I generally don't listen to female Enka singers (some male singers as well, I have to clarify) as much since sometimes their singing style and pitch at which they deliver the song would just drive me up the wall. But Enka beauty Fuyumi Sakamoto's (坂本冬美) 12th single was one that managed to impress me. It also was a great help that her voice was relatively easy to listen to.
Since my Japanese is quite poor, the first thing I would look out for in a song (especially for Enka) would be its music. In the case of 'Yozakura Oshichi', it started off rather muted and it kinda gave an air of mystery to it. Unfortunately, that immediately flipped the switch on my brain to off and I was just staring at this woman in her kimono blankly, waiting for the song to finish and get the show (Kayo concert) on the road. And then, there was a sudden change in music that slapped me back into reality and actually made me check the song's name at the the top corner of the TV screen to make sure it was the same song, or that Sakamoto was doing a medley of her hits. It was the same song. Whoa, that difference! From such a mellow tune to something so upbeat and sounding like the type of song the singer would sing with a flashing disco ball above her head.
Now that I think of it, that was the second time it had happened to me (yes, same song by Sakamoto). First time was hearing it on YouTube. Exactly the same reaction as the one I described above... I didn't remember the song's name back then... ...
Anyway, 'Yozakura Oshichi' was released in 1994 and was Sakamoto's first single to be released after the death of her mentor Koushou Inomata (猪俣公章). It did quite well, peaking at 24th position on the Oricon charts and staying within the Top 100 for 25 weeks, making a what they call a 'long hit'. This would also eventually become the Wakayama native's representative song which she would sing at the Kohaku 5 times out of her 25 appearances.
Oh yeah, doesn't her mentor's name ring a bell? If it does, its because he had composed quite a number of hits for different singers like Hiroshi Itsuki's (五木ひろし) 'Chikuma Gawa' (千曲川) and Hiroshi Uchiyamada and The Cool Five's (内山田洋とクール・ファイブ) 'Uwasa no Onna' (噂の女).
Moving on, the song's lyrics were written by Amari Hayashi (林あまり) and the one responsible for this strange yet alluring score was the late composer Takashi Miki (三木たかし), who would bag one of the two awards awarded to the song at the 36th Japan Record Awards in 1994. That being 'Best composer', then the other one for Sakamoto herself for 'Outstanding performance'.