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, July 2, 2016

Memorial Hall Visits Part 2: Takashi Hosokawa

Rock on, Takashi!
Immediately after the excitement of Yujiro's museum, I must say that I was a lot more relaxed when it was time to pay Takashi Hosokawa's (細川たかし) museum a visit. It's probably because I was reassured that whatever I saw in pictures online is what I'll get, as experienced by the former, and it helped that my expectations for the enka-minyo singer's memorial hall were set lower than Yujiro's since it's in the tiny town of Makkari, and it's not a stand-alone building unlike the former.

Mt. Yotei
It was another rainy day and with Makkari-mura being in the midst of ski-resort country, there was some thick fog wrapping around the surrounding mountains. But being within Hosokawa's hometown that essentially occupied one stretch of road leading to Mt. Yotei was fascinating enough to keep the rainy blues away.

The memorial hall occupied only one corner of what was probably the one of the largest buildings in the area, the Makkari Flower Center, that also happens to be the local novelty store and market, and the whole Hosokawa sh-bang was situated directly in front of a few crates of root vegetables. The entire building was, in all honesty, quite underwhelming, and it smelt like dirt and veggies, but with my highly sought-after Hosokawa stuff in front of me, those didn't bother me. And my reaction upon seeing this corner was different from the Yujiro museum: I couldn't stop a large grin from stretching across my face. The lady cleaning the floor at that time must've been rather perturbed/amused.

Photo-taking was allowed, by the way, so I'm able to show you guys more pictures. Some of the photos were provided by Mom.

The first thing that I saw there was this replica of Hosokawa's statue (I'll be talking about that later). Well, it doesn't really look like him, and if I'm not wrong the man himself actually mentioned this very thing in a "Kayo Concert" episode that had him back at home. The rest of the things on display include posters of his past and recent works and commercial tie-ups, some newspaper clippings, his numerous awards, some photos of him as a kid, and a part of his on-stage wardrobe (glitzy). There was this one article that featured him donating Makkari-mura's first electric piano, and from the looks of Hosokawa in that newspaper piece it was probably not long after he debuted.

Top: Class photo
Bottom: Piano donation

Those posters made my eyes lit up, especially the "Kita Dake" (北岳... first from the left in the picture here) one since it's, up to this point in time, Hosokawa's latest single and I happen to like the song a lot. Unfortunately, upon inquiry, there were none left to take home, even though there were about 6 smaller ones below that big one... Fine...

The photos here show theater-play-Hosokawa. He looks pretty fierce, but I have problems taking him seriously like that.

It was another wonderful experience, this time being amongst the items of a singer I love. Having the chance to see the goofy and awkward side of Hosokawa besides the regal and professional front he puts on whenever he appears on TV was nice. And viewing this guy's progress from a rural village boy to one of the greatest enka singers was mighty impressive. So there's no wonder he is one of Makkari-mura's pride and joy, other than the Yuri bulb, of course. Never got to try that root vegetable, but I did see the Yuri mascot in a pink shirt shuffling about the Flower Center.

Hosokawa's fans... huehuehuehue...
As for souvenirs, there wasn't much to get really. I don't think they had restocked either. There were some phone charms with two different designs, one having Hosokawa's signature on it; I got both and used the one without the autograph (the blue one) as another bag accessory. Other than that, there was the Hosokawa senbei with his face imprinted on them, and packs of lozenges that were made from the local herbs (if I'm not wrong). I was tempted to get the senbei, but I decided against it as I'm not a fan of rice crackers... and I may not eat it because his face is on it.

With that done and the Flower Center given a customary visit, we then headed over to the Makkari Park, that was less than five minutes away from the Flower Center, where Hosokawa's statue stood. By then the rain had slowed to a drizzle so it wasn't particularly uncomfortable. The only thing was the worms. Had Mom not mentioned those flat, white and LONG things out and on the ground because of the rain, I would've been more at ease. Yes, worms give me the willies. But anyways, the real statue was quite a sight to behold, and it would've been even more picturesque if the sun were out and Mt. Yotei weren't shrouded in fog.

