“Ue o Muite Arukō” (上を向いて歩こう?, “I Look Up As I Walk”) is a Japanese-language song that was performed by Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto, and written by lyricist Rokusuke Ei and composer Hachidai Nakamura. Ei wrote the lyrics while walking home from a Japanese student demonstration protesting continued US Army presence, expressing his frustration at the failed efforts.
In Anglophone countries, it is best known under the alternative title “Sukiyaki,” a term with no relevance to the song’s lyrics.
The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States in 1963, and remains to date the only Japanese-language song ever to have done so. In addition, it was and still is one of the few non-Indo-European languages’ songs to have reached the top of the US charts.
It is one of the best-selling singles of all time, having sold over 13 million copies worldwide. The original Kyu Sakamoto recording also went to number eighteen on the R&B chart. In addition, the single spent five weeks at number one on the Middle of the Road charts. The recording was originally released in Japan by Toshiba in 1961. It topped the Popular Music Selling Record chart in the Japanese magazine Music Life for three months, and was ranked as the number one song of 1961 in Japan.
Well-known English-language cover versions with altogether different lyrics include “My First Lonely Night” by Jewel Akens in 1966 and “Sukiyaki” by A Taste of Honey in 1980. The song has also been recorded in other languages.