Kōichi Miura (三浦洸一) - 1958

Koichi Miura11

Tochinishiki (栃錦) in the sumo ring, and Kōichi Miura (三浦洸一) on the stage - they're fans of each other.

A Meeting Of Favorite People

A sumo wrestler and a popular song singer, it's a strange combination, but Yokozuna (the highest-ranking sumo wrestler) Tochinishiki is a big fan of Miura-san and he's always singing Miura-san's songs to himself in the dressing room. On the other hand, Miura-san is an enthusiastic fan of Tochinishiki and he gets nervous on stage when Tochinishiki's sumo match is happening at the same time. Today, these two men, who are fans of each other, were locked in a conversation (like being locked in a battle!).

YT - Yokozuna Tochinishiki
KM - Kōichi Miura

◎ On the day when your sumo match is held, I feel nervous on stage.

YT: Hello! Welcome!
KM: I apologize for the surprise visit.
YT: I apologize for welcoming you to such a cold room. Please make yourself at home.
KM: I feel bad to visit you just before your match…
YT: No problem, your visit makes me cheerful! I hear you're performing at Daigeki (theater). Until when are you going to perform there?
KM: Today is the final day.
YT: Oh, it's too soon. The theater must be filled to capacity when you're the performer!
KM: Yeah, luckily…
YT: I'm a big fan of yours. If I had known about it earlier, I could've seen your performance.
KM: I think you're the most popular sumo wrestler among show business people. I'd like to make a fan club exclusively for show business people.
YT: Thank you! At Victor Records, Teruko Akatsuki-san often cheers me on.
KM: When you won first place in the Autumn Sumo Tournament the other day, I was in Nagoya, staring at the TV.
YT: Oh, were you in Nagoya?
KM: Yes. Once the sumo tournament has started, I feel restless and I'm glued to the TV or the radio. However, unfortunately, every time it's your turn to play a match, my turn for the stage also comes at the same time. My manager and the host of the show make me hurry, but I feel anxious, watching both the clock and the TV, because I want to stay as long as possible to see your match on TV… (ha ha)
YT: Oh, so sorry to trouble you that much! (ha ha).
KM: In a case like that, I feel it's so long before the match gets started… (ha ha) I feel I want to reproach them.
YT: For my part, I feel it's so short before the match starts! (ha ha).
KM: I have to appear on the stage with painful reluctance, and after singing the first verse, I look at the wings. Then my manager gives me a sign indicating, "won, won", holding up his both hands. (ha ha) At that time, I can finally feel calm…
YT: Well, I'll have to apologize to your fans. (ha ha)
KM: Oh no! (feeling embarrassed and scratching his head)

◎ I know all of Miura-san's songs.

YT: Despite my appearance, I like music very much. (ha ha) I especially love popular songs so much that I watch almost all the TV programs of popular songs when I'm at home. When I'm here, I often listen to the radio for popular songs. Recently, the junior sumo wrestlers of this stable discovered how much I love popular songs and they let me know who's going to sing at what time of the day. (ha ha)
KM: Oh, I'm grateful…
YT: I like Miura-san's songs because they sound very formal. It's a traditional style of popular songs. (ha ha) You released "The Cape In My Hometown" (ふるさとの岬) and "Sailor Brothers" (マドロス兄弟) recently. Those are very good songs.
KM: Oh, I appreciate your interest in my songs! I have to sing even better if you, the strongest sumo wrestler Yokozuna, are listening to my songs so eagerly. I've been a fan of yours for a long time, but I liked you even more after you got promoted to Sekiwake (junior champion). You're the patriarch of modern sumo wrestling. I'm astounded by your wide variety of wrestling techniques and your speed.
YT: Oh, thanks… (big Yokozuna is embarrassed)
KM: You fell into a slump for a while, didn't you?
YT: Let me see…oh, at that time? (he looked like he remembered something)
KM: At the time, I worried so much about you. I thought countless times that I wanted to write a letter of encouragement.
YT: (he gave Miura-san a nod with grateful eyes)
KM: You've overcome that slump superbly…I was very glad to see that.

◎ Few sumo wrestlers are good singers.

YT: Thank you so much.
KM: I'm sorry for bringing that up.
YT: For some reason, since olden times, most sumo wrestlers can't carry a tune. I'm terribly tone-deaf, too. (ha ha) The first sound doesn't come out, like this. (ha ha)
KM: (with a wondering expression) Oh, do you…?
YT: For many years, we do mid-winter training wearing nothing, or we have many attacks on our throats during training. So, our voices would naturally be damaged.
KM: I see…
YT: That means a sumo wrestler with a good voice would never be strong. (junior wrestlers of the stable listening to the conversation around him burst into laughter, saying "That's a nice excuse!") Miura-san would never be able to be strong if he were a sumo wrestler. (ha ha)
KM: Oh, you might be right! (ha ha) The training for sumo wrestlers seems so strenuous.
YT: We have about fifteen matches in earnest in a day, even while traveling for the tournament.
KM: Even while in the tournament period?
YT: Yes. Our everyday mental attitudes are more important than training. To be a strong wrestler, you should keep your fighting spirit always aimed at the competitor who is stronger than yourself. If you have fifteen matches with difficult competitors, that will make a big difference, as opposed to having fifteen matches with easy competitors.
KM: (with an admiring expression) Hmm…
YT: If you keep your everyday life in moderation, you can endure the hard training. Not only sumo wrestlers, but all athletes have to live their lives in moderation. The other day, there was an article in the newspaper saying that the lodging house of the Nishi Tetsu Lions (a baseball team that existed from 1951-1972) imposed a curfew. I think that's natural, because you'll never be able to play a good game when you're suffering from a lack of sleep.
KM: That's the same thing in our world. (the junior sumo wrestlers surrounding Tochinishiki and Miura-san were listening intently to their conversation)

◎ They both don't perform well on the first day.

