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.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Yutaka Oe -- Taiju no You ni(大樹のように)

Yes, I know the above picture is of the Great Buddha in Kamakura. However, to preface this article, I wanted to point out something that I learned back in university about the Shinto religion. Apparently, everything in nature is possessed by the many gods, and so I can only imagine what the more interestingly shaped rocks, mountains, trees, etc must be treated like.

I think some of that Shinto lore imbued itself into enka. As much as I have said that enka has been about topics such as lost love, fighting the elements and places all around the Japanese archipelago, I believe that the genre has also much to do about some of the great examples of nature and the admiration toward them.

On a recent episode of the NHK afternoon enka/talk show "Gogo Uta"(ごごウタ), the distinctive and very polite Yutaka Oe(大江裕)belted out his latest single "Taiju no You ni" (Like A Great Tree). Released in March of 2018, the 28-year-old native of Osaka belted out a tribute to a grand tree and sang about how all of us could do with emulating its stance of standing up tall and proud while enduring all sorts of trials and tribulations to reach a ripe old age.

"Taiju no You ni" was written by Miwa Ito(伊藤美和)and composed by Joji Hara(北島三郎). For all those in the enka know, Joji Hara is the pseudonym of the one and only enka master Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎), and Oe is one of the disciples under the singing legend. In fact, while all of us were watching Oe's performance on "Gogo Uta", I observed that the enka Padawan sounded just like Kitajima in his delivery although I don't think the master had ever adopted the same sense of fashion that Oe has. The melody, though, definitely has that Kitajima pride and tradition imbued into it.

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