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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Michiya Mihashi -- O-Saraba Tokyo (おさらば東京)

The theme for the most recent episode of NHK's "Kayo Concert"(歌謡コンサート)was heading out for the countryside. And when it comes to those kayo, the oft-used theme for them is trying to run away or refresh oneself after a romantic breakup. So I heard a lot of sung stories about sudden loneliness and/or getting back on that horse emotionally.

Strangely enough, a few days before the broadcast, I put on an old 33.3 rpm record of Michiya Mihashi(三橋美智也)unabashedly titled "Michiya Hit Album No. 1" with a young sly and slimmer enka singer looking out at me. The first track was his 1957 hit "O-Saraba Tokyo". Now I know the meaning of saraba which is "farewell" but with the honourific "O" in front of it, I could only translate the title as "Fond Farewell, Tokyo". Quite the grand exit from the Big Sushi.

And like those songs I heard on Tuesday night on "Kayo Concert", the lyrics by Hiroshi Yokoi(横井弘)relate a poor fellow so broken up by a now-deceased relationship that he feels the need to leave Tokyo. There's not so much a mention about getting out to the hometown or to a more rural landscape to take a deep fresh breath; it's just trying to flee the metropolis. "O-Saraba Tokyo" is another one of those enka-Mood Kayo hybrids. Tadaharu Nakano's(中野忠晴)music has that languid country-style lilt to it which would peg it as an enka for outside the big city but with those rich horns in there as well, I could imagine it being sung by Mihashi in a Ginza nightclub.

(empty karaoke version)

The ballad definitely hit a nerve among the fans since it did get Mihashi his 3rd gig on the 9th Kohaku Utagassen at the end of 1958, and according to J-Wiki, Radio Tokyo's "Ninki Tokyo Mutsu no Uta"(人気東京六つの歌...The 6 Popular Songs of Tokyo)music program had "O-Saraba Tokyo" at No. 1 on its own chart for 50 straight weeks! It might as well have been the official theme song for the show.

Above is a cover of the old chestnut by another enka darling Kouhei Fukuda(福田こうへい)whose version is straight enka.

Yup, I can imagine Mihashi's teeth would be gleaming.

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