Last week, I put on an ancient Hi-Fi record by Michiya Mihashi（三橋美智也）on the turntable. Titled "Michiya Hit Album No. 3", you can see the young Mihashi looking rather Perry Como positioned on that chair. Among all the snap, crackle and pop of the old vinyl, I could still hear the clarity of voice that the late enka singer possessed. Last night, I wrote about Yujiro Ishihara's（石原裕次郎）slightly boozy vocals which made him great for Mood Kayo as the musical background for a night at a tiny nomiya; well, Mihashi's vocals had that purity which seemed to envisage the finest sake poured into that ivory-colored ochoko. When I heard some of his tunes, I saw him wearing a yukata while he stood on an arched bridge somewhere on the grounds of some venerable temple while cherry blossom petals were slowly falling down. Traditional Japan is what I hear....which is par for the course for enka.
And one aspect of traditional Japan is its castles. Regrettably, I couldn't find any of the tunes that were on "Michiya Hit Album No. 3" at YouTube or the usual other sources, but I did come across one of the singer's biggest hits, "Kojou" (Old Castle) which seems to be his dedication to the famous structures that still remain all over Japan (so far, I've visited Nagoya, Osaka and Kumamoto Castles).
The song, released in July 1959, was composed by Junichi Hosokawa（細川潤一）and written by Kikutaro Takahashi（高橋掬太郎）, who would be awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon by the Japanese government about a decade later just before his passing. Mihashi serenades the listener with his loving description of a certain castle that, despite its crumbling facade over centuries of existence, still possesses its majesty and history through the old castle tower and the stone walls. Hosokawa's music relates that mournful but proud feeling with the chorus backing Mihashi and those deep strings and koto.
"Kojou", as I mentioned above, was one of Mihashi's most successful contributions to music as it sold approximately 3 million records. Just imagine if Oricon had existed back then. The single also earned the singer his 4th invitation to the Kohaku Utagassen for 1959.
Here is a young Takashi Hosokawa（細川たかし）performing his version of "Kojou".
|The cover has that feeling of old leather!|
|Scratches and all...gives character|