Introductory Guides to Historical Recordings

←Return to List of Commentaries

      

#Note: Recordings written as [In-library-only audio material] are available for listening
at the NDL and the Rekion partner libraries



Recordings from the Kanazawa Phonograph Museum’s Collection

Noriyuki Yokaichiya

Director, Kanazawa Phonograph Museum

 The Kanazawa Phonograph Museum was opened in July 2013. The Kanazawa Phonograph Museum was founded as a Kanazawa City cultural facility by Yokaichiya Hiroshi (the inaugural museum director), who ran a record store in the city of Kanazawa for many years. Mr. Yokaichiya created the collection from the 540 phonographs he collected along with the twenty-thousand 78 rpm records of the "Yamachiku Collection". Since then, (as of January 2013) the collection has grown to more than 600 phonographs and over thirty-thousand 78 rpm records, and includes both Japanese and overseas donations. Almost all of the phonographs produce sound and remain in "active service". Beginning with Edison’s cylinder-style phonographs, the Meiji period horn-shaped gramophones, the Taisho period table-top models, and the portable models from the Showa period, there are approximately 150 phonographs from Japanese and overseas manufacturers on display on a regular basis.

 In the course of moving forward with the National Diet Library’s Historical Recordings Collection archive project, it became apparent that a large number of phonographs from each manufacturer had been destroyed or lost due to war damage or fire. Because some of these records may be included in its collection, the Kanazawa Phonograph Museum is cooperating with this research. Here, we would like to introduce distinctive 78 rpm records from the Kanazawa Phonograph Museum Collection. Many of the records being introduced are also included in the National Diet Library’s Historical Recordings Collection and have been digitized so that users may listen to them.

(Images provided by Noriyuki Yokaichiya.)

Image 1. The Exterior of the Kanazawa Phonograph Museum(2-11-21 Owaricho, Kanazawa City)

Image 1. The Exterior of the Kanazawa Phonograph Museum(2-11-21 Owaricho, Kanazawa City)

Image 2. A Museum Exhibit(Left: Edison cylinder-style phonograph; Right: Edison L-35 Diamond Disc)

Image 2. A Museum Exhibit(Left: Edison cylinder-style phonograph; Right: Edison L-35 Diamond Disc)

Records Reflecting the Times

1 Nekoirazu (Rat Poison, (Literally, "No Need for a Cat")) Records

Image 3.  Image 3. "Oration in the National Interest" 78 rpm Record, Nekoirazu Honpo
Produced by Teikoku Naruke Kaisha, Date unknown. Record Number 10. (Based on the time of the patent application, this 78 rpm is surmised to have been made in the early Taisho period.)

 The owner of the Nekoirazu Pharmaceutical Company comments as an "Oration in the National Interest" on this "Nekoirazu Record" sold in the early Taisho period. The message recorded plays, "Our Nation’s greatest enemy is the rat. Rats account for eighty million yen in damages per year. This isn’t just bad economically, it’s bad hygienically, to boot. We hope you’ll use our rat poison as a household medicine to eradicate the rats in your home." This is a rare example of an advertisement on the record.

(We apologize. The sound source is not available.)

2 Keio Gijuku Jukuka (The Keio School Song)

Image 4.  Image 4. "Keio Gijuku Jukuka" (The Keio School Song) instituted in 1904, forerunner to the modern school song of the same name.
Columbia, Released June 1930, Record Number 25884.

 The "Keio Gijuku Jukuka" (The Keio School Song) was composed as the school song in 1904, three years after the death of its founder, Fukuzawa Yukichi. This song differs completely from the school song that is sung today. While difficult to understand without a grounding in classical Chinese writing, one could describe the melody as a "railway song" (tetsudo shoka) or "heroic martial song" (yusona gunka). This record conveys the ambiance of the early days of Japan’s adoption of Western music. Though it differs from the record shown at right, you can listen to the same school song sold by Victor in 1928 on the National Diet Library Historical Recordings Collection.

→Listen to Keio Gijuku Jukuka (The Keio School Song) [Audio source material publicly available on the Internet]

3 Ishikawa Kenmin no Uta (Prefectural Song of the Citizens of Ishikawa)

Image 5. Ishikawa Kenmin no Uta (Prefectural Song of the Citizens of Ishikawa), Adopted After World War II(Sung by Sugawara Tsuzuko and Murasawa Yoshio) Image 5. Ishikawa Kenmin no Uta (Prefectural Song of the Citizens of Ishikawa), Adopted After World War II(Sung by Sugawara Tsuzuko and Murasawa Yoshio)
Teichiku, [Produced circa 1946-47] Record Number 20005 (Ishikawa Prefecture funded and produced record).