YT: Sumo wrestlers and singers are in the same situation.
KM: A stage for us is a sumo ring for you. I've been a singer for a long time, but I still have fear on the first day of the performance.
YT: Oh, you too? We sumo wrestlers also get the most nervous on the first day of the tournament. Sometimes, I even don't remember how I won or how I lost with which moves. (ha ha)
KM: Your story makes me feel relieved. (ha ha) I've been worried that I was the only one like that. (ha ha)
YT: I'm sure I’m the same way. Miura-san, do you sometimes make a mistake on the stage?
KM: Of course I do, and when I make a mistake, I feel very bad. It leaves a nasty aftertaste…it's disgusting.
YT: Oh, that's the same feeling we have. We feel the same way when we lose matches. Hmmm, the stage and the sumo ring are almost the same thing.
KM: They’re the same, but I'm thin like this, and you're fat like that. (ha ha) I want to gain weight, so I'm trying everything I can, but it's all in vain. Do you have any secrets to gaining weight? (ha ha) [My advice: get a time machine and travel to America any time within the last two decades and you'll fatten right up!]
YT: Well, I wasn't fat like this when I started sumo. I started to get fat little by little after I became Sekiwake. I think what made me fat was not what I ate, but all the intense training. The most important thing for us is to stay healthy, and we shouldn't push ourselves too hard!
KM: That's very true.
YT: (looking at his watch) By the way, Miura-san, it's almost the time for you to take the stage, isn't it?
KM: Oh, is it that late? I was really absorbed in our conversation…I'm sorry for disturbing your precious time…
YT: Not at all! I would like to talk with you more. Let's meet again and talk about many things, next time. Let's do our best and stay healthy! (Tochinishiki grabbed Miura-san's shoulders with his large hands)
KM: Thank you so much for your time today.

- from Heibon Monthly Magazine (平凡), No. 1, 1958

Kazuo Kitami (北見和夫) - 1959


Though We’re Rivals, We’re Also Good Friends

◎ We will play the lead role in the music world...

This is a conversation between two young, handsome men. Kawamura-san, who is 177 cm tall and is known as a dandy boy, came hurriedly from his performance venue wearing a grey suit and carrying a suitcase in one hand. Kitami-san, who is known as a pure young man, was waiting for him in a green suit. Both men said "hello" to each other, and shook hands. Then the conversation started.

KK: Kazuo Kitami
JK: Jun Kawamura
W: magazine writer

◎ The difference is one month.

JK: We're talking to each other for the first time today, right?  
KK: Yes. We met for the first time the other day at NHK (broadcasting company), but we didn't talk at that time.
JK: If that's the case, then we're too familiar with each other, aren't we? (ha ha)
KK: It’s OK, because we're young. (ha ha)
JK: By the way, you're my senior, aren't you?
KK: I made my debut on August 20th, last year.
JK: I made my debut on September 20th, so I'm one month your junior. I was born in December, in 1937.
KK: Oh, really? I was born in November of 1937. It's also a one month difference. (ha ha) Anyway, I'm lucky to be associated with so many number "ones", because I've wished to be the number one singer in Japan since I was in Hokkaido... (ha ha)
JK: Wow! That's great! I was born in Kanda (in Tokyo) and I went to Tokyo Metropolitan Akagidai High School. I'm terrible at English...
KK: ...though you look mixed! (ha ha)
JK: Give me a break! (ha ha) Anyway, because of my poor English, I gave up trying to get into college. However, there's nothing good about idling away every day, so I became a singer...
KK: You seem to be a singer because there wasn't a better option.
JK: It's not actually like that, though. (ha ha)

◎ We are adults!

KK: You look younger than you actually are, don't you?
JK: That's right. It's my weak point. (ha ha). I snapped when Asakura-san and Fujimoto-san said to me, "You're a teenager, aren't you?" That's annoying!
KK: Same with me. Ōtsu-san (singer Yoshiko Ōtsu) looks much older than I am. However, I asked her how old she was, and I learned that I'm older than her. (ha ha)
W:They say a handsome man looks younger...
KK & JK: Thank you! (ha ha)
JK: However, I want to be seen as old as my actual age. It's inconvenient when I smoke. They say, "You're a child, so you can't smoke"... (ha ha)
KK: Yes, exactly!

◎ I'm not good with love affairs.

JK: Kitami-san, do you have a girlfriend?
KK: No, no, I don't...there were some girls I liked, but they were all one-sided love. I can't express myself in words. (ha ha)
JK: Yes, yes. It's the same with me. (ha ha)
KK: That sounds right. Before I started talking you like this, I thought that you were cold and tough...
JK: Are you praising me or disparaging me? (ha ha)
KK: However, while talking to you, I find you are pure and calm.
JK: Yes! I'm pure! (ha ha) Anyway, you're determined and highly motivated.
KK: Because I am young! (ha ha) I want to be the best singer in Japan! (ha ha)
JK: No wonder you sing so well. You sing naturally and freely.
KK: I'm very moved when listening to your songs. Your low-pitched voice catches my heart. That's very good.
JK: Thank you! From now on, we should really compete with each other.
KK: Yeah, let's be friendly rivals!

- from The Myojo Monthly Magazine (明星), No. 7, 1959


Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也) - 1957

Michiya Mihashi, who is loved by wide variety of fans (including old ladies!)

