baby-faced frank sinatra of japan, kyo sakamoto.
the originals japanese lyrics are simple and poetic, almost like a haiku poem. they go something like 'i look up as i walk, so that the tears won't fall, remembering those spring days'.
for the record, sukiyaki is actually a japanese dish with no relevance to the song's lyrics. the song is called ue o muite arukō (上を向いて歩こう) i look up as i walk in japanese.
ironically, 22 years later, kyu sakamoto would pass away in the skies over tokyo in an air disaster.
the sukiyaki has been covered multiple times over the years, including a taste of honey (1981) and 4 p.m. (1995) both of which made the top ten of the billboard hot 100. in 1989, latin-american pop star selena spread the sukiyaki through the spanish speaking world. bits of the song have appeared others songs by performers such as slick rick and doug e fresh, la di da di, salt'n pepa, snoop dogg, mary j blige and will smith.
however, we think there is nothing like the original kyu sakamoto versión, complete with whistling.
photos courtesy of stephen cairns. click on the image to go to the source.