Category Archives: musings

Remembering Ozaki, 24 years on


I’m in the process of translating three songs, which is never easy since Ozaki’s lyrics are “more literary than the Atukagawa Prize”, as they say in Japan.

Today I wanted to remember him by sharing this ad with you. It’s from 1987, and yet when you see it for the first time you get the feeling that it’s from the present. That the past has been rewritten, and we’ll truly have new Ozaki songs; or that he’s back from the dead, like a modern-day Lazarus.

Which brings me to something I started noticing a while ago: there’s a subtle Christian undercurrent in some of his songs, even in the pages of his collected writings (not to mention the cross-shape that casually appears on the cover of his last album). Since the earliest songs we find the recurring themes of “love”, “truth” and “freedom”, and at times he seemed to channel a sort of archetypal Christ in his live performances (“Those who want to laugh are free to do so. To those who believe in me: follow me“). The Christian vein becomes more noticeable in his 1990 album, Birth (and in “Love Way” especially).

I didn’t know what to make of this until I read a Japanese blog entry describing the very close relationship that developed in 1990-91 between Yutaka and the talented singer Yuki Saito, who happens to be a Mormon. When asked about him at the time, Saito told journalists that he and she were “kindred spirits” (同志). So maybe Yutaka Ozaki was not that distant from Christianity as one might assume… Who knows?

This is one of the mysteries that will forever surround him.