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, March 8, 2015

Tonosama Kings -- Namida no Misao (なみだの操)

Looking through my Dad's old collection of 45s, I couldn't help but notice the cover for this single by this dapper group, Tonosama Kings(殿さまキングス...The Lord Kings). That fellow at the very front with the Shatneresque pose is Osamu Miyaji(宮路オサム), the main vocalist and a guitarist. Behind him are leader and bass voice Atsushi Nagata(長田あつし), Masaru Oda(尾田まさる)and Soubei Tada(多田そうべい)(although I can't match the names with the faces right now). Apparently, Miyaji was quite famous for twirling around the fist during performances.

Osada and Miyaji along with two other people had started their entertainment career as a musically inclined comic group by the name of The Funky Boys back in 1960, but somehow that changed over the next several years to become Tonosama Kings which was formed in 1967. At first, the group made the round of the variety shows on TV but they finally debuted as a musical act in 1970 with "Keiba Song"(競馬ソング...The Horse Racing Song).

Now, that cover in my photo at the very top of the article is for "Onna no Sadame"(おんなの運命...A Woman's Destiny)which I couldn't find anywhere on the Net. However, perhaps it's best to start off with what was one of their biggest hits, "Namida no Misao" (The Honour of Tears), a love ballad that percolated from the cobwebbed interior of my mind as soon as I heard the intro and then the refrain. Tonosama Kings might look like a typical Mood Kayo unit and the chorus certainly sounds like one, but at least for this song, it was pure enka of the type that would have me imagine a young couple in traditional wear softly padding up a curved bridge underneath falling petals of cherry blossoms.

(karaoke version)

"Namida no Misao" was written by Kazuya Senke(千家和也), a prolific lyricist who also took care of The Cool Five's "Soshite, Kobe"(そして、神戸)and many of Momoe Yamaguchi's(山口百恵)early releases. The composer was Masao Saiki(杉木雅夫)who had created the Mood Kayo classic for the aforementioned Cool Five, "Nagasaki wa Kyou mo Ame Datta"(長崎は今日も雨だった)back in 1969. The duo created a number of The Kings' singles for the first few years of the band's career.

The single was released in November 1973 as Tonosama Kings' 4th single. It initially took its time going up the charts, breaking into the Top 10 some 3 months after release but then another 6 weeks later, it finally hit No. 1 and stayed there for an incredible 9 weeks straight. It would eventually sell close to 3 million copies, and more importantly, it became the No. 1 song for 1974. As of September 2011, it is the 25th-ranked song in sales in the history of Japanese single records. Unsurprisingly, the Kings got onto the Kohaku Utagassen.

September 18 2016: I was recently asked if there were a decent English translation for the song. I couldn't find one online so I've decided to do one so I cannot say whether it's a decent one but that will be for you to decide. It was interesting to find out that "Namida no Misao" was sung from the woman's point of view, but then again, a number of enka songs have been performed by male singers from the woman's point of view and vice versa.

My womanly honour has been kept just for you.
I will not offer it to another now
Because I will not get in your way
I want to stay by your side
I'd rather die than be apart...because I'm a woman.

My womanly honour is imbued with the scent of you.
I cannot live after being cast out
If there is something wrong with me
Please tell me so that I can fix it
I will not begrudge this love...because I'm a woman.

My womanly honour should be known just by you.
If I can become that pristine maiden
Anyone can have that crisis of faith
But I don't want to suspect that in you
I will always wait for you without crying...because I'm a woman.

For the original Japanese lyrics, you can check out the utamap page here, and I was even able to find the romanized version at this page.


  1. Hi J-Canuck.

    Wow, your Dad seems to have a lot of these old records! I've kinda been building my own collection of CDs. It started off as a couple of Chage and Aska CDs, then it grew and grew (because I prefer getting the real CD than downloading it... It has a better feel to it) to include others like Anzen Chitai, and it's still growing since there's now Enka/Kayokyoku stuff to add to the mix.