Makkari Park

Yup, the real deal does look like him, and I think it stands at the same height as the original too (not including the pedestal). To our surprise, the statue also "sings". When one approaches, it will play Hosokawa's recorded message and a snippet of his minyo song performance. Then on one side of the pedestal is a panel with five of Hosokawa's hand prints, one representing the mentioned message while the other four represented the following hits: "Kokoro Nokori" (心のこり), "Kita Sakaba" (北酒場), "Yagiri no Watashi" (矢切の渡し), and "Naniwabushi dayo Jinsei wa" (浪花節だよ人生は). If you put your hand near/on a hand print, the respective song will play.

Naturally, the first thing I did was freak out about being able to put my hand on Hosokawa's hand print - Hosokawa has long fingers. Then I was trying to figure out how to get "Yagiri no Watashi" (lower right hand corner) to play, which took me a few tries. I'm not sure why I chose this song in particular, especially when I had a longer history with the other three. I wonder if it's because I'm able to appreciate it in its entirety, rather than just its music.

The last thing on the Hosokawa-itinerary was to see the plaque that honors him. This was a distance away from the town center, and to get to it one must drive through the Makkari farms - mostly vegetables but some were dairy farms, didn't see any cows though. When we finally got there at the end of a farm road, I was wondering why the singer's plaque was built in such a far out place rather than in the middle of the village. Then Dad mentioned that it was most likely because they had wanted to have it with the majestic Mt. Yotei in the back. Can't argue with that, and it does make the plaque even more spectacular.

Well, that about wraps up this article. Stay tuned for my record shop escapades.

Even enka singers need good dental hygiene!


  1. Hello, Noelle.

    I was quite surprised by your report on how modest the Hosokawa Museum seems to be but perhaps it's in keeping with the singer's own personality. Strangely enough, though, the lone John Lennon museum in the world (which shut down years ago) was in one corner of the Saitama Super Arena. Although I cannot say that I was ever a diehard Beatles fan, I did make the pilgrimage up to Saitama Prefecture when I heard that the place was closing down.

    1. Oh wow, there was a John Lennon museum? In Saitama (of all places)? And it closed down? With the popularity of The Beatles, I'm surprised it closed. Well, I guess in that respect I'm glad I'm not a fan of theirs, otherwise I'd be fuming.

    2. Why it was ever placed in Saitama is beyond me, but the museum lasted over a decade so I figured it just had a shelf life that came to an end.

  2. First of all, I have to say this is an awesome blog. So many wonderful articles by all the contributors making this a fantastic treasure trove of the wonderful songs from Japan.

    I stumbled upon this article and this blog quite by chance. I was googling Hosokawa Takashi and came upon this. Wow, I never knew he has a museum and statue dedicated to him! Thanks very much for a very well written article and sharing the photos too.

    I liked Hosokawa quite a bit many years ago when I was a young school kid. Back home in those days they used to telecast the Kohaku Uta Gassen on TV and even though I didn't know a word of what they were saying or singing, I enjoyed watching the singers in all their finery singing their hearts out. The first time I saw Hosokawa was when he sang the Kita Sakaba. Had no idea who he was and that this was a big hit in Japan, but the catchy song with his bright vocals and good looks immediately left a deep impression. He seemed quite different from the other enka singers I had seen and I remember I even had a bit of crush on him (he was quite the cutie back then). So it was that I would look forward to seeing him on the show each year. Alas, back then there was no internet or social media and I gradually lost touch after a few years.

    Being in a retro mood recently, I thought of this particular singer and wondered what happened to him. Fortunately youtube is around and I found so many videos of his various performances. He is even better and more impressive than I remembered! Am so glad I rediscovered this amazing singer with a truly outstanding voice.

    Because I have not kept up at all, I am having great fun watching all the videos of him through the years and hearing the different nuances in his voice/singing. In fact, as I write this, I am watching his 15th anniversary concert. He was possibly at his prime then, his voice soaring high yet retaining a pristine crystal clear delicacy. I particularly like his majestic rendition of the minyou, the Mogamigawa boatmen song 最上川舟唄, which I find quite mesmerizing. Wish I could buy a recording of this concert somewhere but my searches online have been to no avail.

    Sorry for going all on and on. I just meant to say how much I enjoyed this and other wonderful articles here, but the feels of rediscovering a favorite singer from many years ago and finding out that he is even better than I ever knew kind of made me gush a bit :)

    1. Hi Francium.

      Thanks for the nice comments, they're much appreciated.

