He Said – She Said ~ The A to Z of Japanese Music – The Letter E ! ! !


I am the letter E and this is my Teddy Bear ! ! !

I am the letter E and this is my Teddy Bear ! ! !

faye1She Says: Welcome back to our almost weekly series about Japanese Pop, Rock, Punk and Indie.  Life and love distracted us from the important things like He Said – She Said, But we are back on schedule again now ! ! !  This week we have a really great variety with tracks from the 1960’s to now and variety of Genres and even a boy band ! ! !  So check out the post ! ! !


He says:

“Life and love distracted us from the important things like He Said – She Said” Speak for yourself, dearie! ! ! 

I have neither ! ! !

Anyway, E, the most common letter in English and reasonably common in Japanese too, fortunately ( what is the most commonly used letter in Japanese ?). Which means there were quite a few artists to choose from. Here are some of them. .

mss3She Says – E is for Enka ! ! !  Enka is a style of Japanese popular music that is based on traditional motifs and was very popular in the post war period.  Enka usually uses an Asian music scale called Yonanuki Tan-Onkai which is a type of minor scale used in Japanese folk music. Enka is normally very sentimental, and themes are normally about lost love, remembering your home village while drinking sake alone in a bar while it is raining outside, or lovers who take advantage of innocent girls and then leave them alone in world.

Strong men cry when they listen to Enka

Strong men cry when they listen to Enka

Enka is a genre where women singers are very popular as they seem to fit the sentimental broken hearted themes quite well.  Guys usually sing songs about being strong and leaving the woman they love to lead a lonely life because the woman they love  is too good for them. I like to think of Country and Western as American Enka and like country music, the difference between cheese and a classic is emotional honesty and the best Enka transcends sentimentality to address true emotional experiences. Everyone has a favorite Enka singer and everyone has an Enka song in their Karaoke repertoire ! ! !   Even today it is popular with all ages and a new generation of Enka singers are making the genre popular again in mainstream music. The song I have chosen is my current Enks favourite ! ! ! I recently heard this song in a drama on TV and it has been in my mind ever since, . . who  knows it may find it’s way to earworms soon ! ! !

Hibari Misora,/i>

Hibari Misora,

It is sung by Hibari Misora who was maybe the most famous Enka singer of the post war period.  She sold 80 million records and was awarded the Medal of Honor for her charity work and was the first woman ever to receive the People’s Honor Award. 

Her songs have been covered by countless artists, including the European classical outfit The Three Tenors.  In 2010 a special tribute concert was held in the 42,000 seat Tokyo Dome which featured the most famous J-pop acts, including AKB48, and my other choice for “E” – Exile. She was beautiful, clever, funny, talented, generous and kind and loved in all Japan ! ! !

She died in 1989 and is very much missed ! ! ! The song is not one of the sentimental typical Enka tracks, but it is a funny track about a girl who gives letters to a Rickshaw driver to deliver to her lover.  The rickshaw driver delivers the letter fine, but he delivers the reply to the wrong woman ! ! ! I hope you like it ! ! !


Hibari Misora – Kurumaya san


spikeHe says This is , I think, what a lot of people think of when they think of “Japanese Music” ( if they ever do). It’s also , I think, where many Westerners “hit the wall” as it can sound a little samey and a little maudlin. It’s not always so, of course and it pays to dig a bit deeper, there are some great Enka artists and this lady is most certainly one of them.

I love the way she “swings” in her Kimono and trad gear !


mrp2He says –  E is for Etsuko Yakushimaru

Etsuko yakushimaru

Etsuko yakushimaru

Well, I did not know anything about this lady apart from the fact that I love the one album of her stuff that I have. Now it all makes sense. What a talented girl she is. The music is almost Psychedelic at times. Quite a gal !

Etsuko Yakushimaru  –  Cosmos Vs Alien



She says Etsuko Yakushimaru is a very talented and versatile girl and a very busy one ! ! !  She is a singer and songwriter both for her solo work and for the group Soutaiseiriron.  As a lyrist she has worked with a host of great musicians including Ryuichi Sakamoto, Keiichi Suzuki, Haruo Chikada , Yukihiro Takahashi, Yoshinori Sunahara, Kuricorder quartet, Otomo Yoshihide, Giulietta Machine, Jim O’Rourke, and Yoko Kanno.  She also works as an illustrator, story teller and music producer . . . .and she is still only 27 years old ! ! !  As a solo artist she has recorded two albums and six singles, this is from the 2010 single Jesus and Venus.


faye1She Says – E is for Exile What does a boy band do when they grow up?  They become a man band ! ! !  Exile seem to have been with us forever ! ! !  They actually formed as Exile in 2002, but the main members were in two groups before that J Soul Brothers and Zoo since 1999.  They have had a never ending string of hits since then and so far have sold 20 million albums and every year they make sell out tours of all the big stadiums in Japan.  They are really great professionals and give a great show.  ( Yes I have seen then in the Tokyo Dome a year or so ago ! ! ! )  They are certainly not innovators and faithfully follow what ever the latest trends in pop music happen to be.  I actually like their earlier tracks which were more RnB style.  These days of course they do hip hop and rap.  The track I have chosen is a live version of one of their old numbers.  I hope you like it ! ! !

Exile  – Coo Choo Train


spikeHe says

Errr….I think I’ll pass on this one. If I was a 13 year old Japanese girl ( or pretending to be one) I might like this kind of thing but I’m not and I don’t. .



He says – E is for Eel



Every stouthearted Cockney loves their eel and , as the Grandson of one, so do I. This is the kind of thing I really go for. Independent  woman making quirky yet tuneful music that exist not for fame or fortune ( though she’d probably not turn them down) but because she feels the need to make something that belongs to her personally. Or something.

