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, December 14, 2015

Ikuzo Yoshi -- Koibito wa Kimi Hitori (恋人は君ひとり)

I gotta say that I was quite surprised to find out that veteran enka singer Ikuzo Yoshi(吉幾三)is 178 cm/5'10" in height! He doesn't exactly tower over me but still he's taller; but then again I saw the cover for his very first single, "Koibito wa Kimi Hitori" (You Alone Are The One For Me), and noticed those very long legs when he was far younger.

Speaking of that song, for a guy like me who has been used to the oft-comical Yoshi crooning his enka for decades such as his famous number of "Yukiguni"(雪國), I was also caught off-guard to realize that he started show business in the aidoru genre under his first stage name, Eiji Yamaoka(山岡英二). But there was good buddy Kiyoshi Hikawa(氷川きよし)on stage with Yoshi telling the tale of that debut single in March 1973. Yoshi has always had a good sense of humour, and so he was alternately giggling in embarrassment and knowing wisdom about those early days.

Hikawa did the rousing number as Yoshi grimaced good-naturedly. And for those who can access the video site Niconico, there is the original version below. "Koibito wa Kimi Hitori", which was written by Hideo Nose(能勢英男)and composed by Masao Yoneyama(米山正夫), has that bright and brassy "Hi there, world!" arrangement which I've usually heard in some of the female aidoru tunes from those early 70s. Young Eiji is exhorting all the guys out there to make that declaration of love to the girls, and as he does so, I can hear that zesty vibrato which would later serve him in the enka sphere. As Eiji Yamaoka, he didn't do too well as an aidoru but he eventually did find his footing as Ikuzo Yoshi with vibrato and brio intact.


  1. Yup, Yoshi is that tall. He doesn't tower over you, but he definitely towers over me! Besides Mae-Kiyo and Hikawa, I'd always see Yoshi being at least half a head above most enka singers whenever they stand in a single file before shows like "Kayo Concert" kick off.

    I had seen that episode of "Shin Nippon no Uta" where Hikawa was belting out "Koibito wa Kimi Hitori" not too long ago - quite a fun "Special Stage" segment. It was amusing to see the poses a young Yoshi in bell-bottom pants struck on that single cover, and the current-day Yoshi wanting to bury his head in the ground when Hikawa began with a jubilant "YEAAA!!" Kinda wished Yoshi was the one singing it though; it would've been priceless.

    Frankly, it sounded really weird and funny to hear Yoshi as Eiji attempting to sound cute in a voice more suited for enka than skippy aidoru beats while I listened to the original on Niconico (finally decided to sign in), especially when the image of the now husky singer will not remove itself from my mind's eye. I'm so glad he's at where he is right now.

    1. Good golly...I'm gonna have to focus more on the comparative heights the next time I see the singers line up at the end of "Kayo Concert" when Yoshi shows up.

      I was kinda hoping that Yoshi would sing his debut with Hikawa but I guess the embarrassment was just so much that he only sang the final line with him.

      If Yoshi had tried to keep with the aidoru line, he most likely would have ended up out of show business, although I think he could have also become a decent comedic tarento. Luckily, his voice found the right genre.


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