      The first time I heard of Hosokawa was through monomane (impressions) where this fellow, Korokke, did an impression of "Bokyo Jonkara". I looked up the song and the rest was history. And yeah, Hosokawa did look quite cute albeit a tad derpy way back then.
      Hosokawa's presence and vocals are definitely more impressive now, and man, he looks regal in his kimonos whenever I get to see him on TV.

      No problem about the long comment and the gushing. I do the latter often when I'm writing articles on my favourite artists - I'm most guilty for doing so for the Kiyoshi Maekawa, Hiroshi Itsuki, and Hiroshi Tachi articles.

      May I ask, what other singers/songs do you enjoy? And since you like "Kita Sakaba", here's a video of him in the early 80's doing so in a hoodie. Not sure if you've seen it already, but I find it absolutely amusing.

    2. Hi Noelle!

      Thanks for taking the time to reply to me.

      I read from some of your articles that you are Singaporean. Me too! Although I have relocated to the States for some time. Gosh, I miss Singapore so much!

      Love the Kita Sakaba video. It is indeed amusing and rare to see him singing in such casual gear. He does look derpy, but it's an adorable kind of "derpiness", I think. For me, any video of a young Hosokawa singing is very welcomed.

      I saw that impression of the Bokyo Jonkara from your excellent article of the song. He is very good at it. I saw some of his impersonations of others and they were hilarious. His Shinichi Mori had me laughing so hard I was in tears.

      I love the song too. It showcases Hosokawa's vocal prowess very well. Personally, I think he sounded the best in his 30s/40s. There is a pristine quality and delicacy in his vocals that I like very much which has inevitably diminished with age. Still sounds awesome with his powerful pipes though. I can see what you mean about looking regal in his kimonos. I saw a video of him in a white kimono singing Shimokita Ryou Uta ,下北漁歌 at the Kohaku Uta Gassen. There was no elaborate stage set up yet it was a very grand performance accompanied by a petite young lady who was mighty impressive on the gigantic taiko.

      I have rather old fashioned taste in music and songs, so it's mainly classical music and old songs from the sixties to nineties for me. I like singers who ace live singing without having to rely too much on fancy footwork, over the top costumes or pyrotechnics. They are fun to look at but in the end it's the singing that counts. I quite like Masako Mori, she is so lovely with her crystal clear singing (I guess by now you can tell that this is the type of voice that I like the most), and I really like her Ettou Tsubame.

      I also like some of the even older generation of enka singers, like Hideo Murata, whom I think is insanely cool, and Michiya Mihashi and his minyo such as Tasha Dena. I haven't gotten to Michie's disco phase though so maybe I will need to check that out.

      Of the three gentlemen that you mentioned, I'm slightly more familiar with Hiroshi Itsuki. Will look out for your articles on the other two. I think Itsuki has aged incredibly well and he looks so elegant on stage. His singing style is not really my cup of tea but I do like his Yozora very much. I went camping recently and that was the song I listened to while star gazing under the beautiful night sky :)

      Thank you for giving me a chance to indulge in a very delightful discussion here. This site is one of my best finds on the web. Really appreciate your efforts and the efforts of the host J Canuck and all contributors. I will definitely drop by regularly to read your excellent articles.


    3. Hi Francium.

      Wow, from Singapore too?! Cool... :) It's quite exciting to know that KKP has another fan from Singapore. Where in the US did you relocate to?

      Thanks for the compliment about the "Bokyo Jonkara" article. It's nice to know that articles on songs I like are being well recieved. Anyways, I went to check out "Shimokita Ryou Uta" on YouTube and it was love at first listen. It's got that typical Hosokawa flair alright - manly, dramatic, and allowing him to show off that minyo background of his. It must sound even better with the addition of the taiko.

      As for Korokke's antics, his Shinichi Mori impressions are one of my favourites from his repertoire, besides the Aki Yashiro and Saburo Kitajima impressions. It's at times very much exaggerated but also quite spot on, which is why I enjoy watching what he has to offer.

      Also, thanks for sharing about your musical interests. I can't say I like classical stuff, but I very much like enka/kayokyoku - as you would've guessed from my articles, and J-pop from the 80's and 90's - started out with the latter before moving to the former.

      I love the old/pioneer generation of enka singers as well, like the two fellows you mentioned, Hachiro Kasuga and Haruo Minami, plus pre-enka artistes like Yoshio Tabata. I just think it's incredible that they can still be well known for their works from way back in the day at this day and age.... Murata is, indeed, insanely cool.

