Last night on "Uta Kon"（うたコン）, Chisato Moritaka（森高千里）made another appearance and on the stage, she was joined by the adorable Kumamon（くまモン）, the official cute mascot character for Moritaka's home prefecture of Kumamoto. They did a little song-and-dance on the NHK stage, and I remember writing an article 4 years ago about a song that she performed as a tribute to the prefecture's cutest bear.
The song that Moritaka and Kumamon performed last night? It turned out to be "Kono Machi" (This Town) which was the accompanying song for the former's 12th single, the classic "Benkyou no Uta"（勉強の歌）from February 1991. However, "Kono Machi" made its first appearance on her earlier 5th album "Kokon Tozai"（古今東西...All Times and Places）which was released in October 1990.
A catchy Eurobeat-driven tune by Hideo Saito（斉藤英夫）to rival that of his other creation, "Benkyou no Uta", "Kono Machi" was written by Moritaka as a love letter to her old hometown of Kumamoto City. She even provides some of the local dialect during the song.
Considering how catchy it is, this was perfect for a character like Kumamon...only that the big bear didn't come into existence until 2010.
I've mentioned in the past that I did visit Kumamoto City back in the summer of 1991 before heading back to Toronto. However, I have yet to mention that years later, I went with a friend of mine in Tokyo to a restaurant in East Shinjuku to dine on Kumamoto ramen. It was pretty darn good but I believe the chef at that restaurant was very generous with the meat. The pieces were certainly a whole lot bigger than the ones that are featured in the above video. I didn't need any other nutrition for several hours after that meal.
Getting back to music, I've always wondered about the aidoru group ℃-ute due to that stylized spelling of their name. Well, I finally have my opportunity to talk about them since the Hello Project unit from the Kanto area did their own cover of "Kono Machi". Their version has been changed into a lot more down-to-earth and heartfelt ballad, and I think the Kumamoto dialect speak was switched to the Japanese Standard dialect.
This "Kono Machi" was released as ℃-ute's 24th single (including their early indie releases) in February 2013. It went all the way up to No. 4 on Oricon and also showed up on the group's 7th original album "⑧ Queen of J-POP" from September in that same year. That album peaked at No. 6. As for ℃-ute, they had a pretty long time together between 2005 and 2017 and consisted at the time of their breakup of Maimi Yajima（矢島舞美）, Saki Nakajima（中島早貴）, Airi Suzuki（鈴木愛理）, Chisato Okai（岡井千聖）and Mai Hagiwara（萩原舞）.