Song of the Day: Kyu Sakamoto, “Sukiyaki”

Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto would be 79 today. He was one of the victims of the Japan Airlines Flight 123 crash in August 1985. "Ue O Muite Arokou" ("I Look Up As I Walk)" was first released in Japan in 1961, where it topped the charts for three months and was named the #1 record of 1961. It was released in the US and the UK in 1963 under the title "Sukiyaki," because it was short, catchy, definitely Japanese, and familiar to US and UK audiences. It reached #1 on the Hot 100, the first Asian song to do so, and also reached #18 on the R&B charts and #1 on the Easy Listening chart.

13 thoughts on “Song of the Day: Kyu Sakamoto, “Sukiyaki”

  1. I didn’t know the translation of the lyrics before today. The melancholy words are at odds with bouncy orchestration … and that just make sit more sad, as though the singer is trying to keep the proverbial stiff upper lip. Thanks for this!


  2. I remember so well trying to sing along with that song, every word unfamiliar to me. it was a well loved song in our house. I did not know about the crash. What a sad story.


  3. I remember the song playing on oldies radio, but didn’t recall it being titled Sukiyaki. sigh We still love to normalize everything that’s “different” to us.



    1. I guess it was better than someone walking into a record store and asking for “that record that goes ooo-ee-ooo-ah-ah” and walking out with David Seville’s “Witch Doctor.”


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