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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Michiya Mihashi -- Yuyake no Tonbi (夕焼けとんび)

I don't think I have described anything that is enka with this word before and I doubt I'll ever use it to describe anything from this genre again, but I think "Yuyake no Tonbi" sounds rather cute. With it's perky music and Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也) singing stuff like, "Yuyake zora ga ma-ka-ka" and "Ichiban boshi ga chika-chika" in such a merry manner that I can imagine him grinning while doing so, the thought that this enka-minyo veteran's single could pass as a kid's song has popped into my mind many a times.

Another interesting thing about "Yuyake no Tonbi" is that it's talking about a "Tonbi", or a kite. If you're wondering what a kite is - not that thing that rides the wind while attached to a string - it's basically a small version of an eagle but with a V-shaped tail. While it is common to have birds in enka tunes, they are more often than not seagulls or crows depending on the song's setting. But a raptor? No, except for this song. Although I haven't heard the call of a kite, I'd assume that they make some sort of whistling sound like the other birds of prey, and to mimic its call in "Yuyake no Tonbi", especially when the bird itself is mentioned, composer, Kenji Yoshidaya (吉田矢健治), had incorporated the high-pitched notes of the flute into the melody - that's actually pretty cool.

Writing the lyrics was Ryo Yano (矢野亮) who had worked with Yoshidaya on other occasions to create a number of songs for Michi - and Hachi, for that matter - like "Ringo Mura kara" (リンゴ村から). Anyway, "Yuyake no Tonbi" looks to be about a fellow talking to said kite as it makes its rounds in the evening. (Noelle from 1/3/16) I managed to figure out the meaning of the song; it's more like the fellow is waiting for the return of his brother - probably working in the city - and while doing so he asks the passing kite about the whereabouts of his sibling since the raptor soars high in the sky and can see everything from up there.

"Yuyake no Tonbi" was released in 1958 and was one of Michi's million-sellers; it sold 2.2 million copies, tying it with "Tasha de na" (達者でナ) for 5th place on his list of best-selling singles. As I may have said before, Mihashi had a disco phase in the 70's and during that time he released the disco versions of both "Yuyake no Tonbi" and "Tasha de na" as "THE TOMBI" and "BYE BYE HORSE" respectively in 1979. By a stroke of luck I managed to find "THE TOMBI". It's funky and as good as the original in my opinion. Plus, it's hilarious to see Mitchie in the John Travolta-Saturday Night Fever outfit striking that pose up there.


  1. Yeah, do the Tombi! I would love to have seen the choreography for that one on the music shows. But you know, the disco version of "Yuyake no Tonbi" isn't too bad at all since it sounds more like some of the aidoru stuff back in the 1970s aside from the really heavy funky horns.

    1. It'll be great if someone were to sing "The Tombi" on "Kayo Concert" in a white disco suit and shades while doing some of those cheesy disco dance moves. I mean, it still is a classic kayo... I vote for Itsuki!

    2. I'd go with Itsuki as well. Among all of the male enka singers, I could see either him or Ikuzo pulling that off!

    3. I think if it were Ikuzo, it'll be more of a comedy routine! I just thought of Takashi Hosokawa doing so, but that may be even funnier than Ikuzo.


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