The original version of ”Ue wo Muite Arukō” was included in the film and on the soundtrack album ”From Up On Poppy Hill” or “Kokuriko-zaka Kara” (2011) an Anime film by Gorō Miyazaki son of world famous Anime film maker Hayao Miyazaki.
From Up On Poppy Hill” set in 1963 Yokohama
Rokusuke Ei wrote the original lyrics for ”Ue wo Muite Arukō” known as ”Sukiyaki”, there is two different versions to explain the lyrics, A: the political and B: the romantic.
A: Rokusuke was walking home from a protest over U.S. military presence in Japan, tears expressing his frustration with the situation.
B: Rokusuke had his heart broken by a Japanese actress by the name of Meiko Nakamura.
The original with translation:
The song was released 1961 in Japan by Kyu Sakamoto, Louis Benjamin of “Pye Records” heard the song in Japan and back in UK, an instrumental version was recorded by Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen making it to 10th at UK charts.
With the success of this recording, HMV released the original version on the British marked in 1963 more or less simultaneously DJ Richard Osborne’s from Pasco, Washington. Knew about the Kenny Ball version and got hold of the original Japanese which he put at frequent rotation in his radio show.
Capitol Records got the rights and released it on the US marked also as ”Sukiyaki” in 1963, notably ”Sukiyaki” is the name of a Japanese dish and the word is not mentioned in the song.
Danish Otto Brandenburg perform “Sukiyaki” with Swedish Lyrics (1963)
The song made it to no.1 on Billboard Hot 100, and with total sales figures at 13 million, it is by far the best selling single ever with lyrics not in English, to put it in perspective it has outsold any single by The Beatles.
American rhythm and blues group “A Taste of Honey”, known from their “Boogie Oogie Oogie” hitting in 1978, also had a hit with ”Sukiyaki” in 1981. Janice–Marie Johnson of “A Taste of Honey” made the English version of the lyrics, later used by many others artists.
The song has been used in many film and TV series, notably M*A*S*H uses it even though it was recorded long after the Korean War was over. It has also been recorded by lots of different artists in many languages.
Just under a month ago (13. April 2018) another version was released, as producer, remixer, composer, and performer G.H. Hat released a ten-track remix album featuring dance remakes of “Sukiyaki”,on this video with vocals by Alina Renae and based on Janice–Marie Johnson’s lyrics.