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Osakana Tengoku ("Fish Heaven") is a ridiculous but amazingly catchy song that can be heard in thousands of supermarkets across Japan, exhorting customers to buy fish. The nonsensical lyrics manage to name 31 different species of edible fish, while the chorus boldly declares,

Fish, fish, fish! If you eat fish
Head, head, head! Your head will become smart!

After languishing in obscurity for many years, the song burst onto the scene as the suprise smash hit of 2002, rising as high as no. 11 on Japan's pop charts. But then again, you knew that any song created by the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative was going to be awesome.

It turns out that the song had originally been recorded by the Fisheries Cooperative back in 1991, as part of an effort to boost fish sales (although one may justly wonder how the Japanese could possibly eat more fish). Initially, a thousand copies of the song were distributed to markets on free cassete tapes to be played in their fish sections. But over the years, word of mouth, bootleg copies, and the internet gradually helped spread interest in the song. By 2001, demand for the song was so great that a bidding war ensued for the rights to release it commercially.

At long last, Osakana Tengoku was released as a pop CD single on March 20, 2002. Over 300,000 copies were sold in the first month alone, and soon the song was being sung throughout Japan. There may be a message about Japanese popular culture in this story, but right now all I can hear in my head is:

Fish, fish, fish! If you eat fish
Body, body, body! Your body should be healthy!

Join the revolution! Go forth and download it: http://www.counterpop.net/~dignan/japan/hiromi shibaya - osakana tengoku.mp3

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