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i wonder if there would be any interest and i don't believe there's a thread about this but enka and related genres... i'd like recommendations or any thoughts or whatever you've got. i'd like a place to write about it, too.

if you don't know what it is, the national japanese pop form, usually western instruments but japanese scales, taking in what could be called traditional music, especially in the vocal performance, also embracing in its earlier days global popular music from the 1920s and 1930s, particularly latin sounds, trends in china and korea under japanese occupation, and after the war, as the country rebuilt, becoming progressively unfashionable, symbol of backwardness and nostalgia, and a type of japanese cultural identity that had to be repudiated, last refuge for unmasked emotion...

this would be my introduction: misora hibari singing "ringo oiwake," starting in 1952, running up to a performance in the 1980s.

born to a working class family in yokohama, the greatest voice in modern japanese music, weeper of collective tears, occasionally banned from the state broadcaster for having a complicated personal life, drank herself to an early death, mourned by millions in a lavish funeral that more than the death of the showa emperor a short time later marked the close of the era.

not understanding the lyrics is a barrier. the song is narrated by a girl from tsugaru, a frequent setting for enka song, weeping while watching the petals of apple blossoms scattered on the wind. we learn from the spoken serifu that she is remembering a late spring years before, when she found out that her mother had died in tokyo.


if you like that, this is misora hibari all the way, singing "kanashi sake" in 1966, tearing up just as she would for every other performance of the song for the next two decades. it's about drinking away the pain, never being able to forget the man she loves.


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Thursday, 21 July 2022 15:26 (three weeks ago) link


i'll do one more. "matsuri mambo," performed here probably in the late '70s, released as a single in 1952 (listen to how flimsy it sounds in comparison). a song about a shrine festival somewhere in east tokyo getting out of hand. this is another side of misora hibari, the big stage show (this is restrained compared to some stagings, like this 1981 performance that has a crew of extras recreating a shitamachi festival scene), selling every line, prancing across the stage, singing the shout of the men carrying the mikoshi, washoi washoi. it's meant to be ironic, it seems, the celebration revealing a story about an old man's house burning down and a woman having her savings stolen. but here the laughs are played up, a more fatalistic interpretation, especially in the way she performs the final verse: the festival is over, a cold wind blows, the man whose house has burned and the woman robbed both sigh—and she can't help but break on these lines—but that's just how these things go, no use crying over it now.

i suppose i should also offer this in the introduction, "kawa no nagare no yo ni." i have to admit that i got the order of deaths wrong—showa emperor first, then misora hibari—which i realized when i saw that this was released in the first year of the heisei, not the final year of the showa. there you go. this is probably the most recognizable pop song of the previous half century. it's the one they created the hologram ai misora hibari clone to sing. i never cared for it. but there it is.


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Thursday, 21 July 2022 15:57 (three weeks ago) link

I misread the thread title as "ENYA."

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Thursday, 21 July 2022 15:58 (three weeks ago) link

oh sweet thanks for this thread, I'll catch up soon.

great karaoke room memories

maf you one two (maffew12), Thursday, 21 July 2022 16:08 (three weeks ago) link

wild that we haven't had an enka thread yet, enka was _the_ popular music of japan in the early post-war era, pre-city pop. what filters through from japan internationally is, like, group sounds and takeshi terauchi and rallizes and stuff, but as far as i can tell the music you actually _heard_ in japan in the '70s, salarymen after work singing karaoke, was enka.

in the west it's probably mostly known from tarantino using it in some of his films. i watch techmoan videos sometimes and when he talks about japanese audio formats from back in the day, enka nearly always gets involved.

my knowledge of the genre is a little skewed, based as it is on a trawl through the rym genre chart for it (shout-out to lj, lol). so what i know is nagare yoi uta by Hako Yamasaki from '78, kaji meiko no hajiki uta from '73, and interestingly enough maki asakawa's "blue spirit blues", which seems to consist largely of covers of early western blues and jazz songs. her cover of "strange fruit" is a tour de force!

i _loved_ seeing that misora hibari video. i don't understand the lyrics and can't navigate half of the recordings because i can't read kanji, but for me the vibe is pretty clear - somewhat in the neighborhood of what tom waits used to call the "grand weepers". i am a _sucker_ for a super-sentimental grand weeper.

