In my years living in Japan, I did have a very few sightings of yakuza in the some of the entertainment districts of Tokyo and there were the annual appearances of the ultra-rightists making tons of noise around Ueno Station on one day over Golden Week. But I never caught any sight of the bosozoku（暴走族）...the motorcycle gangs of pompadoured young toughs rumbling through the streets and highways. I occasionally used to hear the sound of motorcycle engines way off in the distance when I went to sleep in Ichikawa, but...happily...I never encountered these guys in person. Well, considering that I never learned how to drive, I think any chances of encountering them were pretty much negligible to begin with.
Over the years watching TV there, I did learn that there had been a few folks who came from the bosozoku or other forms of delinquent gangs to become tarento or actors or singers. One such fellow is Daisuke Shima（嶋大輔）who was born in Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan but became part of a bike gang in his teens around in the southern part of Kanagawa Prefecture in the Kanto. However, according to the Nihon Eiga Jinmei Jiten（日本映画人名事典...Japan Movie Biographical Dictionary）in 1996, Shima was at a Yokohama Ginbae（横浜銀蝿）concert where he was smoking in a public washroom. It just so happened that the president of the production company handling the band was there at the same time, gave him a scolding and then scouted him into show business (that was quite the stick-and-carrot approach). Shima became a younger brother of sorts to the band.
He got his first acting gig on television in 1981 in the TBS series "Akane-san no O-Bento"（茜さんのお弁当...Akane's Box Lunch）but then made his debut as a singer the following year. A couple of months later in April 1982, his second single "Otoko no Kunshou" (A Man's Honour) got him his first big break.
The reason that I'm writing about this is that I heard the song being performed by the enka aidoru group Junretsu（純烈）on last week's "Uta Kon"（うたコン）, and I automatically remembered the melody. Although I did say at the top, I would never want to be in a dark alley facing any one member of a bosozoku, let alone an entire gang, there is still a certain poignancy listening to "Otoko no Kunshou" with the wailing 50s-style guitars and good old-time rock-and-roll while watching Shima in that huge hair twisting away. In recent years, the only time that I've seen anyone looking like that has been in Yoyogi Park next to an ancient ghettoblaster. In a way, "Otoko no Kunshou", a tribute to the life of a biker, reflects one aspect of my observation of Japanese pop culture in the early 80s.
The song peaked at No. 3 on Oricon and sold close to 400,000 records, becoming Shima's biggest hit as a singer. It would become the 25th-ranked single of 1982. "Otoko no Kunshou" was also used as the theme for the NTV drama "Ama made Agare!"（天まであがれ!...Get Up To Heaven!）which also starred Shima.
"Otoko no Kunshou" was written and composed by Johnny who was the guitarist and vocalist for The Crazy Rider Yokohama Ginbae Rolling Special (and is now a senior executive for King Records under his real name, Masato Asanuma), the official name for Yokohama Ginbae. The band did their own cover of the song in their 1983 album "Bucchigiri R"（ぶっちぎりR...Breaking Away Reverse）.
Then, Shima revisited his big hit in 2003. He was a little paunchier (please don't kill me, Mr. Shima, sir) but the pompadour and voice are still there.