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.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Michiya Mihashi -- Chichibu Ondo(秩父音頭)

Years ago, the owner of the juku that I was teaching at for several years invited me on a Sunday day trip over to her hometown of Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture. So I was able to see the usual souvenir shops, her relatives and the nearby town of Nagatoro which has its famous boating excursions.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching NHK's show dedicated to minyo(民謡...traditional folk song) and one of the singers performed "Chichibu Ondo" (Chichibu Folk Song) which of course brought back those memories of traveling with my old friend to Saitama.

Both Noelle Tham and I have written about minyo including the festival ondo, so there has been my experience with "Tankō Bushi"(炭坑節)and "Soran Bushi"(ソーラン節). Now both of those songs were born sometime in the 20th century with my surprise that the latter tune had actually been created in the 1970s. However, according to one tourism website for the nearby town of Minano (which states that the song was born there), "Chichibu Ondo" probably had its origins around two hundred years ago in the early 19th century. I couldn't narrow it down to the exact year so I'm using the Label "1800" which would mean that "Chichibu Ondo" is the oldest song to be placed onto "Kayo Kyoku Plus".

Of course, I also don't know who the original singer was for "Chichibu Ondo" but at one point, enka singer Michiya Mihashi(三橋美智也)recorded his version of the song with Kikutaro Takahashi's(高橋掬太郎)lyrics. According to the English page of that tourism website I mentioned, the music was provided by Gisaku Yoshioka with lyrics by local poet Isekiko Kaneko sometime in the early Showa period, so that was probably an earlier form of the song before Takahashi's revision. Again, if I'm mistaken here, please let me know.

There is also a festival dance which accompanies "Chichibu Ondo". The song and dance together represent the hardy people of the area and the industries and traditions that were prominent there such as silkworm cultivation. The Chichibu Ondo Festival usually takes place every August 14th in Minano but when I saw subtitles go up on that NHK minyo program whenever a singer performed a regional ondo or bushi that the particular festival for that song had been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, I figured that the Chichibu Ondo Festival would probably share the same fate for 2020. However, I'm sure that we are all hoping for a return of all of the regional festivals next year, and maybe a major world sports competition as well.

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