Kate (rushomancy), Thursday, 21 July 2022 16:21 (three weeks ago) link

i'm glad you enjoyed it! i like a grand weeper too.

i'm not sure if i could explain the fact that enka has not enjoyed even limited appreciation over the past three decades. it's uncoolness in its native land explains most of it. especially after, like... 1980? 1990? this stuff is not cool. even if everyone knows fifty of the songs just by absorbing them over the years, nobody goes in search of new enka recordings, which i find to be very bad, mostly. maybe that it's exotic but not exotic enough. i think a lack of large expatriate japanese communities is part of it, so you aren't going to hear your friend's uncle play it or whatever. taiwan (the video below has a translation in traditional characters) and korea are exceptions, obviously, although it's still not hip revival or new specialist interest but nostalgia.

i'll get past misora hibari eventually but i want to share this medley. i particularly like the performance of "jinsei shogi" at 05:27, the harshest and meanest you will hear her. this is yet another side of misora hibari. it makes as explicit as possible—not just with the costume and the hairdo in the first three songs but the voice, the posture, the way she moves—her identification with working class masculinity. her status in japan as a gay icon is understandable.


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Thursday, 21 July 2022 16:59 (three weeks ago) link

god damn what a voice. yeah it doesn't even get ironic recognition. with schlager you got someone like heino, with whatever the soviet music like this is you have the trololo guy, i mean, there are better recordings in both of those genres (hildegard knef is great for schlager, as far as the soviet stuff you can do lev leshchenko's "victory day" for starters), but it's _something_.

i mean the _shamisen_ has got a cult following in the west but the local stuff? as far as i can tell it's literally just tarantino! and it's also insane because you check out all of these cool japanese films from the era and it's riddled with enka, like no wonder tarantino would pick up on it but hardly anybody else seems to have. _somebody_ could probably do a great enka comp for western audiences... i mean, at the very least, like, a "rough guide to enka", you know?

Kate (rushomancy), Thursday, 21 July 2022 18:16 (three weeks ago) link

Akiko Wada is the singer I remember from seeing the Kōhaku the times I've been in Japan at new year, but I've just been reliably informed she's more blues than enka so doesn't count I guess. Still, what a voice! And what a look!


~insert pun here~ (Matt #2), Thursday, 21 July 2022 18:29 (three weeks ago) link


this first one is "anko tsubaki wa koi no hana." this was miyako harumi's third single, from 1966, the song that made her famous, and the finest example of the singing style that became her signature. i said not knowing the lyrics is a barrier but i don't think i could explain what this song is about, exactly. it's about tragic love and parting, like three quarters of enka numbers.

she's eighteen years old, singing on an nhk show about hometown songs. she sings the song here in a way that's never really replicated again. what reason she had for putting everything into this, i don't know. it might just be my preference. this performance is from three years later, for comparison.

the vocal style is worth mentioning. another barrier: i don't have the language required to describe most of it or know why she's considered the best at it. the legend is that miyako harumi's mother told her to pattern herself after rokyoku singers, a style just a bit older than modern enka but with more traces of tradition. you can hear rokyoku in the guttural vibrato and the rasps. but miyako harumi says that she actually figured it out while trying to imitate hirota mieko, whose growl was in service of r&b and rock n roll covers (this 1963 performance by hirota has that).


this is years later, 1975, singing "kita no yado kara." a woman is writing a letter to her lover. she is wasting away in an inn in snow country.

rumors of korean ancestry followed misora hibari for years (along with rumors of about the involvement of organized crime in her career, her family's connections to organized crime, her sexuality, her alcoholism, drug use, etc.) miyako harumi was in fact korean (her father was zainichi, one of the koreans made stateless in postwar japan), although nobody knew this during the 1960s. the significance of this is hard to explain. anti-korean sentiment's closest american equivalent is antisemitism, but it doesn't quite map onto the situation. anyways. it was mostly downplayed. it led to her in later years, after her first or second retirement, to reach out to enka singers in korea, which is kind of interesting.

