Yoshiko Sai (佐井好子) – Mikkō (密航) 
Due to the great success of Yoshiko Sai’s first entry, simply the most viewed during this month, today we present another album of this incredible haunting artist!
Let’s go to our history:
Edo (modern Tokyo) became the seat of government for the military dictatorship in the early 17th century Japan, the so-called Edo period (1603–1867). With an ‘everlasting’ peace and prosperity, the merchant class at the bottom of the social order found themselves the greatest beneficiaries of the city’s rapid economic growth. Other classes were the samurai and the craftsmen. Many indulged in the entertainments of kabuki theatre, courtesans, and geisha of the pleasure districts.
The term Ukiyo (floating world) came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle. Printed or painted ukiyo-e images of this environment emerged in the late 17th century, the merchant class, who had become wealthy enough to afford to decorate their homes with such brilliant works. Depictions of beautiful women, kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna; and erotica were amongst the popular themes. (!)
The peak period in terms of quantity and quality was marked by portraits of beauties and actors by masters such as Kiyonaga, Utamaro, and Sharaku in the late 18th century. This peak was followed in the 19th century by a pair of masters best remembered for their landscapes: Hokusai and Hiroshige. Following the deaths of these two, and against the technological and social modernization that followed the Meiji Restoration of 1868, ukiyo-e production went into steep decline.
Some ukiyo-e artists specialized in making paintings, but most works were prints. Artists rarely carved their own woodblocks for printing; rather, production was divided between the artist, who designed the prints; the carver, who cut the woodblocks; the printer, who inked and pressed the woodblocks onto hand-made paper; and the publisher, who financed, promoted, and distributed the works.
Japonisme, or Japonism, is a French term that was first used (theorized) by Jules Claretie in his book L’Art Francais in 1872, it refers to the influence of Japanese art on Western art. In 1854, Japan re-opened trade with the West (after 265 years of isolation) and Japanese artworks including fans, porcelains, woodcuts, and screens were introduced in huge numbers to Europe, mainly France and the Netherlands.
The 1862 World’s Fair in Europe brought even more attention to Japanese art, during the 1860’s ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints, became very popular and were a source of inspiration to many impressionists and post-impressionist artists in the west including Monet, Manet, Degas, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. (!)
Let’s go to our album:
Released on July 25th, 1976, Mikkō was Sai Yoshiko’s second album, a wonderful acid-folk register on which she gets assisted by a string of big name musicians such as Kuni Kawachi on arrangements. At times the disc draws in Indian influences (sitar and tabla), but once she gets to singing, the listener is lulled into her own private, mysterious sonic world, through which one gets sucked in by her wide-ranging vocalizations. At the time of this recording, she was merely 23 years old.
This is a quieter, entrained album, compared to Taiji No Yume, with less variety of styles, making a melodic somber entry. I really would like to know more details about the lyrics, will any Japanese friend could help us? This is such a stunner voyage of consciousness, welcome to the unique realms of Yoshiko Sai, be ready!
The ‘IM’ highlights are Tenshi no Yōni and Mikkō.
A1 Theme ~ 母さまのうた (Theme ~ Kāsama no Uta)
A2 鏡地獄 (Kagami Jigoku)
A3 春 (Haru)
A4 絹之道 (Kinu no Michi)
B1 人のいない島 (Hito no Inai Shima)
B2 眠りのくに (Nemuri no Kuni)
B3 天使のように (Tenshi no Yōni)
B4 漂流船 (Hyōryūsen)
B5 密航 (Mikkō)
Theme – Mother’s Song, Hell of Mirrors, Spring, Silk Road, Desert Island
Land of Sleep, Like an Angel, Ship Adrift and Stowing Away
- Acoustic Guitar: 吉川忠英, 野間義男
- Cello: 阿部雅士
- Drums: 山下秀夫, 田中清司, 武田光司
- Dulcimer: 生見慶二
- Electric Bass: 江藤勲, 高水建司
- Electric Guitar: 高中正義, 津村泰彦
- Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Sitar (E. Sitar): 矢島賢
- Flute: 中川昌三
- Piano, Keyboards: 大谷和夫, 松岡直也
- Strings: 新音楽協会
- Tabla: 瀬上養之助
- Vibraphone: クニ河内
- Arranged: クニ河内 (Kuni Kawashi)
- Lyrics, Music: 佐井好子 (Yoshiko Sai)
- Engineer – 伊豫部富治
- Illustration – Yoshiko Sai
- Design (Cover Design) – Teichiku Design Section
- Directed: 春名勇
- Made: Teichiku Records Co., Ltd.
- Recorded: Sound Creation Studio
- Mixed: AMS Studio
Recorded at Teichiku No.1 Studio and Sound Creation Studio.
Mixdown at AMS Studio from March to May 1976.
Black – BAL-1018