Song: Ue wo muite arukou~ (or Sukiyaki)

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SukiyakiCover
credit: Wikipedia.org. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to Toshiba-EMI.

Ue wo muite arukou. I have been listening to this song on repeat for days (I bet it’s going to last for months, too, like what happened to many others song that I loved).

I really love the song which was originally titled Ue wo muite arukou and sung by Kyuu Sakamoto. First released in Japan on 1961 and then two years later when released in United States it instantly became a big hit. There the song was given alternative title that stuck and widely known to many others until now as: Sukiyaki.

The song topped the pop charts for three weeks in 1963. It is the only Japanese language song to hit #1 in the US. It sold over 13 million copies internationally.About.com

I hear it remained as, of yet, the only Japanese-language song that ever hit number one in US Billboard Hot 100 charts. CMIIW, though.😀

I am sure nothing in the lyrics referred to Sukiyaki, a hot pot dish commonly associated with Japan. The theory is that probably Americans found it easier to pronounce Sukiyaki with their tongues, than the original title, and also made it easier to promote it.

I first knew about this song two years ago, when U-maku Eisa Shinka (an Eisa group that I have been a part of as Odaiko Dancer since November 2008) performed in a small-scale of charity event for Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that happened on March 2011. I was attracted with the catchy and fun beat by that time, but then I never did try to find the meaning of the lyrics or even find the song to be able to listen on it repeatedly. Until few weeks ago I watched a film based on a true story, Sukoshi Wa, Ongaeshi Ga Dekitakana, which Ninomiya Kazunari from Arashi starred in, and met the song again in one of the heartbreaking scenes. I cried when the brothers in the film sang the song.

I fell in love for the second time with this song and this time I did actively search and read about it this time, and yes, I fell in love with the lyrics.

Japanese Lyrics
Ue o muite arukou 上を向いて歩こう
Namida ga koborenai youni 涙がこぼれないように
Omoidasu haru no hi 思い出す 春の日
Hitoribocchi no yoru 一人ぼっちの夜

Ue o mute aurkou 上を向いて歩こう
Nijinda hoshi o kazoete にじんだ星を数えて
Omoidasu natsu no hi 思い出す 夏の日
Hitoribocchi no yoru 一人ぼっちの夜

Shiawase wa kumo no ue ni 幸せは 雲の上に
Shiawase wa sora no ue ni 幸せは 空の上に

Ue o muite arukou 上を向いて歩こう
Namida ga koborenai youni 涙がこぼれないように
Nakinagara aruku 泣きながら 歩く
Hitoribocchi no yoru 一人ぼっちの夜
(Whistling)

Omoidasu aki no hi 思い出す 秋の日
Hitoribocchi no yoru 一人ぼっちの夜

Kanashimi wa hoshi no kage ni 悲しみは星の影に
Kanashimi wa tsuki no kage ni 悲しみは月の影に

Ue o muite arukou 上を向いて歩こう
Namida ga koborenai youni 涙がこぼれないように
Nakinagara aruku 泣きながら 歩く
Hitoribocchi no yoru 一人ぼっちの夜
(Whistling)

Translation
I look up when I walk
So that the tears won’t fall
Remembering those spring days
But I am all alone tonight

I look up when I walk
Counting the stars with tearful eyes
Remembering those summer days
But I am all alone tonight

Happiness lies beyond the clouds
Happiness lies above the sky

I look up when I walk
So that the tears won’t fall
Though the tears well up as I walk
For tonight I am all alone
(Whistling)

Remembering those autumn days
But I am all alone tonight

Sadness lies in the shadow of the stars
Sadness lurks in the shadow of the moon

I look up as I walk
So that the tears won’t fall
Though the tears well up as I walk
For tonight I am all alone
(Whistling)

credit: About.com

Isn’t the lyrics beautiful in a way? It was written by Rokusuke Ei and composed by Hachidai Nakamura.

The lyrics tell the story of a man who looks up and whistles while he is walking so that his tears will not fall. The verses of the song describe his memories and feelings. Rokusuke Ei wrote this song while coming back from a protest against the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan and feeling dejected about the failure of the protest movement, but the lyrics were rendered purposefully generic so that they might refer to any lost love. – Wikipedia.org

However, from tben I’ve got that the lyric might relate to the touching evocation of loneliness after Ei’s heart was broken by the actress Meiko Nakamura.

Even more heart breaking was the tragic news of Kyuu Sakamoto’s death as Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed in 1985. Only four people survived with injuries, while Kyu was listed as one of a total 520 deaths from that accident, which remained as the deadliest single-airplane disaster in aviation history.

Well, enough with the sad news, last but not least, let’s enjoy the song with optimistic heart.

My favorite is the original Ue wo muite arukou by Kyuu Sakamoto

And since the song is popular, of course many will cover it! Here are the versions I found and enjoyed~

Susan Boyle’s Cover of Sukiyaki. Holy moly that voice! I got goosebumps!

Sukiyaki Japanese Version Acoustic Cover by Kina Grannis.

English version of Sukiyaki by 4PM, lyrics are completely not translation of the original Japanese version.

And last, my favorite of all Sukiyaki’s covers is Indonesian Parody Cover by Warkop DKI, which is featured in their 1980 film: Pintar-pintar bodoh.

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