|"Ue o Muite Arukō (Sukiyaki)"|
|Single by Kyu Sakamoto|
|from the album Sukiyaki and Other Japanese Hits (US)|
|B-side||"Anoko No Namaewa Nantenkana"|
1963 (US, UK)
|Genre||Pop, Kayōkyoku, Japanese pop|
Capitol 4945 (US and Canada)
|Writer(s)||Rokusuke Ei (lyrics)
Hachidai Nakamura (music)
"Ue o Muite Arukō" (上を向いて歩こう, "[I] Shall Walk Looking Up") is a Japanese-language song that was performed by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto, and written by lyricist Rokusuke Ei and composer Hachidai Nakamura.
In Anglophone countries it is best known under the alternative and nonsensical title "Sukiyaki".
The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States in 1963, and remains to date the only Japanese-language song ever to have done so. In addition, it was and still is one of the few non-Indo-European languages' songs to have reached the top of the US charts.
It is one of the best-selling singles of all time, having sold over 13 million copies worldwide. The original Kyu Sakamoto recording also went to number eighteen on the R&B chart. In addition, the single spent five weeks at number one on the Middle of the Road charts. The recording was originally released in Japan by Toshiba in 1961. It topped the Popular Music Selling Record chart in the Japanese magazine Music Life for three months, and was ranked as the number one song of 1961 in Japan.
Well-known English-language cover versions with altogether different lyrics include "My First Lonely Night" by Jewel Akens in 1966 and "Sukiyaki" by A Taste of Honey in 1980. There are many other language versions of the song as well.
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. The English-language lyrics of the version recorded by A Taste of Honey are not a translation of the original Japanese lyrics, but instead a completely different set of lyrics arranged to the same basic melody.
The title Sukiyaki, a Japanese hot pot dish, actually has nothing to do with the lyrics or the meaning of the song; the word served the purpose only because it was short, catchy, recognizably Japanese, and more familiar to most English speakers. A Newsweek Magazine columnist noted that the re-titling was like issuing "Moon River" in Japan under the title "Beef Stew."
Covers and variations
A Taste of Honey version
|Single by A Taste of Honey|
|from the album Twice As Sweet|
Janice Marie Johnson (English lyrics)
|A Taste of Honey singles chronology|
While driving around Los Angeles, Janice Marie Johnson of A Taste of Honey had heard Linda Ronstadt's hit remake of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Ooo Baby Baby" play on the car radio with Johnson resultantly concluding that A Taste of Honey should remake a classic hit. Johnson focused on Kyu Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki" which she first learned in the original Japanese. According to The Billboard Book of Number One R&B Hits by Fred Bronson, Johnson learned that the Japanese lyrics when translated to English had three possible interpretations - as the mindset of a man facing execution; as someone trying to be optimistic despite life's trials; or as the story of an ended love affair, with Johnson quoted as saying: "Me being the hopeless romantic that I am, I decided to write about a love gone bad." Johnson was given permission by the original song's copyright holders to write the English-language lyrics on the understanding that she receive neither official credit nor remuneration.
A Taste Of Honey's version of "Sukiyaki" first appeared on their 1980 album Twice As Sweet. It was released as a single in 1981.
|Billboard Soul Chart||1|
|Billboard Adult Contemporary||1|
|Billboard Hot 100 Chart||3|
4 P.M. version
|Single by 4 P.M.|
|from the album Now's the Time|
|Released||September 6, 1994|
|Format||CD and cassette single|
|Label||London Records (UK)|
Janice Marie Johnson (English lyrics)
|4 P.M. singles chronology|
4 P.M.'s 1994 version reached number 8 on the Billboard 100 charts. The 4 P.M. version also uses the same English-language lyrics written by Janice Marie Johnson. The 4 P.M. version was a chart success in Australia, reaching number 3, and in New Zealand, reaching number 5.
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||5|
|Billboard Hot 100||8|
|Billboard Pop Songs||5|
|Billboard Adult Contemporary||17|
|Single by Selena|
|from the album Selena|
|Released||September 14, 1989|
|Format||CD 7" single|
|Producer||A.B. Quintanilla III|
|Selena singles chronology|
"Sukiyaki" (English: I Shall Walk Looking Up), (Spanish: Caminaré Mirando Arriba), was a single released by Selena in 1990, which was released as the fourth single from the 1989 self-titled album Selena. The song received much airplay at the time of release. It was a Spanish-language version of the song, featuring the lyrics written by Janice Marie Johnson translated into Spanish.
It was released as a single in the United States and Japan. It was included in several of Selena's greatest hits packages before and after her death.
In 1963, the British record label Pye Records released an instrumental cover version of the song by Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen. They were concerned that English-speaking audiences might find the original title too difficult to remember/pronounce, so they gave it the new title of "Sukiyaki". This title was retained when Capitol Records in the United States, and His Master's Voice (HMV) in the UK, released Kyu Sakamoto's original version a few months later. Sakamoto's follow-up to "Sukiyaki", "China Nights (Shina no Yoru)", charted in 1963 at number 58. That was the last song by an artist from Japan to reach the U.S. pop charts for 16 years, until the female duo Pink Lady had a top-40 hit in 1979 with its English-language song "Kiss in the Dark".