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Friday, 22 July 2022 11:07 (three weeks ago) link


four songs from ishikawa sayuri. the first is "amagi goe."

it is not necessary to know what she is singing but there is something missing without it. i was playing misora hibari's "jinsei shogi" from the medley above for a friend today, marveling at the voice, trying to moan along, and i was dismayed for her to react first to the lyrics. in that case, they are easy enough to understand but a bit conventional, i thought. maybe it's a good thing that i can listen to a song while only catching the rough outline of the lyrical content in some cases. but "amagi-goe" is improved by knowing a bit more, and maybe even only the general tone. this is what the first two verses are like (this couldn't be considered a translation):

the scent that cannot be wiped away / has clung to you since that day / i could never bear it if someone stole you away / perhaps it would be better to kill you / a messy bed in a secret room / so many twists and turns in the path the joren falls / dancing up, tumbling down, over your shoulder / my dear, the mountains are burning / whatever happens, it must be enough for me / stumbling through the flames / i want to cross with you, cross the amagi

if your lips part, we will be parted too / cutting me deep like a shard of glass / if there are two of us, it might feel less cold / even if it's a lie, let me feel your warmth / wasabi sawa, the hidden path / light rain falling on kanten bashi / even if i hate you, even if i hate you, who turned his back on me / my dear, the mountains are burning / whatever happens, it must be enough for me / stumbling through the flames / i want to cross with you, cross the amagi

the separation of two lovers, or one lover and one more ambiguous party, set near joren falls on mount amagi in shizuoka.

in these 1980s and after performances, she becomes a character from her haunted ballads, face drawn, an expression that can quiver between glee and complete derangement, long black hair falling across austere kimono...


"tsugaru kaikyo - fuyugeshiki," released about a decade before, in 1977. you can skip ahead to around the three minute mark, if you aren't interested in seeing her reunion with a former teacher. but her transformation is something, one moment an unassuming, a bit shy young woman, still in her teens, and the next embodying the doomed torch song narrator floating on artificial fog. the lyrics are about a voyage from ueno station in tokyo on the train to aomori and then across the tsugaru strait to hokkaido by ferry, escaping from a lover or being sent against her will back to the north away from him, i couldn't say for sure.


this is from a year later. "hinokuni e." this performance has an english translation and subtitles. i can't say much more about it that i haven't already said, the great problem writing about this music being that superficially it's the same song with variations, the same story and emotional content in the lyrics with variations, so what could be remarked upon is what makes the variations interesting, what is being done with them. this is something that can i can feel or barely grasp but find hard to put into words. there is so much that i can't explain. it doesn't help that i barely understand terms like melisma and vibrato, let alone how they could be applied here.

it's easier with interpretations between singers. so the final entry is a twenty year old ishikawa sayuri singing a song from the last post, "anko tsubaki wa koi no hana." she avoids completely the rasps of miyako harumi and sings it in a perfectly ishikawa sayuri style. helpfully, if we want to compare them, miyako harumi herself appears on stage to sing the final verse.


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Friday, 22 July 2022 17:28 (three weeks ago) link


suizenji kiyoko. this is 1964, "namida wo daita wataridori." as usual, i struggle to put into words what is special about her voice. i like her ability to go from raspy to piercing, and the personality—that tone that i'm not sure whether to describe as scornful or mocking halfway through the line "kyo wa awaji ka ashita wa sado ka?" but which seems typically masculine, fitting with the lyrics about a man that can't settle down. this song, this style for her debut, she stuck with it.


