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January-March 2002

"Osakana Tengoku" (Fish Paradise)

Right now in Japan, a song that goes like this can be heard playing everywhere:
"Fish, fish, fish!
When you eat fish, . . . "
The song, "Osakana Tengoku" (Fish Paradise), has a lively tune that gets people humming after hearing it only once. And the lyrics are also fun, being interspersed with the names of 31 kinds of fish.

Not only has the song been playing at fish shops and the fish section of supermarkets; children are singing it at kindergartens and elementary schools across Japan. They love the song, they say, because it's very easy to sing or because it makes them want to dance. At some kindergartens, children sing "Osakana Tengoku" at music time and dance to it with original movements. Some elementary schools, too, use it regularly in their dance classes.

The song was recorded 11 years ago as the campaign song of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations' Seafood Center, which hoped to encourage children to eat more fish. The center first made cassette tapes of the song in 1991 and distributed them to supermarkets and other stores selling fresh fish. In 1996 it began selling self-produced CDs, but these could only be purchased directly from the center. In 2001, though, interest in the song gradually grew through word of mouth and the Internet. The amusing lyrics and lively tempo captured the hearts of both children and mothers, and the song's popularity quickly spread throughout Japan.

Naturally, many people began asking about the song's CD. So in the early part of this year, 11 major music companies fought for the production rights, all sure that the song would be a big hit. In the end, the company known for the megahit CD "Dango Sankyodai" (Three Dumpling Brothers) won the race. The CD of "Osakana Tengoku" was released on a major scale on March 20 and sold 300,000 copies just in the first month. Many are curious to see whether it will beat the record held by "Dango Sankyodai," which sold 3 million copies.

Recently, more Japanese children have come to answer "Fish!" when their mothers ask them what they want to have for dinner. Thanks to the popularity of this song, the number of children who love eating fish is sure to go on rising.

Photo: The cover graphics of the "Osakana Tengoku" CD that went on sale in March. (© 2002 PONY CANYON INC.)