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.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kiyoshi Hikawa -- Hakone Hachiri no Hanjiro (箱根八里の半次郎)

From the "Kayo Arena" magazine I got a while ago. He really
looks younger than his actual age.
I caught this weekend's episode of "Shin Nippon no Uta". Overall, it was decent and one of the better episodes I've seen so far. The "Kyu Kyoku no Kyu Kyoku" (究極の9曲) segment - the "Meikyoku 11" replacement - was tolerable and Hiroshi Kadokawa (角川博) appeared twice, so that kept my attention from wandering off into some far corner. And performing during the "Special Stage" were 2 big figures in the world of enka, Ikuzo Yoshi (吉幾三) and Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし). It was really amusing to see the young (in comparison) Hikawa keeping up with Yoshi's antics and both put on a good, funny show.

At one point in the performance, Yoshi's official debut single, "Koibito wa Kimi Hitori" (恋人は君ひとり), was brought up. Released in 1973 when Yoshi, the gruff enka singer I know and love, was known as Eiji Yamaoka (山岡英二), the aspiring aidoru (I kid you not). The cover photo of this single, which was enlarged for the crowd to gawk at, had him in a white, Elvis-like outfit and standing in all sorts supposedly cute (fine, he did look a little cute) and sexy poses... I'm so glad the big guy turned to enka. But anyway, all that talk about Yoshi's/Yamaoka's debut single had me thinking about the Prince of enka's own debut single, "Hakone Hachiri no Hanjiro".

Released on 2nd February 2000, "Hakone Hachiri Hanjiro" was the song that shot a then 23 year-old Hikawa to instant fame. It peaked at 11th place on the Oricon weeklies and remained in the Top 50 even on the following year, coming in at 41st position, and it sold around 750 000 copies as it was certified a triple platinum record. Written by Yurio Matsui and composed by Hideo Mizumori (松井由利夫 . 水森英夫), it won the singer many accolades, 5 in total, 4 of which were Best Newcomer Awards and the other being the Grand Prize at the Japan Lyricist Awards. So it's not a surprise that this song gave Hikawa his first ticket to the Kohaku on that same year. Now that's one heck of a feat!

Attributing to the success of "Hakone Hachiri Hanjiro" was most likely his youth, impressive warbling, looks - in my opinion, he's better looking now than then (it's the hair) - and the catchy-ness of this jaunty tune with its signature line "Yadane tara, yadane" that he sings with a playful intonation, complete with the necessary finger gun hand gestures, has the fans screaming, "KIYOSHI!!!" immediately after. Just this one line alone got stuck in my head after hearing it for the first time during a "Kayo Concert" episode a few months ago, and it made me want to listen to it again.

Y'know, the "Yadane tara, yadane" part of this song seems reminiscent of one of Hikawa's more recent singles, "Choitto Kimagure Wataridori" (ちょいときまぐれ渡り鳥), where the pauses in between his equally as whimsically sung "Otto dokoi ikenee yo" allow the audience to scream out his name.

Finally, the video above (that video was taken down) shows Hikawa's performance during the annual year-end competition 15 years ago. Okay, it's definitely the hair... and that feather boa isn't helping (that was in the previous video that got taken down... that coat in this video is not doing him any justice either).

1 comment:

  1. that was the song that got Kiyoshi on his way to fame and fortune. I remember the famous line but never knew the title. I would have to agree that he looks far more dapper in his shiny tux than in that boa which made him look like a candidate for some tiny burlesque bar in East Shinjuku.


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