      You're right about Itsuki - he looks a lot better now. He's kinda like Hosokawa in the sense that both looked goofy/awkward back then, but they now have a dignified stage presence. And listening to "Yozora" under the night sky sounds like the perfect combo. :)

      Well, we'll be looking forward to more comments from you, Francium, and glad that you enjoy this blog.

    4. Hi, Noelle and Francium.

      Just referring to the paragraph on how the veterans looked in the past, I have seen Itsuki in the 1970s. Yup, hair didn't have a good decade back then.:) Then again, I shouldn't be one to point fingers since my hair style was just as bad. :) :)

    5. Hi, J-Canuck. Lemme guess, you had the shoulder length, Akira Fuse-like hair back then?:)

      Gotta say that you're missing another decade where hair definitely wasn't at its best - the 80's. On the topic of Itsuki, the guy had a 'fro then too... Kinda felt like a step up from the 70's, but, y'know, just a tiny step. At least it wasn't as bad as Mae-Kiyo's perm.

    6. Hi, Noelle. Yeah, pretty much the Fuse hair but luckily no fro for me. Knock on wood, my hair is still with me but a lot more manageable and normal now.

    7. Hi, Noelle, J-Canuck.

      Noelle, we have moved to Texas. A 24 hour flight from Singapore, way too far!

      Glad to hear that you like the Shimokita Ryou Uta too. The taiko definitely adds to the grandeur of the song and the performance I mentioned was at the 2004 Kohaku Uta Gassen. It's one of my favorite out of his various Kohaku performances that I've seen. Unfortunately it's not on youtube. I saw it on the another site, Youku. Have you tried this site before?

      It's kind of like a Chinese version of youtube. It has loads of videos on Japanese singers, from aidoru to enka. I have not used it previously and was a bit wary of it, but decided to give it a try as there were some of Hosokawa early videos that i really wanted to watch, such as his debut at the Kohaku. So far I have not had problems but I make sure to only use my ipad which I don't do important stuff with.

      I don't know if it is all right to post links from that site here? If you are interested in the video and if it doesn't go against the rules here, I can post a link.


      I think 70s fashion/hair is not too bad ;) One of the reasons I like to watch old videos is to see how they looked and dressed back in the day. And I'm sure all of us, enka moguls included, have those moments whereby we see our younger selves and go "OMG, did I really looked/dressed like that!?" :D


    8. Hi, Francium.

      Oh, Texas is indeed far from here. I was half expecting you to have moved to somewhere along the West Coast, so it was a bit of a surprise that you're in Texas.

      Anyway, I do use Youku from time to time but not as often now. While there are quite a few good videos there, the constant and slow buffering that I encounter about half the time tends to put me off. I think it's OK to post links from that site - I've done so once or twice in my articles. But I can go look up the Kohaku performance of "Shimokita Ryou Uta".

    9. Hello, Francium.

      Yup, I have heard of Youku and I have used the links there if I couldn't find any representative videos on YouTube. It's always a bit of a search for the more obscure songs so I'm grateful for the backup sites.

      Those hairstyles and fashion were definitely the hallmark of a decade. I remember those days in the 1980s when skinny ties and sweaters wrapped around torsos were in. :)

    10. Hi Noelle, J Canuck.

      It's pretty amazing the amount of stuff we can find on the various sites. I've been having a great time playing catch up watching some of the old Kohaku from the 90s and even the 80s, although there are some years which I have yet to find.

      J Canuck, growing up in tropical Singapore, I've not seen much of the 80s look of pointy ties and sweater on the streets, but maybe in the movies. I do remember the humongous shoulder pads that were somehow the in-thing at some point, not sure whether it was the 80s or the 90s though. Man, that was one awful thing that people used to wear :o

      Noelle, yep, Texas isn't the first place that people think of when it comes to visiting America. The west or east coast are definitely more popular places to visit or live in.

      Guess you have probably seen the video for the Kohaku version of the Shimokita Ryou Uta. But just in case, here's the link to the Youku video

      I use the Youku app, which works pretty well. It even allows me to store videos to watch offline so I'm quite happy with it.

    11. Hello, Francium.

      As for the shoulder pads, I think the ladies must have got them from a bunch of American football players. Another terrifying trend back then was the tendency to have big hair and spackled-on makeup.


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