“Sukiyaki” Performed by Kyu Sakamoto (1963)


Kyu Sakamoto – Sukiyaki aka Japanese Love Song (1963) #1 Adult Contemporary, #18 R&B, #1 Pop

This wonderful, much covered song, composed by Hachidal Nakamura, was the first Japanese song to ever reach the top of the American music charts. I recall singing it as a child having no clue as to what the song was about … I just made up my own words to the marvelously jaunty and catchy melody!

Kyu Sakamoto was born Hisashi Oshima in 12/10/41. This well respected Japanese actor and singer  died in the  8/12/85 crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 leaving behind his wife and two children.


Taste of Honey –  Sukiyaki aka Japanese Love Song (1981)  #1 Adult Contemporary, #1 R&B Singles, #3 Pop Singles

It wasn’t until the 1981  cover version, by the disco era R&B “Two-Hit  Wonder”  group “Taste of Honey,”  topped the charts again that I recalled the original Japanese version of my youth. This version was slowed down in tempo and given English lyrics and then I knew it was meant to be a love song: but the lyrics that were used were not a translation of the original Japanese song.


Selena – Sukiyaki aka Japanese Love Song (1989)

This beautiful Spanish language cover of “Sukiyaki”  performed by Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (b.4/16/71 d.3/31/95) appeared on her 1989 release “Selena.”

Selena is by no means a “One Hit Wonder” but I just included her version here because it is truly beautiful and I like it and it’s my blog 😉

I hope you enjoy all three versions as much as I do.

TRIVIA: After “Sukiyaki” was a hit for “Taste of Honey,  the duo  went to Japan and toured with Kyu Sakamoto!

And from the WIKI Kyu Sakomoto Pag:

The lyrics were written by Rokusuke Ei and the melody was composed by Hachidai Nakamura. The lyrics tell the story of a man who looks up and whistles while he is walking so that his tears won’t fall. The verses of the song describe him doing this through each season of the year. The original Japanese title was considered too difficult for American audiences to remember and pronounce, therefore a well-known word that people would associate with Japan was used – Sukiyaki, even though the word has nothing to do with the song. A Newsweek columnist noted that the re-titling was like issuing “Moon River” in Japan under the title “Beef Stew.”

For more interesting facts check out:

Kyu Salamoto’s Official Web Site

A Taste of Honey’s Official Web Site

A great Taste of Honey Fan Page

Q Productions online –  The Only Official Selena Website!

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh, the Kyu Sakamoto version always makes me cry 😦

  2. Would like to buy “SUKIYAKI” BY KYU SAKOMOTO

    Gene Blackman
    Jacksonville FL USA

    • Hi Gene,

      Welcome to OSML. Perhaps a reader will see your request but I would highly suggest that in the meantime you go over to Gemm. This is a great place to find older music and oop items. I have been able to update my music collection there over the years — replacing some of my scratched and broken vinyl.

      I think you will have great luck there. Let me know how it works out for you.

      Musically yours,

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