Misora Hibari, for whom the bell did not ring… Experts point out disappointments and expectations in the redecoration of the long-running program “Nodo Boast”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Misora Hibari, for whom the bell did not ring… Experts point out disappointments and expectations in the redecoration of the long-running program “Nodo Boast”.

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NHK’s “Nodo Jiman” is now available as a karaoke source…

NHK Nodo Jiman,” a popular Sunday afternoon program, was renewed on April 2. The accompaniment for the songs, which had been used for a long time, was changed from a live band to karaoke music.

Karaoke has taken root in Japan about 45 years ago. In fact, I debuted as a singer at the age of 17, but before my debut, contests and auditions did not involve karaoke, but only piano, accordion, or a small band. This was exactly the style of the “throat singing” contests that were held until March. It was a time when there were no such things as karaoke contests. Nowadays, however, singing karaoke is common even among children.

The reason for NHK’s decision to “use familiar karaoke” is that it is indeed a normal program for the general public. In other words, most people practice karaoke in order to participate in “Nodo Boast. If they are lucky enough to pass the first round of judging the day before, they will want to practice that night as well. However, since the live band will be playing at the show, the sound will naturally be different from what they practiced. There will be times when you will say to yourself, “Oh no!

Nodo Jiman,” Japan’s longest-running TV program, started in January 1946. The photo shows the Kanto Koshinetsu National Nodo Boasting Contest (1948) (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

Even if the tempo is a little off, even if the singer starts singing incorrectly…

In fact, from some time in the past, only guest singers sang karaoke instead of live. For example, even if there were string instruments (violin) or special instruments (koto, shamisen, etc.) in the recording, they would not be played on the day of the event, so the guest singers who were to perform new songs wanted to sing something close to the CD source, so karaoke singing by the guests has become the norm. In the past, not only the band but also the shamisen and shakuhachi were always present as accompanists. Two or more minyo singers were chosen to sing each time among the performers on the day of the event.

However, there is an advantage to having a band. Music, as the word implies, is about enjoying the sound. Singers are paid to perform, so as professionals, they can’t just enjoy themselves, but the performers are all amateurs, so they have the right to enjoy the sound. However, the performers are all amateurs, so they have the right to enjoy the sound. If a live band sings, even if the tempo is a little off or the beginning of a song is wrong, the band will be kind enough to adjust to it.

However, with karaoke, even if you make a mistake or the tempo is off, the sound will not wait for you. Well, that’s fine because you are enjoying the sound. After all, the true meaning of “throat singing” is to enjoy singing….

A time when it was rare in the world for amateurs to use public microphones

Nodo Jiman” is Japan’s longest-running television program. In 1945, the war in Japan was over. There was no food to eat and no place to live. Even after the war, people’s lives were not easy. However, NHK directors at the time had to produce a new program for the postwar period. The idea was to give courage to the defeated Japanese people through song, and the “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (Red and White Singing Contest) and “Nodo Jiman Amateur Performing Arts Competition” were planned.

On December 31, 1945, the “Kohaku Uta Gassen” was to be broadcast. At that time, programs could not be broadcast unless GHQ, the U.S. military, gave the OK to the content. However, the title of the submitted “Kohaku Uta Gassen” was rejected by the GHQ, which said, “It is outrageous that a battle should be called a battle by defeated people. The GHQ quickly replied, “No, no, it is not a battle, it is a match, a game,” but no OK was given. It was not until the New Year’s holiday of 1951 that the program was renamed “Kohaku Uta Gassen.

Nodo Boast,” on the other hand, began in January 1946. Producer Yoshio Saegusa was inspired by the sight of his comrades in arms singing folk songs and military songs of their home countries during a sideshow he had witnessed while in the army. Since there had been a notion that anything vocalized from a microphone was authoritative, the Japanese staff rejected the idea, saying that it was outrageous for an amateur to sing, but on the contrary, GHQ gave the OK, saying that it was a good idea. At that time, there were no cases in the world of amateurs using public microphones.

The host was changed from announcer Sen Odagiri to announcers Naoki Ninomiya and Tomomi Hirose. The set and logo were also renewed (from NHK’s official website).

Hibari Misora” did not ring any bells… Chieko Baisho, Chiyoko Shimakura, and Saburo Kitajima rang two bells.

In this program, a soldier who returned from Siberian internment sang a song that was sung among the soldiers at the time. Â “On a foreign hill at dusk today…. This song was played on the radio after the program, and a record company heard it and recorded it. The song was eventually recognized as Tadashi Yoshida’s composition, and he went on to become one of Japan’s leading composers, even winning the National Honor Award. Speaking of the National Medal of Honor, Hibari Misora also once participated in “Nodo Boast” before her debut, before she turned 10 years old. However, the bell did not ring. No, not the bell for passing the contest. Not a single bell rang.

At that time, children’s songs were the only ones that children sang. Hibari, however, sang a popular song called “Sad Bamboo Flute” (“Ringo no Uta,” some say). Was she so surprised by how well she sang that she forgot to ring the bell? No, no, the truth seems to be that he did not ring the bell, saying, “This is not the subject.

Actress and singer Chieko Baisho, who was recently announced to receive the Golden Mulberry Award (Lifetime Achievement Award) at the Far East Film Festival in Italy, came out singing the nursery rhyme “Sato-no-Aki” from her childhood, but the result was two bells. Chiyoko Shimakura and Saburo Kitajima also received two bells.

Actress and singer Chieko Baisho was announced as the recipient of the Golden Mulberry Award (Lifetime Achievement Award). Photo at the 32nd Tokyo International Film Festival (2019) (PHOTO: AFRO)

Kikiyo Akiyama, who has been ringing the bell that decides whether to accept or reject the award for the last 21 years, will also graduate with this renewal. From now on, percussionists from orchestras active in various regions will be in charge.

No, originally, the performers of “Nodo Boast” have been musicians active in various regions.

Before I debuted as a singer, I myself wanted to participate in “Nodo Boast” but was not able to because the age limit to perform was 15 years old high school students or older. This was because I had already passed an audition in my third year of junior high school for Watanabe Productions, from which I would later make my debut, and was already attending lessons at the school.

At the time, I was living in Sapporo, Hokkaido, and when “Nodo Boast” came to Hokkaido, my singing teacher performed as an accordionist, so I could not participate no matter how much I had not yet made my debut. That teacher was Mayumi Kuwayama, the father of Tetsuya Kuwayama, the current leading accordionist.

Even though the form may have changed, even though the times may have changed, as long as the original form of “enjoying the sound” is preserved, “Nodo Jiman” will be around forever.

  • Text by Michito Goda

    Michito Goda is a writer and president of the Singers Association of Japan, and made his debut as a singer-songwriter with Watanabe Productions in 1979 while still in high school. Since then, in addition to composing and directing music programs, hosting TV shows, and supervising and commentating on CDs, he has also written for newspapers and magazines, composed poetry, and served as a radio DJ, demonstrating his versatility in a variety of fields. His books include "The Mystery of Doyo", "The Mystery of the Shrine", "The Mystery of Showa Songs" (published by Shodensha), and "The Truth about the Monster Program Kohaku Uta Gassen" (published by Gentosha).

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