Sukiyaki (Japanese title: Ue wo muite arukou - 1962)” by Kyu Sakamoto #2-40


“Sukiyaki (Japanese title: Ue wo muite arukou - 1962)” by Kyu Sakamoto

Hello everyone. Thank you for tuning in. This is Nomadonomado English version. My name is Mai, and I am the host of this channel. I usually speak Japanese in my episodes, but I started talking in English recently because I want to improve my English speaking skills and my pronunciation.

Today, I’d like to share one of my essays which I wrote in English. It’s about the famous song “Sukiyaki”. The song was originally sung by Kyu Sakamoto with the Japanese title “Ue wo muite arukou”, and then, introduced in Western countries. 

One day, I heard that song on the radio in Canada where I currently live and I wrote this essay. Now, I’m going to read it.

One of the things that I have missed about Japan after moving outside of Japan in 2003 is Japanese songs. I don’t have many CDs of Japanese songs and don’t have many opportunities to hear Japanese songs in the media in Canada.

That’s why I had to stop cooking when the song “Sukiyaki” came on the French radio channel the other day.

The song which was originally titled “Ue wo muite arukou (I look up when I walk)” in Japanese was written by Rokusuke Ei, composed by Hachihiro Nakamura and sung by Kyu Sakamoto in 1961. It is said that Kyu Sakamoto was given the score just two hours before his recital and sang the song on the spot. Surprisingly, although the record was sold well, his singing style was not well received in the conservative Japanese singing world at that time.

The English title “Sukiyaki” seems to have been given when it was introduced in the UK in 1962. In fact, “Sukiyaki” is the name of a Japanese dish and has nothing to do with this song. I couldn’t figure out why this song was called “Sukiyaki” in English when I listened to the English version for the first time.

It has been suggested to be entitled “Sukiyaki” because it’s catchy and more familiar to English speakers, which sounds funny to me, but it worked. If they had kept the original title “Ue wo muite arukou”, this song would not have been so famous in the English-speaking world.

The song itself is a wonderful piece of work, full of charm, but there is another factor that makes this song even more popular outside of Japan. It’s Kyu Sakamoto’s unfortunate life. He was killed in the Japan Airlines Flight 123 plane crash in 1985 when he was only 43 years old. 

Therefore, every time “Sukiyaki” is introduced on the radio, the tragedy of the plane crash is always mentioned.

In this world, there are lots of songs which have been loved for a long time. You may be surprised that some of the world’s most popular songs have sad lyrics and so do the original Japanese lyrics in “Sukiyaki”. 

Kyu Sakamoto, who sang that happiness is over the clouds,  in a husky voice, has gone above the clouds and never returned.

That’s all for today. Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I’m always happy to receive your comments, feedback and questions. If you want to see the script, it’s available on my website. Please visit 

Also, if you are interested in more essays of mine in English, you can go to my English blog: 

Thank you again and I will be back to you soon. Until then, goodbye!

#英語学習 #英語勉強法 #英語初心者 #英会話 #英語の勉強 #外国語学習 #イギリス英語 #英語 #海外生活 #海外移住 #ノマド #海外 #デジタルノマド #海外旅行

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