I came of age during the singer songwriter era in the early 70s. James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Carole King, Laura Nyro... You get the idea. Matsutoya Yumi (aka Yumin, nee´ Arai Yumi) is a Japanese singer songwriter from the same era. She wrote some incredibly beautiful songs, many of which have been used by Studio Ghibli as soundtracks for its animated moves.
In this video Yoshida Yuri covers Yumin's Sotsugyo Shashin ("Graduation Photo") beautifully. The tune sounds great on the uke and her vocals are spot on. Kind of like Dylan, Yumin isn't always the best singer of her own songs. But like Dylan what she writes is pure poetry. Read an English version here. You can hear the English version here. It's not a direct translation of the Japanese but it's close and maintains the spirit and feeling of the original. As with all translations, there's inevitably something that's lost.
It's a shame that Americans don't listen to foreign music because Yumin would have been a great hit in the US. Visit her YouTube channel and let me know if you agree.
Download words and chords for each version below.
I recently found a really great strap that allows players of vintage ukuleles to avoid drilling holes in their instruments. It’s the Mobius Strap designed and marketed by Tim Mullins. But before I get to why I think the Mobius Strap is so great, let me drag you along on my journey of discovery.
Like many ukulele players, particularly those in Japan, I’m in love with vintage American ukuleles. I especially like vintage Martins. A few months ago I found a pristine 1950s Martin tenor uke which I have enjoyed playing ever since. Well, almost.
I play mostly finger style and maybe I’m just uncoordinated, but I need a strap. I can't support the uke well enough with my left hand when I’m going up and down the neck switching between chords and notes. Yet my 50’s Martin was so pristine that it didn’t have any strap hardware leftover from a previous owner. That made me the unfortunate one who had to decide whether to deface my beautiful instrument by adding a strap. CRAP!
As with most things in life once we reach a plateau where needs and wants are at an equilibrium, our needs increase. While I promise to be true to the Mobius Strap, wouldn’t it be great if it came in something other than basic black? Just sayin’ Tim…
Faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest is a perfect ukulele strap.
Head on over to http://www.mobiusstrap.com for an un-hole-ly strap today. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
I'm an amateur ukulele player who happens to be fluent in Japanese. I hope that I can inspire you to learn more about the ukulele, Japan, or better yet, BOTH!