Lecture Note: “The Heart of Japanese Song” with histories and beautiful melodies – LA Men’s Glee Club, Oct 20, 2009

Nibei LA Men's Glee Club

LA Men's Glee Club at Nibei Foundation

Nibei Foundation Japan Study Club

The Heart of Japanese Song with histories and beautiful melodies”

Presenter: LA Men’s Glee Club

October 10, 2009 at Terasaki Foundation Laboratory Building, West Los Angeles

Japan Study Club Lecture Note is complied by Cultural News

The Nibei Foundation Study Club was honored with a performance by the L.A. Men’s Glee Club.  Mr. Takahashi was the conductor who led the group of 18 glee members.  Mr. Takahashi said he was once told that “to see one’s soul is like listening to their song and poems.”

Mr. Tsuchida is the President and the Master of Ceremonies was Mr. Bob Kumagai.

Singing and performing has always played a major role in Japanese culture.  In 1948, there were at least 500 registered chorus groups in Japan comprising over one million singers.  Karaoke, even today, has become a world-wide phenomenon.

This extremely talented group of gentlemen is comprised of all issei or Japanese natives.  The group started in 1994 and they enjoy both singing and performing.  They meet once a week to practice their craft and sing at a variety of venues to captive audiences.

The glee group is divided into four groups:  1.) Bass 2.)Baritone 3.) Tenor Two  and 4.) Top Ten.  Their motto is “harmony is everything.”

They sang 7 songs that are widely sung in Japan, especially in men’s chorus groups.  Slides were also presented accompanying some of the songs so one could appreciate the actual beauty and culture of the topics and places that the group sung about.

1) Hakone Hachiri (with slides)

First published in 1901.  Speaks of a traveler journeying along the Odawara to Mishima near Mt. Fuji.  The first verse tells about a samurai traveler; the second verse tells about a modern hunter with rifles.  A more modern version came out in the late 1800s.

2) Hanyu-no Yado

Japanese version of an old English folk song called “Old Sweet Home.”

3) Iza Tate Ikusabito-yo

This song came from Christian roots.

4)  Nozomi-no-shima (translated “Dream Island”)

This song also came from Christian roots.

5)  Soran song solo with slides was sung by Mr. Yasushi Kurita

Soran song again sung in chorus.

This popular Japanese folk song tells about the 19th century herring fishing industry.  Soran is the cheer of fisherman.  This song centers around the island of Hokkaido.

6)  Miagete Goran Yoru no Hoshi o (translated “Look up to the Evening Stars”)

This song was written in 1963 in honor of Kyu Sakamoto, a famous singer who died in 1985.  He was well known for his mega hit “Sukiyaki.”

7)  Yanagawa (with slides)

“Willow Fall Asleep” consists of four songs.  This is the first of the group; Yanagawa.  Yanagawa is a River in Fukuoka, Kyushu.  Shigeru Nagayama was the soloist.

This was definitely a wonderful evening filled with music and song.