In June 1963 a Japanese-language record spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. Few Americans knew what pop idol Kyû Sakamoto was singing about or the real name of the song, but the wistful tune was catchy, and the emotion evident. The song, written by Hachidai Nakamura with lyrics by Rokusuke Ei, was “Ue o Muite Arukō” (“I Shall Walk Looking Up”) but in the USA it was called “Sukiyaki” since that was a Japanese word Americans knew.
“Bittersweet At No. 1: How A Japanese Song Topped The Charts In 1963,” NPR Music
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