 The record was used quite often during the postwar reconstruction efforts. Companies, associations, and organizations composed numerous songs to promote solidarity toward a common cause. This was true of every prefecture. In Ishikawa Prefecture, the Ishikawa Kenmin no Uta (Prefectural Song of the Citizens of Ishikawa) was composed. The lyrics were devised to inspire the hearts of its citizens. "Let’s increase our food production! Let’s rebuild! Let’s quit the black-market! Let’s get those factory smokestacks flowing and get things going! Let’s get inspired! Let’s rebuild!" became a rallying song for national reconstruction. Ishikawa Kenmin no Uta has been provided on the "National Diet Library Historical Recordings Collection" since 2013.

→Listen to Ishikawa Kenmin no Uta (Prefectural Song of the Citizens of Ishikawa) [In-library-only audio material]

4 "Shina no Yoru" and "Chaina Naito" (China Night)

 "Shina no Yoru" was released in November 1938. After the war, the U.S. Army took a liking to this song, renamed it "China Night" and adopted as the theme song for the American movie, "One Minute to Zero". The copyrights were finally restored to the composer in 1961.

→ Listen to "Shina no Yoru" [In-library-only audio material]

→Listen to "China Night" [In-library-only audio material]

Image 6. 

Image 6. "Shina no Yoru" (Lyricist, Saijo Yaso; Composer, Takeoka Nobuyuki; Singer, Watanabe Hamako)
Columbia, Released in November 1938, Record Number 30051.

Image 7. 

Image 7. "Shina no Yoru" became popular in America under the name, "China Night".
Columbia, Released in 1948, Record Number A430. Record Number A430 has not been included in the Historical Recordings Collection, however, the digitized sound source for Record Number A1229 (Columbia, Released 1951) has been included.

Records Recounting Personalities

5 General Nogi

Image 8. The Record Label of Image 8. The Record Label of "General Nogi’s Natural Voice and His Recollections"
Victor, Released 1931, Record Number 51571.

 A record of the actual voice of General Nogi Maresuke exists. It was recorded by Kaikosha (The Military Club) on October 25, 1909. The record was released by Victor, but on the record itself, Vice-Admiral Ogasawara Naganari explains that it was originally a private recording. Though a single voice states, "I am Nogi Maresuke," its dignified tone stiffens one’s spine right up. The physical sensation of hearing a live voice strikes one completely differently to that one reads silently from the pages of a book.

(We apologize. The sound source is not available.)

6 Okuma Shigenobu

Image 9. The Record Label of Okuma Shigenobu and Image 9. The Record Label of Okuma Shigenobu and "Kensei ni okeru yoron no seiryoku (6)" (The Power of Public Opinion on the Constitution)
Nipponophone, Recorded in March 1915, Record Number 515. This record was re-released in 1922 after Okuma’s death.

 The voice of Okuma Shigenobu, founder of Waseda University and a politician, has also been left to us. It has the title, "The Power of Public Opinion on the Constitution". It was recorded on March 2, 1915 at Okuma’s Waseda estate. Beginning with, "The Imperial Diet has been dissolved," the speech is actually quite powerful, and recounts the general political situation. With phrases such as, "Thus, with that being the case...", and, "I should think it behooves us to...," the recording directly conveys Okuma’s personal character.

→Listen to "Kensei ni okeru yoron no seiryoku" (The Power of Public Opinion on the Constitution) [Audio source material publicly available on the Internet]

7 Saijo Yaso

Image 10. The Label for Saijo Yaso, Image 10. The Label for Saijo Yaso, "Haha no Heya" (Mother’s Room)
Columbia, May 1936, Record Number 28854.

 In 1941, a record of the author himself reading out loud was released as an appreciation of Japanese literature and research on public reading. Kitahara Hakushu, Sato Haruo, Muro Saisei, and many other poets also made recordings themselves. The impetus for this record was Saijo Yaso’s "Haha no Heya" recording in 1936. He calls out, "Mother", many times. His feelings toward his aging mother really come across. It’s almost as if he is standing right beside you. It has a very personal feeling. This is due to the reproduction equipment of the record.

→Listen to "Haha no Heya" (Mother’s Room) [In-library-only audio material]

Records with the Sounds of Home

8 The Kanazawa City Nisui High School Choir

図11 金沢市二水高校音楽部優勝歌『醒めよや風琴』のレーベル Image 11. Label of the The Kanazawa City Nisui High School Choir’s Winning Song, "Sameyoya Fukin" (Awake, AEolian lyre!)
Columbia, 1954, Record Number AK358. 

