Held twice a year, finding a venue was a challenge… What was “Kohaku” like when “Boogie Woogie” Shizuko Kasaoki was on the show? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Held twice a year, finding a venue was a challenge… What was “Kohaku” like when “Boogie Woogie” Shizuko Kasaoki was on the show?

Kohaku Uta Gassen: That Day, That Time - "Kohaku Doctor" Michito Goda, Author and President of the Singers' Association of Japan, talks about the Kohaku Uta Gassen.

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NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen…The Backstory Behind the “Omisoka” Event

The season of the “Kohaku Uta Gassen,” the annual annual New Year’s Eve tradition, has come again this year, for the 74th time. The year 2011 marks the 70th year of TV broadcasting. Broadcasting began on February 1, 1953, and a program introducing famous songs of the era born from television will be broadcast with Tetsuko Kuroyanagi as a guest.

In fact, this year of the start of TV was the first year that “Kohaku” was held twice a year. The third and fourth “Kohaku” were held twice in 1953. What does this mean? In fact, “Kohaku Uta Gassen” had been a special New Year’s program until the third edition.

However, after three years, the popularity of the program grew, and the following year, NHK decided to open the program to the public by moving it out of its previous studio in Uchisaiwaicho and letting the audience in.

Naturally, the fourth program was to be held on New Year’s Day in 1954. NHK did not yet have its own hall. So, we tried all the outside theaters, but none of them would rent us a theater.

The theaters were in the midst of their New Year’s performances. It was not that they would not rent to us, but rather that they had no vacancies.

Thanks to the efforts of Kazuo Kikuta, the writer of the NHK radio drama “Kimi no na wa” that had just become a nationwide sensation, the Nippon Theatre in Sukiyabashi, where “Kimi no na wa” was set, somehow agreed to rent it to us. However, the theater was not open during the New Year’s holiday. However, the theater was not open on New Year’s Day.

However, in those days, New Year’s Eve was a time for families to spend together in a relaxed atmosphere. There were no New Year’s Eve live concerts or countdowns, as is the case today, and so the question arose, “It’s good to have a large theater with popular singers, but will it really draw an audience? But would they be able to attract an audience? Unfortunately, it was snowing in Tokyo on the day of the event.

Shortly before the doors opened, however, a long line formed and the Nichigeki Theater was packed to capacity.

In 1953, Shizuko Kasagi (then Shizuko) appeared in “Kohaku” on both New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve. She is the model for Suzuko Fukurai, the main character in the current NHK morning TV series “Boogie Woogie” (from NHK’s official website).

New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve…Shizuko Kasagi appeared twice in “Kohaku” in 1953.

Shizuko Kasagi (then known as Shizuko) appeared on both New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve in 1953. She is the model for Suzuko Fukugi, the main character in the current NHK morning TV series “Boogie Woogie.

The song “Tokyo Boogie Woogie”, which she danced and sang on stage, echoed through the dark postwar streets. It seemed to symbolize the arrival of a new era in Japan, which until then had been dominated by military songs.

When U.S. soldiers stationed in Japan at the time saw Kasagi on stage, they looked at her and wondered, “Is that really a defeated Japanese citizen? The common people saw courage and hope in Kasaki’s rousing singing voice, as if she were releasing something that had been pent up in their hearts.

Kasagi did not appear in the first “Kohaku” held in 1951. No, it was one of the singing programs, so “to participate or not to participate” was never an issue or topic of conversation. It was just that seven star singers each of men and women who happened to have an open schedule appeared on NHK.

Not only Kasaki, but also Misora Hibari, who had already had a string of hits at that time, Minoru Obata, Yoshio Tabata, Haruo Oka, and others did not appear on the program.

Shizuko Kasagi sang “Kaimono Boogie” in her first Kohaku appearance.

This trend continued until the early 1950s, when television became popular and the program was called a “national program,” but even so, Kasagi appeared in the second Kohaku, singing “Kaimono Boogie” from the New Year’s Day in 1952.

On the day of the second Kohaku, Utako Matsushima of “Marronnier no Kage” finished her New Year’s performance in Nikko, Tochigi, and took a train to Asakusa, then drove to the NHK studio.