i have noticed trying to track down japanese pop culture products of the last century that it is not easy. by comparison, if i want to read a book in chinese, no matter how obscure, if it was published in mainland china, it has been digitized and probably pirated. i reading about a 1988 series about lin liguo intended for broadcast by zhuhai television but then only circulated on vhs and thinking, well, must be lost, but i found it after a bit of searching on a lesser video streaming site. this is why stores selling physical media are still popular here. if i want to see a movie, i'm paying for it on a streaming service, so i might as well just order the dvd for half the price. so if you want to hear the early suizenji kiyoko singles, you need to buy the compact disc. if you don't want to hear a recut version, you need to buy the record. i know they might be buried in a long clip of the kohaku uta gassen from whatever year they were released, but that's not convenient for message board sharing. this clip of "ippon dokko no uta" also features a baby tiger.

well, there are fun novelties out there. like this. my favorite: singers watch each other singers perform their signature songs. here, we have miyako harumi, suizenji kiyoko, and misawa akemi (two of the three have already appeared). suizenji kiyoko sings a song made famous by misawa, who sings a song made famous by miyako harumi, who sings a song made famous by suizenji kiyoko.


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Sunday, 24 July 2022 00:54 (three weeks ago) link


the song that suizenji kiyoko sings there is "shima no blues," made famous by misawa akemi, who is standing to her left in the clip. this is her singing it herself, long after it was released in 1963. perhaps some discussion of genre should be attempted here. this is maybe in the broadest terms an enka song but it might more accurately be called kayokyoku, a general classifier for pop music of the '50s and '60s that could be applied to some of these numbers that don't fit the pure enka style, but it might more accurately be called mood kayo, which is from lounge music, more influenced by jazz and pacific sounds. here, again, i find myself out of my depth.

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Sunday, 24 July 2022 01:14 (three weeks ago) link

this thread is exquisite thank you dylannn
might get me to take an overdue look at this genre i really just took for granted in the background in my time in Japan

maf you one two (maffew12), Sunday, 24 July 2022 01:32 (three weeks ago) link

hey, thanks. i need some outlet to write about this.

i'll do one more here, still in the introduction to enka section. you can tell that my taste runs to divas singing about doomed love. i will admit that i don't appreciate male enka singers. the type of song that a woman gets given has a wide range. it's not all doomed love. or there are many variations of doomed love. but men tend to be a bit more restricted, i believe, in the songs they sing, as well as in the personas they might adopt. you've already seen too that women were comfortable performing masculinity. in the 1960s and 1970s, the men tended to be rough characters with silky voices. you can look up kitajima saburo, if you want. i might get to the men of the showa eventually. but this is something different: hikawa kiyoshi singing his 2000 debut "hakone hachiri no hanjiro."


the enka genre still trucks along. but it hasn't produced many standards or breakout national hits since the '80s. it's supported mostly by the same, aging audience. the wave of showa nostalgia doesn't seem to have produced much interest in contemporary performers. hikawa kyoshi is one exception, i would say, and especially this song. it's lyrically dense, narrated by a rogue, a break from the usual tough guy enka thing of previous decades. technically perfect. and hikawa kiyoshi was handsome. i think he's mostly making pop records these days.

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Sunday, 24 July 2022 23:03 (three weeks ago) link

surprised this hasn't been posted yet


Hmmmmm (jamiesummerz), Sunday, 24 July 2022 23:13 (three weeks ago) link

yeah this thread is great... enjoying your posts a lot.

visiting, Monday, 25 July 2022 01:06 (three weeks ago) link

i had no idea jim o'rourke apparently lives in yamanashi now. he's not bad. he sounds a bit like early enka period okabayashi nobuyasu, the folk music hero that stopped copying dylan to turn to the national ballad form and had a second career as crooner and songwriter.