We (Heibon Magazine) caught up with Michiya Mihashi, who was on tour in Kōchi prefecture, on Shikoku Island. His show was scheduled to start at eleven o’clock. However, since morning, there had already been so many excited people waiting in line in front of the Daigeki Theater (大劇) at which Mihashi-san was supposed to perform. There were little children carrying their lunch boxes in the line, and even old ladies.
We pushed through the throng and made it to the dressing room. We found Mihashi-san lying there. He said, “You bother to come here! Tough job!”, then he woke up. He continued, “When I have time, I try to rest in solitude as much as possible, because I want to perform in my best condition on the stage. Otherwise, I feel sorry for my guests.”

R - reporter
M - Michiya

R: “Anyway, you come to the dressing room this early!”
M: “Many people will crowd in front of the inn, so I usually come earlier in secret.”
R: “You would be swamped by fans asking for your autograph, right?”
M: “Yes, until late in the evening. But, in that case, I go outside and give them my autograph. It must also be tough for those who’ve been waiting for me for long hours.”
R: “Touring around the country seems to be a lot of fun.”
M: “That’s right. I can meet many people in every place I visit. Moreover, it’s fun to meet them again next time I visit there. The only unfortunate thing is that I can’t visit the local places of scenic and historical interest, even when I have free time.”
R: “Is that because your fans are chasing you?”
M: “Yes, it is. I feel really grateful to have them, but on the other hand, I can’t go out anywhere because of them. All I can do is to go back and forth between the inn and the dressing room, and look out the window...”
R: “While you’re away on a long tour, do you think about your wife?”
M: “While I’m touring and performing on the stage, my mind is on my work. So, I just wonder if she is fine...”
R: “Then you make a long-distance call?”
M: “No. I don’t call, because it costs a lot, ha ha. My wife doesn’t try to get in contact with me, either, unless something unusual were to happen.”
R: “Did you have anything interesting happen to you while you were on tour?”
M: “Let me see...there wasn’t anything special. However, in Takamatsu, a boy who looked to be a fifth grader was sitting on a seat in the front row, shouted “Attaboy! Attaboy!” at me repeatedly while I was singing “Souma Bon Uta” (相馬盆歌). It was funny! Also, here in Kōchi, an old lady who seemed to be around sixty, stood up on a seat and clapped her hands! It was really funny!”
R: “What is your most favorite thing to do these days?”
M: “Well, I’m collecting unusual cigarette lighters, but I don't have many, yet...”
R: “Is your skill of 8 mm video camera improving?”
M: “No, no. I just started it recently. I’d like to bring it with me when I’m on tour, but I’ll only be staying in the inn...” he said disappointedly, and started to prepare for the stage. Mihashi-san seemed to be very busy as usual, even on tour.

- from a 1957 Heibon (平凡) magazine with a blue cover


Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也) - 1957


Hidezou Kondou Meets An Important Person - interview with singer Michiya Mihashi
by Hidezou Kondou (近藤日出造), cartoonist

Dearest Michiya Mihashi-sama,

I listen to your songs from morning until night, day after day. Sometimes there might be a day when a crow doesn’t caw, but there is not a single day when I don’t hear your voice on the radio. How popular you are! What a good singer you are! To tell you the truth, I had been against popular songs. So, when the teacher, Takashi Tatsuno (辰野隆), whom I respect, referred to popular songs as 'beggar songs', I very much agreed with him. Michiya Mihashi-sama, please don’t get angry. Tatsuno-san didn’t include you and I didn’t imagine your face, either, when I agreed with him. Because at that time, no one knew your name and your wonderful voice yet, and critics tend to refer to singers at the lowest level as if they are the standard. Please tell your fellow singers to not be offended by us.

Respectfully yours, Hidezou Kondou (近藤日出造)


MM: Michiya Mihashi
HK: Hidezou Kondou

◎ “I was bitten on my finger.”

HK: You took the name plate off of your dressing room door. Was it because of the incident that had happened to Hibari Misora (美空ひばり)? (The incident he’s referring to happened January 13, 1957, when Hibari Misora was performing at the International Theater in Asakusa, Tokyo. A girl called out to Hibari, then splashed hydrochloric acid on her face. The troubled girl had written in her notebook, “I want to see Hibari’s ugly face damaged by hydrochloric acid.”)
MM: That’s right. Besides that, there was a robbery and whatnot, so several policemen are staying on guard around here.
HK: No one would splash hydrochloric acid on us, even if we were to ask for it, ha ha! There’s some strange people out there.
MM: When I was doing public recording at the video hall, an old lady, who looked just over 50, came out from the back of the audience and grabbed my leg.
HK: A nymphomaniac!
MM: No, she said grabbing my leg would treat her cold!
HK: It seems you’ve become “Obinzuru-sama”, ha ha! (Obinzuru is a Buddhist statue. It is said that if you touch this statue, your disease will be cured.) To tell you the truth, I also have a slight cold. Please let me touch you, ha ha!
MM: No, it doesn’t work, because I myself have had a cold since last November.
HK: That’s why I never believe in the Kami (Shinto deities), ha ha! Anyway, who makes up such a story, that touching your leg heals a cold?
MM: She might have gotten the idea on her own.
HK: Listening to your songs warms my heart, so it’s a specific remedy, ha ha! But, it might actually be possible for your enthusiastic fans to treat their diseases by touching your legs. Anyway, it was good for you to be just touched and not splashed…
MM: It’s not much better. Sometimes, someone tickles me, or bites me.
HK: Oh, are there fans like that?
MM: The other day, I was bitten on my finger! When I was getting in the car, someone rushed at me, and somehow my finger got into her mouth. The skin on my finger was peeled, and my finger was soaked with blood.
HK: The enemy went away happily with your peeled skin in her mouth, ha ha! You need to arm yourself!
MM: When I went to Sapporo the other day, I thought I needed to wear an iron helmet on stage, because a tree suspended from the stage’s ceiling fell down on my head when the rope broke, though this was not caused by my fans.
HK: Were you injured?
MM: What was broken was not me, but the tree which hit my head! Everyone made remarks about what a hard head I have, ha ha!
HK: “If you want to bite me, not on my finger, but on my head, please”, ha ha!
MM: It’s not surprising that I didn’t get injured on the stage, because I’m usually very aware while performing.
HK: By the way, have you ever had a performance when the theater wasn’t filled to capacity?
MM: Maybe I have, because it is all about luck. But, until today, it seems I haven’t. Every day, total of roughly 10,000 people come to see my shows.
HK: I heard from the comic storyteller Shinshō (志ん生) that they had only 5 or 6 guests for 15 or 16 comic performers, at their worst. In those days, they bought cigarettes, but then they had no money for train. If they took a train, then they couldn’t buy cigarettes. So, they had no choice but to buy cigarettes and walk all the way to the next theater, but that made their geta sandals wear out. Geta were expensive, so they smoked every cigarette stingily, like having a cigarette only after finishing jobs at three theaters.

