The Banana Guide to Asian Entertainment: It’s All About Japan: Part IV
… you have no idea, but Enka is cool.
Before there was Lady Gaga, there was Kenichi Mikawa (美川憲一).
He is fabulous. Known for his 1972 Enka hit Sasoriza no Onna (さそり座の女) [clip], he appeared on my radar during my many sittings on NHK’s regular rotation in shows like NHK Nodo Jiman (NHK のど自慢), the amateur singing contest (as the special singing guest, of course!), Nihon no Uta, and OF COURSE~ NHK’s Kouhaku Uta Gassen.
There’s also obviously Sachiko Kobayashi (小林幸子), who also stands out alongside Mikawa-san because of their BIG Enka number featuring enormous wardrobe displays.
Even better! There’s a versus video between Kenichi Mikawa and Sachiko Kobayashi for everyone’s delight.
Despite how cool those Mikawa-san and Kobayashi-san’s performances are, my all-time favorite — the one that always gets me to dance and clap and be all on my o-Matsuri mood — is Ayako Fuji (藤 あや子). I saw a clip of her single Asian Pirates (アジアの海贼) and I was a goner.
And that’s the AMAZING thing about Enka. It’s even better when it’s live. This doesn’t happen to me often, it’s very rare for me to enjoy a live version over a magnificently produced studio track. With Enka, I can only consume it when it’s live. I can’t explain it any further than that.
Other of my prefered Enka singers are Fuyumi Sakamoto (坂本 冬美), Kawanaka Miyuki (川中 美幸) [Watch her perform with featuring group AKB48], Tendo Yoshimi (who I’m pretty sure did a hilarious impression of KARA’s Misster during the last Kouhaku), and Sayuri Ishikawa (石川さゆり).