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Monday, 25 July 2022 14:26 (three weeks ago) link


this is okabayashi playing with happy end in 1970.

okabayashi's father was from a christian family but ended up finding socialism and political folk music in the 1960s. songs to sing while occupying universities and fighting right-wing thugs in east tokyo slums. he kept a lower profile after 1968, released a few rock albums, did stuff with happy end, then retreated to the countryside to grow vegetables and drink out his final days. one day he was in tokyo visiting a friend, who told him to watch a performance by nishikawa mineko of her debut single, "anata ni ageru." this is the legend. it's not an unremarkable song. it doesn't seem like the lyrics seemingly about a younger woman giving herself sexually to a neglectful older man would immediately connect with an old folk singer.


he said there was something in her story that appealed to him. she was an impoverished area of rural kyushu. it doesn't matter what led him to enka. that's where he went. he started listening to the more traditional misora hibari records and trying to figure out how to write something for her. the result was "tsuki no yogisha." it earned him a deal with nippon columbia.

you can see in the picture below misora hibari to the left of okabayashi, who is at the far right. this is her singing that first okabayashi collaboration.


the album itself is interesting. i would say it doesn't even qualify as a cult hit, though. i get the feeling it was too weird for enka fans and too conventional for rock n roll people. his legacy in enka was songwriting, not performing. but i like this song "aoi tsukiyo no sanpomichi."


it was supposedly recut for a less interesting single version, which i haven't heard. okabayashi soon drifted back to soft rock balladry, only returning to the enka circuit in his later years. i know he has a recent album dedicated to misora hibari.

this recording is supposedly from the time misora hibari joined okabayashi on stage for a 1975 concert at the nakano sunplaza (i don't doubt the authenticity, but i can't be sure. the banter at the end reveals they're on the same label by that time, then has misora hibari talking very briefly about folk and enka's relationship). it's a chance to hear her with more contemporary stripped down backing.


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Monday, 25 July 2022 15:55 (three weeks ago) link

enka was unpopular, unfashionable... it was nostalgic. it was tragic. it was everything that postwar japan didn't want to to be. there is a quote in a paper by alan tansman, translating a japanese critic, who said that even in the 1960s, misora hibari gave off the aroma of the farm, of the trainloads of pupils transported to the city to work. she was singing the music of a dead nation, he concludes.

this is a video of a 1975 misora hibari special, in which she sings a series of wartime songs (these begin with around 1:39).


in pop music at large, there was no suffering. the war had never happened. democracy and prosperity were eternal and inexplicable. (closer to the timeline, the energy of the student protests of 1968—the healthy kind, u that didn't need to be burned out in the middle east or chalet shootouts—was put into healthy cultural activities.) misora hibari singing these songs is not a statement in support of militarism or nationalism (perhaps in support of that dead nation that tansman mentions. it reminds me of the scene in an autumn afternoon, where the two old comrades are at the bar. one starts to muse about what would have happened if japan had won the war. he says there'd be blonde girls playing shamisen and chewing bubble gum. he's nostalgic for a time that's passed and the time he was promised. but he says it's probably for the best. he got sick of all the militarists goosestepping around, after all.). i don't think so, at least. it is moving because of how rare it is. millions of lives were touched by a war that could not be remembered. it is not convenient in japan to remember the war. the nationalists are denialists, who tell us that nothing much happened, so what is there to remember? but even the more moderate thought and still perhaps think it in their and the country's best interests to forget about that time.

these songs of war are sad songs, she says. these are songs about pain. it is important not to forget them. she has not. she sings "senyu" first. if you've seen muddy river, you might remember the little boy singing it at the table. the man that runs the boat asks him if he knows all the lines, where he learned it... it's a song that was reportedly banned on the front, since it's about dying in the mud in manchuria. the narrator sings about being so far from his homeland, watching the slanting red light of the setting sun on the makeshift graves of his comrades. he tells a story about the man he fought beside being cut down by bullets. he violates military orders and rushes to him, bandaging him up, and hoping he'll live until nightfall. he doesn't survive. his body is cold. only his pocketwatch shows signs of life. he digs his grave and wonders about his family and wonders if he'll make it out, himself.

the next song is "senyu no ikotsu o daite"—embracing the remains of a comrade-in-arms—popular in the malayan campaign. another dark song. certainly not a celebration. neither is the next one, "kudan no haha," one of the most popular wartime songs still sung, about a woman arriving at ueno station from the countryside (arrival at ueno station in an enka song means coming from the northeast) and taking the trip to apparently yasukuni shrine to pray for her dead son.

to link this to the last post, she closes this set with "kaze no nagare ni," written by okabayashi nobuyasu (13:24).

