It was May 1998 when a salesman, Kentaro Kobuchi and a P.E teacher, Kuroda Shunsuke contemplated the possibility of forming a duo act. Since then, KOBUKURO has become one of the most established folk-rock artists of Japan.
The duo’s popularity in the Japanese mainstream is largely to do with their liking for rich ballad-rock arrangements, beautiful melodies and their vocal and lyrical virtuosity. Arguably their biggest hit to date is 蕾 ‘Tsubomi’ (‘flower bud’). Evocative of the ballad works of Eric Clapton, the song glorifies in an intimate acoustic guitar accompaniment, a heart-warming vocal melody and an emotionally catapulting chorus with the addition of an opulently scored body of violins.
Nature plays a central part in KOBUKURO’s musical and poetic material. The majority of their songs are titled with something associated with natural wonders, like 流星 ‘Ryusei’ (‘Meteor’). While the opening chimes give the impression of glistening meteor showers the grace the night sky, the driving hard-rock guitar that penetrates the song from the pre-chorus galvanizes the big chorus into a different harmonious stratosphere, together with tutti string orchestral sonorities and stirring falsettos teeming with emotion.
今、咲き誇る花たちよ ‘Ima, Saki hokoru hana tachi yo’ (‘Now, the flowers that bloom in all their glory’) is a more upbeat number, with a main melody closely reminiscent to an Irish or Scottish folk tune. Written especially for the 2014 Winter Olympics, this song strongly reflects their gifted lyrical writing: their ability to relate the natural world to real-life human experiences and emotions.
“For every one person there is a seed for the future,
Spread your roots with perseverance and kindness, that is never vanquished against any wind”
The song conveys a raw and powerful message, as it served as not only a musical recollection of the sporting memories, but also as a supporting yell for the athletes and people in general who are experiencing struggles in their life.
One thing that we can be sure about is that KOBUKURO with their bright pop sensibility and lyrical talent are an agent to emotionally resonate with a wider audience, and induce listeners to relate the duo to their personal experiences.
- 風見鶏 ‘Kazamidori’ (‘Weathercock’)
- 時の足音 ‘Toki no Ashioto’ (‘Footsteps of Time’)
- 桜 ‘Sakura’ (‘Cherry blossom’)
- 紙飛行機 ‘Kamihikouki’ (‘Paper Plane’)
© Isaku Takahashi