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.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Norisaburo & George Yamamoto -- 浪漫-ROMAN-

Here's something you don't hear everyday... Enka-hip-hop fusion. And yet the strange combination worked out perfectly for polished and serious Enka crooner George Yamamoto (山本譲二), and part of the owarai act Tunnels, Noritake Kinashi (木梨憲武). Together, they had formed a one-time duo Norisaburo (憲三郎) and George (ジョージ) Yamamoto to sing a song that is 'Roman'.

Although the title literally means 'Romance', it has no semblance to a sappy love song and it doesn't touch on the romance between a man and a woman. Instead, 'Roman' revolves around the love and camaraderie between two friends. It sort of matches the pretty manly music with the powerful sting of the electric guitar and typical hip-hop beat. This was all done by none other than Joji Hara (原譲二), aka Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) - probably why the score had such a strong Enka accent to it - though Kinashi provided the lyrics' draft.

'Roman' was released in 1996 under the hilarious label of 'OYAJI (old man) RECORDS' (Pony Canyon) and it did pretty well on the charts, peaking at 25th on the regular one and 1st on the Enka/Kayokyoku one. It eventually sold around 230 000 copies and won the 'Planning Award' at the 38th Japan Record Awards. Yamamoto and Kinashi had also sung this song at the 47th Kohaku.

I've seen 'Roman' sung by Yamamoto with other Enka singers (not with Kinashi, unfortunately), but as I've mentioned above, its a song on friendship between 2 fellows. So I would have to say its best sung with his buddy Ikuzo Yoshi (吉幾三), you can check it out in the link below. Also, when those 2 are paired up you're most likely going to have a good performance with bantering and silly shenanigans.

Here's the video where I first heard the song. It's just with Yamamoto alone (actually not), but it was where I had decided to label him as 'Cool'. (J-Canuck: Unfortunately, that video was taken down but this one above is their performance on the Kohaku.)

Huh, Kinashi's impression of Sabu-chan!


  1. I knew George of course, but I was wondering who that Norisaburo was while the article was in draft form. Then, as soon as I saw the photo, I should've known it was one-half of the Tunnels.

    I guess that should be another familiar theme in enka...the song of the bromance. Two comrades-in-arms facing the elements or whatever life throws at them. "Roman" has a silkier (for lack of a better word) feel compared to some of the other manly-man enka I've heard...quite a surprise considering who was behind the composition.

  2. Hi J-Canuck,

    I must say, Kinashi does a pretty good job looking like Sabu-chan! And yeah, compared to other manly Enka songs like Kitajima's 'Kita no ryoba' and Takashi Hosokawa's 'Enka bune', 'Roman' is definitely a lot less intense. Probably because its on a softer topic instead of singing about manly jobs or sailing the rough seas. It was rather surprising that Sabu-chan did the composing work...

  3. Brings back great memories of my visit to Nagoya in 1995 (I think). Watched it play on TV for the first time. Grest song, ended up getting the single CD.


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