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Monday, 25 July 2022 20:03 (three weeks ago) link

dylannn, thanks so much for your posts!
I knew there's some enka that I can get into, but a lot that's kinda hard to take, so it's great to get a rough guide to help navigate, with some history too...

One thing I think is interesting is how enka is pretty close to country music in some ways, but there's also a big influence from Sinatra and Tony Bennet and such... I guess the common element being the night life, booze, and broken hearts...

Also just want to add that the second verse in that Misora Hibari in drag performance says something like:
"I don't talk much, it's quicker to use my hands, I've got no time for fools"
...sounds like Merle or Waylon coulda wrote it (or Lemmy)...

Anyway, thanks again, hope you post some more...

m0stly clean (Slowsquatch), Monday, 25 July 2022 20:33 (three weeks ago) link


it's interesting to hear misora hibari singing western standards. in english and japanese or a mixture of the two, like on "take the 'a' train." there's also an album of nat king cole songs. i can't professionally evaluate this stuff but it sounds great to me. there's partly the novelty of hearing "blueberry hill" in japanese. there is footage i saw once of a misora hibari concert in rio or vegas or somewhere, big band behind her, sequined dress, and you could imagine tony bennet coming out to sing a duet on "the lady is a tramp."

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Monday, 25 July 2022 21:00 (three weeks ago) link

shoot..do we have a couple of Japan-only Youtubes? I can't see this last one or "aoi tsukiyo no sanpomichi." I'm in Canada.

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 26 July 2022 01:42 (three weeks ago) link

The boomers I met in Japan loved enka while anyone near my age just sorta tolerated it and groaned along in karaoke. I enjoyed it. So I found it funny when I played one of my favourite Japanese acts for a friend I'd usually be told her vocals were "pretty enka". But the songs are pretty much all pop (or mopey indie pop early on). Much later, on the song "Sekkyoubushi" (説教節), the enka-type emoting is enough to make my face twitch. So I get it. Turns out this title is the name for another style of music in this wheelhouse - shamisen sermon ballads? But it's a pop tune.

Much to learn!

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 26 July 2022 01:55 (three weeks ago) link

(I couldn't find that track online but I can upload sometime)

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 26 July 2022 01:55 (three weeks ago) link

(by Nikaido Kazumi)!!

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 26 July 2022 02:00 (three weeks ago) link

is that okabayashi song the only so far locked out by region? that's a shame. it's not on spotify or anything, either. this returns to what i was saying before about the reason for physical media staying around, i guess, too. i'll try my best.

l, r: beat takeshi, misora hibari (maybe at home, maybe in 1982, only going off the comments)


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Tuesday, 26 July 2022 23:10 (three weeks ago) link

to be clear (I want to make sure these don't embed), I can't see youtu.be / B6iaBhBlt7M or 9_VmtvlwUkg

here is the song I was trying to share. I had to run and posted anyways... that's how much I take for granted I can just find a thing online. Japan's media protection is something else, yeah.

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 26 July 2022 23:44 (three weeks ago) link

that's a fun one. thank you.

let's not take anything for granted.

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 18:50 (two weeks ago) link

a song first released in 1973, made famous by kaneda tatsue, another from what i remember folk singer although of far less impressive stature than okabayashi nobuyasu that turned to enka. the song was a minor regional hit then exploded again upon wider release in 1979. "hanamachi no haha." mother of the flower street, referring to the quarters occupied by geisha. a song about growing old as a woman, beauty fading, elegance failing, and longing to be reunited with a daughter she barely knows. from my reading of the lyrics. a deeply sad, tragic song.

kaneda tatsue's version is fine. but i do not believe it. it is sung here by a girl that is probably fourteen or fifteen. she sings it as credibly as kaneda, though, i believe, at least when she debuted the song (this is a better version from 1979 by kaneda tatsue). this returns me to my original point, about listening without hearing the lyrics, but here, knowing the lyrics, i can't listen without knowing them. and it says something about the utility of these songs, or perhaps how people hear the lyrics.