Several other artists have recorded cover versions of the song, while others have written and/or performed songs based on the melody:
- In 1963, Brazilian vocal music Trio Esperança, then child singers, released a cover of the song in Portuguese, called "Olhando para o céu" ("Looking at the sky"), on their debut album "Nós somos sucesso" ("We are successful"). The lyrics in Portuguese were written by Romeo Nunes.
- In 1963, the Dutch-based Indonesian duo Blue Diamonds recorded the first evident English-language rendering of "Ue O Muite Aruko", featuring lyrics written by Decca Records executive Martin Stellman of Belgium: in the Netherlands the Blue Diamonds' English-language version of "Sukiyaki" charted in tandem with the Kyu Sakomoto original and two versions of the Dutch rendering subtitled "In Yokohama" (see below) with a #13 peak. Blue Diamonds' English rendering of "Sukiyaki" was overlooked in release in both the UK and the US.
- In 1963 a Dutch rendering subtitled "In Yokohama" was recorded by Wanda [de Fretes]: the title was also used for an instrumental version by Tony Vos (nl). Charting in tandem with the Blue Diamonds English-language remake (see above) and the Kyu Sakomoto original version these versions reached #13 in the Netherlands.
- In 1963 Blue Diamonds (see above) reached #2 in Germany with a German-language cover of "Sukiyaki".
- In 1963, The Ventures did a gentle instrumental cover of the song on its album release "Let's Go!"
- In 1963, Canadian singers Claude Valade and Margot Lefebvre recorded a French version, "Sous une pluie d'étoiles" ("Under a shower of stars").
- In 1964 Lucille Starr introduced the English rendering of "Sukiyaki" by lyricist Buzz Cason on her album The French Song: this version would be a 1966 single release by Jewel Akens as "My First Lonely Night" (see below).
- In 1965, the Hong Kong-based band The Fabulous Echoes (later known as Society of Seven) recorded the song.
- In 1965, Czech singer Josef Zíma recorded Czech version of the song named "Bílá vrána" (="White crow")
- In 1966, US soul singer Jewel Akens released the song as "My First Lonely Night" as part of his double A side single "Mama, Take Your Daughter Back"/"My First Lonely Night" on ERA records. The track had debuted on Akens' 1964 album The Birds and the Bees with its earliest recording being by Lucille Starr in 1964 (see above). This is probably the nearest translation to the original; although not a literal translation, it tells a similar story of a lonely man walking through the night, after losing his love.
- In 1967, the Ginny Tiu Revue recorded this on their self-titled first album.
- In 1975, the Hawaii-based duet Cecilio & Kapono recorded a markedly different English-language version in their album Elua released on Columbia Records.
In 1981, Hong Kong singer Teresa Carpio covered this song in Cantonese.
- In 1982, a Brazilian humour-punk group Joelho De Porco recorded a cover version for the double album Saqueando A Cidade.
- In 1983, a collaborative album by Peter Metro & Captain Sinbad with Little John, called Sinbad & The Metric System included "Water Jelly" on the Taxi Riddim by Peter Metro. The melody was adapted to reggae and it featured new lyrics in Spanish and English.
- In 1983, Finnish singer Riki Sorsa recorded the song with original Japanese lyrics as "Sukiyaki (Ue O Muite Aruko)".
- In 1989, Selena recorded a Latin-influenced cover.
In 1989, Hong Kong singer Anita Mui covered this song in Cantonese.
- In 1995, a reggae version by Sayoko both in English and Japanese featuring Beanie Man.
- In 1995, Jackie And The Cedrics recorded a surf version, "Sukiyaki Stomp", as the "B" side of "Scalpin' Party", with "Justine" as the 3rd song on the 7" vinyl EP. They also performed the song as part of their live set, including when they appeared in NYC in 1999.
- In 1996, Brazilian axé singer Daniela Mercury recorded "Sukiyaki" with its original Japanese-language lyrics. The song was released outside Brazil only, as an international bonus track on her 1996 studio album Feijão com Arroz.
- In 1996, freestyle trio The Cover Girls recorded a version for their album "Satisfy".
- In 2000, solo violinist Diana Yukawa recorded "Sukiyaki" on her bestselling debut album (known as Elegy in the UK and La Campanella in Japan). Yukawa also performed "Sukiyaki" various times on the mountainside where her father, Akihisa Yukawa, died in the Japan Airlines Flight 123 crash with Sakamoto.
- In 2000, Big Daddy released a smooth retro version which appeared in their comp CD, "The Best of Big Daddy" (the song had originally appeared on the Japanese release of their 1991 album "Cutting Their Own Groove").
