On Sunday, during an episode of this travelogue "Japan Hour" on Channel News Asia - it's the only thing I'd watch on that channel - that featured Aomori, I had myself a good look at one of the prefecture's natural prides, the Oirase river. The hosts were there on a hike in early summer, so you could see the very green foliage hanging over and surrounding the gently flowing stream. I'm usually not the outdoor-sy type, but such scenery really makes me want to just get out there and join the fellas on their hike to admire its beauty.
That brings me to the song of the day, George Yamamoto's (山本譲二) "Oirase", which is based on this very river that drains from Lake Towada. I've been to the lake once a number of years ago in winter... there were dozens upon dozens of black and white swans, and ducks skimming along the frigid water's surface. I wonder if they were looking for handouts.
Anyway, just like the real thing, "Oirase" sounded really comfortable and relaxing with its easy pace and overall soft feel. This song may most likely be considered an Enka song from its lyrics, which I'm guessing is mostly about our protagonist saying his goodbyes to his lover, and hopes that one day they'll have the chance to meet again... by the river, I reckon. There is also a shout out to the Asura no nagare, mighty stunning in autumn, I must add. However, it hardly sounds like one with the un-enka-like score (by the late Nobuyuki Sakuraba (桜庭伸幸)) and Yamamoto, who I would usually consider quite Enka, sang in such a way that you could hardly hear the genre's trademark singing style's strong vibrato/peaks and dips... it sounded like a Pop song, or at least a Kayokyoku.
"Oirase" is a pretty good song to listen to if you just want to wind down after a long day. You know, like playing at a low volume at home while you kick back and relax with a cup of tea. Or in my case, it helps me take my mind off things during the long train rides home after a harrowing day of the nightmare spawn: Molecular and Cell Biology or Biochemistry. Urk, the thought of those things sends shivers down my spine. Just listening to Yamamoto's smooth, deep vocals already calms the nerves...
There's no write up on Yamamoto's 27th single (released on 21/6/1992) , but the J-Wiki page on the singer mentioned that "Oirase" is one of the handful of representative singles he's got under his belt... 6 in total, including this one.