Hello Japan – January: Music to My Ears

18 January, 2010

Recently , I’ve been listening to quite a bit of J-pop thanks to youtube and all the other free internet sites. Japanese pop music always reminds me of the summer holidays when I used to visit Japan. Most of the music I liked were tied in with the J-dramas I was obsessively watching, and when I listen to the songs now, they bring back vivid memories of the lazy summer days, all hot and languid watching tv and eating shaved ice or kakigori with strawberry syrup.

The January mini-challenge for Hello Japan! is Music to My Ears and it’s great because I can talk about all of my favourite J-pop!

I lived in Japan in the mid-80s, and I hear now that 80s J-pop is all the rage again among the Ara-4 (around 40) crowd – there seems to be a nostalgic boom going on in Japan.

I remember the first Japanese tape (!) I bought was that of Kawai Naoko in which I fell in love with one particularly melancholic song. I think ever since I’ve always loved songs in the minor key. But I’ve since lost the tape, never remembered the name of the song and only recently stumbled across it on youtube after endlessly searching for it. The song is called Gimonfu and is beautiful.

Of course like everyone in the 80s I used to watch the weekly music show The Best Ten hosted by Kuroyanagi Tetsuko (who wrote Totto-chan) and was a big fan of the legendary Yamaguchi Momoe (who famously retired at 21) Matsuda Seiko, Nakamori Akina, Oginome Yoko and The Chequers amongst other mainstream idols.

I also used to watch a lot of anime such as Touch by Adachi Mitsuru whose theme songs by Iwasaki Yoshimi were also my favourites.

Utada Hikaru, Misia and Ayaka are three artists I love listening to and who are all million sellers in Japan. And more recently I’ve been listening to Arashi’s Ashita no Kioku – yup, I’m still obsessed with them – not so much for their singing but because their variety programmes are just hiliarious. They really work well together as a team and the banter between all five of them are just spot on and hysterical.

Kind of like SMAP who were the first idols/boy band who became famous not just for their singing skills (which, let’s admit, aren’t really that great) but for their tv shows, comedic flair, J-dramas and their cooking skills (check out Bistro Smap in their variety show SmapxSmap which has been on air since 1996). They are good at everything and have taken over the Japanese entertainment industry!

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10 Responses to “Hello Japan – January: Music to My Ears”

  1. Novroz Says:

    Aaaa I envy you…I wish I can visit Japan one day…It is one of my dream to go to Japan to master Nihongo and watch Larc en ciel’s concert.

    J-pop that I like also comes from J-Dorama…I love J-Dorama (hehe maybe next month’s challenge should be about dorama 😉 )


  2. You used to live in Japan how exciting, do you miss it a lot? How does where you live now compare?

  3. chasing bawa Says:

    Novroz: You should, you’d love Japan! And your idea for next month’s challenge sounds brilliant.

    jessicabookworm: Although I love living in London, I really miss Japan. I’m half Japanese and my memories of growing up in Japan were happy, so I have an added sense of nostalgia about the place.

  4. mee Says:

    I think I read Totto-chan when I was small, but I can’t remember what it was about. I had my portion of Japanese songs in the 80s and 90s, but it was mostly anime soundtrack (because I was small, we had no Internet back then, so I had no other source really). I’m going to post on that soon 🙂


  5. I lived in Japan in the 1980s too and the Jpop then is very special to me. I really liked Nakamori Akina and Oginome Yoko too. Thanks for a blog post that makes me feel very natsukashii!

  6. Tony Says:

    I spent almost three years in Japan about ten years ago, and I still listen to a lot of the music I got then (19, GLAY, The Yellow Monkey, Porno Graffiti, The Brilliant Green).

    My wife, on the other hand, bought the single ‘Love Machine’ by Morning Musume: we have very different tastes…

  7. Mystica Says:

    This is off topic! I just got my first Murakami – Norwegian Wood and am oh so looking forward to reading this. I picked up really good books this month – both new and second hand and am so very glad that I was able to get a Woolf, a Sebastian Faulks, Anne Tyler and two Jean Plaidy’s.

  8. Mari Says:

    Oooo, The Best Ten! Blast from the Past! And how can I forget The Chequers – the clothes, the hair…. All so very 80s!

  9. chasing bawa Says:

    Mee: Totto-chan was about Kuroyanagi’s school days in an alternative and progressive elementary school. I loved that book and the illustrations by Iwasaki Chihiro. So cute. Btw, I really enjoyed your post!

    Wendy: I’ve been reliving my nostalgia through youtube. There’s just something really special about that time.

    Tony: Very different taste…but each to their own! Your music taste is definitely cooler than mine…

    Mystica: Norwegian Wood is my favourite Murakami. I hope you enjoy it.

    Mari: Yup, we can’t run away from our past. There’s always something to remind us of what we though was ultra cool back then.

  10. tanabata Says:

    Thanks for sharing some of your old favourites. I didn’t come to Japan for the first time until the late 90s but do have some fond memories of the J-pop of the time.


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