- In 2012, Sweet Sister Pain released a cover featuring Japanese lyrics on their album The Seven Seas of Blood and Honey.
- In the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Suntory beverage company released several versions of a television commercial featuring many famous Japanese singers and Tommy Lee Jones each doing part of the song, followed by the title caption "ue wo muite arukou," or, roughly, "let's walk with our heads up."
- In 2013, Missy Elliott protégée Sharaya J sampled a portion of the original tune, alongside A Taste of Honey's version, for her single, "BANJI".
Parodies and alternate versions
- A parody song, "Nyanyian Kode", by Indonesian comedy group Warkop, was featured in their 1980 film Pintar-pintar bodoh.
- Fingerstyle guitarist Pat Donohue put new lyrics to the melody for the radio program "A Prairie Home Companion"; his song, "Sushi-Yucki", is included on his 2003 album, "Radio Blues".
References in other songs
- Hip hop emcee Slick Rick (performing as MC Ricky D) sang a verse of the Taste of Honey version of the song as part of his and Doug E. Fresh's hit 1985 song "La Di Da Di"; he sang it from the perspective of a woman who was infatuated with Rick.
- The hip hop duo Salt-n-Pepa sang a similar verse with the same melody on its own 1985 debut single, "The Show Stopper", which was a response to both "La Di Da Di" and the single to which it served as a B-side, The Show.
- Snoop Dogg included the verse in his 1993 cover of "La Di Da Di," retitled "Lodi Dodi."
- Slick Rick also sang the verse in a guest appearance on Will Smith's 1999 song "So Fresh."
- Possibly in homage to Slick Rick, the verse has been included, in whole or in parts, on other hip hop and R&B songs, including Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "Bless da 40 Oz.," Raphael Saadiq's 1995 hit "Ask of You," and Mary J. Blige's 1997 song "Everything."
- The song was prominently featured in the Studio Ghibli feature animation From Up On Poppy Hill.
- On the 12th episode of the Hyouka anime, the song was sung by the A cappella club during their school's Cultural Festival.
- The song is played at the sushi bar during the main character's first date in the 1999 film Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.
- The song was also featured on a 2000 episode of Malcolm in the Middle, on Stock Car Races, when Hal is seen reversing off his drive in his car.
- The song appears in the television series Mad Men in the 2008 second-season episode "Flight 1" (an ahistorical inclusion, since the episode is set in March 1962, a year before the song was released in the US).
- Wii Music included the song in the handbell harmony section.
- "坂本九さん 〜心のふるさと・笠間〜". Kasama Tourist Association (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2006-07-10. Retrieved 2008-02-20. (Translation)
- "【85年8月12日】日航ジャンボ機墜落事故…坂本九さん死去" (in Japanese). Sports Nippon. Retrieved 2009-12-27.[dead link]
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 509.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 213.
- 笹本恒子 「恒子の昭和: 日本初の女性報道写真家が撮影した人と出来事」 ISBN 4096820660
- Fred Bronson (2003). "Sukiyaki". The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6.
- "Billboard Hot 100 - June 20, 1981". Billboard.com. 2011-11-19. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 566.
- Billboard (vol 107 #3 (1-21-95)): p. 86.
- "Australian-charts.com – 4 P.M. – Sukiyaki". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
- "Charts.org.nz – 4 P.M. – Sukiyaki". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Billboard: Page for "Sukiyaki" by 4 P.M. For Positive Music
- "『上を向いて歩こう』、『見上げてごらん夜の星を』篇の公開は終了しました。 サントリーチャンネル サントリーCM・動画ポータルサイト". Suntory.co.jp. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
- "Sharaya J's Banji sample of A Taste of Honey's Sukiyaki". WhoSampled. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
- in 2013, an Oxford duo SweetnSour Swing recorded and released a special single "Sukiyaki", dedicated to British Jazz musician Kenny Ball
- Jun 15, 1963: Kyu Sakamoto tops the charts with "Sukiyaki", History.com
- Salt-n-pepa - Hot, Cool & Vicious review, Agnes Torres, The Orlando Sentinel, January 31, 1988
- Wii Music’s Licensed Songs, Jean Snow, Wired GameLife, October 16, 2008
- "わたしの愛唱歌シリーズ第9集郵便切手". Japan Post. 1999-03-16. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
"It's My Party" by Lesley Gore
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
(Kyu Sakamoto version)
June 15, 1963 (3 weeks)
"Easier Said Than Done" by The Essex
"I Love Because" by Al Martino
|"Billboard" Middle-Road number-one single
by Kyu Sakomoto
June 8, 1963 (5 weeks)
"Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" by Rolf Harris
"Being with You" by Smokey Robinson
|Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one single
(A Taste of Honey version)
May 9, 1981
"A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)" by Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio
"9 to 5" by Sheena Easton
|Billboard Adult Contemporary (chart) number-one single
(A Taste of Honey version)
May 16, 1981 (2 weeks)
"How 'Bout Us" by Champaign