Open main menu

Sayuri Ishikawa (石川さゆり, Ishikawa Sayuri), (born January 30, 1958) is one of the most recognized and successful Japanese enka singers of all time, with a remarkable singing career spanning over four decades since mid-70s.

Sayuri Ishikawa
Born (1958-01-30) January 30, 1958 (age 61)
OriginKumamoto, Japan
Years active1973–present
LabelsNippon Columbia
Pony Canyon
Teichiku Records
(2000 – present)
WebsiteOfficial site

Ishikawa is a popular contestant on the annual NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen broadcast. Up till 2017, she has been invited to perform 40 times since 1977, the year that she finally made her name releasing her biggest hit, the classic "Tsugaru Kaikyo-Fuyugeshiki".[1] To date, she holds the record for the most appearances in the NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen for a female artist. She has released over 100 albums (including compilation albums[note 1]) and more than 120 singles so far, of which a few were not enka, but rock and jazz music instead. Another of her biggest hits, "Amagi-goe", which was released in 1986, won her many awards, and many believe[who?] that it was this song that made her an icon as an A-list enka singer.


Ishikawa grew up during enka's heyday and went with her mother and grandmother to see Chiyoko Shimakura’s performance. “I loved singing,” she recalls. Ishikawa won a singing contest in 1972 when she was only 14 years old and released her first single "Kakurenbo" (かくれんぼ) the next year. She finished her high school but didn't go to university, entering show business instead. Her biggest hit, "Tsugaru Kaikyō Fuyugeshiki", was released in 1977.[2][3]

Major league baseball player Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners chose Sayuri Ishikawa's "Amagi-goe" as an AT-BAT MUSIC of 2008 with "Ishin Denshin" and "Royal Chocolate Flush" of Misia. She re-recorded this song with Marty Friedman for Ichiro.[4]

In 2010, Ishikawa release a rare, non-enka single, Baby Baby, a duet with rock singer Tamio Okuda.

In 2015, Ishikawa recorded "Chanto Iwanakya Aisanai", the ending theme for the new Lupin III anime.[5]

In July 2017, Tokyo Olympic 2020 organizers kicked off the countdown celebration to the Olympic by releasing a promotional theme song along with a summer dance. The song, with which the organizer is aiming to promote the Japanese summer festivals, is a new version of “Tokyo Gorin Ondo,” the theme song for the 1964 Summer Olympics, but with updated lyrics. It will be performed by Ishikawa, alongside Yūzō Kayama and Pistol Takehara.

On May 20, 2019, it was announced that Ishikawa would be awarded the 2019 Spring Purple Ribbon Medal of Honours (令和元年春の紫綬褒章) for her accomplishments.[6]

Ishikawa married Kenji Baba in 1981, but the couple divorced in 1989. They have a daughter, born in 1984.

NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen appearancesEdit

Ishikawa's first Kōhaku Uta Gassen appearance was in 1977, four years after her debut and following the hit of her signature song "Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki".

2017 marked her 40th appearances in total, and 36th consecutive years in the ever popular annual event, which is a record for a female artist.

She missed the 34th edition in 1983 as she was heavily pregnant, though she did attend the show and appeared as a guest, cheering the red (female) group.

