by Hajime Nakano
I saw my Skype student for the first time this year and one of the exercises we did tonight was about how to boost the tourism profile of a certain city in Japan. So we decided to go with Kushiro which is located in eastern Hokkaido. From what I've found out through my translation work of tourist articles and through talking with my student is that outside of the golden area between Tokyo and Osaka, a lot of the cities and towns has been suffering from a dearth of tourism, domestic and overseas, with the possible exception of Okinawa whose lifeblood is tourism.
Would a place like Kushiro benefit from having a major hotel chain set up shop there or having a spotlight placed on its local cuisine such as Kushiro ramen? Personally as 2020 approaches, it would be nice if some of that inbound tourism can be persuaded to take a look at areas such as Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu and even the Japan Sea side of Honshu.
OK, OK...I'm getting off the soapbox now. But in any case, once I finished my lesson, I wondered if there were any kayo kyoku about Kushiro out there, and then remembered that I had written about "Kushiro no Yoru"（釧路の夜）as sung by Kenichi Mikawa（美川憲一）back in 1968.
However, much more recently, another tribute to the city was done by another bidanshi enka singer Keisuke Yamauchi（山内惠介）in 2013 as a single called "Kushiro Kuukou" (Kushiro Airport). Much like "Kushiro no Yoru", it has to do with another lament of lost love; since the title is an airport, it's pretty much a loud-and-clear signal that this wouldn't be a happy story of romance since airports tend to be the setting for many an unhappy affair in kayo tunes.
I'll be honest. I couldn't quite believe Yamauchi as a violent thug in the music video for "Kushiro Kuukou". Any scars would instantly leap away from his perfect face in terror! However at least it adds a certain dimension to what I thought was merely a dead-and-buried romance. And those brassy horns brought back memories of the good ol' days of enka from decades ago and gave me hope that the genre has still got plenty of fight in it.
Noriyo Suzuki（鈴木紀代）took care of the lyrics of bittersweet love while Hideo Mizumori（水森英夫）provided the music.
My student and I also talked about one of the tourist attractions of the city which happens to be the Kushiro Wetlands.