Tsutsumi Kyohei Interview (1997)

Last year saw the passing of Tsutsumi Kyohei, a.k.a. “The Hit Maker,” widely considered to be one of the greatest Japanese songwriters of all time. As a tribute to this incredible man and his countless amazing songs, I have translated below a rare interview with him from 1997. Before that, however, I have also included a brief profile along with some bits of trivia about him.

I hope this translation can be of use for people who want to learn more about this genuinely legendary yet sometimes strangely unrecognized songwriter.


Text: Showa Pop no Sekai
English translation: Henkka

Basic Information

Born: May 28, 1940
Died: October 7, 2020 (aged 80)
Birthplace: Kagurazaka, Ushigome, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Hometown: Toranomon, Minato, Tokyo
Alma mater: Aoyama Gakuin University
Real name: Watanabe Eikichi

His younger brother is music producer Watanabe Tadataka. Having worked with artists such as C-C-B, KAN, Spitz, and Kobukuro, he is an esteemed producer.

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Yamashita Tatsuro 80 Questions Interview (2012)

80 questions & answers with Yamashita Tatsuro. Straightforward enough.

Find out the answers to all your burning questions, such as what Yamashita Tatsuro would wear if he was a chick, what car he drives, what he likes to drink, whether or not he ever goes to the convenience store, and what his favorite kind of donut is. Gripping stuff!

I should mention that the original interview actually has 100 questions, but I took the liberty of dropping 20 that were rather esoteric or irrelevant to non-Japanese Tatsuro fans, as well as questions that he answered more thoroughly in this 2016 interview.

Interview & text: Mori Tomoyuki (Japanese text)
English translation: Henkka
Yamashita Tatsuro on the web: Official Website

Making an appearance on our popular “100Q” column today is Yamashita Tatsuro who is releasing Ray Of Hope, his first new album in six years. […] Hearing his answers to our questions, one can’t help but feel overwhelmed by his extensive knowledge and unwavering sense of values. When something doesn’t strike his fancy; when he thinks something is simply wrong? He gives it a resounding “NO.” But when it’s something he loves; something he approves of? He pours all of his affection into it.

One can sense a direct connection between Yamashita Tatsuro as a person — as well as the music he creates — and the sheer passion of his answers in this column. All things considered, he truly is a profound person. Even just going through all of the works he introduces during this interview… It is probably going to take me around a year of very enjoyable research to get through it all.

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Yamashita Tatsuro Interview (2016)

This is a translated interview with Yamashita Tatsuro, conducted in 2016.

Topics covered in the interview include early musical influences, the current music scene, playing live, childhood memories, thoughts about getting older, and future ambitions. Enjoy!

Interview & text: Ooyama Takuya (Japanese text)
Photography: Kikuchi Eiji, Hamada Shino, Kugino Takahiro
English translation: Henkka
Yamashita Tatsuro on the web: Official Website

Yamashita Tatsuro has just finished his 40th anniversary tour, “Yamashita Tatsuro PERFORMANCE 2015-2016.” Spanning six months beginning from the autumn of 2015, the tour was planned to consist of 64 performances in 35 cities. However, an additional performance in Kanagawa due to a ticket sales issue as well as a substitute performance for the interrupted Iwate concert ultimately brought the total to 66 performances.

Even today, 40 years since his debut in SUGAR BABE, Yamashita Tatsuro continues vigorously to pursue his career. Where lies the source of that vitality? What are the convictions that have kept him going throughout all these years? We hope to find out the answers to these questions in this long, 6000-word interview which includes live photos published on the web for the first time ever.

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Kaede – Sepiairo no Kugatsu

Sepia September

Summer ends as though nothing had happened
Opening the window, I’m watching the clear skies

It passed, never once looking back
Leaving only the swimsuit lines on my suntanned skin

My tears blur into sepia
Sweet, slightly languid September

Surely I’ll get to see the blue coastline again
Thinking that, I feel better

Autumn begins and as though nothing had happened
A trench coat envelops my dress

So now within this ambiguous season
I want to be alone, as if I was on a journey by myself

My tears are sepia-colored syrup
Sweet, slightly bitter memories

The blue coastline so far away, a summer forever gone
Thinking that, I feel lonely

I cried — In September
I cried — Sepia tears

Lamp – Tsumetai Yoru no Hikari

Cold Night Light

A conversation-less passenger car headed nowhere
Memories of days past hang in the air like wings
It’s just as always, this enveloping world
Stealing up on me without a word or sound

Suspended neon signs; a lie by the window
I hold my breath at the bottom of the universe

I have heard the sound of unending sorrow
The gentle embrace of this cold night light is all I need
Who would think of this town as it floats past unnoticed
Illuminated only by the cold night light?

Coffee stains remain on the letter
With words left unsaid, simply abandoned
Is it the same as always, the life you’re living?
A gentle kiss before drifting off to sleep

A winter illusion of a distant spring
Now-forgotten songs of days gone by

An unending silence fills the sky
My heart shaken by the cold night light
Quietly take with you these rusted feelings
Oh, cold night light, just like this…

Alone, humming an endless song of youth
Singing it to the cold night light for all eternity
Smells in the wind of this unknown land reminding me of times past