Year/Kōhaku # # Song[note 2] Appearance Order[note 3] Opposite[note 4] Notes[note 5]
1977/28th 1 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) 19/24 Akira Kobayashi (小林旭)
1978/29th 2 Hino Kuni he (火の国へ) 3/24 Kariudo (狩人)
1979/30th 3 Inochi Moyashite (命燃やして) 19/23 Hiroshi Uchiyamada and Cool Five (内山田洋とクール・ファイブ)
1980/31st 4 Kamome to Iu Na no Sakaba (鴎という名の酒場) 17/23 Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし)
1981/32nd 5 Namida no Yado (なみだの宿) 17/22 Goro Noguchi (野口五郎)
1982/33rd 6 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (2) 19/22 Hideo Murata (村田英雄)
1983/34th Guest appearance only - [note 6]
1984/35th 7 Tokyo Meguri-Ai (東京めぐり愛) 14/20 Gannosuke Ashiya (芦屋雁之助)
1985/36th 8 Hatoba Shigure (波止場しぐれ) 18/20 Hideo Murata (村田英雄) (2)
1986/37th 9 Amagi-goe (天城越え) 20/20 Shinichi Mori (森進一) Ultimate (1)
1987/38th 10 Meoto Zenzai (夫婦善哉) 18/20 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎)
1988/39th 11 Taki no Shiraito (滝の白糸) 19/21 Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし)
1989/40th 12 Kaze no Bon Koiuta (風の盆恋歌) 20/20 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) (2) Grand Ultimate[note 7] (2)
1990/41st 13 Utakata (うたかた) 28/29 Shinji Tanimura (谷村新司) Penultimate (1)
1991/42nd 14 Minato Uta (港唄) 27/28 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) (3) Penultimate (2)
1992/43rd 15 Hotel Minato-ya (ホテル港や) 26/28 Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし) (2)
1993/44th 16 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (3) 26/26 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) (4) Ultimate (3)
1994/45th 17 Kiga Kaikyo (飢餓海峡) 24/25 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) (5) Penultimate (3)
1995/46th 18 Kita no Nyobo (北の女房) 23/25 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) (6)
1996/47th 19 Showa Yume-Tsubame (昭和夢つばめ) 23/25 Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし) (3)
1997/48th 20 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (2) 23/25 Shinichi Mori (森進一) (2)
1998/49th 21 Kaze no Bon Koiuta (風の盆恋歌) (2) 21/25 Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし) (4)
1999/50th 22 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (3) 25/27 Shinji Tanimura (谷村新司) (2)
2000/51st 23 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (4) 25/28 Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし) (5)
2001/52nd 24 Namida Tsuzuri (涙つづり) 24/27 Takao Horiuchi (堀内孝雄)
2002/53rd 25 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (4) 27/27 Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし) (2) Ultimate (4)
2003/54th 26 Noto Hanto (能登半島) 28/30 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) (7)
2004/55th 27 Ichiyo Koiuta (一葉恋歌) 26/28 Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし)
2005/56th 28 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (5) 22/29 Porno Graffitti (ポルノグラフィティ)
2006/57th 29 Meoto Zenzai (夫婦善哉) (2) 14/27 Shinichi Mori (森進一) (3) First half ultimate[note 8]
2007/58th 30 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (5) 27/27 Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし) (3) Ultimate (5)
2008/59th 31 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (6) 24/26 SMAP (SMAP)
2009/60th 32 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (6) 23/25 Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし) (2)
2010/61st 33 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (7) 20/22 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) (8)
2011/62nd 34 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (7) 25/25 SMAP(2) Ultimate (6)
2012/63rd 35 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (8) 24/25 Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) (9) Penultimate (4)
2013/64th 36 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (8) 21/26 Akihiro Miwa (美輪明宏) (1)
2014/65th 37 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (9) 20/23 Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi (長渕剛) (1)
2015/66th 38 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (9) 20/26 Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし) (4)
2016/67th 39 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (10) 23/23 Arashi (嵐) (1) Ultimate (7)
2017/68th 40 Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu-geshiki (津軽海峡・冬景色) (10) 22/22 Yuzu (ゆず) (1) Ultimate (8)
2018/69th 41 Amagi-goe (天城越え) (11) 22/22 Arashi (嵐) (2) Ultimate (9)




  1. ^ Ishikawa's official website lists only her Teichiku albums.
  2. ^ ( ) shows times Ishikawa sung the same song at Kōhaku Uta Gassen.
  3. ^ Shows Ishikawa's "appearance order/all contestants" at each Kōhaku Uta Gassen.
  4. ^ ( ) shows times Ishikawa sung opposite the same singer.
  5. ^ ( ) shows times Ishikawa sung the position (appearance order). Ultimate (last singer of the team, Tori トリ) or penultimate (penultimate singer of the team, Tori-mae トリ前) positions are reserved for established singers.
  6. ^ Ishikawa was on maternity leave and was excused from appearing as a contestant.
  7. ^ "Grand Ultimate (Ōtori, 大トリ)" means Ishikawa sung after the ultimate singer of the opposite "Shiro-gumi (White team)" and was the last singer of all contestants.
  8. ^ "First half ultimate" means Ishikawa was the last singer of the first half of the show, immediately before the half-time NHK News break.


  1. ^ Martin, Alex. "'Enka' still strikes nostalgic nerve". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  2. ^ Betros, Chris (2007-07-27). "Sayuri Ishikawa keeps enka alive". Japan Today. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  3. ^ Although the Japan Today article (the URL link not working as of 9 June 2019) said Hibari Misora as her influence, this was likely by mistake. Ishikawa herself publicly stated on various occasions that going to a concert by Chiyoko Shimakura in her childhood determined her career as a professional singer. For example, see Ishikawa’s interview appearing in “Ms Wendy” (「歌一筋35年、2000曲。歌うことが私の役目だと思っています」, viewed 9 June 2019. Ishikawa mentioned this again when she read the obituary at Shimakura’s funeral representing the singers’ society, Sponichi Annex, 14 November 2013 (石川さゆり涙の弔辞全文「心が砕けるようなことをたくさん耐えて…」 ), viewed 9 June 2019. See also the note in Ishikawa’s official website dated 25 March 2015 (私のデビュー記念日 ), viewed 9 June 2019. Shimakura was an honorary guest to Ishikawa’s first full length recital as recorded in her first live album “Sayuri Ishikawa Show -Hana Hiraku Jyu-hassai” (石川さゆりショー~花ひらく18才 , Nippon Columbia AZ 7036-7). In 1987, Ishikawa released her 47th single ”Naniwa Shimai" (浪花姉妹) in which she sang a duet with Shimakura.
  4. ^ イチローの「天城越え」選曲秘話
  5. ^
  6. ^ Jiji Press, 20 May 2019 (「歌手の石川さゆりさんら紫綬褒章=囲碁の趙治勲さんも-春の褒章」 ), viewed 9, June, 2019. See also, Ishikawa’s press conference script, (「春の紫綬褒章、受章。」 ), viewed 9, June, 2019.

External linksEdit