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Toru Funamura, composer of popular Japanese songs, dies at 84

Kyodo

Toru Funamura, celebrated composer of “Yagiri no Watashi” (“Ferry at Yagiri,”) “Osho” (“Shogi King”) and other popular Japanese songs, has died, his office said Friday. He was 84.

The Tochigi Prefecture native, whose real name was Hiroo Fukuda, died Thursday at a hospital in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. The cause of death was heart failure, according to Nippon Columbia Co.

Funamura learned piano and composition at the predecessor of Tokyo College of Music. “Wakare no Ipponsugi” (“Farewell at Lone Cedar”), which he composed for ballad singer Hachiro Kasuga became a hit when it was released in 1955.

During his songwriting career, which spanned more than half a century, Funamura composed over 5,000 tunes including “Osho” released by Hideo Murata in 1961, and “Yagiri no Watashi,” sung by Takashi Hosokawa and released in 1983. That song won the Japan Record Award.

Funamura held a number of key posts in the music industry, including head of the Japan Composer’s Association and the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers.

He was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 1995 and recognized as a Person of Cultural Merit in 2008 before being given the Order of Culture last year.