Album: Sukiyaki And Other Japanese Hits (1963)
Charted: 6 1
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  • ASIJ is American School in Japan, for the children of diplomats and business people. Some military kids went there too, I think, but they had schools of their own near their bases. The girls boarding school I went to was called Anokia, in Sierra Madre, CA, not far from Pasadena. It was the former estate of Lucky Baldwin, one of the Santa Anita Racetrack people. The girl I gave the record to was a freshman and I was a sophomore. I think it was toward the end of the year that she asked to take the record home for the weekend. Troy Donahue's sister, Eve Johnson, and Mary Pickford's niece were also students there but they were seniors and doubtful that they knew her. Edie Adam's daughter was in my grade.

    My dad flew for Japan Airlines. He was there, among others, teaching the Japanese to fly. He was one of the original barnstormers, built his own plane when he was 17 and taught his shop instructors to fly out of Clover Field, now Santa Monica Airport. He flew until he was 91. He thought very highly of Japan Airlines, said it was one of the best ever. I was sad to learn that Sakamoto was killed in a JAL crash.

    I loved Japan from my first day there. The people were very friendly to me and all of them eager to take me everywhere and show me everything. Everything I saw in our little town was awesome to my eyes. My friends wanted me to read the signs so one gave me lessons on Katakana, which are the symbols they use for writing foreign words. Later in my life I used the English part of the chart to teach my 4 year old daughter to read, except I plugged in English vowel sounds. Years later when I became a teacher - specializing in beginning reading and writing - I used the same to teach my students.

    A friend and I occasionally went to Japanese movies, bought a pack of dried squid to chew on and tried to figure out what was going on. That's when I heard Kyu's song: He sang it in one of his movies. All of these years I have never given it much of a thought until last month when it occurred to me that it may have helped Japan get accepted more in America.
    - Marsha Cunningham

