Forbidden Colours

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This article is about the song. For the novel, see Forbidden Colors. For the concept in color theory, see Impossible colors.
"Forbidden Colours"
Single by David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto
from the album Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence O.S.T
Released 1983
Recorded 1983
Genre Electronic, New Age, world
Length 4:13
Label Virgin Records
Writer(s) Ryuichi Sakamoto (music)
David Sylvian (lyrics)
Producer(s) Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakamoto chronology
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence"
"Forbidden Colours"
"Field Work"
David Sylvian chronology
"Bamboo Houses"
"Forbidden Colours"
"Red Guitar"
Music sample
30 second sample of "Forbidden Colours"

"Forbidden Colours" is a 1983 song by David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto. The song is the vocal version of the theme from the Nagisa Oshima film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (in certain territories retitled Furyo). It appears on the film's soundtrack album and was released as a single on Virgin Records in 1983 (the second collaborative single release by Sylvian and Sakamoto, following 1982's "Bamboo Houses").

The title of the song is taken from Japanese writer Yukio Mishima's 1953 novel Forbidden Colors; although not directly related to the film, both works include exploration of homosexual themes.

In 1984 the track was re-recorded and released as the B-side to "Red Guitar", the lead single to Sylvian's first solo album Brilliant Trees and was later also included as a bonus track on certain editions of his 1987 album Secrets of the Beehive. Both Sakamoto and Sylvian have since recorded several interpretations of the song, both instrumental (under the title "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence") and vocal. An orchestral version featuring vocals by Sylvian was included on Sakamoto's 1999 album Cinemage.

Formats and track listings[edit]

All music by Ryuichi Sakamoto; lyrics by David Sylvian on "Forbidden Colours", "Bamboo Houses" and "Bamboo Music".

  • UK 7" Virgin Records VS 601 & 7" pic disc VSY 601
  1. "Forbidden Colours" – 4:42
  2. "The Seed and the Sower" – 5:00
  • UK 12" Virgin Records VS 601-12
  1. "Forbidden Colours" – 4:42
  2. "The Seed and the Sower" – 5:00
  3. "Last Regrets" – 2:40
  • UK 3" CD Virgin Records CDT 18 (released 1988)
  1. "Forbidden Colours" - 4.42
  2. "Bamboo Houses" - 5.26
  3. "Bamboo Music" - 5.38

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
Irish Singles Chart[1] 15
UK Singles Chart[2] 16



Cover versions and appearances in other media[edit]

  • 1985: Sakamoto also contributed a solo piano version of "Forbidden Colours" on the various artists solo-piano compilation Piano One (Private Music)
  • 1986: The soundtrack of the video game International Karate by Rob Hubbard was inspired by Forbidden Colours[citation needed]
  • 2000: German trance band Watergate scored a UK #3 hit with their song "Heart of Asia", which was based on the main melody to the instrumental version of the song.
  • 2004: Maksim Mrvica made a piano version included on his album Variations Part I&II


  1. ^ "Forbidden Colours". Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ "David Sylvian And Riuichi Sakamoto - Forbidden Colours". Retrieved October 3, 2012. 

External links[edit]