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.
"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 Sugiki（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.