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.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Kazuko Matsuo and Hiroshi Wada & Mahina Stars -- Ozashiki Kouta (お座敷小唄)

Before I continue with articles on the other 3 members of the Yon'nin Shu, I'd first like to talk about "Ozashiki Kouta" while it's still on my mind - I'd wanted to write this a while ago but didn't because I forgot about it.

So far, I have written about quite a few "Mood Kayo All Stars" groups like Happy and Blue, Los Primos, and Tokyo Romantica, which only leaves out 2 more on my list. I'm still waiting for a Los Indios tune to come by, preferably something I'm not familiar with, but as of today, I'm glad to say that I can cross out Hiroshi Wada & His Mahina Stars (和田弘とマヒナスターズ). This band specializes in Hawaiian Mood Kayo; out of the 3 categories of Mood Kayo, this is the one I find a tad strange due to the addition of the wonky steel guitar. To me, it's kind of like adding the beach to the existing imagery of a nightclub or nomiya. Despite this contradicting imagery, I must say that it can intensify the mood depending on the song, like in "Nakanaide" (泣かないで), where the steel guitar made it much more unnerving and mysterious. Likewise it gives the jaunty melody and fun dodonpa rhythm of "Ozashiki Kouta" an exotic flair.

Earlier this week, the "Kayo Concert" episode had the Mahina Stars as one of the guests aboard - that was enough to make me happy - and they sang none other than "Ozashiki Kouta" with Natsumi Kawano (川野夏美) as a stand-in for the Queen of Mood Kayo, the late Kazuko Matsuo (松尾和子), in a theater situated in Bonto-cho, Kyoto, which is the first area of interest that appears in the song. Quite a quaint-looking place. Sticking to the theme drinking and getting drunk, the lyrics from an unknown lyricist are about a couple having rendezvouses at presumably a bar in Bonto-cho where they can meet and have a drink. Unfortunately for the both of them, the fellow is already committed and so the lady has to leave him by the end of each encounter no matter how much she loves him... I know this may be a little late for me to notice this, especially since I listen to the genre (including enka) a lot, but "Ozashiki Kouta" is one of the few songs where I'm able to see/hear (for myself) that the characters are having a tryst/trysts. Must be because it was explicitly stated in the second stanza sung by Matsuo, so I need not infer from the rest of the lyrics.

"Ozashiki Kouta" was composed by Akira Mutsu (陸奥明) and was released in August 1964. It was very well received, selling around 2.5 million copies, and so it spawned a sequel in the following year, "Zoku Ozashiki Kouta" (続お座敷小唄), as well as a number of singles that are similar in style to it, like this one called "Uramachi Kouta" (裏町小唄).

Man, the MK group single covers...

I was wondering what a "Kouta" is so I went to look it up. I still have not a clear idea on what it is, but what I managed to gather was that this type of ditty goes way back to the Edo era.


  1. Hi, Noelle.

    Yup, I saw the Mahina Stars and Natsumi Kawano performing in Kyoto on "Kayo Concert" back on Tuesday night. As it was performed that night, the original has that playful, flirtatious tone between the two folks in the bar.

    I'd say your word of "ditty" describes "kouta" in this case quite well. When I checked the word out on, I got "ballad" but I thought the song was just a tad too cheerful to be labeled that way.

    1. Hi J-Canuck.

      Thanks for confirming the "Kouta" thing. I went to check out this for myself. It's definitely something useful. I've already found the meaning of a couple of words that I never understood despite their common usage in a number of songs - e.g. "Shimijimi" and "Kappa" (not the mythical creature). I guess thanks for mentioning that site too. :)

    2. Hi, Noelle. is also good since it even tackles phrases and place names. It's been a godsend (no pun intended) when it comes to temples and shrines.


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