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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kenichi Mikawa/Hibari Misora -- Onna no Asa (おんなの朝)

Another rustle through the 33s and 45s produced a most interesting discovery. I came across an old Kenichi Mikawa(美川憲一)single...well, actually I guess if I were using more updated terminology, I would say it was a maxi single: two songs per side. The surprising thing is the cover which showed a quite bidanshi young Mikawa looking pretty dapper.

The first song on the 33.3 was "Onna no Asa" (A Woman's Morning) which was Mikawa's 18th single from Christmas Day 1970. Compared to some of the Mood Kayo that he had sung in the past, this particular song was absolutely jaunty. Masao Yoneyama's(米山正夫)melody has a bit of a skippy Latin beat which puts "Onna no Asa" right on the line between enka and kayo pop, and although the song has a triumphant feeling, the lyrics by So Nishizawa(西沢爽)relate about a secret tryst that has to come to an end. Still, it seems like the protagonists involved are parting without too many regrets...and I'm sure the hotel staff didn't seem to mind the business.

I don't know how "Onna no Asa" did on the charts but in 1971, it won a prize at the Japan Lyricists Awards.

And unfortunately, I also don't know when Hibari Misora(美空ひばり)performed her cover of "Onna no Asa", although it is on "Cover Song Collection - Hibari Enka wo Utau"(カバーソング・コレクション~ひばり演歌をうたう...Hibari Sings Enka), a 2-CD set which came out in 2008. Her version sounds like a more conventional enka take with the sound of the saxophone hinting that the affair was taking place more in the shitamachi neighbourhoods of the city. Still, the happy-go-lucky feeling is still very much in place.

Quite the clothes horse back then.


  1. Hi J-Canuck.

    Mikawa was indeed good-looking in the early days.

    Having heard some of Mikawa's Mood Kayo tunes you've written about previously, "Onna no Asa" is quite the game changer, with it bringing the image of a sunrise rather than the city's nightscape. Watching current-day Mikawa sway and sashay to the music of "Onna no Asa" (he did the latter on a "Kayo Concert" episode last year) makes me wonder how he tackled the jaunty song back in 1970 - standing still with a stern expression on his face in a non-sparkly, less flashy suit? Can't imagine him singing this in the same way as something like "Yanagase Blues".

    1. Hi, Noelle.

      Yeah, it was quite the surprising thing to listen to this one. I'm pretty sure he was far less relaxed when he first performed it, but it looks like according to recent videos that he's quite happy with the song now.


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