During my swing through western Japan in the summer of 1991 before I headed back to Canada, one of my stops was Nagasaki. It was definitely one of the most striking cities that I had ever seen in Japan as the metropolis seemed to go up the sides of the mountains surrounding the long bay. And like Yokohama and Kobe, the Chinatown in the city was quite stylish. Yup, I did have my chanpon there as well.
The other day, I caught the weekly broadcast of NHK's "Nodo Jiman"（のど自慢）singing contest and saw veteran enka singer Eiko Segawa（瀬川瑛子）make her appearance and wondered why I had yet to profile her in the blog. I think the main reason is that I've seen her more as the ever-smiling tarento with that nasal delivery that the monomane experts just love to imitate. Still, her initial bread-and-butter was that of an enka and kayo singer so when one of the contestants tried to sing one of her early hits, I felt that it was time to enter her into the annals of "Kayo Kyoku Plus".
"Nagasaki no Yoru wa Murasaki" (A Night in Nagasaki is Purple) is another one of those geographical kayo that had been all the rage in kayo kyoku for decades. And from what I remember reading in J-Wiki was that the city of Nagasaki had been quite the target for songwriters during the late 60s especially. Of course, there is probably the biggest representative of those songs in The Cool Five's "Nagasaki wa Kyou mo Ame datta"（長崎は今日も雨だった）, but Segawa, who actually hails from Tokyo, had one of her early hits with "Nagasaki no Yoru wa Murasaki" in March 1970 as her 7th single.
Unlike The Cool Five's Mood Kayo paean to the city, I found that Segawa's tribute to Nagasaki was a bit harder to pin down in terms of genre. The song has a certain laconic way about it that makes it sound quite folky but there is also something in there which definitely feels like the story (aside from the lyrics) is taking place in the city. And yet, I can also hear elements of enka and just plain pop in there, too. Go figure.
I couldn't find out how the song did on the charts although Oricon was already in existence by then. I did find out it was written by Hanae Furuki（古木花江）and composed by Toshiaki Arai（新井利昌）, a songwriter who had connections with bands like Los Primos and The Drifters.
Along with the fact that the comedians just love to imitate her, I also found out that Segawa is a huge Mah Jongg fan and one of her distant relatives happens to be the singer-songwriter Hiroshi Madoka（円広志）who came up with the catchy "Musoubana"（夢想花）back in the 1970s.