◎ “Popularity because of warm weather?”

MM: I think it was the summer before last. I was just a newcomer to the popular song world. I went to Shikoku to record a radio program. There were more than thirty people in the band. They were holding a competition of Iyo folk songs and I was both a judge and a singer. But, the guests were only about thirty people. That was too bad. However, the recording went smoothly because it was very quiet, ha ha!
HK: Quiet, but lonely. Your name in the advertisement was misprinted, wasn’t it?
MM: Actually, they often got my name wrong, in those days. Yomiuri (a newspaper) also made mistakes. They wrote my name as “Michiko Mihashi”. Asahi (a newspaper) also mistakenly called me “Michiko”.
HK: When we hear “Michi…”, then we want to continue with “ko”, from natural feeling, ha ha! (His remark refers to the former Princess Michiko, who was very popular, at that time.) Is Michiya your real name?
MM: My late father gave this name to me, so it must be my real name, ha ha! On hearing “Michiya”, fans might imagine a pretty face, but actually it is this face, as you know. I feel badly about that, ha ha!
HK: You became extremely popular after that recording in Shikoku, didn’t you?
MM: I don’t understand “popular”, where and how “popular” I am…I think it’s just because of the unseasonably warm weather.
HK: It is an abnormally warm winter, ha ha! Even if it is because of this warm weather, you care about the number of the visitors to the theater, don’t you?
MM: Of course I want to have many customers, and I want to sing as hard as I can for them. So actually, I feel very sorry when I catch a cold or something like that. Some people come a long way to see me, from the other side of the mountain, plus they must stay overnight. When I performed at the Shouchiku Theater in Kyoto, I was fine on the first and the second days. But after that, I caught a cold. A maiko told me about some Chinese medicine for colds, and I took two doses of them in succession. That caused a terrible trouble! I sweated profusely and the sweat didn’t stop on the stage. Of course, I could not change clothes during a performance. I’ve never been embarrassed like that!
HK: Did the medicine work, or not?
MM: It worked, but it worked too much, ha ha! I should’ve taken a modern remedy.

◎ “Trained in singing by his mother.”

HK: Anyway, you’d better not to listen to a maiko seriously, ha ha! You are a singer so you must know the song, “the heart of a geisha and the back metal of setta are…”, ha ha! (When a man wearing setta sandals walked, the metal on the back of the sandals made a ‘cha la cha la’ sound, which is Japanese onomatopoeia for expressing the sound of moving metal. Also, metal is written in kanji as “金属” and “金” means “money”. In short, setta have a ‘sound of money’. Additionally, ‘cha la cha la’ also expresses the act of flirting with someone. Geisha usually flirt with a man who has money. In conclusion, both a geisha and a pair of setta sound like ‘cha la cha la” - the sound of money.) You were born in Hokkaido?
MM: Yes. There is a town named Kamiiso near Hakodate. In Kamiiso, there’s a district named Garou, where coal is produced. I was born there. My father died when I was a toddler. My mother moved to Toubetsu, where the Toubetsu Trappist Monastery is located, and then she married my stepfather.
HK: Is there anyone else good at singing in your family?
MM: My mother was good at singing, she trained me when I was little.
HK: I’ve heard that you had gone through serious hardships after you came to Tokyo.
MM: They weren’t really hardships. I always try to pursue anything I believe in, so I’ve never felt they were hardships.
HK: Belief is the most difficult thing to build up, and the easiest thing to be shaken, so you have ever come close to being shaken?
MM: Thanks to Mr. Nakamura of Tokyo-en (Tsunashima Onsen), I could go on without losing my belief. He helped me a lot.
HK: What a great man Mr. Nakamura is! Even if there’s a boy who has a good voice and sings well, there is little possibility of making any success in show business. Taking this into account, he is such a great person to help you so much, without doubting your future. Maybe you had something that caused him not to doubt. If there is another boy like that out there, what should he do to get into the public eye? It means nothing to sing well in the bath at home.
MM: You should go to the record company or get into that kind of world. In other words, you should sell yourself. You should make them notice your good voice and give you a test. Moreover, it’s just not only having a good voice, but also you have to be able to read music scores in order to become a popular song singer.
HK: Oh, I’ve heard that there are singers who can’t read scores…
MM: I also didn’t know how to read scores, at first, and that doesn’t work at all. Folk songs and popular songs are different, so popular song singers have to be able to read the scores.
HK: Are you singing popular songs mixed with folk songs?
MM: It depends. “Melancholy Train” (哀愁列車) is purely a popular song. “From Apple Village” (リンゴ村から) has a local color. I have confidence in singing folk songs as I have sung them since I was a junior high school student. Folk songs need to be sung with local feeling. People say my “Souma Folk Song” (相馬盆唄) has the feelings of the Souma district, so I’m pleased. The song of Souma can’t be a song of Hokkaido.
HK: A dancer of Japanese traditional dances once said that they could dance well with the “Kuroda Folk Song” (黒田節) if you sang it. Folk songs and popular songs are different in the way of singing, aren’t they?

