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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kenichi Mikawa -- Kushiro no Yoru (釧路の夜)

I only got as far as Sapporo when I made my trip up to Hokkaido several years ago. In fact, I think a good chunk of Kenichi Mikawa's(美川憲一)music made more headway throughout Japan than I ever did unfortunately. But then again, wanderlust was never a strong point with me. In any case, I'm in a bit of a Mood Kayo mood tonight and just felt like adding another one of Mikawa's geographical songs onto the blog.

So far, I've got "Yanagase Blues"(柳ヶ瀬ブルース)and "Niigata Blues"(新潟ブルース)covered, so here is "Kushiro no Yoru" (Night In Kushiro) giving tribute to that other city in Japan's northernmost prefecture. Hideo Usa(宇佐英雄), who had also taken care of "Yanagase Blues" for Mikawa, was also responsible for the music and lyrics of his 11th single from July 1968. That languid melody with the melancholy sax and the deep voice of the singer are back but lyrically unlike those two aforementioned ballads, "Kushiro no Yoru" doesn't have Mikawa languishing over a lost love but has him taking the woman's role as the resentful heroine alternately admonishes and pleads for her lover to show a little more caring and a lot less coldness.

By the time "Kushiro no Yoru" came out, it looks like Oricon had just been born, so the song managed to get as high as No. 5 and sold about 445,000 records.More importantly, Mikawa got his first invitation to appear on the Kohaku Utagassen with Kyu Sakamoto(坂本九)doing the introductions of this "new face". It was interesting watching the above video as a very serious-looking Mikawa stepped up to the mike to perform the song in a tuxedo considering all the years that I saw him unhesitantly unleash his often snarky remarks on television.


  1. Hi J-Canuck,

    From the (electric? steel?) guitar bits, "Kushiro no Yoru" sounds a little like one of those Hawaiian Mood Kayo, and I can just imagine the Mahina Stars singing this.

    Mikawa was really serious-looking when he first started out in the 60's. Seeing black and white footage of him singing "Niigata Blues"/"Yanagase Blues" way back when was surprising after watching the current-day him sashay around in flashy garb to "Sasoriza no Onna".

    Where else in Hokkaido have you been to, besides Sapporo?

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      Yeah, perhaps, this could be arranged into a Hawaiian Mood Kayo piece by the Mahina Stars. It is very drink-worthy.

      It is quite the comparison between Mikawa's current self and his self way back in the 60s. He would probably scoff heartily at this old footage if it ever came out on a "Kayo Concert"

      Unfortunately, Sapporo was about as far as I got in Hokkaido. It was just a 2-night, 3 day trip. Would like to try places like Hakodate and Furano if I have the chance. Have you been up there?

    2. No, but we're considering going up there in summer next year. From what I'm hearing, it'll mostly be places around Sapporo... So Otaru, Niseko, etc. What I'm looking forward to are visiting the Takashi Hosokawa museum in Makkari (near Niseko) as well as the Yujiro Ishihara Memorial Hall in Otaru. I would like to go to Hakodate too, but its too far south for the itinerary - the Sabu-Chan's museum is there!

    3. The Hosokawa Museum will definitely be worth a visit. I've been to the Tora-san Museum in Tokyo but never to a place dedicated to a singer.

      I would recommend the huge Odori Park when you are in Sapporo.

    4. Thanks for the recommendation. I looked up Odori Park, and it looks pretty both in summer and winter.

      What I aim to do would be to have photos taken with the picture of Hosokawa at the museum, as well as the cardboard cutout (among other stuff) of Ishihara at his memorial hall/museum... and the cardboard cutouts of Hiroshi Tachi and Tetsuya Watari (if they're still there) - Seibu Keisatsu stuff are on display.

  2. I heard him say that his serious demeanor when he started out in the 60's was his gimmick ("あの頃は辛かったのよ、あまり喋っちゃいけない、笑っちゃいけない (無表情が)売りだったのよ", he told Mori Masako). Probably his recording label pushed that persona.

    1. Hello there. I wouldn't be surprised if his label did force him to keep quiet initially. Hollywood also had its own etiquette to keep their actors in line (not that it worked half the time). I think the same had happened with Anzen Chitai for the first few years.

      Perhaps his snarkiness finally erupted from having to hold it all in for so long.


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