The Hidden Histories of “Fujiyama Mama”

“Fujiyama Mama” was a R&B song written by Jack Hammer in 1954 and best-known as a cover recorded by Wanda Jackson in 1957. The song, in which the protagonist compares herself to a sexually charged atom bomb, was never a hit in the United States. Jackson’s rockabilly-styled cover, however, became a major hit in Japan in the post World War II era—despite explicit references to the devastation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This scholarly article digs into the history of the cultural moment that shaped the song’s creation and its reception both in the United States and in Japan, exploring a number of other recordings of the song along the way. It’s a story that includes (among other things) nuclear anxiety, GI lingo, and the fate of Japanese sex workers during the American Occupation of Japan.

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