    Anyway, looking at the picture of the record, I had thought that Tonosama Kings was one of those Mood Kayo groups as you've got the lead vocals as well as the backup singers. And I had thought "Namida no misao" was a Mood Kayo song. The title seems to qualify as a Mood Kayo song title too. So I was surprised to note that it was a quintessential Enka song, and it kinda grows on you the more you listen to it.

    I think I had seen this song in one of those medleys, I hadn't taken note of the song's name, but I distinctly remember the name of the group... partially because I the "Tono" in Tonosama Kings was a particularly interesting word in Kanji and also I didn't know how to read it.

    1. Hi Noelle.

      I'm really happy that Dad kept his old singles and albums...or perhaps it's more accurate to say that he just didn't bother throwing them away. :) I know that he still has a lot of hidden off somewhere in the storeroom. He even has ancient 78 rpm singles from the 50s!

      I'm also all for CDs. There's something about having that tangible feeling of a disc case in one's there are the liner notes as well. I have uploaded a number of my favourites into my computer just for convenience, though.

      As I was listening to the song on YouTube, I was also initially wondering if "Namida no Misao" was a pure enka or a pure Mood Kayo tune but I ultimately went over to the former. It does indeed grow on you which would explain why the song ended up as the No. 1 tune for 1974. For a band that started out as a comedy group that could perform music, it's quite the polished and tenderhearted tune.

  2. Whoa, even those from the 50's?! Dang, that's cool... even though I've never heard of 78 rpm singles... The oldest I'd have is probably the C&A album "Red Hill" that my grand aunt gave to me as a gift - it's hers, so it's probably the real deal from the 90's. And if not it'd be the "Meguriai" single that I got from the recent HK trip.

    I love getting the albums - and an occasional single. The part I enjoy most is looking through that little lyric booklet that comes with it since there may be more pictures of the artiste in it and for the C&A ones, there is usually poems written by Aska before they show the lyrics, so that's quite interesting to see. The Pop album booklets are more fun to look at, the Enka/Kayokyoku ones only just have lyrics in it... I was kinda hoping there'd be more pictures... In my case, I've got to transfer the songs to my computer then to my phone so that I can listen to them on the go, which I do very often.

    And I find it hard to believe that a song like "Namida no misao" could come from a comedy group! To me, comedy group songs usually sound zany with funny lyrics and the members don't really have such polished singing voices, like The Drifters.

    1. I only heard the 78's just once on the old record player. Unless I find one of those players again at a flea market or something similar, I won't be able to play those again properly. The current players only play up to 45s. The one 78 I remember is "Yabba Dabba Do" by Debbie Reynolds.

      I really appreciate the album booklets. Not only do they have the lyrics but if the albums are remasters, they often have the singer explain about each song.

      I'm pretty sure Tonosama Kings probably goofed around a lot on those 60s variety shows but I think when they seriously debuted in 1967, the members also hunkered down and put out some authentic enka.

  3. Hello,
    Is there a good translation for this song. One can make out the overall meaning of the song (to some extent), but understanding the depth and meaning of each line would be nice.
    Thank you

    1. Hello there. Thanks for asking. I actually tried looking for a translation online but couldn't find one. So I will have to try it out myself over the weekend. Hopefully, I will have a translation for you to take a look at within the next couple of days.

      BTW, are you a big enka/Mood Kayo fan?

  4. I had this song in magnetic tape version back in the 70's and really felt touched by the music although I could not understand what it was all about except for some words that I knew meant "woman".

    I lost the tape along the way but the rhythm and the singing style stayed lingering in my head for the past 50 years.

    It was my cruise trip to Kagoshima in 2017 that I decided I need to locate this song. With no idea of the title I could only probable guess the best way was to look under the most popular Enka song in the 70's .

    The young CD shop assistant were not of any help but managed to located the CD. Upon running thru the list my assumption was proven correct.

    Well here I was so contented to be able to locate it.

    It was sweet memories.

    CS Tan - Malaysia

    1. Hello, Jasper, and thanks for your recollection. It seems like your experience is quite similar to mine and those for some of the other commenters over the years. You were quite the good detective in tracking the song down at last.

      By chance, do you have any other Japanese songs that you have enjoyed in the past?


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