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Shinpei Nakayama

Shimpei Nakayama (中山 晋平, Nakayama Shimpei, March 22, 1887 – December 30, 1952) was a Japanese songwriter, famous for his many children's songs and popular songs (ryūkōka) that have become deeply embedded in Japanese popular culture.

Nakayama was born in Nagano Prefecture, Nakano City, in 1887. His father died while he was very young, and his mother Zō raised Shimpei, his older brother and other siblings alone. She often took in washing and sewing to make ends meet. Shimpei was interested in music from the time he attended Nakano Elementary School, where he and his classmates would sing to the accompaniment of a small organ (what he called a "baby organ"). The songs they sang included popular military marches from the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). At one point a small brass band sponsored by the Salvation Army came to town to play, and Nakayama remembers being smitten by the sound. His classmates remember him as an accomplished player of the Japanese transverse flute who would often play during Obon and other festivals at the local Shinto shrines and Buddhist temple.

When Shimpei graduated from elementary school he took the required examinations and became a substitute elementary school teacher. His dream was to become a music teacher. For that, he had to go to school in Tokyo. So in 1905 he moved to Japan's capitol city and became a household servant for Waseda University English Literature professor Shimamura Hōgetsu.

In 1914, Nakayama composed the song "Katyusha's song" for a dramatization of Tolstoy's Resurrection. The song, sung by actress Sumako Matsui, was a massive hit and Nakayama became famous almost overnight. Today this song is considered one of the earliest examples of modern Japanese popular music.

Another of his most famous songs is "Tokyo ondo", which was a great countrywide hit in the 1930s. Today it is also known as the theme song of the baseball team Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

His most famous children's songs are "Shabondama", "Teru teru bozu", "Amefuri", "Ano machi kono machi" and "Sekurabe", among others.

Nakayama's song "Gondola no Uta" features prominently in Akira Kurosawa's film Ikiru.

Birth and Death Data: Born March 22, 1887 (Nagano Prefecture), Died December 30, 1952 (International University Of Health And Welfare Atami Hospital)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1927 - 1937

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-37650 10-in. 1/28/1927 Defune (出船) Yoshie Fujiwara Tenor vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor PBVE-42052 10-in. 3/3/1928 Hoko o osamete (鉾ををさめて) Yoshie Fujiwara Tenor vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor PBVE-42055 10-in. 3/4/1928 Habu no minato (はぶのみなと) Yoshie Fujiwara Tenor vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor PBS-79497 10-in. 12/23/1934 Aoi su sumki Miyashi Sugimachi Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer  
Victor BS-07918 10-in. 4/22/1937 Hoko o osamete Yoshie Fujiwara ; Vincent Lopez Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Nakayama, Shinpei," accessed September 30, 2022,

Nakayama, Shinpei. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from

"Nakayama, Shinpei." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 30 September 2022.

DAHR Persistent Identifier


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