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.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Shiro Miya & The Pinkara Trio -- Onna no Michi (女のみち)

Another one of those enka songs that comes from deep in my childhood memories but I had never known who was behind the song nor what the title was.

The late Shiro Miya(宮史郎) (who passed away last year at the age of 69) was born in Hyogo Prefecture, and started his career working in a cabaret in Himeji City as he released his first solo single, "Otoko no Hanamichi"(男の花道...The Passage of a Man) in 1959. A few years later in 1963, he started a group called The Pinkara Trio(ぴんからトリオ) with his older brother, Goro Miya(宮五郎), and Hiroshi Namiki(並木ひろし).

But it wouldn't be until May 1972, when The Pinkara Trio would make their official debut under the Columbia label with "Onna no Michi"(The Way of a Woman) that their ship would really come in. Written by the singer himself and composed by Namiki, the song related the typically enka tale of a woman who was devoted to a man until he decided to leave her crying. Of course, at the age I first heard the song, I didn't understand a single hiragana that Miya had crooned, but the song stuck in my mind with the combination of languid guitar, strings and flute backing this strong but aching voice. Every time I've heard it, I could always envisage the Japanese countryside somewhere....and always in the Winter for some reason.

"Onna no Michi" was a mega hit. It not only became the No. 1 song for 1972 (1.3 million records) but it repeated the same feat for 1973 (1.8 million copies). For the next couple of years, it would be the most successful song in the then-short history of Oricon, spending 16 weeks at the No. 1 position and 84 weeks on the chart proper. It would only be superseded by Masato Shimon's "Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun!"およげ!たいやきくん!), and it still currently holds its status as the 2nd best-selling song in Japan. It is also the most successful enka song in history.

On New Year's Eve 1973, the song would be performed by The Pinkara Brothers(ぴんから兄弟) instead of The Pinkara Trio at the Kohaku Utagassen. By that time, Namiki had already decided to leave the group.

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