I was surprised that I hadn't done an article on enka singer Shoji Koganezawa（小金沢昇司）. I've seen and heard the man a few times now so I'd assumed that he did get into the blog somewhere. However, such was not the case so I'm rectifying it here.
A few days ago, I was watching NHK's "Nodo Jiman"（のど自慢）when Koganezawa and Sayuri Ishikawa（石川さゆり）appeared as guests. One of the amateur songsters performed one of the former's songs on his behalf, "Negai, Ichijomodori Bashi" (Please, Ichijomodori Bridge) which I thought was pretty good as a heartfelt crooning ballad.
The singer came out with this one in October 2012 and was created by lyricist Yuriko Shima（志磨ゆり子）and composer Meiyu Otani（大谷明裕）. I've spoken sometimes about how enka and Mood Kayo like to focus on certain areas in Japan. Well, I think geographical structures have also come into play as well, notably bridges and airports. I guess with bridges, they have also been seen as settings for fateful meetings and departures, and so they have been used in the titles of many a song, and not even restricted to the traditional Japanese genres. In this case, Ichijomodori Bashi is a bridge in Kyoto.
Koganezawa sings about some wistful reminiscings about a past romance and how he would dearly like to have the lady back, preferably meeting on the titular bridge.
The singer was born in the city of Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1958. In his teenage years, he did go through a period of hard knocks as he became a delinquent, and according to one interview, Koganezawa admitted that he spent most of his high school years at police stations in his home prefecture. However, he somehow came under the tutelage of enka legend Saburo Kitajima（北島三郎）to learn how to become an enka singer himself. Another padawan of Kitajima, George Yamamoto（山本譲二）, even revealed that out of all of Kitajima's proteges, Koganezawa was the one who got yelled at the most.
Koganezawa made his debut in 1988 with "Omae Sagashite" (おまえさがして...Looking For You) but remained an unknown quantity until sometime in 1992, when he appeared in a commercial for throat spray. The narrator merely identified him as "Singer Shoji Koganezawa" which had viewers wondering "Who the heck is THAT guy?" The question was answered when his 4th single "Omae dake" (おまえだけ...Only You) came out later in the same year and ended up selling 350,000 copies. Thank you, throat spray.