|Poster that came with the album.|
With it being a wet day with rain bombarding one from all angles, the umbrella was rendered obsolete, so it was a good thing that what we had planned allowed us to stay indoors. After purchasing a few souvenirs for a couple of friends at the basement of the Tokyo Eki and braving the rain to get a picture of the Marunouchi building, we headed to Namja Town, which is some sort of cat-themed amusement park inside Sunshine City (oh, the irony) Mall in Ikebukuro. The only reason why we were there was for its temporary Neko Atsume (a game-app thing that has cute cats) event where they sold merchandise and food centered around some of the game's cats. While on the way there, I noticed a poster of someone way too familiar. I wasn't entirely convinced until we walked by the gigantic mall's fountain atrium and saw this:
Whoa, Kiyoshi Hikawa's live event to promote his newest album. Whoa. A chance to catch an enka A-lister in the flesh. Whoa.
Like the Junko Akimoto live event at the Aeon Mall in Otaru (sadly missed it as we were strapped for time), the avid Hikawa-fans were gathered near the stage more than 2 hours before the actual show. But unlike Akimoto's event, there were no benches and God knows how long they've really been reserving their places that could easily be stolen - no tissue packs as substitutes! At the time, I wasn't certain as to whether I should stay or go to the Hibari Misora museum in Meguro; after all, I had just bought the "Miren Gokoro" (みれん心) single and was given a surprisingly large, free poster at the merchandise counter. But with it being past 4 by the time we were done at Namja Town, a decision was made and we stayed. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
The crowd only increased in size the closer it got to 5 and the anticipation for Hikawa-kun's appearance became palpable. I did a round of "fan-spotting" from my spot on 2 floors above: many had homemade Hikawa fans, some had Hikawa scarves, some had custom-made shirts with the man's face on it. I do admire their dedication, and for that matter, their endurance; my legs were beginning to ache and I only waited about a quarter of the time most of the middle-aged to elderly ladies had waited!
To be frank, by the time he appeared in an emerald green suit I was actually quite numb with boredom, but seeing him was surreal. The thought, "I'm seeing a real enka singer. I'm actually seeing a real enka singer!" kept running through my head.
Hikawa kicked things off on a high note with "Kiyoshi no Hecchara Mambo" (きよしのへっちゃらマンボ) an original rhythm kayo from new album in question, "Shin Enka Meikyoku Collection 3 - Miren Gokoro - " (新・演歌名曲コレクション3 -みれん心-) - the crowd exploded with screams of excitement when it happened. It's one catchy little cha-cha ditty and he sang it three times in total, with the other two times being halfway through the hour-long show and finally as the finale, sort of like a constant reminder to buy the album. Unfortunately, I'm not able to find it online yet, so I just put up the next song on the list, "Kiyoshi no Zundoko Bushi" (きよしのズンドコ節). Afterwards, after the crowd had settled, he mentioned that he enjoys singing such rhythm kayo with the reason being that it's fun. Can't blame him though and you could hear that he was having with it.
At long last, what I had been waiting for came as the third song that was lined up, "Miren Gokoro", which is, up to this point in time, his latest work. I will remember that feeling of hearing a tune you like being sung by the real deal that close to me. Again, it was surreal. I couldn't help but sing along, so did the grandma standing beside me.
There was quite a long intermission after "Miren Gokoro", with Hikawa disappearing back stage and a handful of dancers in yellow kimonos taking his place. Initially, I had assumed "Hakone Hachiri no Hanjiro" was up next as the signature moves the enka singer always does when that song is sung was being talked about. However, I began to doubt this speculation when the dancers started to teach the audience some dance moves to accompany the his singing; a move which included shouting a passionate "KIYOSHI!!!" was included. I was thoroughly amused. It was only when it was time for Hikawa to reappear and the title of the song was mentioned when I realised his debut single wasn't going to be sung (bummer), rather the B-side to the C-type version of "Miren Gokoro", "Tokyo Ondo".
Hikawa had done a wardrobe change, switching his green tux with the light blue "Tokyo Ondo" kimono with a few thick darker blue stripes on it. I must say, he was much better looking in the latter. Hearing "Tokyo Ondo" for the first time, it reminded me of a combination of two of Haruo Minami's (三波春夫) classics, "Chanchiki Okesa" (チャンチキおけさ) and "Tokyo Gorin Ondo" (東京五輪音頭); the way sang it also had me thinking that the late enka-rokyoku master could have easily tackled it. In fact, the C-type single cover with Hikawa in the very same kimono and his hair gelled back with a little smile and arms apart in a welcoming pose had me seeing Minami. That aside, and speaking objectively, "Tokyo Ondo" does sound good and dang it, it was so catchy it has been running through my head since then!
|Poster that came with the single.|
|The rest of my haul.|
P.S. This was what we ate at Namja town (excluding the dumplings). I had the beef hash with rice based on the greedy, fat cat named Tubbs, while Mom had the Eki Bento based on the rare cat named Conductor Whiskers. It was decent enough.