Yes, I have finally found some modern day enka-yo singers to actively follow now, like Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし), Junretsu (純烈) and Kohei Fukuda (福田こうへい). I think you guys have more or less figured out that I've become a fan of Hikawa in the past year or so, as for Junretsu and Fukuda, they're more of recent favourites. That doesn't mean my fervor for the likes of Mae-Kiyo and Hachi has waned one bit; it does, however, give me many more opportunities to look forward to music shows like "Uta-Kon" or "Nodojiman", especially since the older crowd tend to not appear on stage as often anymore - I'm still waiting for Ikuzo Yoshi (吉幾三).
Anyway, earlier in the year, I mentioned my growing interest in Fukuda via the "Michi Hitosuji" (道ひとすじ) article, but I feel that the official seal of approval was given when "Tenryu Nagashi" hit my ears.
"Tenryu Nagashi" was released on 25th April 2018 and is Fukuda's 8th single. In terms of its score, it has a similar vein to "Michi Hitosuji" with its powerful edge and a sense of grandeur, though I feel that "Tenryu Nagashi" has a more fluid flow to it and the strings are more dramatic and the drums a little more threatening. Come to think of it, composer Akito Yomo (四方章人) had probably made it so to represent the Tenryu river the song was based on. After all, this river that flows through Nagano is known for its fierce rapids, which I would say can be represented by the deep strings and the drums. But at the same time I see that this beautiful waterway has got its calm and languid portions, which can be represented by the simply shakuhachi flute.
Besides in its melody, "Tenryu Nagashi" is also a manly man song in the way of its lyrics, which was brought to you by Takashi Maki (万城たかし). From what I understand, our hero is most likely is a sendo-san (boatman) who travels up and down the temperamental river in rain or shine. It's risky and tough work, but he seems to thrive on the danger, much to the ire of his beloved. Looking at it from a different perspective, I wonder if the song is using the Tenryu river as an allegory for life itself - with its many trials and challenges that one has to power through... if that's the case, I believe I'm currently mentally somewhere in the rapids of the river. Ah, well. Time to grab the oar and push forth instead of spinning about aimlessly. Noelle from 12/7/18: Looks like our hero isn't a sendo-san, but is actually a logger who brings logs cut from Nagano to Shizuoka via the Tenryu. That's actually more dangerous than being a boatman, if you ask me, considering the violent rapids. Credits to Hanibo who clarified this in the comments.
On a lighter note, I had actually reached Japan on the day that "Tenryu Nagashi" had been released, and I was pretty thrilled over the idea of getting the single fresh out of the store. I did purchase it a few days later when in Utsunomiya, and while I'm aware that fellows like Hikawa would push out freebies with singles/albums like stickers or plastic folders, somehow I wasn't expecting Fukuda's merchandise to have that. So I was gleefully surprised when my CD came with the official "Tenryu Nagashi" pen. I also got Hikawa's "Shoubu no Hanamichi" (勝負の花道) Type A single, which also came when a gigantic sticker of him. Too bad Junretsu's "Propose" single didn't come with any freebie. But, still, as what the three bears from one of my favourite cartoons "We Bear Bears" yelled when they got a free haul from a garage sale, "FREE STUFF!".