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.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hideo Murata -- Osho (王将)

When I first heard and seen pictures of Enka old-timer Hideo Murata (村田英雄), I always envisioned him to be big, tall and intimidating; especially so when he wore his usual dark colored kimonos and had that mostly stern expression (plus frown) on his face. He was like the Yang to his rival's - Haruo Minami (三波春夫) - Yin. What's more,  he was kinda considered as one the big 3 (Or Gosanke equivalent I suppose) of the 50's along with 'The first Enka singer', Hachiro Kasuga (春日八郎) and Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也).

Hearing Murata's representative song from November 1961, 'Osho' or 'General/King General', only added to his grandeur since the Enka song had this air of nobility to it. The manly aspect of this song comes in as the fellow boasts about how fantastic a Shogi (Japanese Chess) player he is, that even the moon recognizes his prowess. Like Chess, its a gentlemen's sport, thus the dignified music. It was written by poet and lyricist, Yaso Saijo (西條八十) and composed by Toru Funamura (船村徹), the guy responsible for composing songs for quite a number of singers like Hibari Misora (美空ひばり), Kasuga and Mihashi.

So cool and awesome on so many levels!

I'm sure 'Osho' would have easily cracked the top 10 on the Oricon charts if it was there during that time since it was Murata's biggest hit, selling about 300 000 copies within half a year and eventually selling over 3 million copies. It also allowed Murata to receive the Special prize at the 4th Japan Record Awards in 1962 and gave him a ticket to the 12th Kohaku in 1961. He would then sing the song 3 more times.

Anyway, as formidable as Murata was, the fellow was actually not as huge as I had originally perceived him to be. In fact, he's not big at all. The fellow only stood at 160 cm, and it was made even more noticeable when he stood next to Kasuga, who seemed to stand at about 175 cm. Ah well, but size doesn't really matter. It's the presence that counts, like Madam Misora.

Link above's to a video with Murata, Michiya and Kasuga singing each others' hit songs, including 'Osho'. Its one of my favourite videos too. I mean, how cool is it to see these Enka veterans sing together?! Oh ho ho, I bet it'd be cooler if Murata and Minami were to perform together (I think they did)! (Noelle from 12/12/2015) Well, sorry to say that the video of Muchi, Michi and Hachi got deleted.

See, doesn't he look intimidating??


  1. "Osho" does have that grand and wise stateliness to it, doesn't it? It probably would've been Murata's theme song and made him look taller than he was. Considering that I saw Murata in his later years on the Kohaku, seeing him on those record covers above makes me think he was a burly intimidating presence despite being less than 5'5". Hibari Misora was even shorter but she literally terrified her fellow singers with her presence.

  2. I have always loved Murata's masculine voice. His singing of "Osho" in 1961 is truly outstanding, especially the version on YouTube with the train running in the background. I find this version of the song to be his best.

  3. If I could use a time machine, I would for sure go back to see these four - Minami Haruo, Murata Hideo, Hashi Michiya and Kasuga Hachiro - perform together. My life would then be complete.

    1. Those first two especially definitely brought the full Japan to the Kohaku when they regularly appeared.

    2. I too would love to see the Yonin Shu perform together in the flesh. While I can't do that now, this video of the four of them singing "Tokyo Ondo" feels as close to that as possible.


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