Thursday, August 1, 2013

Moritaka Chisato (森高千里) - Watarase Bashi (渡良瀬橋)

"Watarase Bashi" (渡良瀬橋), or "Watarase Bridge",  has to be the most famous song by Japanese singer Moritaka Chisato (森高千里).  Released in 1993, she wrote the lyrics herself.  Watarase Bashi is a real place, located in the city of Ashikaga (足利市) within the Tochigi Prefecture (栃木県).  Furthermore, Yakumo Jinjya (八雲神社), the barber shop, and the pubic telephone booth that appear in the song are all real too.  When Chisato was working on the song, she was looking for a river name or bridge name that rhymes well.  So she opened a map and found Watarase Bashi. She then remembered that she had a live concert there 4 years ago (1989) at Ashikaga Industrial University.  And so she went there to research the materials for the song.

According to Chisato, after the song was released, there're people from Ashikaga calling them and asking whether "Watarase Bashi" referred to the bridge in their neighborhood.  At the beginning, she thought these were complaints since she wrote the song without informing them.  On the contrary, due to the popularity of this song, Ashikaga went from a little known small town to a famous tourist spot overnight!  Recently, as mobile has become ubiquitous, people find little use of telephone booths.  The phone company wanted to get rid of that phone booth outside the barber shop.  But after strong protest by local residents, they decided to keep it.  Talk about the power of music :)

Nowadays, there's a stone monument near the Watarase Bridge to commemorate the song.  You can watch this YouTube video if you're interested:  The material of this blog post is largely based on this video.

This is Chisato's version of the song:

This is a cover version by Matsuura Aya (松浦亜弥):

For me, I like Aya's version more.





今でも 八雲神社へお参りすると


この間 渡良瀬川の河原に降りて

誰のせいでもない あなたがこの街で
なんども悩んだわ だけど私ここを

広い空と遠くの山々 二人で歩いた街

Watarase Bridge

Composer: Saito Hideo
Lyrics: Moritaka Chisato

The sunset at Watarase bridge
You used to love it so much
"You grew up in a beautiful place, didn't you?"
"I want to live here," you said

Riding on a jolting train
You came to this town to see me
Even now, those days
I cannot forget them in my life time

Even now, when I visit the Yakumo Shrine
I will be praying for you
If I had one wish
I would want to go back to those days

That lonely telephone booth at the corner of the barber shop
Do you still remember?
Yesterday, I never thought I would want to call you
Countless times I picked up the phone...

The other day, I went down to the Watarase river
Starring at the running water for a long time
The northern wind was so chilly
I unfortunately caught a cold

It was nobody's fault
I understood why you could not come here and live in this town
I had been troubled by this so many times
However, I could not leave this place and be with you

The town streets that you said you loved
Today are going into twilight as usual
Endless sky and mountains afar
The town that we once walked together
The town with a beautiful sunset

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