◎ “You need pathos in folk songs.”

MM: Folk singers usually sing in a loud voice and they try to sing as loudly as possible without caring about the melody of the songs, as if they were showing how loudly they can sing or as if they’re competing in the loudness of voice. But, you need to sing folk songs with your soul. Also, you need to sing them with pathos. Without it, Japanese people don’t sympathize with folk songs.
HK: That’s right. No other people love pathos more than the Japanese. Japanese people love to get teary, so cartoonists can’t become popular, ha ha. Who is your favorite popular song singer?
MM: Shoji Taro (東海林太郎) and Uehara Bin (上原敏).
HK: Both singers are full of pathos! I heard that the top singers of popular songs are you and Kosaka Kazuya (小坂一也). I secretly looked into the reason why these two men are so popular, ha ha. Needless to say, they are very good at singing. Besides, we can hear the words of the lyrics in their songs very clearly. I assume this is one of the reason for their popularity.
MM: A Japanese person sings a song in the Japanese language, and if it is not understood by Japanese people, it makes no sense at all.
HK: Usually street donations (charities) don’t collect much money, which may be because the words they’re speaking can’t be heard clearly. Though they are pure Japanese, they are speaking strange words like “mi-nasyan dosoya ka-kubetuno godojowo mo-chimasite…”, ha ha!
MM: At first, I mistook them as Chinese. If we can’t hear enough of the words of the lyrics of a sentimental popular song, it would sound like goeika (御詠歌 - Buddhist songs that have thirty-one syllabled verses), ha ha!
HK: By the way, why do the words like ‘port’, ‘night fog’, ‘lantern’ or ‘last train’ appear so often in popular songs?
MM: That’s right! Those words appear a lot. That’s why I never wear a sailor cap, at least on stage.
HK: You are great, ha ha! Anyway, those words don’t express the feelings of many Japanese people. Those are just the proof of inability and negligence on the part of the songwriter. They use those words repeatedly. The difference is just ‘port’ at first, or ‘night fog’ at first.
MM: …and ‘cry’ or ‘parting’ between them, ha ha! Those lyrics make songs pretty much the same and they make us feel as if we’ve heard the song before, elsewhere.
HK: The hook-lines of pathos are almost the same in all the songs. Songwriters have such a limited vocabulary that even military songs use ‘night fog’, or in the mood of ‘parting in tears’, ha ha! Remember the song “Preparatory Song” (予科練) or “Beloved Horse March” (愛馬行進曲)? They are both melancholic and anything but encouraging! That doesn’t make us march forward.
MM: Is that why Japan lost the war?
HK: Considering the situation, it’s wise of you to take on Japanese folk songs. Folk songs were not written by songwriters. They were born naturally, so they have real feelings.
MM: I’m not sure of that.
HK: Don’t be so humble.
MM: No, no, it’s true. I’ve never thought I’m good. I’ve never satisfied with my performances.
HK: That feeling keeps you making progress…oh, sorry, that may sound preachy!
MM: Preach of ‘night fog’, ha ha. Anyway, you guess correctly. Every month, around a hundred records are released from the three major record companies. It means twelve hundred in a year. Among them, only one record might actually be a big hit, or sometimes there will be no hits at all. Everyone eagerly pursues that top one. What a challenge!
HK: Do you think your current popularity will last?

◎ “I want to sing until I’m forty years old.”

MM: It depends on the trends. If I were to fall out of popularity, I think I couldn’t help it. I can’t go against fate. Now, I’m twenty six, so fourteen years more, at most. When I become forty years old, my voice will lose its mellowness. At that time, I think I have to quit. I’m thinking that after I quit, I will devote myself to folk songs and become a kind of contract worker for a broadcasting company. Also, I would like to study folk songs and teach them.
HK: How about wearing a mustache at that time, ha ha! Anyway, you are admirable to think concretely about the last train, ha ha!
MM: It’s melancholy train, ha ha!
HK: When you try to master a new folk song, you go to the district where the song was written?
MM: Whenever I can. But, in Tokyo, there’s a Local Art Preservation Association, and they have various presentations. There’s a lot of chances to learn and feel the local arts.
HK: “Sado Okesa” (佐渡おけさ) by Katsutarō (勝太郎) and “Sado Okesa” (佐渡おけさ) by Bunzō Murata (村田文蔵) are very different. In other words, Katsutarō’s song is seasoned with Tokyo sauce. It tastes smooth, but it doesn’t have its own flavor. This is my understanding. Anyway, do you use some sauce intentionally?
MM: My songs are also seasoned with some sauce. Otherwise, they don’t sell records. We should give way, to some extent. If I sing a local song as it is, it sounds rough. In other words, it’s rustic and I like that simplicity. Even so, it would still be better to dress them up beautifully and make them seem Tokyo-style.
HK: Travel to rural areas and get some rural objects, then display them in a Western room; that’s Tokyo-style, isn’t it? By the way, how old were you when you started learning the shamisen?
MM: Around twelve or thirteen years old. I can play anything, like jazz or whatever, with the shamisen. It has a flexible sound with its three strings. It can express the real feelings of the Japanese people.
HK: Being able to play the shamisen is an asset of yours! Would you tell me a bit about your hardship, financially or mentally?
MM: Originally, I didn’t set out to be a singer. I planned to be a salaried worker after graduating from Meiji.
HK: It was lucky for us that you didn’t become a salaried worker!
MM: I started singing songs and traveling around the provincial area. I felt sorrow when I saw how traveling performers typically ended up. I was eighteen years old at that time and I decided to go to Tokyo, because otherwise I had to spend all my life being a traveling performer, I thought. So, I ran away from home and that was my turning point. Once I decided to be a singer, I wanted to be famous. That required education, I thought. I entered high school when I was twenty. My school life was the most painful time. The teacher was almost the same age as me, and all the students were much younger than me, about six years younger.
HK: Six years difference between fifty and forty-four does not matter, but six years difference between twenty and fourteen is a lot!
MM: That twenty-year-old student still raised his hand and answered the questions. I studied math and English very hard, otherwise I could not catch up to the other students, though I was in the top 10 of the class. That meant I studied so hard! That was the hardest time.
HK: Were you boarding, at that time?
MM: I was living at the house of the principal of Jikei University. Then I built my house in Hatagaya and it became easy to go to school. Then, I graduated from the attached high school of Meiji University. Along the way, I almost gave up and quit the school several times. But, I cheered myself on to go forward with a strong belief.

