I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Shinichi Mori/Takuro Yoshida/Teresa Teng -- Erimo Misaki (襟裳岬)

Shinichi Mori(森進一)is one of those premier male enka singers I've seen and heard over many decades. He was born in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture but moved from place to place all over Japan including Shimonoseki and Osaka. In 1965, as a teenager, he appeared on a music talent show on Fuji-TV called "Rizumu Utagassen"リズム歌合戦...Rhythm Song Battle)where he won. Scouted by Charlie Ishiguro, Mori (whose birth name was Kazuhiro Moriuchi), was soon taken in by Watanabe Productions, one of the big talent agencies. I've always seen him as the singer with the pure and earnest expression on his face (kinda like Astro Boy), but it's always been his voice that has distinguished him. It's high and mostly clear but there is a bit of a gravel in there as well.

Debuting in 1966 with "Onna no Tameiki"女のてめいき....A Woman's Sigh), he had already garnered his share of accolades and awards when he sang "Erimo Misaki"(Cape Erimo), his 29th single, in December 1973. Composed by folk singer Takuro Yoshida(吉田拓郎)and written by Osami Okamoto(岡本おさみ), it's written up in J-Wiki that "Erimo Misaki" is a folk song by Mori that " sung as if an enka singer had sung it." And certainly Mori's version has the familiar enka arrangements: the opening trumpet, Mori's vibrato and enka's tendency to focus on certain remarkable points in Japan's geography. Cape Erimo is located in southeastern Hokkaido at the southern tip of the Hidaka Mountains; the cape is known for the harsh winters there and the fact that for a total of a third of a year, it's covered in mist. Enka also loves adversity.

"Erimo Misaki"was able to reach as high as No. 6 on the Oricon weeklies and became the 31st-ranked song of 1974. It earned Mori accolades from The Japan Record Awards and The Japan Kayo Awards, plus his seventh appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen....the kayo kyoku equivalent of the trifecta. And finally, becoming a million-seller didn't hurt either.

Yoshida also did his own cover of "Erimo Misaki", and it has its own folk arrangement. Before the song got all its fine reputation, though, there was a lot of opposition against Mori doing the song from Watanabe Productions, complaining that a folk song wouldn't match Mori's style. Luckily, the naysayers were proven wrong, and the two versions sound perfectly fine.

I've also included Teresa Teng's(テレサテン)cover of the song as well since it's also a very lovely version.

One final thing about Mori. The Japan Record Awards, which are televised on another station, usually overlap with NHK's Kohaku Utagassen, so any singer who is lucky enough to get that award and a spot on the Kohaku often has to run the gauntlet between TV stations on New Year's Eve. And in Mori's case, he sped into NHK Hall in Shibuya, Tokyo and got into wardrobe for his performance and got onto stage....unfortunately with a fly open. Not sure if the ratings spiked at that moment.

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