Saturday, June 11, 2011


Yuko Ishikawa - Jinchoge (1979)
Music: Kaoru Nakajima
Lyric: Hiroyuki Hino

Yuko Ishikawa was one of the better acts of the "Idol Pop" genre, which was popular in the '70s and '80s and consisted of pretty girls between the ages of 15 and 25 or so singing pop music. Ishikawa was unusual for the genre in that she wrote most of her own songs.

Her debut single, Jinchouge, was unlike much of her later work, both in that she didn't write it, and also in that it had a much more traditional sound somewhat remniscent of the enka genre. Oddly enough, there had been an actual enka song called Jinchouge released the prior year by Sayuri Ishikawa, who was born the same year as Yuko Ishikawa. To the best of my knowledge, the two Ishikawas are not in any way related, nor were the songs.

The jinchouge is a flowering shrub native to China and Japan. Apparently its English name is "winter daphne." I'd never heard of it, so I just decided to stick with jinchouge rather than using the English or Latin name.

Tsumetai heya de
Chiisa na jinchouge ga
Niau you ni
Anata hiekitta kono boku ni
In my cold room,
Like the little jinchouge,
You have completely
Frozen me out.
Iitarinai hodo no yasashisa de
Atatamete kuremashita
Yurushite hoshii
Kokoro no mazushii kono boku o
With kindness words cannot tell,
You gave me warmth.
Please have pity
On my impoverished heart.
Hiraicha ikenai nikkichou
Karecha ikenai jinchouge
Aa semete semete
Haru ga kuru made
Aa semete semete
Haru ga kuru made
A diary that must not be opened,
A jinchouge that must not die,
Ah, at least, at least,
Not until the spring comes.
Ah, at least, at least,
Not until the spring comes.
Tsumetai heya de
Kaseki ni narou to shiteru
Anata o omou tabi hiraita yo
In my cold room,
I try to turn to stone.
Each time I thought of you,
I opened my diary.
Jinchouge hisoyaka ni
Kono fuyu mo sakimashita
Samishiku naru to
Yokei ni kaoru no jinchouge
This winter, too,
The jinchouge bloomed before I knew it.
Whenever I am lonely,
Its perfume fills the room.
[Repeat chorus]
Ishikawa uses the first-person pronoun boku in this song. In modern usage, boku is used predominantly by males (mostly young boys), but I believe that in this context it's used to express humility and self-effacement rather than to indicate that the character being portrayed is male.

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