◎ “I would like to do some business in the future.”

HK: After you began your current career, had you ever thought that you wanted to quit singing?
MM: Before I got a hit with “Female Boatman’s Song” (おんな船頭唄), I had some doubts. But, when it began to get really popular, I felt it was interesting! I might have good luck! However, I’m thinking that eventually I’ll have to do some business on my own…
HK: At that time, please let me help you. I’ll be your guard or something, ha ha! When did you get married?
MM: November 10th of last year.
HK: How do you feel in your newlywed life?
MM: I feel calm.
HK: It’s good to have someone waiting for you when you come home.
MM: I go home wondering if she is there, as usual…
HK: Sure she is, ha ha! But, after around twenty years has passed since the wedding, as in my case, I wonder why she’s always at home every day?? She is so patient!
MM: My life is like that of a journalist or an actor, so it may be hard for my wife to guard our home. Moreover, we have to have business relationships with other people, so I want her to become accustomed to that. But, it will take long to go to your house, ha ha.
HK: Yeah, it must be long. As a singer, you are great. But as a wife, my wife is a great senior, ha ha! You were bitten on your right hand by that one woman, and at home you will be bitten on your left hand by your wife…ha ha!
MM: It seems I’m unfortunate…
HK: Yeah! Anyway, the husband usually ends up with a bad deal.
MM: It’s said that 亭主 (husband) can be written as 低主, ha ha. (亭主 and 低主 are read and pronounced the same, but 低 means ‘low’, as if the husband is ‘lower’ than the wife.)
HK: When you got married, did any of your fans complain about it?
MM: One woman sent me a long letter complaining about my marriage, along with a pile of pictures she had collected.

- from The Yomiuri Weekly (週刊読売), 2/24/1957

Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也) and Hiroshi Mizuhara (水原弘) - 1960


My two handsome guys together! ❤️

First Meeting : The King of Song and a Budding Singer
Michiya Mihashi and Hiroshi Mizuhara

King of song Michiya Mihashi and budding singer Hiroshi Mizuhara, whose song “Black Petals” (黒い花びら) has become a big hit, were talking in the gentle sunlight of late autumn. Mizuhara-san, who is a huge fan of Mihashi-san, said, “I get nervous in the presence of the person I like.” He was quite nervous at first, but senior Mihashi-san spoke to him kindly and they became good friends by the end of the conversation.

MM: Michiya Mihashi
HM: Hiroshi Mizuhara

◎ I’ll pay advertising money!

HM: Sensei! Nice to meet you.
(After finishing the photoshoot of his family, Mihashi-san came out of the exit of Tama Zoo. Then Mizuhara-san, who had been waiting for Mihashi-san, ran up to him.)
MM: Hi! Nice to meet you! (they shook hands)
HM: I’m a huge fan of yours! Heibon-san (the publisher) gave me a chance to meet you, so I got up very early this morning, even though I went to bed late yesterday, and I’ve been waiting for you here.
MM: Oh, thank you!
HM: I belong to Toshiba. I tested at King Records, but I ended up with my current company.
MM: Oh, then you had a chance to be in the same company with me! (ha ha) I read about you in the newspaper while I was on tour in Hokkaido. You praised me a lot, in the article.
HM: I didn’t praise you! I just mentioned to the interviewer that I wished I could be a singer like you, as I respected you.
MM: Do you like folk songs, too?
HM: Yes, I do. I sing folk songs in my own way. But, it’s difficult for me to sing real folk songs. I’m trying to study how to sing them well, but I’m not good at it! (he scratched his head, feeling shy) I watched your recital (held on September 1st and 2nd at Nichigeki) the other day.
MM: So I heard. I have to say thank you.
HM: No, no, that’s what I should say to you. I thank you because I had a chance to study folk songs when I watched your performance.
MM: I think that when learning an art, we should study it every day. Which of my songs do you like?
HM: I like all of your songs, but I’m afraid I can’t sing your songs. People say I should expand my repertoire and sing your songs if I’m your fan.
MM: I think you must try it. It’s a challenge. (ha ha) You’d better take on a challenge.
HM: When I feel relaxed in a friendly atmosphere at a jazz club, I sometimes sing Frank-san's (フランク永井?) songs, but it is absolutely impossible for me to sing your songs! (ha ha)
MM: Don’t say that. Please sing my songs and spread them around! (ha ha) I’ll pay for ads.
HM: Occasionally, I sing Chiemi Eri’s (江利チエミ) song “Sanosa” (さのさ), and change ‘man’ to ‘woman’ in the lyrics.
MM: So you sing, “I don’t need such a woman...” Oh, I feel empathy in the lyrics! (ha ha)
HM: I’m envious of you because you have many quiet fans and they concentrate when listening to your songs.
MM: Your fans are cheerful.
HM: I have many young fans. They get easily excited. When I simply smile, they scream! It has nothing to do with my songs. Many of my fans are men, though other rockabilly artists have many female fans.

