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 3, 2014

Masako Mori -- Oiran (花魁)

My first En-kayo magazine came with the cover of Pop idol turned Enka singer Masako Mori (森昌子) dressed in a grand and lavish kimono. I kinda remember feeling a little conflicted as to whether I should purchase this gem from the Kinokuniya outlet or not since I wasn't too familiar with the singer as of yet... ... And fine, I was hoping for someone more familiar like Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし) to be on the front page - although I did see his name on the cover, which ultimately helped me in the decision making department.

Browsing through the magazine afterwards brought forth the reason why she was being the feature of the month. And that reason was her 60th and latest single (released on 16th April 2014), 'Oiran'. I didn't read much into it at first, and I pretty much inferred from the way she dressed that the song named after high-ranking courteseans would be a very traditional Enka song. You know, the type with the light notes of the koto and the strumming of the shamisen.

And then came the performance on the 'Nippon no uta'  'Kayo HOT zensen' corner to prove me wrong yet again. It started out gentle with Mori singing in a high, innocent voice while in a trailing kimono and geta with soles thicker than phone books - don't know how she walks in those. Before long the rumble of the electric guitar came on and kick started the almost defiant sounding score, and you can see Mori loosen up and have that glint in her eyes. You could compare the change in music to a demure and obedient Oiran flinging all her duties away to have some fun for once.

Now the ones who composed and wrote 'Oiran' came as quite the surprise: Ryudo Uzaki and his missus Yoko Aki (宇崎竜童 . 阿木燿子), better known as the songwriting pair who spawned multiple hits for mega popular 70's aidoru, Momoe Yamaguchi (山口百恵). It's nice to finally see their names again. As for chart position, the song did pretty well for an Enka song on the regular song charts at this day and age, peaking at 57th. And then again, it is not any regular Enka song.

For those Uzaki fans, the video above has the singer-songwriter rocking out with Mori during a performance of this song. 

Thank goodness I got the magazine back then! Turns out the one I got was probably extra stock from what book shop brought in - they only do subscription orders (dangnabbit!). Hmm, I hope it didn't belong to anyone...

Kayo arena

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Noelle, and nice choice for the enka column today.

    Masako Mori definitely has come a long way since doing the puppy love "Sensei" back in the 70s. I think Uzaki's arrangement of this enka rock fusion sets up nicely about how the image of an oiran has been depicted on screen: a lady of Kyoto demure refinement hiding a roaring tiger as she holds the strings.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.