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.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Saburo Kitajima -- Hakodate no Hito (函館の女)

Heard this one a fair bit on the old RCA Victor stereo as a toddler. "Hakodate no Hito"(Woman of Hakodate) was enka singer Saburo Kitajima's(北島三郎)14th single released in November 1965. The city of Hakodate on the southern tip of Hokkaido was definitely familiar to Sabu-chan (formerly Minoru Ono...大野穣) since he had attended Nishi High School there.

For those who are reading this and are learning the intricacies of kanji,, that last character in the title is indeed the one for "onna" meaning "woman". But it's read as "Hakodate no Hito" for some reason. Actually, this song would be the first in the 『女』-titled series of songs that Kitajima would release over the decades in which there would be a city or region represented. For example, there is "Ise no Hito"(1968) and "Okinawa no Hito"(1972). And it would seem that all or a lot of those songs were written and composed by Tetsuro Hoshino and Nobuo Shimazu(星野哲郎・島津伸男).

In what would be a venerable enka trope, Kitajima sings of coming back from a long way off to Hakodate to find the love of his life, the woman of the title. When I listen to "Hakodate no Hito", I know that it is an enka tune (certainly seeing the manly Kitajima in his yukata on the cover tips me off), but there is a bit of a plucky guitar in there that hints at a certain Latin machismo as well.

Seeing the TV performance of the song here, Kitajima shows that the message in "Hakodate no Hito"isn't meant to be merely stated but is to be jauntily declared to everyone as he tries to find his lost love once again (perhaps that might be my karaoke advice to anyone who wants to try it at the box). When the single was originally released in 1965, Oricon was still about a few years away, but it did sell close to 1.5 million records, a hit by anyone's standards.

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