The Japanese Sandman
The song is about a sandman from Japan, who exchanges yesterdays for tomorrows. The number has a very Oriental atmosphere, and is similar to many other songs from the interbellum who sing about a dreamy, exotic setting.
Nora Bayes made a popular recording of the song in 1920 putting it over to Americans. The song was Paul Whiteman's first record and sold over two million copies. It has been subsequently performed by several musical artists like Benny Goodman, Bix Beiderbecke, Artie Shaw, Earl Hines, Paul Young, Django Reinhardt, The Andrews Sisters, Freddy Gardner and Freddy Sunder.
In popular culture
It's also often used in cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s, like The Ducktators (1942), usually to mock Japanese characters (because of World War II).
The song appears in the 2009 fantasy film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Instrumental versions appeared in almost every one of the first five episodes of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. A version with lyrics was featured in the show on October 24, 2010.
- Svinth, Joseph R. (June 2002). "Boxing: Harold Hoshino, the Japanese Sandman". Journal of Combative Sport. Retrieved 2011-03-07.
- The lyrics (http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/t/thejapanesesandman.shtml)
- About the song (http://parlorsongs.com/issues/2003-1/thismonth/featureb.php)
- A list with covers of the song (http://honkingduck.com/mc/discography?field_combo_value=&field_selection_value=japanese+sandman)