Comments: 41

  • Joybelle from Berwick Victoria AustraliaWho changed the lyrics when Lionel rose best harada
  • Robert Newsom from FlaIt became a hit while I was a navy hospital Corpsman at the navy hospital in Yokosuka in the 60s just a great song
  • Lee G from Wheeling, WvBoth Bills (if they are different) seem to be getting KAL 007 confused with the plane in which Kyu Sakamoto was a passenger. KAL 007 was shot down in September 1983 after supposedly crossing Soviet airspace, and Congressman Larry McDonald was onboard. Kyu Sakamoto's plane, JAL 123, crashed in August 1985 and never came close to getting out of Japanese airspace. So, to answer the comment made by one Bill, yes we do know the Soviets didn't shoot down JAL 123. We do know that Kyu Sakamoto died in a crash due to horrible maintenance practices. There is no question about it.
  • Richard LozanoI have loved this song since I was a child in the 60s! I heard it in a Japanese restaurant named Sumo and asked the waitress what the title was she looked it up on her phone in Japanese and gave me the name. I will purchase the CD as soon as I find it! I love Sukiyaki!
  • James Richardson from Conn.this song was a great hit I love very much.
  • Valerie Roszkowski from London England I joined a group on Facebook I think it is simply 60’s and this song was featured on one of the posts I listened to it and it took me right back to when I was a little girl me and my mum absolutely loved it so sad he passed away.
  • Billy from AustraliaI first heard this song when it was featured in a western movie in approx 1966. Not sure if it was children's movie. It was about a young girls love for a wild white horse. Her father was a rancher who captured the horse and as he was about to brand it, his daughter grabbed the branding iron and threatened to brand herself unless her father freed the horse. Sukiyaki featured in this movie but I haven't been able to find any reference to this movie. Any one else remember this?
  • Photocrazy from WashingtonThe song is about the resentment that the Japanese had for American Troops being in their country. It isn't about a crash. The guy who wrote it had been at a demonstration against the US Army presence in Japan, while walking home he wrote the lyrics about the failure of their effort during the demonstration.
  • Sandy from The Berkshires-maThis song is really about a Japanese WWII Kamikaze pilot's last night before he crashes his plane into the ground. That's why his love has gone wrong..there can be no love in this situation.
  • Kramo from Toronto, CanadaFans of The Flintstones may remember when Fred and Barney took karate lessons. The teacher was a stereotypical oriental with buck teeth, big glasses and "funny" accent. He says something to Fred, that Fred doesn't understand...and he replies "Sukiyaki". As he does...his features go all oriental. Racism of the day.
  • Kramo from Toronto, CanadaThe song is used to great effect in Mad Men. A gorgeous Japanese waitress is coming on to Don as the episode concludes. The music plays as Don is considering whether to be good...or bad.
  • Jdnslngsht from Chicago, IlAh, I know this song!!
    Actually, my first exposure was a cover of a cover of this song - the Spanish version done by the Tejano musician Selena, whose father was a fan of A Taste of Honey and translated their lyrics from English.
    Like Kyu Sakamoto, she she died too young. :((
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 14th 1981, Taste of Honey performed *"Sukiyaki" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Two weeks later on March 1st it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #83; and on June 7th it peaked at #3 (for 3 weeks) and spent 8 weeks on the Top 10 (it spent a total of 22 weeks on the Top 100)...
    It reached #1 (for 1 week) on May 3rd, 1981 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    And on May 10th, 1981 it also peaked at #1 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Eighteen years earlier Kyu Sakamoto took the original version to #1 (for 3 weeks) on June 9th, 1963...
    Sadly, Mr. Sakamoto died on August 12th, 1985 at the young age of 43 (airplane crash)...
    * Roughly translated to English it means 'I Look Up As I Walk'.
  • Bubblesk from Memphis, TnI loved this catchy song when I first heard it in 1963. But never have known the English lyrics. I guess it's called pop, since it definitely is not rock & roll! In 1963, I loved songs by Chubby Checker, The Beach Boys, and Sam Cooke, mainly because of the big beat & the popular teen themes on their recordings. But this one hardly has a beat at all. I think it caught on in the USA because of the melody being so sweet. It was a good break from some of the nonsense & foolishness of "Surfing Bird" "Danke Shoen," and "Papa Ooo Mau Mau" hit the radio airwaves.
  • Adrian from Johor Bahru, MalaysiaSince then, no Asian artistes has ever cracked the US Top Ten charts until now with PSY's Oppa Gangnam Style !
  • Johnny from Spring Lake, MiSukiyaki was probably the perfect name for the song. It let everybody know what the song was about. Nobody knew what the lyrics were about, but a lot of us knew it was Japanese because of the name - Sukiyaki. I was about 5 -1/2 years old when the song came out, but I remember this song. The song was huge. Ah-sooo, beddy, beddy nice.
  • Johnny from Spring Lake, MiI believe "China Nights" was Kyu Sakamoto's follow up hit to "Sukiyaki" in 1963. It made it to #58 in the states, but probably did pretty well in Japan back then.
  • James from Hopewell, NjI was in the Navy and in Japan in 56 an 57 I would to know if there is any connection between a song tittled China Nights and Sukiyaki ?
  • Marlene from Montreal, QcI remember this song on the radio when I was very young, and to this day, I can't hear it without vivid images of that time and the house and neighourhood I lived in.
  • Nancy from Biglerville, PaI have always loved this song but hardly ever hear it. Thanks for all the information on the artist. Now I know where to come to listen any time I want.
  • Nichole from Coffeyville, KsI came upon this site after I googled a question on a trivia game. There was much debate I noticed about the plane crash involving flight JAL 123. So I rearched it. If you go to It will tell you what happened. It was not shot down, which some have said.
  • Jas from Clifton, TxOK, Bill from Dallas, you really need to check your facts before you say something like that. JAL 123 was not shot down. It was a mechanical failure that was the result of an odd series of events. 7 years prior, the 747 had been involved in a tail-strike incident, not accident, and to us pilots there is a difference between the two. The rear pressure bulkhead, basically a wall that holds in the stabilized pressure so that you can have a comfortable flight, was repaired in a way that would make most A&P's(airplane mechanics) vomit. As a result, 7 years later JAL 123 was doing a routine domestic flight, they got to cruise altitude 12 minutes after takeoff, the norm, then the pilots reported hearing a loud "bang." The bulkhead failed and that caused the aircraft to decompress rapidly, explosive decompression. That is when all the high pressure air in the cabin has to get outside to the low pressure air. The violence of the decompression ripped the vertical stabilizer off, which means they lost all rudder control due to not actually having a rudder. The pilots, although dead, should be commended, because they did manage to gain control of the dying aircraft and they attempted to conduct an emergency landing at a US Air Force base. Kyu Sakamoto was an acomplished pilot so by this point he knew he was going to die. You dont bring a plane back from that kind of damage usually. He wrote something for his wife on a napkin which was later found with his body. The damage had also caused a hydraulic leak, which the pilots were unaware of at first. Several minutes into the emergency descent, they lost all power to the control surfaces. They did manage to regain control of the aircraft yet again, this time by using the throttle to turn and gain altitude. They managed to make it within 20 miles of the base, but unfortunately, they crashed into a mountain and all but 4 people on board died. Nowhere during the incident did the Soviets show up to shoot down the 747. If they had, it would have been messed up because they were in Japanese airspace. I enjoy reading the comments here and all the little facts you can learn, but do some research first so that you aren't misleading people in an attempt to feel intelligent. This was a horrific tragedy and handing out false facts is a total discredit to the pilots and passengers, all who knew they were probably going to die and had a long, long time to think about it before it happened.
  • Adrian from Johor Bahru, MalaysiaIf the song were to be renamed, I think Sake would be more appropriate than Sukiyaki as the song is about a jilted lover.

