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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hibari Misora -- Minato-machi Juu-san Banchi (港町十三番地)

Tonight's "Uta Kon"(うたコン)had been advertised for its tribute to kayo legend Hibari Misora(美空ひばり)who would have been 80 years old yesterday. So it was somewhat disappointing that the so-called tribute was limited to a dramatic vignette starring some well-respected actors and just a couple of Hibari hits performed by the guests without even any full video performances by the lady herself before it became a regular show. In fact, I may go on a mild rant and say that my annoyance was further enhanced on seeing the now-usual clumsy transitions by NHK and "concierge" Shosuke Tanihara(谷原章介), and some duets which didn't really come off too well.

I have to say though that 12-year-old actress/singer Rio Suzuki(鈴木梨央)gave a charming performance of "Kanashiki Kuchibue"(悲しき口笛)in full tuxedo just like Misora did when she was the same age.

This particular song didn't get onto the broadcast (not too many did), but I found this to be a nice jaunty tune by Misora from March 1957 when she was just a couple of months shy from turning 20. "Minato-machi Juu-san Banchi" (13 Minato-machi) was the singer's own tribute to life along the coast represented by her hometown of Yokohama and neighbouring Kawasaki.

And according to J-Wiki, that title was meant to represent the location of the headquarters and factory of Misora's record company at the time, Nippon Columbia, in Kawasaki although 13 Minato-machi didn't actually exist; Nippon Columbia was actually at 9 Minato-machi.

Whatever the address, "Minato-machi Juu-san Banchi" has that rather carefree feeling of life in a postwar Japan (although the nation was still rebuilding) that was pushing back the days of war and deprivation. The song was written by Miyuki Ishimoto(石本美由起)and composed by Gento Uehara(上原げんと), and although the title was referring to Nippon Columbia, Misora apparently made some shoutouts in the lyrics to certain places in Yokohama such as Yamashita Park and some of the watering holes in the district of Bashamichi.

Apparently the song was also performed in one of her movies "Aoi Umabara"(青い海原...Blue Ocean)from 1957. The interesting thing is that her co-star was a very young and far less rugged-looking Ken Takakura(高倉健)! As for how the song itself did, Oricon was still a decade away from ranking records but according to a music journal at the time "The Record", "Minato-machi Juu-san Banchi" became the No. 1 record of the year on the Columbia charts.

Returning to my earlier little snit, I realize that there are probably folks out there who feel that perhaps Misora has been treated too much like a goddess on these kayo shows, but I think if anyone is deserving of the status, it would be her. Plus, I think NHK may be a little guilty of false advertising, despite the introduction of that little drama at the beginning.

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