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Top of the Charts: “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto

June 15, 1963 - Hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 today was “Sukiyaki," a song performed by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto (pictured in Los Angeles). The song, written by lyricist Rokusuke Ei and composer Hachidai Nakamura, was first released in Japan two years ago. The lyrics tell the story of a man who looks up and whistles while he is walking so his tears will not fall, with the verses describing his memories and feelings concerning a lost love. The word “sukiyaki” does not appear in the song’s lyrics, nor does the Japanese beef dish have any connection to the lyrical content. The title “Sukiyaki” was used only because it was short, catchy, recognizably Japanese, and more familiar to English speakers. An English translation of the Japanese title is “I Look Up as I Walk.” One music columnist compared this re-titling to issuing “Moon River” in Japan under the title “Beef Stew.”


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