More than half of the New Year’s Eves in my life were spent watching the “Kouhaku” with my parents. It’s no wonder that to this day, I love karaoke and costumes.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, “Kouhaku Uta Gassen” is an annual televised singing competition shot in Japan with a live audience. If you’re lucky, you can catch it on TV in the states, too. For me, it was one of those festivities to look forward to at the end of each year: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kouhaku.
Basically, a committee rounds up the top Japanese music stars from the worlds of pop, folk, adult contemporary, rock, whatever was hot that year. Whether they’re solo singers, duos, groups acts, or bands, the stars are placed by gender onto the white team (men) or the red team (women). Each team takes turns sending out members to the stage to duke it out for national singing glory. This is SERIOUS stuff. The judges and audience vote at the end of several hours, and red or white is crowned the year’s winner.
My mom and I would inevitably say the same things at the TV each year: “What IS this band pronouncing their Japanese all weird?” “She looks so young for her age!” “White team might win again this year.” If I happened to be in my bedroom watching some Dick Clark, my mom would yell out for me to come over when Mikawa Kenichi and Kobayashi Sachiko were about to do their thing, the highlights of many-a-year’s program with their elaborate costumes and sets.
Hurray for sequins! Happy New Year!
Like most Japanese TV singing programs, you can follow along with the words at the bottom of the screen. I can’t read Japanese that quickly, but it was guaranteed that at least once during the show, I’d stand in the middle of the family room, imitate the singing by ear, and make up for the lack of language skills with a flourish of dramatic arm movements in my pajamas.
Thus, it’s only natural that I’m super excited to announce this upcoming event which is all about monomane (impersonation) of Kouhaku singers!
Natsukashi no Kouhaku Uta Gassen
Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 11am and 3 pm
Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 2 pm (Updated on 4/20: This performance is SOLD OUT)
Tateuchi Democracy Forum
111 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
The singing battle of the sexes is coming to Little Tokyo! And YOU decide the outcome.
It’s the “Men vs. the Women” in our delightful spoof of Japan’s famous New Year’s Eve singing contest “Kouhaku Uta Gassen.” Join the fun as we present some of Japan’s most famous and nostalgic songs along with humorous imitations of the singers who sing them, including Mikawa Kenichi, Mori Shinichi, Itsuki Hiroshi, Jero, Saijo Hideki, Go Hiromi, Misora Hibari, Tendo Yoshimi, Wada Akiko, Ishikawa Sayuri, Asaoka Megumi, Natsukawa Rimi, Sen Masao, Frank Nagai, Murata Hideo, Nakamura Mitsuko, Chiaki Naomi, Yamaguchi Momoe, and SMAP!
Written by Soji Kashiwagi
Directed by Keiko Kawashima
Sound design by Scott Nagatani
Featuring: Aaron Aoki, Loryce Hashimoto, Haruye Ioka, Keiko Kawashima, Hideo Kimura, Darrell Kunitomi, Kurt Kuniyoshi, Aimee Machida, Merv Maruyama, Junko Nakamura, Helen Ota, Shaun Shimoda, and Fusako Shiotani
General admission: $25
Seniors, students, and Japanese American National Museum members: $23
Groups of 10 or more: $20
To order tickets, please call the Grateful Crane hotline: (323) 769-5503