For some reason, in the 1950s and 1960s the USA had a morbid fascination with the nations it conquered and exploited. Witness the number of Hawaiian-themed records, souvenirs, and decorations. Native Americans became a popular image to emulate as well, with Tonto and the stereotypical indian Brave. After World War II, Japan was likewise unspared. Or, as the album’s liner notes puts it, “After humiliating surrender, the Japanese people found they had a friend in their conquerer.”

This album (appropriately enough put out by Honolulu Records) boasts the best in rejecting Japanese music’s traditional past. Again, citing the liner notes, “no longer is music tightly compartmentalized, rejecting change and adulteration.” In honor of this, they got women with names like Aiko Bingo and Sparky Iwamoto to sing big band-style songs–in Japanese!


The music itself is super catchy. I have “Tokyo Boogie Woogie” stuck in my head, which to me sounds like “a tokyo boogie oogie a a ookie ookie a zookie zookie wahoo wahooooooo.” I’m not sure what this means, but I’m hoping maybe it’s scat-like nonsense so I don’t sound like a *complete* idiot walking around the house singing it!

So anyway, let this be a lesson to future conquered nations– not only can we colonize your country, but we will assimilate your music as well!

China Nights (Sparky Iwamoto).mp3

Tokyo Boogie Woogie (Aika Bingo).mp3

Dude, check out this country-western version of “China Nights”

The cover says it right: “Souvenir songs of Japan.” Tens of thousands of US military men spent between six weeks and ten years stationed in colonised areas in those decades. Without any actual wars to fight their minds drifted and they attempted to enjoy, from their limited perspective, the culture of the host country. The tropical tiki stuff was something they bought into when they were back in the States as a fantasy of the exotic women and exotic sounds they never quite experienced during their stint overseas. So this stuff was Beetle Bailey’s jerkoff material.

LOL, your first paragraph is brilliant.

I love “Tokyo Boogie Oogie,” but I think you got an “oogie” in there where there should be an “ookie.”

Here are the words:

Tokyo Bugi-ugi, ri-tsu-mu uki uki, kokoro tsuki tsuki, waku waku.

In English:

Tokyo Boogie Woogie, rhythm floats, your heart pounds, thump thump

I love this song, too!

A version of “Tokyo Boogie Woogie”/”Gomen-Nasai (Forgive Me)” was on Columbia 4-39954; the 45 label shows “Vocal: Shizuka Kasagi; Sung in Japanese” and songwriter credits are “M. Suzuki – R. Hattori”. Artist credit on the label is COLUMBIA TOKYO ORCH. I believe I heard this song as background from the movie, MASH, too.

Thanks i was looking for these songs . was stationed at N.A.S.ATSUGI WITH V.U.5 FASRON 11 KOREAN WAR

I have this LP on vinyl but have been too lazy to rip it – thank you! Also, the first track – “China Song” – is usually known as “Shina no Yoru” (same meaning, although the current Japanese work for China is “Chuugoku”). It was popular in the U.S., says my aunt, who was in her early teens (in the U.S.) when WWII ended.

I think Guy Incognito nailed it, but we all benefit now from the odd imperialist kitsch of the Forties and Fifties…I have a few of this sort of album, and most of them are terrific. The Japanese, like the Shanghainese, had killer jazz and dance bands before WWII, so it makes sense that the survivors would be able to form some sharp groups after the war. Check out Seijun Suzuki’s Sixties films to see the cool Japanese nightclub music scenes that Quentin Tarantino “borrowed” shamelessly from in “Kill Bill.”