TOKYO -- Thousands of fans and numerous entertainers bid farewell to Hideki Saijo, an iconic musician with a career spanning almost half a century, during his funeral at Aoyama Funeral Hall in the capital's Minato Ward on May 26, following his death on May 16 at age 63.
Among the attendees were singers Hiromi Go and Goro Noguchi, both 62. Saijo, Go and Noguchi were dubbed the "New Big Three" ("Shin Gosanke") after taking the nation by storm in the 1970s.
According to organizers, over 10,000 fans turned out for the funeral. Roses on the altar were arranged to represent a baseball stadium stand, reminiscent of his legendary concert held at the now-defunct Osaka Stadium in 1974.
During the funeral, Noguchi called out the late singer's given stage name, and then, looking at a photo of a smiling Saijo, said in a trembling voice, "You no longer have to try hard. Give your ideal performance of a love song in heaven."
Go also spoke at the funeral, saying, "Hideki's songs, which have been loved by many people across Japan, and his smiles will be engraved in people's hearts."
Many fans were seen offering flowers on a stand set up at the funeral hall. His coffin was carried out of the hall as his hit song "Young Man (Y.M.C.A.)" was played.
One fan, 56-year-old Minako Yamanaka from Yuki, Ibaraki Prefecture, said, "I've been his fan since I was a sixth-grader at elementary school. I dedicated flowers to express my gratitude for his work over so many years."
(Japanese original by Noboru Hirose, Cultural News Department)