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"Katyusha Song" - the first Japanese hit with Russian roots

This song can be safely called the first Japanese hit. The peculiarity of the song is that it combines Western trends and Japanese melodies, which won the love of the most diverse audience! "Kachusha no Uta" was liked even by those who were far from western music...

How the song for the Tolstoy production changed Japanese music

How was it born contemporary popular music in Japan? In fact, only one composition, written by a very young student, contributed to it! And today millions of people all over the world know it as "The Katyusha Song." ("Kachusha no Uta"). Great for music culture history goes back to 1914-м: It was then that the record was released, turning over a whole chapter in the history of music in the Land of the Rising Sun. "Katyusha Song" successfully complemented the theatrical production based on Leo Tolstoy's novel and made Sumako Matsui the first Japanese hit singer!

History of creation

Hogetsu Shimamuru
Hogetsu Shimamuru

Japan's musical biography numbers over one thousands of yearsbut when did the chapter of modern Japanese popular music emerge? It happened in 1914 yearwhen "Toyo Phonograph Company revealed to the world "The Katyusha Song."! The work was written for the theatrical production "Resurrection" based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy and performed under the title "Fukkatsu Shûka". The unconventional idea belonged to the critic, writer, professor, and founder of the famous theater "Geijutsuza" by Hogetsu Shimamuru. He wanted to make a daring experiment - to combine the Western style with classic Japanese melodies. And he succeeded! Well, almost to him...

Hogetsu gave an important assignment to his servant, a young music college student with no experience or any merit under his belt... Today it is hard to believe that the young man actually managed to write the great work that made the play based on Tolstoy's novel famous. But this one did. He would later become known as "the father of Japanese popular music". His contribution to the development of the country's culture is priceless.

First performance

Sumako Matsui, a moment from the play based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy
Sumako Matsui, a moment from the play based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy

The delightful actress of the Tokyo theater scene lent her voice to this iconic masterpiece. Sumako Matsui - one of the first in its field! In the end, the production was a resounding success, followed by a major tour - the theater toured all over Japan, followed by China, Korea, Russia

As for the first performer "Kachusha no Uta"It is important to emphasize that the charming Sumako Matsui was a student of Tsubouchi Shoyo - a Japanese theater director and writer. Shoyo was the first to take women under his wing: initially he had four female students, but only Matsui managed to make his way and build a successful career.

Success and fate

Thanks to tours of the theater and the development of gramophone recordings, the composition became known throughout the world. In just the first a month and a half its circulation was 20,000 copies - a huge commercial success for those days! And the record was very expensive: Yen and a halfThe average wage in the country was about 20 yen.

It was this work that shaped modern popular music in Japan. "Kachusha no Uta" was the first commercially successful Japanese record. Such a phenomenon forced labels to look at music differently: finally producers realized that popular music has a huge demand.Also "The Katyusha Song." was the first record that sincerely succeeded in winning the hearts of people from different social classes.

Interesting Facts

Sumako Matsui
Sumako Matsui
  • "Kachusha no Uta" left its mark not only in musical history. For example, the headband popular among Japanese women is still called "Katyusha.". At the time of the song's release, Sumako Matsui was an idol for female contemporaries. And so her every gesture was instantly copied. It is not known for sure whether Matsui wore the headband permanently, but it was enough for her to appear in it once for the headdress to get a high-profile name and go into circulation.
  • Peculiarity The work consists in the fact that it brings together western trends and Japanese melodyIt has won the love of the most diverse audience."Kachusha no Uta" Even those who were far removed from Western music could enjoy it.
  • It was the "Katyusha Song" that made Sumako Matsui the first female Japanese hit performer. Before that there was no such phenomenon in the musical culture of the country.
  • Hogetsu Shimamura was the first Japanese to put on plays by Western authors.

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