Well, Tanabata has come and gone but there is still a lot of summer to be had in Japan, and that means the festival season, and then next month will be the O-Bon vacation season. Everyone and their pet will be heading back to the ol' furusato for some precious days and nights of R&R while simmering in the sun.
The O-Bon holiday never existed for me due to my choice of career. But that was OK since I didn't really have a practical furusato to head home to. Flying back to Toronto was way too expensive in the summer and frankly I was never close enough to my relatives to make the trip to that part of the country. Therefore, August was just another month but considering the craziness of public and private transportation during that time, I didn't really mind staying in The Big Sushi at all, other than the torrid heat and humidity.
Tonight's theme for "Uta Kon"（うたコン）was summer songs. There was a whole variety of hot and sunny tunes representing a number of decades but I was especially drawn to one song from the 1960s that enka singer Takeshi Kitayama（北山たけし）covered tonight.
"Furusato no Hanashi wo Shiyou" (Let's Talk of Home) was originally sung by actor and singer Kenji Kitahara（北原謙二）as one of his trademark tunes in 1965. The instrumentation and the pining for home in the words kinda makes this one another one of those kayo that straddles the fence between enka and Mood Kayo. The important thing, though, is that it hits the Japanese sweet spot of sentimentality and nostalgia for the ol' hometown, and considering the O-Bon holidays, it was well chosen for "Uta Kon" as a summer song.
It also helps that Kitahara sings "Furusato no Hanashi wo Shiyou" with plenty of heart and wishes to return to the hearth, as it were. He may sing the song but the feelings it evokes reminds me of a group of workers just sitting around somewhere in the big city talking about getting that train ride back to the old country to see family and former classmates again. The ballad was written by Noboru Inoue（伊野上のぼる）and composed by Taro Kida（キダ・タロー）.
Kenji Kitahara was born in 1939 in Osaka with his birth name being Kentaro Kitahara（北原謙太郎）. His career began singing in jazz bars before becoming a member of Eiji Suzuki and The Blue Cowboys（鈴木英治とブルー・カウボーイズ）. Then, scouted by a director at Columbia Records, he debuted as a singer in 1961. Although it wasn't for this particular song, Kitahara did make it onto the Kohaku Utagassen twice in 1962 and 1963. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 65.
George Yamamoto（山本譲二）gave his own cover of "Furusato no Hanashi wo Shiyou" in 2004.