Not being a huge Japanese baseball fan, even I knew about the teams in the Japanese Central and Pacific Leagues. Some of them had the conventional names such as the Tokyo Giants and the Hanshin Tigers. But then I heard about the Nippon Ham Fighters (what the heck was a ham fighter?) and then there is the current incarnation of the team in Yokohama, the Yokohama DeNA (my first thought for a logo was a helix).
Then, years ago, I first heard about the Hiroshima Carp. In my ignorance back then, I mused what possessed the powers-that-be to name a professional baseball team after the ugly stepsister of the goldfish. Little did I know that the carp, or koi in Japanese, is a greatly beloved fish over there. Well, it's not just the fish now. This morning, I woke up to see that same team take the Central League championship live on TV Japan. It was the team's first championship in 25 years. Many congratulations to them!
So, I was musing over my breakfast about what I could do to pay a "Kayo Kyoku Plus" tribute to the city and the team because of this huge win. Not too long after that, I found this snazzy and jazzy chestnut called "Hiroshima Tengoku" (Hiroshima Heaven) as sung originally by Hiroshima-based enka singer Issei Minami（南一誠）.
Born in the Akitsu district of the city of Hiroshima in 1952, Minami had started in music via a glee club in high school before winning a Gold Prize at the National Choral Competition. He made his debut as a singer in 1980 with "Hiroshima Tengoku" as the B-side to his single "Ame no Minato kara"（雨の港から...From A Rainy Port）. Written and composed by Takashi Aki (あきたかし), the song is just the perfect theme to celebrate the Carp's win tonight since Minami gleefully sings about the love of hitting the drinking areas of his hometown. This isn't about drowning one's sorrows in drink; it's about elevating one's joys. After all it is titled "Hiroshima Tengoku". Heck, the baseball team even gets a shoutout in the lyrics.
Not sure how the song did on the charts but Minami has continued with his career and he released his latest single a few years ago in 2014. And he's even sung the team song for the Carp.
Toronto can only look on at Hiroshima in forlorn envy. It's been 23 years since the Toronto Blue Jays captured a World Series and it will be 50 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League won a Stanley Cup. I was not even 2 years old when the Leafs hoisted Lord Stanley over their heads.
at K's in Nakano, Tokyo!