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.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Michiya Mihashi -- Kojou (古城)

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 character


  1. Hi J-Canuck,

    I've heard this song once after reading that it was one of Michi's million sellers, just to see why it was so popular. Didn't really pay much attention to his performance of "Kojou" then, but I now appreciate it a lot more. If you don't mind me asking, what other songs are there in this Michi album?

    So far, the only castle I've visited was the Osaka Castle 5 years ago. It's an impressive structure, I must say, especially when you've got the lights shining up its facade at night. I recall that there's a photo shop near by and they had this huge Husky/Alaskan Malamute out in front. I was tempted to go up to pet the big fella's head but Mom refused to let me do so. According to her, the old lady in the shop (owner) looked pretty annoyed and seemed to dislike people from giving her dog some sugar... I wonder if it's because everyone is only interested in the pup and not in the photo services.

    By the way, after reading the comment you left at the Ike-Teru post, I kinda wondered about where I had picked it up the phrase "Good gravy", and I really think that I might have picked it up from you after reading some of your articles.

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      As for what is on the record, on Side A, we've got "Minyo Buro"(民謡風呂), "Umi no Knight"(海の騎士), "Oshidori Shinnai"(おしどり新内), and "Kogarashi no Komoriuta"(木枯し子守唄). On Side B: there is "Fuefuki Touge"(笛吹峠), "Shiawase san"(幸福さん), "Ronin Kouta"(浪人小唄), and "Kaeru Hi ga Tanoshimisa"(帰る日が楽しみさ). Of the tracks, I could only find "Ronin Kouta" on YouTube, but that was only after just a cursory look.

      As for that old lady at the photo shop, perhaps she was afraid that her dog was on its way to diabetes or something. :)

      As for "Good gravy"....good gravy!

    2. Thanks! I kinda thought that I may have heard of one of those because there's this one Michi song that I also can't find online... but nope, all foreign to me. It's called "Miren Toge", by the way, I've seen it in a compilation album of his though.

      Haha, from the amount of "sugar" the dog receives, I think it'd have gotten diabetes a long time ago! :)

    3. Thanks for the correction concerning "Miren Toge". I had a feeling that "Fuefuki Toge" wasn't quite right...just sounded a bit awkward...but couldn't find the right reading in my usual sources.

    4. Oh, I was referring to the track I couldn't find online... it's called "Miren Toge" (みれん峠), I probably should've made it clearer. As for "Fuefuki Toge" (笛吹峠)... I think that may actually be its name.


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