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.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Takashi Hosokawa/Naomi Chiaki -- Yagiri no Watashi (矢切の渡し)

As mentioned in J-Canuck's article on Koichi Aoki's (青木光一) "Kaki no Kizaka no Ie" (柿の木坂の家), the recent "Kayo Concert" featured the works of Toru Funamura (船村徹). Needless to say, I was wonderfully surprised to see that the renowned, aged composer was still alive and kicking - he's in his early eighties, but from his frail exterior and wispy voice, he looked like a nonagenarian. That aside, Funamura had composed a great number of hits back in the day, some of which were sung by deceased enka veterans I love. So you could say that the first 3 minutes of the show knocked my socks off (figuratively, I don't wear socks at home) by showing old footage of Hideo Murata (村田英雄) who was at his imposing/intimidating best as he sung his most successful hit "Osho" (王将), which was then followed by a rather dapper-looking Hachiro Kasuga (春日八郎) mournfully warbling "Wakare no Ippon Sugi" (別れの一本杉), and to wrap things up for that little segment was Michiya Mihashi's (三橋美智也) performance (in COLOUR) of a song I'm not yet familiar with... it sounded good though. I would have been satisfied to just see just one, but ALL three of them!? That was like hitting the enka-jackpot! It was absolutely aMAzing!

Anyway, another highlight for me during the rest of the 40 minutes were the appearances made by Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし), who looked as regal as ever in an all black, and later, all white, kimono and haori. He first appeared to sing one of his many successes from the 80's, "Yagiri no Watashi". Now, although I didn't give "Yagiri no Watashi" the attention it deserves, I had seen the title of this hit many times, usually associated with the man himself or Naomi Chiaki (ちあきなおみ), and I had read that both singers (and actually along with a few others) "competed" to see whose version did better. Long story short, Hosokawa's rendition received more love, peaking at 1st place on the Oricon monthlies and it eventually came in 2nd by the end of 1983, he even sang it on his 9th Kohaku appearance that same year. And through his performance that night, I could see why.

"Yagiri no Watashi" occurred to me as rather grand, both in an elegant and manly sort of way from the combination of accordion and the deep, rhythmic thumping of the drums. It kind of reminded me of  Muchi's "Osho", though not as forceful, which allowed me to learn the stark musical styles of this grey composer - he could either go cry-in-your-sake-melancholic, or I'm-the-big-cheese-grand, or maybe somewhere in between. But the important thing is, I appreciated this interesting contrast going on in Hosokawa's version - it fits his stage persona. This contrast was what was lacking when I had a listen to Chiaki's rendition. While I enjoyed her deep, husky voice, there just seemed to be something missing... ... Come to think of it, I suppose it's actually meant to be gentle and feminine like that since it was first sung by Chiaki in 1976 (B-side to another single), but it was beefed up years later to accommodate Hosokawa's stronger vocals.

Moving on, lyricist Miyuki Ishimoto (石本美由起) had penned the lyrics for "Yagiri no Watashi", and from what I've been trying to understand from the J-Wiki pages, "Yagiri no Watashi" is actually just a ferry to cross the Edogawa, from the city of Matsudo, Chiba, to Katsushika, Tokyo, where the Shibamata Taishakuten temple is. Well, the "Watashi" part makes sense now, but I'm still figuring out the "Yagiri" part. The temple and the ferry ride have been included as one (yes, just one) of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan. (Noelle from 4/11/15) Found out the meaning of "Yagiri no Watashi". It's sort of a Romeo-and-Juliet story as the couple in the song are intending to elope (by way of the Yagiri no Watashi) due to their parents objecting to their relationship. Hopefully they don't end up killing themselves even before executing their grand escape across the Edogawa.

As I've said earlier, Hosokawa's rendition did a lot better than Chiaki's, who had re-released "Yagiri no Watashi" on the A-side while her cover of Hachi's "Ippon Sugi" was on the B-side in 1982. It did fairly alright, placing at 57th on the charts.

(Yup, the video didn't stay up for long.)

The video above showcases the old footage of the San'nin no Kai from the "Kayo Concert" episode. I don't think it'll stay up for long, so enjoy while you can. Man, I'm still ecstatic that I've seen these enka veterans on TV! And as Muchi is performing, you can actually see that unmistakable, beaming countenance of Haruo Minami (三波春夫) in the back as he proudly watches his rival growl out the song.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Noelle.

    Some very good insights about one of the big enka classics. I was surprised to find out that "Yagiri no Watashi" got to hit its fame relatively recently in the early 80s. I have to agree with you about Chiaki's rendition; it is missing a certain something, but the one tangible thing is the deep horns.


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