Happy New Year to all those in East Asia and slightly beyond. We're still about 9 hours away before 2018 but the Kohaku Utagassen, of course, has run its course again. As usual, it's been taped onto VHS in my household; however, I really can't say anything about it just yet since I only have seen the last third of the special (sorry, I'm not getting up at 5:15 am to watch even that live). There will be the edited broadcast later tonight on TV Japan.
I've been meaning to write about Keisuke Kuwata's（桑田佳祐）"Wakai Hiroba" (A Young Meeting Place) which was the theme song for the previous NHK morning serial drama "Hiyokko"（ひよっこ）starring Kasumi Arimori（有村架純）, and seeing Kuwata perform it on the Kohaku was the final trigger. Incidentally, I think he was probably the only male singer who could follow up immediately after Namie Amuro's（安室奈美恵）much-advertised final appearance on the Kohaku without being forgotten (even so, there was a huge Twitter storm for Namie right afterwards).
What can I say about "Wakai Hiroba" aside from the fact that it's one of the more heartwarming and old-fashioned theme songs I've come across in a while? Right from the harmonic "pon, pon, pon" in the intro to Kuwata and company locking arms and swaying happily, there is that feeling of congenial camaraderie that brought together the entertainers on those old variety programs in Japan and the viewers in their wooden homes. In fact, I am also reminded me of some of those 60s kayo sung by folks like Yuzo Kayama（加山雄三）. No surprise since that was the time in which "Hiyokko" was set.
If I'm not mistaken, "Wakai Hiroba" wasn't ever put out as a single but is part of Kuwata's 5th album "Garakuta"（がらくた）which came out in August of this year. It reached No. 1 and stayed at the top for 2 weeks so perhaps within a little while, we should know how it fared on the yearly charts (ended up as the 13th-ranked album for 2017).
Y'know...it would have been nice to have heard "Wakai Hiroba" as this news was playing about the wrap-up of filming on "Hiyokko". There wouldn't have been a dry eye anywhere in the house.
OK, that was the last article for 2017, at least from me. And perhaps it may be the last one from me at the relatively torrid pace I've been keeping for nearly 6 years since "KKP" began. Gotta slow down. But would like to thank Noelle, Marcos and the other contributors for all of their articles this year again, and all of the readers for keeping in touch with the blog. Hope all of you have a Happy New Year wherever you are!