The tango woman with shining and oblique eyes.
The Japanese singer arrived in Argentina in 1953 and became an international success.
During the 1953 winter Ranko Fujisawa visited Argentina for the first time. On that occasion, the Japanese singer came with her husband to Buenos Aires. They both arrived to the tango capital to stay for a few days as tourists. However, the Argentine audience, that had heard her before on the radio for Tokyo´s typical orchestra, wanted to hear some more of her. Following this, Ranko made her stay longer and ultimately stayed for two more months.
Once she had landed with her husband on Ezeiza´s International Airport in Buenos Aires, the director of SIRA radio asked her to present herself to the Argentine audience. Her debut in Argentine galas was in the Discépolo Theatre, alongside the orchestra of Aníbal Troilo and Roberto Grela. Her presentation was meant to be grandiloquent, in fact, the president at the time Juan Domingo Perón, assisted to listen to her.
“Sur”, “Yira yira” and “Una lágrima más” were some of the songs performed by the Japanese woman. If it weren´t for the living testimonies of those who saw her dressed in a kimono and with the typical face features of her country, one could easily hear her sing and confuse her with a porteñan voice. One that has known milonga from the cradle. But this was not the case. The wonderful work that Ranko did with her voice was astonishing. Without knowing a word in Spanish, she exposed the exact phonetic of the most fascinating tangos up to the point of replicating them perfectly.
“With some Malena or Esthercita, she projects her oriental emotion in Buenos Aires, to let us know that there, far away, under the moon of an Orient land filled with pagodas, our sweet thing is breathed…Message from Japan that arrives here, carrying a hug…A message that I receive in the name of my people and from which my bandoneon and my soul want to make eco. Welcome girl, Buenos Aires, my country, tango and I declare you as ours and we make a place for you in the purest corner of the rivershore. Tonight your oblique and shining eyes enter into the emotion…A bellow and a viola greet you in the name of the homeland” were Aníbal Troilo´s beautiful words to welcome her before the tango evening.
The night was a complete success. Ranko awoke the absolute interest of the porteños. Once the presentation in the Discépolo theatre was over, the most important radio stations in the city faced themselves with the impossible task of hiring Ranko for the rest of her stay. The theatres, on the other hand, changed their agendas in order to make space for this Tokyo lady on their stages and the newspapers announced the madness that this woman was creating by doing what Argentinians did for more than half a century: singing tangos.
After the two months of success were over, Fujisawa returned to her country, but the relationship with Argentina was strong, and that made her repeat her visits in the years 1954, 1956 and 1964. In this last visit she accomplished an outstanding performance in Buenos Aires alongside the Tokyo typical orchestra, directed by her husband, that she managed to take.
During her visits to Argentina, Ranko recorded important songs such as “Nostalgia”, “Mamá yo quiero un novio”, “La morocha”, “Recuerdos de Buenos Aires” and “Una extranjera en el tango”. Besides creating new songs, she also made an input in the growth of this musical genre in Oriental grounds, through including new artists of her country in the milonga world. In several occasions she traveled to Argentina with other Japanese singers as Ikuo Abo and Hideko Auki.
Ranko left the stages in 1970 for personal reasons, and one year later, the Tokyo typical orchestra dissolved. Even though she retired from the artistic world, Fujisawa never separated from tango till her death in 2013. In some occasion she said: “The one who has felt this passionate rhythm running through the veins, can´t ever forget about it”.