Being in Florida and not in Japan, we watch NHK’s 紅白 on TV Japan. And…Being in Florida and not in Japan, we watch it in the morning of the 31st instead of that night. Actually TV Japan broadcasts it once at the same time as in Japan and then again that evening to match Midnight here.
If you don’t know what Kouhaku is, read about it on the Wikipedia page. -Or- if you are too lazy to click, it is basically a music contest counting down the new year. All the big Japanese music stars are there and it constantly gets the largest viewer ratings for Japanese TV.
First, let me lament missing 天童よしみ Tendo Yoshimi. For some reason TV Japan separated the show into several segments on the DVR listings. That means we had to click on each segment to record (DVR) everything. For some reason we failed to record the segment with Tendo Yoshimi. I love Tendo, but didn’t get to see her this year. 🙁
Of significance to us, 五木ひろし Itsuki Hiroshi had the last song. The last song is pretty much saved for the biggest star which means he’s the big dog. Itsuki (don’t you dare say Goki) is from Yumi’s hometown—Fukui. He sang a song by 阿久悠 Aku Yuu who passed away in 2007.
Actually the last four songs were songs he wrote lyrics to. Among them was 和田アキコ Wada Akiko. She sang a song I heard her sing years ago when she was the last singer for a Kouhaku: 「あの鐘を鳴らすのはあなた」 (That Ringing Bell is You)
When I first heard that song I was really taken back.  I became an instant fan. With Akiko’s super strong voice she really nailed that last 「あなた」. She did it again last night. Wow.
For the Pink Lady fans out there, 阿久悠 also wrote UFO—the song about a Japanese lady who, having given up on earth men, longs for an alien.
I enjoyed some of the Jpop, but the silly lyrics can seem even more silly when reading the provided subtitles. It is kind of like Buddy Holly. It’s great music until you realize what he’s saying, “Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, Peggy Sue…” It must have taken some serious thought when he came up with those lyrics.
As I mentioned last year, Kouhaku usually has three types of singers: 1) Truly talented singers, 2) pretty faces which may or may not have talent and 3) outrageous silliness usually with little or no talent.  Thankfully, this year’s Kouhaku was full of talent.
Enka is definitely better for learning Japanese. Not only is there usually a story to follow, but the lyrics are usually slower and easier to follow.
Anyway, Tendo, I’m very sorry we missed you!