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, December 31, 2016

Masaaki Hirano -- Enka Chanchakachan (演歌チャンチャカチャン)

Entry No. 3 for my New Year's Eve whimsical series on "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue". With "something borrowed", I had come across an interesting novelty tune that came out all the way back in 1977, some months after the very first "Star Wars" had come out.

I first heard it on an episode of "Itsuki Sensei no Utau! SHOW Gakko"五木先生の 歌う!SHOW学校...Itsuki Sensei's Sing Show School...the 'SHOW Gakko' is a pun on shogakko or 'elementary school'), another NHK kayo-based show which has veteran enka singer Hiroshi Itsuki(五木先生)host a short comedy-variety series. Based in an old rickety elementary school classroom, the titular teacher stands guard over his students comprised of a mix of tarento and singers trying to get their music on.

Now, the "something borrowed" happens to be a comical little tune titled "Enka Chanchakachan". There is no translation for the title since that last word is just a bit of Japanese onomatopoeia that's put into the song for fun effect. What the song did and does is borrow various lines from other enka tunes or kayo and smash them together for the singer to traipse through gleefully. It's basically an enka smorgasbord.

The gleeful singer was a fellow by the name of Masaaki Hirano(平野雅昭)who at the time was running a bar in Roppongi, Tokyo. Although the J-Wiki article didn't make it particularly clear, it seems like he was the one who concocted this cocktail of enka hits interspersed with the happy delivery of "chanchakachacha". Among the enka songs included here were a couple of Ichiro Fujiyama(藤山一郎)chestnuts including "Tokyo Rhapsody"(東京ラプソディ), Taro Shoji's(東海林太郎)"Meigetsu Akagiyama"(名月赤城山), Yoshio Tabata's(田端義夫)"Kaeri Bune"(かえり船), Tetsuya Watari's(渡哲也)"Kuchinashi no Hana"(くちなしの花), Rumiko Koyanagi's(小柳ルミ子)"Watashi no Joukamachi"(わたしの城下町)and Masako Mori's(森昌子)"Sensei" (せんせい). Whew!

Hirano hit on something big here. And perhaps some good luck in timing helped out as well since karaoke was starting to come into its own. "Enka Chanchakachan" went all the way up to No. 3 on the Oricon charts and sold around 800,000 records after its release in November 1977. The song also had its visual element as well as Hirano himself displayed in his appearance on "Yoru no Hit Studio"(夜のヒットスタジオ). Along with having a rollicking good time during the performance, he would always stretch out his right arm while looking in that direction whenever he threw out the onomatopoeia. I gather that at the time, this was the equivalent of the karaoke Olympics...the song was probably meant for the most proficient enka lovers.

There were apparently variations on the song. The one that Hirano performed above was quite different in content from the original version. I can imagine during New Year's, there will probably be still some households with family and friends who may take this one on with the in-house karaoke machine.


  1. Hello there J-Canuck.

    I too discovered this ditty via the Itsuki Sensei show when it was class rep Keisuke Yamauchi's turn during the Bonenkai song segment. Listening to the original now, I have to say that Yamauchi sounds a lot like Hirano.

    Can't say I'm a proficient enka fan as of yet (I'm getting there!), but I really like it as it so nicely ties that many enka classics together. The fun comes when I'm trying to pinpoint that one tune Hirano's singing in those few seconds before the hand-raising "Chanchakachan" comes along.

    Ah, this makes me want to try out "Enka Chanchakachan" at the Sugamo karaoke. Pretty sure the oldies would get a kick out of it. But I definitely need to get over the tongue-tying "Chanchakachan" first - feels like The Drifters' "Hayaguchi Kotoba" was unwittingly added in with this bit.

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      "Enka Chanchakachan" would be the final exam for any karaoke visitor. Having to go through the lines of various enka tunes at that speed will take some good practice. If the oldies see you pulling it off, they will give you the key to Sugamo! :)


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