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 19:04 (two weeks ago) link

well, i must admit that i appreciate too the backdrop of typical suburban japan. the first time i heard this song was in a snack in kanagawa, sung by a man in his 70s. if we had waited until the sun come up and looked outside, at least if we didn't look up the block to the home improvement store and the highway but out to the west, we would have seen the same landscape of concrete, vending machines, hills, and sky.

with the way media is protected, it is easier to find hundreds of covers of a song before stumbling across a version you might like by the artist that made it famous. it is easy to stumble across a woman singing it beside a river in keelung.


XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 19:10 (two weeks ago) link

xp Excellent! This is just some kid? I found the karaoke rig reverb effects very helpful in making most everyone listenable... but I've heard a lot of seriously talented amateur singers too.

This river performance is a sweet find. Where in Kanagawa did you hear the song? I lived in Sagamihara (though I was near the US base there, I'm not sure I met a single American who wandered outside).

maf you one two (maffew12), Friday, 29 July 2022 01:26 (two weeks ago) link

i don't know, i guess she's a child singer of showa songs on the pro-am circuit.

anonymous odakyu line town, kanagawa.

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Friday, 29 July 2022 06:52 (two weeks ago) link

pff. JR Yokohama line 4 life.

maf you one two (maffew12), Friday, 29 July 2022 19:45 (two weeks ago) link


you saw misora hibari weeping through "kanashi sake" and ishikawa sayuri breaking down during a performance of "amagi goe." emotional authenticity or its convincing performance is part of enka. it's part of why the performers of the high showa can't be replicated. nobody can do it anymore, i don't think, at least in the same way. i appreciate it. it's infectious. carried to the extreme, it's overwhelming. a minute into this performance, she has tears running down her cheeks. she is overcome. her voice breaks. the audience shouts encouragement (and this is a good example of the typical audience participation). she hits the chorus a final time with defiance.

the singer is mori masako, anointed by misora hibari as her successor but left the industry soon after you see her here. the song is "etto tsubame," a hit from three years prior. the lyrics tell a story about a young woman that wastes her best years on a man that can't love her. she is a swallow that has missed the chance to migrate and must endure the cold of winter. the "hyururi hyururi-rara" she sings is the sound of the swallow's call.

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Wednesday, 3 August 2022 06:53 (one week ago) link

Ganbatte dylannn!


maf you one two (maffew12), Wednesday, 3 August 2022 15:54 (one week ago) link


the men should be represented. this is a song that i don't love. for some reason, it came to mind tonight when i saw sen masao recommended by the youtube algorithm. this is "miso shiru no uta." it starts with a shiver. "winter is so cold, good time to drink some miso soup. delicious. warm. a taste of mother, isn't it?" it seems like a novelty song. but i don't think that's the right way to describe it. but it doesn't matter that i find it a bit silly. miso is mother. miso is the nation. he calls on the japanese people not to forget their hometowns and their miso soup, and to stop calling rice "raisu" instead of "gohan," which i agree with (this contains a joke about hesitating to decry blond hair, since he was married to an american). in the final spoken serifu, he makes all of this clear. it's been sixteen years since he left his hometown, he says, but he still returns in his dreams to his mother's breast. he weeps when he recalls her. he longs to taste her miso soup again. and it ends with the cry of kachan!—mommy! return to the motherland. to return to authenticity, however, sen masao was a real estate millionaire by the time this came out, despite the rusticated airs he puts on.

XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Thursday, 4 August 2022 15:02 (one week ago) link

One thing I think is interesting is how enka is pretty close to country music in some ways, but there's also a big influence from Sinatra and Tony Bennet and such... I guess the common element being the night life, booze, and broken hearts...

Not to hijack this thread, but interesting to me that this is an accurate assessment of schlager as well, and all the equivalents from various European and South American countries I've come into contact with. Except country and lounge music, even at their corniest, still have that cachet of being part of the Grand Narrative of American Music, while these genres are dismissed in their native countries as much as they are ignored by the Anglosphere.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 11 August 2022 10:59 (five days ago) link

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