As the years passed by during my life in the Tokyo area, I became more and more of a freelancer in my teaching which meant that my schedule was easier to mold on a day-to-day basis. Often was the case that I was actually at home for lunch or I was having my beloved tonkatsu teishoku at Tonki right under Minami-Gyotoku Station on the Tozai Line relatively near my apartment. In so doing, I could also catch some telly which, during the noon hour, was almost always focused on Fuji-TV, both at my home and also at Tonki.
The noon hour used to be taken up by the long-running and frenetic "Morita Kazuyoshi Hour - Waratte Ii Tomo"（森田一義アワー・笑っていいとも）until it finished its time a couple of years ago. If my lunch had been a little late, past 1:00 or so, then there was the 30-minute talk show "Lion no Gokigen yo"（ライオンのごきげんよう...Lion's How Do You Do?）. The Lion Corporation which sponsored the show manufactured detergent, soap and oral hygiene products.
Comparing the two shows has been rather interesting. Obviously, the broadcast lengths were different but there were also the hosts: whereas the laconic and droll Tamori-san (タモリ) was the big ringleader of the circus that was "Waratte Ii Tomo", the rather relaxing "Lion no Gokigen yo" was hosted by the sometimes hyper comedian Kazuki Kosakai（小堺一機）.
I was surprised to find out that "Lion no Gokigen yo" didn't actually premiere until January 1991, or basically in the latter half of my time on JET. I always assumed that it had started its own long run from way back in the 1980s. The show was so filled with tropes that it was probably very ripe for parody. There was the rotating series of guests in which 3 guests would appear on each show with each guest appearing for 3 straight days before he/she made her exit. Then, desserts of some form would be served to the guests each time before the talking began, and the topics of conversation for each guest would be determined by the guest throwing a large die with those topics written on all of the sides. That was the format as I remembered it (the top video was from 1993) although it seems as if that had drastically changed in the show's final years.
The other thing that I also remembered about the show was the theme song. Again I was surprised here since it wasn't just that one song but five themes that had introduced the show over its time from January 1991 to its final episode just a few months ago at the end of March 2016. There was a set of instrumental themes and a sung theme for the last few years but the one song that had always identified "Gokigen yo" to me was the longest-running one from September 1991 to March 2002. It was a mambo tune titled "Mambo no Beat" (Mambo Beat) in Japanese as performed by the band Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys（東京パノラママンボボーイズ）who had an initial run between 1991 and 1993 (they picked things up again from 2006). The Boys consisted of a DJ, Como Esta Haegashi (コモエスタ八重樫...there are 3 readings for that last name so I hope I got it right), and two percussionists Paradise Yamamoto and Gonzales Suzuki (パラダイス山元・ゴンザレス鈴木). "Mambo no Beat" was the coupling song for their debut single "Pachinko" (パチンコ) which came out in October 1991.
For a show that often struck me as being a nice little chatfest among celebs in a Green Room that just happened to be opened to a studio audience, having "Mambo no Beat" actually made for a memorably spicy opening number.
Now, "Mambo no Beat" started life as "Al Compas Del Mambo Numero 2" by Pérez Prado in 1955. The original version actually sounds a bit slower. Prado was actually known to me even before I got to know about "Gokigen yo" since The King of the Mambo from Cuba had come up with an even more famous song, "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White", itself a cover of a French pop song created by Louiguy in 1950. The song was part of my Dad's old collection of standards that was played often on the ancient stereo. They certainly don't make them like that anymore.
Man, how small can a pop culture world get? In any case, if I do return to Japan for another visit, it will be a pity when I hit my old Tonki and not see the bespectacled Tamori or fast-talking Kosakai entertaining me anymore as I bite into my pork cutlet and shredded cabbage.
|Good ol' Tonki. The TV was on a ledge right above the door|
to the left of the photo. I also often sat in one of those chairs
facing the wall at the back there right by the kitchen.
|My beloved hire katsu set!|