    A jilted person would logically drown his sorrow by drinking sake !
  • Shizuo from Tokyo, JapanThis song was written in 1961 for the recital of Hachidai Nakamura, the pianist and composer of this song. So, nobody could have heard this song before then.
    The song by a female singer that Bob from Baltimore and Francis from Ottawa remember hearing must have been a different song.
    This song was featured on the TV program called in Japanese "Yume de Aimashou" (Let's Meet in Dreams) in October and November, 1961.
    Shizuo, Tokyo, Japan
  • Ken from Brighton, MiThis song came out when I was 6 years old. It has been my favorite song for 46 years. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.
  • Brenda from Calgary, AbOne of the most beautiful but sad songs ever.
  • Bill from Originally Toledo, OhThe plane crash in 1985 may or may not have been a soviet shoot down - we will never really know will we.
  • John from Roseville, CaSorry to blow the whole myth about the plane being shot down by the Russians, but if you check the facts, the plane suffered a rear bulkhead failure that resulted from prior, on the ground accident, that weakened the airframe. The crew lost all ability to control the descent, which took about 40 minutes to hit the ground. Many of the passengers had time to write final farewells to the families before the crash. A sad end to all, but the Russians had nothing to do with it.
  • Bob from Charleston, Scdoes anyone know if this song was used for a TVshow during the 60's?
  • Francis from Ottawa, OnI also seem to remember an earlier version from the 50s sung in Japanese by a female. Anyone have any knowledge of this version and how I could get a copy?
  • Trudy from Livermore, CaThis is the song that was #1 on the charts the day I got married, June 15, 1963. Kyu Sakamoto was born the same year as my husband and I was born a year later so we were contemporaries of Sakamoto.
    Recently, before leaning these facts I developed an intense interest in Jpop-Jrock music, especially the Japanese Artists Gackt and Hyde (I like Rain also but he is Korean)All three of these singers have much more beautiful voices than Kyu Sakamoto, not to say that his rendition of the song wasn't a good one. Especially Gackt's voice is phenominal, beautiful. I see no reason why one of these Asian Artists or some other one could not have a #1 hit worldwide. And why didn't that idiot rename it Sayonara rather than Sukiyaki", it was a crime to give such a beautiful ballad that stupid name.
  • Mike from Lafayette, GaSakamoto died in the 1985 crash of Japan Airlines flight 123 when part of the tail section came apart. Korean Air flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet fighter on Sept 1, 1983.
  • Bill from Dallas, TxIt's hard to believe but when this song was on the charts John F. Kennedy was President. It's true that Kyu Sakamoto died with over 500 other innocent people when their Japan Airlines jet was blown out of the sky by a Russian fighter pilot who launched an air to air missle at the civilian airliner. The Russian says he thought it was an American spy plane. What was left of the aircraft and passengers went down in the South China Sea. Since the JAL aircraft was above 32,00 ft. when hit there were no survivors. It wasn't just a plane crash. It was totally unnecessary act of agression. RIP
  • Mieke from Leiden, NetherlandsMy hobby is music of the sixties. In the summer of 1963 I heard a beautiful song in a language I had never heard before. This was Sukiyaki or Ue wo muite arukou, sung by Kyu Sakamoto. Hearing this song, to me, was the ultimate musical experience. At that time I was still attending school, and after saving my pocket-money for a long time I bought a Linguaphone-course to learn Japanese to be able to understand the lyrics of Sukiyaki. After finishing school I graduated in Japanese Language and Culture at Leiden University. I have always wanted to tell Kyu Sakamoto personally how much his song meant to me, but unfortunately he died in a plane-crash. Although I have heard many beautiful Japanese songs ever since, this song will always be very important to me. I own two single issues with different flipsides; Ano ko no namae wa nanten kana and Tankobushi, and from Japan I obtained a special issue of Sukiyaki and a Memory Album with the greatest hits of Kyu Sakamoto, issued after his tragic death. In the sixties Kyu Sakamoto issued a new version of the song with a Doo whop choir added to it, but I think this version is too westernized and it has lost the magic of the original song.
    Mieke, The Netherlands.
  • Leya Qwest from Anchorage, AkThe lyrics sung by A Taste Of Honey are NOT the literal interpretation of this hit, as lots of listeners think they are. THESE are:

