This picture of Ikuzo Yoshi (吉幾三) doesn't have any relation to the song I'll be talking about in a while, but I'd say it's a good representation of how I felt when I discovered that there are some fans of KKP from Singapore. For some reason, I didn't think that I could come across other natives of The Little Red Dot via this blog. At the same time, I never thought I'd be able to interact with Singaporeans who really know about enka and kayo rather than simply seeing such songs as the originals of popular Chinese covers, so it was a happy yet oddly strange feeling to encounter Francium and Karen. I mean, there are probably more Singaporean readers here too, and there are probably others from the island nation who appreciate more genres of Japanese music than just anisong or current day aidoru/J-rock, just that I'm not aware of/haven't had the chance to interact with them yet. But still, it was quite an amusing and eye-opening experience.
With that thought out, let's move on to the topic at hand. The song I'll be talking about today is "Yume no Hana Sakasou", a fairly recent (2013) entry in the discography of a couple of enka singers I see on the Tube from time to time - the bubbly Mitsuko Nakamura (中村美律子) and the husky Daishiro Masuiyama (増位山太志郎). This was introduced to me via Karen in the comments of my The First article when I asked about the type enka she listens to, and I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected.
I found Nakamura's version first when I looked up "Yume no Hana Sakasou", and my first impression of it was that it kind of reminded me of Hibari Misora's (美空ひばり) "Kawa no Nagare no Youni" (川の流れのように). Soon, I took a liking to Tetsuya Gen's (弦哲也) light and encouraging pop-inclined melody - which still has a hint of enka - for the low horns and the way the rolling drums and smooth strings swell at certain bits. I was also quite surprised to hear something like this from Nakamura as the impression I have of her is that she tackles the traditional side enka, but it's nice to hear that she can pleasantly carry stuff like this as well.
As for Masuiyama's take, it's pretty much the same in terms of arrangement but I find that both singers' differing deliveries give the same song a different flavour. From Takashi Taka's (たかたかし) lyrics, "Yume no Hana Sakasou" seems to be saying that despite how tough life's trials can be, one should persevere as there's always a light at the end of the tunnel - hits pretty close to home at the moment, if you ask me...With Masuiyama's soft and almost Yujiro Ishihara-like vocals, this message sounds rather reflective, as if it's coming from someone who's been through said trials and is now looking back on his experience. On the other hand, Nakamura's spunkier and more hopeful delivery feels like how a maternal figure would encourage you when you've hit a rough patch. Personally, I don't have a favourite version as I like both just as much.