A lot of the enka songs I've been profiling up to now have been powerful showcases for singers such as Sayuri Ishikawa（石川さゆり） and Saburo Kitajima（北島三郎）. Themes of unrequited and lost love crooned with passion and bitterness are often fully displayed like the plumage on a peacock (or Sachiko Kobayashi『小林幸子』 during an annual performance on the Kohaku Utagassen...haha).
But enka can often be very romantic and sentimental as well. The sentimentality can be a tribute to a loved one or to a beloved place. Up to now on my blog, Tokyo and the northern areas of Japan have been highlighted. Well, it's time to spotlight my relatives' home of Osaka.
Harumi Miyako（都はるみ） was born in Kyoto in 1948 to a Korean-Japanese father and a Japanese mother. Her mother, who was big on show business, made sure that her daughter would make the big time someday, so from the age of 6, Harumi, was thrown into ballet and Japanese dance. But in high school, she declared to her principal "I will become a singer!"and she promptly dropped out. Methinks that her Mom didn't sound too disappointed. She made her debut as an enka singer in 1964 and for the next 10 years, she garnered the hits until she was known as one of the premier singers.
"Osaka Shigure"(Osaka Showers) was her first hit in the 80s. Composed by Shosuke Ichikawa（市川昭介）and written by Osamu Yoshioka（吉岡治）who also wrote Sayuri Ishikawa's big hit "Amagi Goe" in 1977, Miyako tenderly sings her heart out about her love of Osaka and her hopes for love; she name-drops a number of places in the city such as Kita-Shinchi and Neon Street (known formally as Kanraku-Gai). The melody is also very leisurely and lilting which contrasts with other enka blockbusters such as the aforementioned "Amagi Goe".
Here is the lady herself performing one of her greatest hits on the 1980 Kohaku. For some reason, enka seems to be a favourite music genre in the morning, although I'm not sure if the singers are particularly thrilled about it. Still, Miyako has always been a trouper. She also has a distinctive way of singing as well....she often holds her microphone at an oblique angle to her mouth and often looks up or away as she sings. For you Trekkies who know about The Picard Maneuver, well, this is the enka equivalent (yes, you guessed right...I am an enka-liking Trekkie).
Released in February 1980, "Osaka Shigure"made it all the way to No. 2 on the charts and became the 49th-ranked song of the year. It did even better in 1981 when it finished that year as the 6th-ranked song! Of course, NHK came calling and so she appeared on the 1980 Kohaku Utagassen for the 16th consecutive time. Basically, she was on the Kohaku every year up to that point since her debut.