Takeda no Komoriuta

Kudo Tomofumi

It was a 2years ago when I heard a famous artist, Kazumasa Oda, was singing “Takeda no Komoriuta” that was born in Takeda area in Kyoto. It attracted me so much, but he told it has some story behind it. I immediately realized that this song must have been a “Buraku” song. At that time, I did not know that “Takeda” area exists in Kyoto and we can go there by JR.

“Takeda no Komoriuta” was a million hit song in 1970s, and many artists song it. However, at some point, this song have disappeared from the media, radio, and TV.  Do you remember the “Imjin River” which Kosuke song in Pacchigi! and the reason why it was not allowed, or hesitated to sing it in public? This was just because it was  a “Buraku” song. In 1969, Akaitori, a folk song band, song “Takeda no Komoriuta” and got a first prize in the Yamaha Music Contest, which made Akaitori famous afterwards. However, it was not its lyrics but melody that attracted many listeners. Actually, most people, even the member of Akaitori, did not know the meaning of the lyrics, and what was worse, few people could notice which “Takeda” area  this song represented. Once these uncertainties has got revealed, it was thrust into a taboo as a “Imjin River”.

I have learned about “Buraku” in my junior high school days, but it seemed a past story at all. I had thought liberation of Buraku movements have not solved “Buraku” problem, but recreated it, and that is why many broadcast station have imposed the voluntary regulation on broadcasting “Buraku” songs. However, almost all of the Buraku songs were self-explanations as a grief, anger. I believe that the images of “Buraku” is disappearing in a various societal change such a trend toward the nuclear family, but what we need to think most carefully is how to overcome the recreation of negative images, including “Buraku”.

“Takeda no Komoriuta” was not just a lullaby for baby, but one which awakes people who try to “sleep” pushing their countless experiences of discrimination away and trying to make those forgotten for good.  Its lyrics makes us notice that Japanese nursery rhyme cannot be represented only by the peaceful, innocent, and adorable ones like “Akatonbo”, “Edo no Komoriuta”. We should not forget  the grievous voices of young baby sitters who were too impoverished to study at school.

Here is a link of “Takeda no Komoriuta”.

Akaitori version:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ace5tJUnP4s

Original:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duX-s8tNo-M&feature=related

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