◎ My throat shrinks!

MM: Rockabilly has changed its style, hasn’t it?
HM: It’s changed a lot. No more jumping or flipping. It was tiring!
MM: The songs are also becoming quieter.
HM: Fans are becoming more quiet, too. I don’t understand English lyrics, but I mastered the rhythm of it. So, I want to go along with it, in Japanese.
MM: To be understood by many people, you’d better try it that way. It’s the same if we sing folk songs in the original dialect, it wouldn’t be easily understood.
HM: It seems difficult to transcribe the melodies of folk songs into notes. Tremolo like “Ee~Ee~” can’t be expressed in notes. I can’t sing that tremolo. My throat shrinks! (ha ha)
MM: Jazz and folk songs have same kind of feeling. I often talk about it with Hirao-chan (Masaaki Hirao).
HM: Oh, how happy Hirao-chan must be, that he can talk with you about something like that!
MM: You’re also talking with me now! (ha ha) Hirao-chan visits my house and stays with us. We play golf together. Why don’t you come to my house?
HM: Oh, I’d love to go!
MM: Sometimes I listen to your song “Black petals” (黒い花びら) on the radio. I’d like to talk about it, but...it’s embarrassing to praise you to your face! (ha ha)
HM: I’m more embarrassed than you! (ha ha)
MM: The part of that song, “Therefore, therefore...”, which you sing by raising your voice in a husky way, is appealing. I feel sensuality in that part.
HM: That’s the hook of the song. I’m very glad to be praised for that. By the way, what is the aim of your ‘thriller song’?
MM: I debuted as a folk song singer, so I’ll end up like “dried-up silver grass on the riverside...” (he’s quoting a line from “Boatman’s Song” (船頭小唄)). Meanwhile, I would like to try all kinds of music, so I’m always challenging myself with something new.
HM: You’re a highly motivated person!
MM: I’ll challenge myself with a ‘thriller’ and fighting spirit! (ha ha)
HM: Your thriller song “Wall” (壁) is nice.
MM: I tried a jazz feeling with that one.
HM: You might try rockabilly in the future! (ha ha)
MM: Peggy-san (ペギー葉山), who is usually a jazz singer, got a hit with the folk song “Departing from Tosa” (南国土佐を後にして). It’s good for everyone to try expand their own repertoire. We can learn a lot from doing it.
HM: Then I will challenge myself with folk songs and fighting spirit! (ha ha) By the way, it’s been a number of years since you started singing in earnest, hasn’t it?
MM: I started singing when I was five, and I’m thirty now. So, it’s been twenty-five years.
HM: What a great career! I wasn’t born, yet.
MM: A twenty-five year career sounds too long! So, I would like to say modestly that it’s been only twenty years...how about you?
HM: After I graduated from high school, I started to sing, because I liked singing. Then, I started to learn in earnest from Ginji Yamaguchi (山口銀次), who is a teacher of Hawaiian songs, around four years ago. Before that, I was singing many popular songs and I entered several singing contests.
MM: A few minutes ago, you said, “I wasn’t born, yet.” (ha ha) When were you born?
HM: November 1st, 1935.
MM: Then you’re five years younger than me. Your birthday is close to mine. My birthday is November 10th.
HM: It’s lucky for me! Though even with that luck, I must still try hard!

