Life of   Kyu Sakamoto
Born on 10 November 1941 in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture,
Kyu Sakamoto (Sakamoto Kyu in Japanese) made his show business debut in 1960.
His biggest hit, Ue o Muite Aruko (I Look Up When I Walk) ; Sukiyaki in the West),
was released in Japan in 1961. After its release in the U.S. in 1963,
the song's earnestness and melodic beauty
proved irresistible despite its incomprehensible lyrics.
Against all odds, on 15 June 1963,
the song ousted Leslie Gore's It's My Party to become the No. 1 popular song in the U.S.
Sukiyaki remains the biggest international hit by a Japanese popular singer.
Credit for the song's popularity also is due to the music by
Hachidai Nakamura and the lyrics by Rokusuke Ei,
who is said to have written this touching evocation of loneliness
after his heart was broken by the actress Meiko Nakamura.
Why the title Sukiyaki? The explanation is simple:
intercultural ignorance.
Western DJs needed a song title that was at once easily pronounceable
and associated with Japan.
So, "Sukiyaki" was it, even though the word is not mentioned in the song.

Nicknamed Kyu-chan (an affectionate diminutive) for his sincerity and charming smile,
he also recorded such popular songs as
"Shiawase Nara Te o Tatako" and "Miagete Goran Sora no Hoshi o."
Sadly and prematurely, 43-year-old Kyu Sakamoto was killed on 12 August 1985,
when JAL Flight 123,
a Boeing 747 bound from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Osaka,
lost pieces of its tail sections and spiraled downward nightmarishly for 30 minutes
(long enough for some passengers to scribble shaky farewells to their families).
The plane crashed and burned on a thickly wooded mountain about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo,
killing 520 and injuring four, in the worst single airplane disaster in aviation history.

Although Kyu Sakamoto's golden voice was stilled,
his songs remain popular in Japan and overseas.
Ue o muite aruko
Namida ga kobore nai yoo ni
Omoidasu haru no hi
Hitoribotchi no yoru

Ue o muite aruko
Nijinda hoshi o kazoete
Omoidasu natsu no hi
Hitoribotchi no yoru

Shiawase wa kumo no ue ni
Shiawase wa sora no ue ni

Ue o muite aruko
Namida ga kobore nai yoo ni
Nakinagara aruku
Hitoribotchi no yoru


Omoidasu aki no hi
Hitoribotchi no yoru

Kanashimi wa hoshi no kage ni
Kanashimi wa tsuki no kage ni

Ue o muite aruko
Namida ga kobore nai yoo ni
Nakinagara aruku
Hitoribotchi no yoru
Hitoribotchi no yoru



Kyuchan's life and work are commemorated at the,
Kyu Sakamoto Memorial Hall.


Address: 108-6, Aza-Oiwake, Kuriyama-cho, Yuubari-gun, Hokkaido, Japan 068-0352
(Highway 234, east of Sapporo City, Hokkaido Island)
Telephone: 01237-6-3939
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