"YAAAAMA YOOOOoooo... Yamaaaa yooooo..."
The number of times I had seen Hiroshi Miyama (三山ひろし) and his beaming countenance triumphantly belting out the impressionable opening to his recent hit featuring one of Aomori's famous natural landmarks on NHK is most likely more than the number of fingers on one hand. And after singing it on this week's "Kayo Concert" that featured this year's enka hits - as well as a couple of oldies. Itsuki looked spiffy in his Pinstripe suit - I'm confident in saying that I've heard "Oiwaki Yama" and the fans passionately screaming, "MIYAMA!!!" on TV close to 10 times in this year alone.
Penned by Yukio Chiba and composed by Norimasa Nakamura (千葉幸雄.中村典正), "Oiwaki Yama" is a refreshing and noble tribute to Mount Iwaki; just the music alone makes you feel like you're in the mountain's vicinity on a clear day and taking in that crisp air. It reminds me of Sabu-Chan's "Takao San" (高尾山), though not nearly as grand. This tune earned its place on this particular episode due to the fact that it's been on the enka-yo charts for the longest time. Since its release on 11th February 2015, it has been within the Top 20, sometimes disappearing for a week or so before reemerging, and although its been 9 months, I just saw that it's currently at 5th place on the enka charts - it was actually a few spots higher in the previous week. It peaked at 13th place on the regular Oricon charts, which is pretty respectable, and sold more than 100 000 copies, making it a certified Gold record. But it is indeed a pleasant sounding song, and Miyama's smooth, slightly nasally warbling is actually better than what I had initially thought. Well, no wonder they call him "Vitamin voice".
Just some background information on this relatively new and youthful enka singer. Miyama, who hails from the Kochi prefecture, learnt how to sing enka stuff at a young age, and in 2004 he became the champion on "Nodojiman". With his mind set on becoming a singer, he became a student of the aforementioned Nakamura for 3 years. Miyama officially debuted in 2009 with "Hitokoi Sakaba" (人恋酒場), which like "Oiwaki Yama", sold over 100 000 copies and became a Gold record.