    Ue o muite arukoo
    I look up when I walk
    Namida ga kobore nai yoo ni
    So the tears won't fall
    Omoidasu haru no hi
    Remembering those happy spring days
    Hitoribotchi no yoru
    But tonight I'm all alone
    Ue o muite arukoo
    I look up when I walk
    Nijinda hoshi o kazoete
    Counting the stars with tearful eyes
    Omoidasu natsu no hi
    Remembering those happy summer days
    Hitoribotchi no yoru
    But tonight I'm all alone
    Shiawase wa kumo no ue ni
    Happiness lies beyond the clouds
    Shiawase wa sora no ue ni
    Happiness lies above the sky
    Ue o muite arukoo
    I look up when I walk
    Namida ga kobore nai yoo ni
    So the tears won't fall
    Nakinagara aruku
    Though my heart is filled with sorrow Hitoribotchi no yoru
    For tonight I'm all alone
    Omoidasu aki no hi
    Remembering those happy autumn days
    Hitoribotchi no yoru
    But tonight I'm all alone
    Kanashimi wa hoshi no kage ni
    Sadness hides in the shadow of the stars
    Kanashimi wa tsuki no kage ni
    Sadness lurks in the shadow of the moon
    Ue o muite arukoo
    I look up when I walk
    Namida ga kobore nai yoo ni
    So the tears won't fall
    Nakinagara aruku Though my heart is filled with sorrow Hitoribotchi no yoru For tonight I'm all alone
  • James from Vidalia, GaI remember looking up info about this artist years ago only to discover his sad fate in that plane crash. Also, upon learning that the song was about someone looking up when they walk I thought it was about a person happy in life. But perhaps not...
  • Frank from Westminster, ScI've always resented this song being called "Sukiyaki". Did they think we could only relate to a Japanese song if they slapped a familiar word on it? It would be like recording a love ballad in English for the Japanese market and calling it "Cheeseburger"!
  • Bob from Baltimore, MdI first heard this song in Sasebo Japan in the spring of 1952. I was in the Navy on an ammo ship during the Korean Conflict and Sasebo was our home port.We would be in Sasebo from Korea every 30 days for about 2 weeks at a time to load up.

    The song, which I heard many times after, was on a record and was sung in Japanese by a young girl, who's voice I fell in love with. Don't know her name but she had a beautiful voice. Bawlmer Bob
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrAt the End of the version by A Taste Of Honey, if you listen very carefully, you can here the lead singer softly whisper, "Sayonara!"
  • Keith from Slc, UtThe 4PM release was NOT this song. They used the tune, but not a real translation of the words, which are far more haunting and wistful. The close translation can be found online (search for "I look up when I walk"). Lyrics were by Rokosuke Ei.
  • Danielle from Spruce Grove, CanadaI thought this song maybe about a guy who got turned down, or broke up with his g/f. Japanese people are very shy and maybe didnt want people to see him cry. if he looks up he wont hurt when the tears fall (its just annoying when the tears run into your ears)
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