 This is a commemorative recording of the first prize winning song in the high school category of the 1953 NHK All-Japan School Choir Competition performed by the Kanazawa City Nisui High School Music Choir, my alma mater. The honor of their victory extended not only to choir members, students, and faculty of Kanazawa City Nisui High School, themselves, but to the citizens of Ishikawa Prefecture, as well. Columbia Japan released the commemorative record for sale all across Japan.

(We apologize. The sound source is not available.)

9 Yamanaka Bushi

Image 12. Label for Yonehachi’s Image 12. Label for Yonehachi’s "Yamanaka Bushi" beginning with "Wasureshansuna..." (Never Forget...)
Polydor, [Release data unknown], Record Number 7616.

 "Yamanaka Bushi" is one of Ishikawa Prefecture’s well-known folk songs. The Kanazawa Phonograph Museum has approximately thirty kinds of "Yamanaka Bushi" records, but the opening lyrics differ, depending on the record. Though a number of different opening lyrics were recorded in the Taisho period, many of the Showa period records begin with the opening lines, "Never forget..." Because songs with no clear beginning or ending were not readily adaptable to the new electric recording, a local geisha by the name of "Yonehachi" (Real name: Anjitsu Seiko) arranged the song in the form we know today. In addition to being able to listen to openings lines such as Otomaru’s "From Mt. Yakushisan...", and Yoshicho Katsutaro’s "Never forget...", users can also listen to Yonehachi’s record as well as records with different opening lines on the Historical Recordings Collection.

→ Listen to Otomaru’s “Yamanaka Bushi [Audio source material publicly available on the Internet]

→ Listen to Yoshicho Katsutaro’s “Yamanaka Bush[In-library-only audio material]

Conclusion

 Listening to the sounds of a 78 rpm record is like traveling in a "time machine". Once you have listened to a record on a phonograph, you can travel all the way back in time to that era. Conversely, younger audiences who have yet to listen to a record on a phonograph, may find it to be more like a "close encounter of the third kind". Many of the 78 rpms that survive to this day, however, are worn out from frequent play and have scratches and sounds that are not clearly audible. There are also records in poor states of preservation with cracks and scratches and many for which the sound will surely vanish forever unless they are preserved now. The Kanazawa Phonograph Museum has provided approximately 7,000 songs for this current archive project free of charge. In cooperation with partner institutions that have 78 rpm collections, we hope to make audio unable to be located at this time available to the public in the future.

 For topics on the activities of the Kanazawa Phonograph Museum, phonographs, or 78 rpm records, see the "Kanazawa Phonograph Museum Director’s Blog" (金沢蓄音器館長ブログ [We apologize, but this blog is only in Japanese at this time]).

  http://www.kanazawa-museum.jp/chikuonki/index.html

Image 13 A view of Nippon Columbia’s Watanabe Yoshiyuki archiving at the Kanazawa Phonograph Museum.

Image 13 A view of Nippon Columbia’s Watanabe Yoshiyuki archiving at the Kanazawa Phonograph Museum.

Reference Materials:

  • Osada Gyoji, Chifuji Kozo, hen. "Nihon minyo jiten", Zen-on Gakufu Shuppansha. (Osada Gyoji, Chifuji Kozo, Eds., "A Dictionary of Japanese Folk Songs", Zen-on Music Company, Ltd.)
  • Kurata Yoshihiro, cho. "Nihon rekodo bunkashi". Tokyo Shoseki. (Kurata Yoshihiro, Author. "A Cultural History of Records in Japan", Tokyo Shoseki)
  • Kurata Yoshihiro, cho. "Nihon rekodo bunkashi". Iwanami Shoten. (Kurata Yoshihiro, Author. "A Cultural History of Records in Japan", Iwanami Shoten)
  • "Nicchiku sanju-nen shi", (kabu) Nippon Chikuonki Shokai. ("Nipponophone 30-year Anniversary ", Nipponophone Co., Ltd.)
  • "Koromubia go-ju-nen shi", Nippon Columbia. ("Columbia 50-Year Anniversary ", Nippon Columbia)
  • "Nisui go-ju-nen", Ishikawa-kenritsu Kanazawa Nisui Koko. ("Nisui 50-Years", Nisui Public High School, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture)

(Noriyuki Yokaichiya, Director, Kanazawa Phonograph Museum)

↑Return to Top

←Return to List of Commentaries

←Return to Front Page