Sukiyaki: Japanese Lyricist Rokusuke Ei Has Died

We just learned of the death of Rokusuke Ei.

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 01: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Rokusuke Ei speaks during the Asahi Shimbun interview on August 1, 1985 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 01: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Rokusuke Ei speaks during the Asahi Shimbun interview on August 1, 1985 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

While you might not recognize his name, you probably know the song he co-wrote: “Sukiyaki,” the only Japanese language hit ever to reach number-one in the U.S.

The song was performed by Kyu Sakamoto.

One of the most unlikely number-one hits of the ’60s, the song carried a fascinating backstory most Americans were unaware of.

Its Japanese title “Ue o Muite Aruko” — which translates as: “I Look Up as I Walk” — doesn’t hint at anything dramatic. But Ei wrote the lyrics as a metaphor for the continued U.S. military presence in Japan almost 20 years after World War Two ended.

Rokusuke Ei died July 7th at 83 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. (BBC)

  • The U.S. and Japan were just building a positive relationship when “Sukiyaki” was recorded.
  • Ei wrote the lyrics after attending a student demonstration protesting against the presence of U.S. troops in Japan.
  • The song was revived — with entirely new lyrics having nothing to do with Ei’s — by A Taste of Honey in 1981.

More from Jim Johnson
Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From 104.3 WOMC

104.3 WOMC's 10k Workday Contest!Enter for a chance to win up to $10,000!
Get Your Tickets to Detroit BMI Songwriter Series!The four-day concert series will take place at Hockeytown Cafe, Hard Rock Cafe, Detroit Institute of Music Education and the Fox Theatre!

Listen Live