◎ Double-header congratulations

MM: My birthday and my wedding ceremony were on the same day, so we can celebrate both at once. You’d better do it this way! (ha ha) It can save money. (ha ha)
HM: Ha ha! It’s like a double-header! But, it’s difficult to decide the wedding ceremony day, considering the lucky days and whatnot, isn’t it?
MM: In my case, it went well. While discussing the wedding ceremony day with my wife...oh, it sounds like bragging!
HM: It’s no problem, because I’ll get back at you, in the future...(ha ha)
MM: Please go easy on me, then! (ha ha)
HM: No, no, I will absolutely brag at that time! (ha ha) I’ll never be able to compete with you in singing, so let me at least brag about that! (ha ha) By the way, do you drink much alcohol?
MM: I’m pretty sure I can hold my liquor. (ha ha)
HM: Do you like Japanese sake?
MM: It’s cold now, so I often drink sake, these days. Usually, I drink everything. (ha ha)
HM: That’s the same with singing. You sing everything...
MM: No, no, it’s far from it. I feel embarrassed. (ha ha)
HM: To tell you the truth, I’ve seen you at Hibiya Inn, before.
MM: Oh, really? When was that? I used to go there around four years ago. I like the atmosphere there. The Mahina Stars (マヒナスターズ) often sang there.
HM: I’ve opened for them.
MM: Really? I haven’t been there since before the remodel. When traveling abroad, I like to listen to jazz at a nightclub. Top jazz musicians sing there. On the other hand, popular songs are suitable for a Japanese-style banquet room.
HM: Japanese sake is suitable for a Japanese-style room, too.
MM: Your songs have something Japanese, as well.
HM: Yes. I sing a lot of rock ballads in Japanese. I have six songs like “Black Falling Leaves” (黒い落ち葉).
MM: Then you are just beginning to challenge yourself, now! It was easy to challenge myself at first, but now I’m in agony!
HM: Oh...is that how it is?
MM: I’m always desperately thinking of what kind of song I will try next time. When I think of something to aim for, I’m excited and eager to try it. I still have a lot of things I want to try in the future.
HM: How many songs have you ever sung?
MM: Nearly 200, including folk songs.
HM: You have 200 and I have 6. It’s impossible for me to compete with you after all. (ha ha) What do you want to do the most?
MM: I just want to sing a good song. That’s all I want to do.
HM: I’ve just started singing, and I’m not singing carefully. But, from now on, I have to take more care. Every listener has a good ear for music, so I have to try very hard.
MM: I’ve never laughed on the stage, though I do smile recently (ha ha). That is because they don’t listen to my songs if I don’t sing seriously.
HM: Yes. Many fans of rockabilly are merely attracted to our faces or our physiques. The year before last, my band Blue Socks (ブルーソックス) was formed and around fifty fans came to the celebration party. At that time, I told them, “I am the happiest when you become fans of me because you love my songs. I don’t want you to become my fans because you love my physique or my eyes. I will study hard and learn music to please you all, so if you think I’m not good or I need more study, please scold me. If I can’t live up to you, I will give up.”
MM: You dare say such a thing in front of many people. I’m impressed.
HM: It was right after experiencing the struggle of forming Blue Socks, and I said that earnestly. Even now, I haven’t changed my mind.
MM: What you have decided when you were struggling is true.
HM: It came out after thinking about it repeatedly.
MM: Your voice is husky when you are talking. Does it change through the microphone?
HM: Yes. People say my voice is mellow through the microphone.
MM: It’s lucky if your voice records deeper through the microphone. It’s disappointing if your voice records weaker than it actually is. Microphones now have enhancements, so you can express your new originality with an echo-producing microphone.

◎ I run away when I see a ball coming.

MM: Do you play golf?
HM: No, I don’t. I play baseball, but I have no team to play with. (ha ha)
MM: Why don’t you join our team, then? (ha ha) I run away when I see a ball coming to me. I played second base and many balls came there! (ha ha) One of the members of my fan club recommended that I shouldn’t play second. Now I just play as a pinch hitter or a field manager. I sometimes imitate Shigeru Mizuhara (水原茂). (ha ha) Our team also has a game today, but I have this interview, so I came here.
HM: Oh, thank you, and I’m sorry for that. (ha ha) I’m thinking of trying something, but I can’t do anything. I’m driving a car, a Renault, but I’m just running around. If I were to learn something seriously, I would be absorbed in it recklessly, so I avoid learning.
MM: They say “health depends on your feet”. You’d better walk instead of driving a car. I walk around about 40 kilometers in a day playing golf or hunting.
HM: I haven’t got that much energy! (ha ha)
MM: You look like you do some sports, as you have a good physique.
HM: When I was a student, I didn’t play tennis or go horse riding...
MM: Oh, then you did everything else! (ha ha) Did you quarrel, too?
HM: I’m weak in quarreling, especially now.
MM: I strongly advise you that we showbiz people must not have quarrels. I’ve always thought that “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day”. If the opponent looks apparently weak, however, I’ll fight! How about that attitude?! (ha ha)
HM: I’ll beat the drums instead of quarreling.
MM: Do you like playing drums?
HM: Yes, and I also like playing the guitar and the ukulele.
MM: I tried to play the guitar once, but I quit because it was annoying. (ha ha)
Now I have experience with playing the flute, the clarinet, and the bamboo flute. Those are better than the guitar. Should I learn how to play the guitar from you?
HM: No. That’s impossible. Just talking with you makes me nervous, so it’s absolutely impossible to teach you. I can understand how the fans feel [in the presence of their favorite musicians]. (ha ha)
MM: Will you do more films?
HM: I will, and I already accepted two offers. One is Romantic Flower (花のロマンス) from Takarazuka Films, and the other is Black Falling Leaves (黒い落葉) from Nikkatsu.
MM: Acting is also challenging until you get used to it.
HM: I’m going to try everything. Every opportunity is a chance to learn something new.
MM: You have a good spirit! I’ll go see your show someday, in return for the recital. I’m serious! (ha ha)
HM: Oh…I feel embarrassed. I’m afraid that I’ll get nervous and I won’t be able to sing! (ha ha) I’m your fan, so I feel embarrassed to be seen by you...by the way, I got a letter from one of your fans. It says, “You should keep being a fan of Mihashi-sensei”. It was written on a roll of paper, with ink brush calligraphy.
MM: I’m getting embarrassed now...and what else?
HM: He also sent me a lighter with your signature on it, with the letter. I keep it carefully stored and I don’t use it.
MM: Wow! I really feel embarrassed! Anyway, it was nice to meet you!
HM: Same here! Please teach me many things from now on.

- from Heibon Monthly Magazine (平凡), No. 1, 1960


Anne (アン)

Author:Anne (アン)
43 years old / female
Wahiawā, Hawai'i

I'm a member of
(the Michiya Mihashi
fan club)
since 2016.

I'm also a member
of the Hawaii
Shigin Association
since 2019.
(I began singing
in October, 2018.)

Contact me at: hello_risu@riseup.net

Note: All articles
and captions
were translated
into English
by T. Nonaka.

The profile
picture is
my artwork.