Eel – Hungry Panda


faye-80She Says: Eel is another very talented female musician.  She started her career in 1999 with a European and Bossa Nova influenced album which was in the  Shibuya Kei style.  Later she moved into computer influenced music and produced a series of pop punk tracks with a nice kawaii style from 2002 to 2010 and her latest album is again an acoustic Bosa Nova album released last year.  She works mostly from home making her tracks over quite some time.  I really like her work and I love her independent way of working.

~ ♥  ~ ♪ ~  ♫ ~  ♪ ~  ♥ ~

"I am looking forward to F Mr P ! ! !"

“I am looking forward to F Mr P ! ! !”

He Says:

So there you go . Hope you enjoyed the E’s as much as I did ( bar one), some of my favourite sounds featured this week.What will “F” bring …..find out some time in the future.

She Says:

We hope you have enjoyed the E’s next time we will look at  F.  I think we had  nice variety of tracks this time and I think it was a fun week ! ! !  I hope you found something you liked in the post ! ! !

                    Welcome to

16 thoughts on “He Said – She Said ~ The A to Z of Japanese Music – The Letter E ! ! !

    • Hi MrP ! ! !

      The formatting seemed to be messed up so I had to make an edit – but it looks nice again now ! ! !

  1. Hiya both. A rare DsD foray (an alcohol-fuelled guilt-trip, natch!) into J-territory.

    I started reading and was instantly entranced by Sakurachan’s description of Enka. I LOVE music to cry into a lonely beer to. So I clicked Play on the first YouTube link (Hibari Misora), but what do I find? What looks and sounds like the ‘straight’ set-up singer, presumably awaiting Eric & Ernie’s entrance, from a lost 70s TV comedy show! No, I didn’t get that at all.

    Next up: Etsuko Yakushimaru. Er, would I be far of the mark if I said “An oriental Edie Brickell”? Intriguing, eminently listenable, and – before she went all Steve Hackett in the second half – got me shoulder-dancing in my office chair.

    Exile. I lasted a minute-and-a-half. Sorry.

    Eel. Oh I loved the guitar, the caffeine-fuelled percussion & ska-style stabbed keys, but … um … her voice …. er, no. Definitely not. Any instrumentals in her canon?

    Thanks, you two. Keep it up. I may not say so often enough, but I learn something every day time. Cheers.

    • Thanks for listening so carefully, the voices are, I can tell, an issue for some people. Personally I am a big fan of high pitched squealing ( I think it’s to do with my hearing being poor, I’ve lost a lot of “low end” over the years).
      We aim to bring a variety of J-sounds to people’s attention. I too find a little Enka goes a long way but it’s great for those Saki filled evenings over a plate of still squirming squid testicles.

      • I’ve lost a lot of “low end” over the years

        Funnily enough, that’s NOT my problem area. I’ve lost some higher end, and have a particular problem with sibilant sounds, meaning picking out conversations from any environment with background noise is a bastard. Makes me great fun to be with at gigs … NOT!

        Oh, and did you really mean “squid testicles“, or did SpellChecker stike again?! 🙂

    • Hi DsD ! ! !

      Thank you for reading and listening and taking the time to comment ! ! !

      We did a whole post on Enks with enough songs to cry a river into your beer – maybe you could look at that if you have time and are interested.


      I purposely did not choose a sad enka song as I wanted something different from the typical Enka western people usually know. The track is meant to be a comedy number and it is quite funny actually and her gestures are pastiche of the movements and facial expressions of Kabuki theatre – but I suppose if you have to explain a joke it is not funny ! ! !

      I did not expect anyone to really like Exile, but they are good at what they do and have been successful in this area for many years and we always have girl bands so I thought a boy band would be nice for a change ! ! !

      I am really hapy you dropped by and I really hope you will come next week to ! ! !


      Sakura x

  2. Hi there, this is an interesting well written post (as are all of your posts) but I will have to wait until later to listen to the music. We have a long weekend this weekend due to a Good Friday and Easter Monday so in between Guru duties I’ll take a proper listen.

    • Hi LeaveitallBehind ! ! !

      Good Luck with your Guru duties ! ! ! I am sure you will have fun and make a great list ! ! !

      Ganbatte kudasai ! ! !

      I will try and play this week as much as I can.

      Thank you for dropping in and taking time to comment – I hope you like some of the tracks ! ! !

      Love Sakura x x x

    • Hi GoneForeign ! ! !

      Thank you for the link – I had not seen it and I just read it.

      It is great that there is some news about Okinawa but whenever there is it is always about the bases in some way. Protest songs and music is important in Okinawa of course, but actually some of the biggest J-Pop singers like Namie Amuro for example come from Okinawa and Actors and musicians from Okinawa have a really big influence on the whole Japanese music scene.

      We wrote two posts:

      The Okinawa Actors School – which talks about the famous school and some of the graduates, maybe if you want to read it you can read it here:


      Also we wrote a He Said – She Said about Okinawa, you can read it here:


      I will ask Mr P and maybe when we get to “The Letter P” will do “Protest” or maybe we could do a joint HS-SS special for protest or I could do something alone if Mr P is too busy.

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment and sharing the link to the Guardian article it was really very kind of you ! ! !


      Sakura x x x

  3. I read that article and kept meaning to post a link. Typically I also kept forgetting to do so. Good job somebody is more organised.
    I liked that Etsuko Yakushimaru song. I think it needs a few more listens. As you say it is quite psychedelic.
    The Hibari Misora was difficult to understand. It did look like she was on an old fashioned TV variety show. I think you must need the language skills to really appreciate the humour. Good job you explained the story or I would have been baffled.
    That’s as far as I’ve got so far. Disorganised, that’s me. Will try to put aside some more time tonight.

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