• Ford Carter

Celebrating the Olympics with the Japanese connections to the Eurovision Song Contest

The eyes of the world are on the Japanese megapolis of Tokyo as they host the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. Around the world, it is expected that billions of people will tune in.


Image source: International Olympic Committee

With Japan being the centre of the world’s attention over the next sixteen days, we’ve decided to take a look back at the Japanese connections to the Eurovision Song Contest.


1965: Poupée de cire, poupée de son



France Gall’s Eurovision-winning song ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’ was incredibly popular in Japan, and has seen ongoing success throughout the decades.


The song was recorded and released in a number of different languages, including Japanese. The Japanese edition of the song – ‘夢みるシャンソン人形’ (‘Yume Miru Shanson Ningyō’, ‘Dreaming Chanson Doll’) was originally sung by France Gall, although other versions of the song were sung by Japanese singers Mieko Hirota, Minami Saori, Fumie Hosokawa, and the singer Juju.


Upon its original release in 1965, the Japanese version of the song performed by France Gall peaked at number 6 on the Japanese Oricon Singles Chart.


The Japanese anime series ‘Sugar Sugar Rune’, which aired between 2005 and 2006, used an altered version of the music of ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’ in its opening theme.


Meanwhile, the opening theme of the anime series ‘Ai Tenshi Densetsu Wedding Peach’, sampled the chord progression and parts of the melody of the song. The theme song, ‘Yumemiru Ai Tenshi’, is also a direct reference to the Japanese version of the song (both starting with the word ‘Yumemiru’).


1967: L’amour est bleu



Greek-born Vicky Leandros’ French-language entry ‘L’amour est bleu’ for Luxembourg in 1967 was recorded in both French and English, but became a massive hit throughout Japan and Canada, compared to the modest success of the song throughout Europe.


1970: All Kinds of Everything



While Dana’s ‘All Kinds of Everything’ went on to be a massive hit throughout Europe, Singaporean vocalist Rita Chao recorded a Japanese version of the song entitled ‘永遠火辣辣’ (‘Always Burning’).


1972: Après toi



Vicky Leandros appears on this list once again, this time with her Eurovision-winning song ‘Après toi’. Vicky recorded the song in multiple other languages, including in Japanese, as ‘想い出に生きる’ (‘Omoide Ni Ikiru’).


2012: Euphoria


Image source: EBU

Loreen’s ‘Euphoria’, which won the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku in 2012, charted on more than forty weekly charts around the world. In Japan, ‘Euphoria’ peaked at number 98 on the Japan Hot 100.


2015: Face the Shadow



In 2015, the Armenian Eurovision broadcaster formed the supergroup Genealogy, which was made of six members, including five members who came from each continent of the Armenian diaspora, as well as Inga Arshakyan from Armenia. The five members from the Armenian diaspora symbolized the five petals of the forget-me-not flower, which was the official logo of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.


The member representative of the continent of Asia was Stephanie Topalian, an American singer and actress of Armenian and Japanese descent. It was announced that Stephanie would be joining the supergroup on 27 February, 2015.


Stephanie won the Best New Artist Award at the 49th Japan Record Awards in 2007, and has released several albums within Japan, as well as appearing in multiple Japanese films over the years.


2018: Toy


Image source: The Times of Israel

In 2018, Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song ‘Toy’ performed by Netta.


The live performance of ‘Toy’ at the contest included the extensive use of Japanese imagery, with Netta wearing a dress that appeared to be styled like a kimono, and the stage featuring dozens of ‘maneki-nekos’ (the cat statues).


The performance was seen by some as an appropriation of Japanese cultural imagery as a prop. However, it is important to note that some Japanese fans referred to as ‘cultural appreciation’ rather than appropriation, as discussed in this article published by Sora News 24.


The lyrics in the song ‘Toy’ also featured a word in Japanese – the repeated phrase ‘baka’ in the pre-chorus is Japanese for ‘stupid’. It also makes reference to Pokemon, the Japanese-based global gaming sensation.


2020: Rabbit Hole



‘Eurovision – Australia Decides 2020’ contestant Deena Lynch, under the moniker of Jaguar Jonze, was born in Yokohama in Japan to a Taiwanese mother and Australian father, and relocated to Australia at the age of seven.


‘Rabbit Hole’ was one of the more unique entries at the national final, with an eccentric and eclectic sound that differentiated itself from the other entries. About her song, Jaguar Jonze said:


‘Rabbit Hole’ is about exploring the intricacies of the defence mechanisms we unknowingly construct in our minds as we go through life’s inevitable adversities. It’s about the complicated relationship we have with trauma and the way we react in the face of it.

When speaking about competing in ‘Eurovision – Australia Decides’, she said:


For me, Eurovision – Australia Decides is a massive opportunity to show Australia who I am as an artist and what I’m passionate about. The selected ten artists are all so talented and I’d be so happy for any one of us to represent Australia in Eurovision. I think it shows the diverse pool of creativity and talent in this nation and I’m honoured to be a part of it.

‘Rabbit Hole’ received 46 points in the national final, and placed sixth overall.


The Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony begins tonight at 9pm, and can be seen live on Channel 7 or their streaming service 7plus.