return icon

Japanese singer dedicates to Trinh Cong Son music

Eighteen years after Trinh Cong Son’s death, Japanese singer Tokiko Kato finally was able to visit Vietnam to perform in a concert that marked the late composer’s death anniversary. 

Honoured to be on the stage, she shares memories about meeting the famous composer.


Japanese singer Tokiko Kato. Photo


Considering that you met him only a few times, Vietnamese audiences wonder why you love Trinh Cong Son and his music?

Since 1970, I have listened to his music via Khanh Ly’s voice. She sang Diễm Xưa in Japanese. With the name translated into Japanese as Ame ni kieta Anata, Diễm Xưa was popular in Japan on vinyl records. I really liked this song because of its poetic lyric so I asked to perform Diễm Xưa in Japanese in a live concert in my hometown, Harbin, in 1981. It was not until 1997, when I recorded this song for my album Tokiko-Cry, that I decided to visit musician Trinh Cong Son’s house in HCM City.

Though we met for the first time and talked for two hours, it was as if we had known each other for a long time since we shared many hobbies and interests in common. We both had suffered hard times and losses due to war. When I was two years old, my hometown, Harbin, was lost to China while my father was still in the army. We suddenly became people without a homeland and my oldest brother became the main support for my family during that difficult time.

When I talked to Trinh Cong Son about losses in the past and of the war, he told me that it was tolerance, forgiveness and patience that had helped the Vietnamese people overcome pain and hardship. I appreciated what he said and I treated Trinh Cong Son as if he was my brother.

Another quote that I forever remember was when he explained his choice to stay in Vietnam: “To live and survive, people always seek better conditions. There’s nothing wrong with it. But I feel like I’m a tree on the land in which I was born. For a tree to bear fruit, it must be grown in its homeland.” I think this explains why his music lives on forever as he stayed with Vietnamese people and shared joy and sadness with them.

What are the other memories about Trinh Cong Son that you cannot forget?

When I first met him in 1997, I held my guitar and sang Diễm Xưa. Trinh Cong Son was excited. He told me to perform this on stage and later that day he took me to a small stage to sing. That year, I invited Son and singer Khanh Ly to Japan to join me in my live concert but only Khanh Ly could make it because Son’s health was not good. This encouraged me to produce a show in Da Nang in 1999. This time, Khanh Ly could not be there. I came to Vietnam with my daughter and grandchild who played piano. Meanwhile, Son played his guitar and also sang. That was the first time I saw him sing on the stage.

I also remember that in 1998 when I was back in Vietnam and participating in a mangrove-planting project in Can Gio and an outdoor music event, Trinh Cong Son drew a painting of me. Since the painting was not complete, he did not give it to me. He had a habit of drawing and hanging paintings of his friends in his living room. This later helped me become aware of his passing away. On April 1, 2001, I received a phone call from a stranger who I believed was a Japanese reporter, telling me that musician Trinh Cong Son had passed away. He called me because he saw a painting of me at Son’s house.

Do you have future plans to perform Trinh’s music?

I just released an album of six CDs, of which two songs are Trinh’s, including Diễm Xưa and Ngủ Đi Con. There is also a song called Bài hát tặng anh that I composed and performed for the first time in Vietnam on April 2 and 3.

Bài hát tặng anh has love words that I have yet told loved ones that are now gone. Even so, beautiful feelings and moments stay. That is what I have always wanted to tell Trinh Cong Son and his audiences.

I am also considering translating the song Hạ Trắng from Vietnamese to Japanese. I love this song and hope to have the chance to sing and record it in Japanese. Another desire of mine is to be able to sing with singer Khanh Ly in Vietnam.



Vietnamese banks that 'disappear' from the market

Some banks used to be very popular, with hundreds of thousands of customers, but they gradually disappeared from the market because of many reasons.

Discovering Hanoi’s famous incense making village

The craft village with a tradition of more than 100 years impresses visitors for its space that is filled with vibrant colors such as blue, red, yellow, etc. of beautifully shaped bouquets of incense.

Vietnam to reassert its position on the world coffee map

Vietnam is the world's second largest coffee exporter, but its impact on the world coffee market is not commensurate with its position, experts say.


Coffee exports to Netherlands enjoy three-digit growth

Youngest female Vietnamese Associate Professor receives Kovalevskaia Awards 2022

Prof. Dr. Le Minh Thang on March 7, 2023 was presented the 2022 Kovalevskaia Awards 2022 by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Third pedestrian street opens in Hue City

The Hai Ba Trung Pedestrian Street was opened on Sunday evening in Hue City, becoming the third walking street in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

Entertainment and cultural events of the week (March 27-April 2)

Entertainment and cultural events in Vietnam's major cities on March 27-April 2.


Vietnam wins 17 prizes at International Robothon 2023

K'Duong breaks three youth weightlifting world records

Vietnamese weightlifter K'Duong broke three youth 55kg world records during the 2023 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Youth Championships on March 26 which is taking place in Albania.

Struggling hoteliers seek Government support to revive from COVID-19 crisis

Small- and medium-sized hotels in HCM City are struggling with low occupancy rates and labour shortages, and are in need of support to recover from a COVID-19-induced slump, according to the municipal Department of Tourism.

Lion Championship MMA returns, first fight in Hanoi on April 1

The second season of the Lion Championship mixed martial arts will be back with great fighters and frightening fights in April.

Driftwood space launches in Hoi An

The first ever wood recycle space – driftwood village’s studio – has been launched in the ancient’s Cam Ha Commune on the most favourite bicycle riding road connecting the Old Quarter and An Bang beach.

Hoi An to host International Choir Competition

The event has received registrations from 20 teams representing nine countries and territories, and will feature 13 events with eight grades held at the city’s theatre.

Big race for investment in e-commerce logistics

An increase in online sales has put pressure on the logistics system, thereby triggering the race to invest in Vietnam's e-commerce logistics, according to insiders.

Banks underwriting bonds should buy back bonds: VN central bank

Commercial banks that underwrite and sell corporate bonds have to buy them back if investors so demand, the central bank has said.