However, she was injured in a collision between a cab and a streetcar, and was unable to perform. The staff contacted Fubuki Koshiji, who was at home having a New Year’s party with friends, as a substitute for Matsushima. Koshiji rushed to NHK and sang “Shima Breeding” to the rhythm of “Biggin” (some say he sang “Begin the Biggin”).

However, during the performance, a call from the police station explaining Matsushima Utako’s accident was intercepted among the calls for support, and the whole country became aware of Matsushima’s accident.

Singer Yoshiko Ishii (right) and Noriko Awatani. Taken in June 1950 (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

Noriko Awatani appeared in “Kohaku” (Red and White), saying, “I needed to have good looks… (Laughs)

On New Year’s Day of the following year, Shizuko Kasagi sang “Home Run Boogie” with great energy and “Kattobase~” and was the last performer in the Kohaku group. As it was one month before the TV broadcast, a large camera was set up in the studio for test broadcasts.

The audience had never seen a TV camera before, and they stared at the cannon-like object and wondered “What is this? Akiko Kikuchi, who sang at the top of the bill on that day, told me that the audience had never seen a TV camera and were staring at the cannon-like object, wondering “What is this?

On the New Year’s Eve of that year, the 4th Kohaku, the second of the year, began at the Nichigeki Theater. Kasagi sang and danced her signature song “Tokyo Boogie Woogie” on stage, contributing to the victory of the red group.

The last performer of the year was Hamako Watanabe, who had participated in the first Kohaku since its inception. Noriko Awatani, who also appeared in the morning drama “Boogie Woogie,” participated for the first time.

This is another story that Awatani told me before she died. She said, “I had turned it down before, but they told me it was because TV had started. I remember her joking, “They needed my good looks…”.

Shizuko Kasagi’s last “Kohaku” performance was in the era of Hibari Misora.

However, the popular star Kasagi did not appear in the following fifth and sixth Kohaku.

This was later revealed in an interview when Kasagi talked about his “memories of Kohaku. One time I had to have dental work done. The other time was when I had to appear on commercial TV, and I had a big argument about it….

In 1955, Radio Tokyo (now TBS) aired “All-Star Singing Contest” as a back program of “Kohaku,” completely copying the content of “Kohaku,” and the TBS side included not only Kasagi but also Noriko Awatani, Hibari Misora, Chiyoko Shimakura, Columbia Rose, and a man named Hirokichi Takada, The following year, “All-Star~” was broadcast again, this time on TBS.

The following year, “All-Star” was held again, but this time Kasaki appeared on the NHK side, and sang “Hey Hey Boogie” in “Kohaku” on the 7th Grand New Year’s Eve, again playing the last song in the Kohaku group.

The following year, however, Kasagi retired from singing. The reason was that she had gained weight and could no longer sing and dance. She decided to give up her position as queen and pursue a career as an actress, with Shizuko as her name.

The singing world had changed from the Kasagi era to the Hibari Misora era, who came out as an impersonator of Kasagi, and the baton was passed to Hibari for the closing of “Kohaku” as well.

The final performer of “Kohaku” was Hibari from Kasaki…photo taken in July, 1956 (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

Speaking of Kasaki’s mimicry, the latest is that “Miracle Hikaru,” and on the 2nd day of the New Year, I will be the host of the “New Year 12 Hour Song Festival,” which I will deliver from 12:00 pm to 12:00 pm on BS TV TOKYO, starting with Miracle’s “Tokyo Boogie~. Many songs from that TV starting period will be played, followed by “Osaka Boogie Woogie” by Minoriko Nakamura and “Kaimono Boogie” by Miyuki Kawanaka. Please enjoy this as well.

  • Text by Michito Goda

    Michito Goda 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" (Shodensha), and "The Truth of the Monster Program Kohaku Uta Gassen" (Gentosha), and his current book "The Mystery of the Doyo Who Sang Seasonal Poems" (Kasama Shoin) is a hit. The program of the Japan Singers Association, of which he is the president, "New Year 12 Hour Song Festival" will be broadcast on BS TV TOKYO on January 2, from 12:00 to 24:00 noon.

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