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.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Hibari Misora -- Tsugaru no Furusato(津軽のふるさと)

NHK's "Nodo Jiman"(のど自慢)returned after a hiatus of several weeks due to the pandemic, and though it wasn't a complete comeback with the usual audience and participants in this most public of karaoke outings, it was still nice to see veterans such as Saburo Kitajima(北島三郎)back on the show to talk about some of those highlights of episodes past. Of course, those highlights consisted of folks everywhere around the nation performing kayo kyoku and J-Pop galore in which one was an early Hibari Misora(美空ひばり)kayo titled "Tsugaru no Furusato" (My Home of Tsugaru).

There's something about that part of Aomori Prefecture which must be so profound to invite songwriters to create odes to the area. Naturally, one famous song is "Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyu Geshiki" (津軽海峡・冬景色)by Sayuri Ishikawa(石川さゆり). If and when I return to Japan once more, I will have to see if I can visit that area.

Anyways as mentioned, I heard one lady perform Misora's "Tsugaru no Furusato", and since it was a song by her that I had never known until last Sunday, I was instantly interested. According to the J-Wiki article for it, it was the B-side to the legend's January 1953 45" single "Umakko Sensei"(馬っ子先生...Umakko The Teacher), and "Tsugaru no Furusato" serves as the thematic sequel to her more famous "Ringo Oiwake"(リンゴ追分)as both delve into life on that apple orchard, have a fairly melancholy melody and were created by Masao Yoneyama(米山正夫).

Listening to the original version a few times now, I can't really say that it's an enka tune (although I've classified "Ringo Oiwake" as both enka and pop) and indeed the J-Wiki article has categorized it as a straight kayo. There's something about Yoneyama's melody that makes it sound even European operatic at points and it even comes across as a ballad that I could have heard in some film of nearly a century's standing.

According to the uploader msk for the above video, this performance is from 1985 and just from the stage and the subtitles, it was probably on some NHK stage somewhere. Of course, more than thirty years on following its release, Misora's voice had deepened and become more complex, plus the arrangement for this performance had become fancier but the innate sadness of the original song still remains. Once again, the lyrics seem to suggest perhaps a form of survivor's guilt by the young Misora and others back then as they live and work in the postwar idyllic Tsugaru while remembering those who didn't make it through the war years.

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