I was watching NHK's "Kayo Concert" tonight and the last person to perform was this tall and dignified middle-aged/elderly fellow in a tuxedo. I couldn't quite believe my ears when I heard through him and the host that he was a retired sumo wrestler but has been singing and releasing enka songs for 40 years. Usually when I think of singing rikishi, I usually get reminded of those Fuji-TV prime-time specials spotlighting sumo wrestlers and their families basically performing karaoke in front of millions.
But this is Daishiro Masuiyama（増井山大志郎）. And tonight he sang his latest single, "Yuko no O-Mise" (Yuko's Bar), which only got released last November. And he was darn good. I had never heard of him before tonight's telecast, but his song was filled to the brim with nostalgic enka/Mood Kayo flavour that took me to the old days of LPs and that TV Tokyo show, "Enka no Hanamichi". I just had to mention him tonight.
In his other career as sumo wrestler, he made his debut into the dohyo in 1967 (initially under the name of Suiryu before taking on the name of Masuiyama) and has the record of being the oldest man to reach the 2nd-highest rank of ozeki in 1980. However, it wasn't too long before he decided to call it quits in early 1981.
However, several years before he finally clawed his way up the rankings, he had already started singing enka tunes from 1974 with "Sonna Yuko ni Horemashita"（そんな夕子にほれました...I Fell For That Yuko）. Yuko has become a bit of a long-running story for Masuiyama since the lass also pops up in his 1976 song "Dareka Yuko wo Shiranai ka"（誰か夕子を知らないか...Does Anyone Know Yuko?）before she comes back one more time in "Yuko no O-Mise"...perhaps the end of a decades-long love story.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video with the actual singer performing the whole song, but I did find a pretty good karaoke performance which shows what happened to Yuko. The song was composed by Tetsuya Gen（弦哲也）, who had created Sayuri Ishikawa's（石川さゆり） classic "Amagi Goe"（天城超え）, and written by Takashi Taka（たかたかし）. Within those lyrics, there is a mention of Monzen-Nakacho（門前仲町）. Well, I passed through that very neighbourhood everyday on the Tozai Line on my way to and from work, and it's a part of Tokyo's Shitamachi district with all of the old houses, bars and traditional restaurants. It's nice to know that Yuko was finally able to set up shop there.