Feb 23, 2022

Introducing Japanese Artist, Yoshiko Sai & Her Works On Vinyl Records

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Yoshiko Sai is a Japanese artist who is attracting a great deal of attention from the younger generation today.

She was a singer-songwriter and disappeared from the music scene in the 1970s, leaving only four albums behind.

She was active as a professional artist only for three years, yet her works have been continuously reissued on vinyl record and CD, showing that the mysterious and mystical world of Yoshiko has a great impact on her fans still today.

Her poetry, melodies, and illustrations she painted with pencils arguably defined her as a one of a kind musician.

Face Records, the expert of Japanese music, unravels the appeal of Yoshiko Sai.

Who is Yoshiko Sai?

Yoshiko Sai was born on June 22, 1953, in Nara Prefecture. Already as a small child, she liked to draw and enjoyed reading and painted art.

In junior high school, she was a member of the chorus club, and in high school, she was so obsessed with a folk rock band that she formed her own band with two other girls and three boys. However it did not mean that she was particularly passionate about music at the time.

In 1972, Yoshiko entered university and soon she was put into the hospital because of kidney diseases. During her hospitalization for about one year, she was deeply immersed into reading books.

On her official website she recalls: "I read most of the famous literature during this period. And I felt calmer, especially when reading gloomy stories, probably because of my illness".

Most of all, she loved Japanese surrealistic detective novels. A great influence from the world-building of the genre is to trace in her lyrics. After leaving the hospital, she started to write poems and thought it would be rather popular if she would add melodies to the poems. This is how she began singing songs while playing the guitar.

In 1974, after Yoshiko submitting songs she had written to radio programs, a singer-songwriter Rabi Nakayama asked if she wanted to play songs in her own concert.

Soon she signed a contract with Teichiku Records and released her debut album "Mangekyou (Kaleidoscope)" in 1975. It was produced by Yuji Ohno, a jazz pianist known for his work on the animed film "Lupin the Third". The following year, 1976, she released her second album, "Mikko (Secret Voyage)".

This album has been described as her masterpiece, and it fully demonstrated Yoshiko Sai's unique sensibility, which had been even more obvious than in her first album.

In 1977, she moved to Nippon Columbia and released her third album, "Taiji No Yume" (Unborn child’s dream). The album was inspired by the bizarre and surrealistic long tale of the novelist Kyusaku Yumeno.

Her fourth album in 1978, "The Butterfly's Room", which, unlike her previous works, was accompanied by a trio of talented Japanese jazz pianists, including Tsuyoshi Yamamoto. The combination with the trio gave the work a sense of Jazz.

While releasing one album after another, Yoshiko abruptly stopped her music career in 1978. The reason was, according to her own words, "I can no longer write music that I like".

Since 1999, Yoshiko Sai's albums have been reissued on CD and vinyl. Her rich expressivity has now attracted the attention of a generation that had never known her before.

Yoshiko Sai’s Works

Yoshiko Sai-LP-1
Mangekyou (Black, BAL-1003) Promo copy, issued in 1975.

Yoshiko Sai-LP-2
Hatachi Ni Nareba (Black, B-43) 7” single, issued in 1975.

The song title means “When Turning 20 Years Old” in Japanese.

Yoshiko Sai-LP-3
Hatachi Ni Nareba (Black, B-43) Promo 7” single with sleeve, issued in 1975.

Yoshiko Sai-LP-4
Mikko (Black, BAL-1018) issued in 1976.

Yoshiko Sai-LP-5
Mikko (Bamboo, BAMLP 7009) UK press reissue, released in 2013.

Yoshiko Sai-LP-6
Taiji No Yume (Blow Up, LX-7021-A) issued in 1977.

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Yoshiko Sai-LP-7