57th Kohaku Utagassen rundown (2006 edition)

All right, time for another Kohaku rundown! I meant to do one every month, but I was just too busy in May and June so it had to be postponed. The 57th Kohaku Utagassen episode (第57回NHK紅白歌合戦) aired on December 31st 2006. I was still a fan of the show at the time, so I watched it barely a day or two later and have watched it three or four times since, usually back-to-back with the 56th.

The show starts with a cheesy montage about love and then the hosts show up to introduce themselves. Nakama Yukie and Masahiro Nakai. I remember her being very nervous. This was before Nakai hosted the show so many times I got sick of him. He looks pretty young here but then that was almost 10 years ago. Wow, already?!

57th kohaku presenters

All the guests show up on stage like they always do. Watch your steps, ladies. The announcers Kurosaki Megumi and Miyatake Tamio show up. We’ll skip all the talking bits. Nobody watches Kohaku for the talking. On to our opening performance!

mihimaru GT (debut) “Kibun Jojo” – I’d heard that song in Ouendan 2 already, and I was still excited about the game back then, so I enjoyed this performance. Listening to it again… it’s fairly catchy but nothing special. Not sure how good a choice this was for the opening performance. It must have been a mega-big hit. “Everybody crap your hands? Indeed.

mihimaru GT performance

Sorry for the poor quality of the screenshots. I got a low-quality video way back and never bothered to get something better. Now I doubt I’d find anything higher quality so I won’t even bother looking.

w-inds. (5) “Boogie Woogie 66” – I like this song. It’s better than last year’s song, at least. Their dancing skills seem to have improved a bit as well, though the attempts at “breakdancing” and an air toss were almost embarrassing to watch. This rap is terrible, though. The other guests look a bit bewildered.

BoA (5) “Nana Iro no Ashita ~brand new beat~” – BoA-chan! I’m not a fan, for the record, and this song does nothing for me, but I respect her for working hard in another country. Ganbatte!

boa performing

Toba Ichirō (19) “Kyodaifune” – The Ultraman Brothers come to support him and WaT is tasked with translating. This is so stupid. Toba looks half embarrassed and half amused. I like this song, though. The Gospellers are in the background waving flags. Whatever for? And what does this song have to do with Ultraman? It’s interesting how the presenters are putting the names of each performer’s home prefecture below their names. Good for foster a bit of local pride, innit?

toba ichiro ultraman

Nagayama Yōko (13) “Kizuna” (along with Kageyama Tokinori) – Kageyama is the writer of the song she is singing. I don’t like his voice. He’s probably not a professional singer… or is he? He looks a bit nervous. I’m too lazy to look it up and this song isn’t that nice. Please end quickly. And enough with dragging the other guests out to wave hankies and flags in “support”. It’s silly and most of them look like they’re barely putting up with it.

SEAMO (debut) “Mata Ai Masho Kōhaku Mix” – Yay, Seamo! Apparently he did a rap version of Sada Masashi’s Kanpaku Sengen song and they get to know each other that way. This performance is a medley of his Lupin the Fire rap song, which is really nice, and his song ‘Mata Aimasho’ which is nice enough. Like, I wouldn’t listen to it outside of Kohaku ‘cos it’s just your average breakup song. But Lupin the Fire I like.

seamo performing

Introduction of guests. Yeah yeah, whatever.

Sakamoto Fuyumi (18) “Iwai Zake” – She made a song about Matsuyama in Ehime, and Fuyumi Sakamoto made a song about an island called … something. Nakajima town, I think. She went to visit them too. So they’re being linked by live broadcast so they can cheer her on. That’s nice. I love Sakamoto’s kimono. She always wears the best kimonos. The skin on her neck looks a bit taut. Face lift? Or just me being mean? >:-D

This particular song hmm, haa, it’s okay. Your standard enka song. What, did this Taka Takashi write every Enka song in existence? I see his name all the time.

sakamoto fuyumi nice kimono

Kitayama Takeshi (2) “Otoko no Kobushi” – Introduced by his mentor Kitajima Saburou, who praises him a lot. They talk so much that the song starts playing to force them to quit talking. The Japan Karate Association is behind him to support him. Whatever for? Haa… Decent song, though it doesn’t really make use of Kitayama’s powerful voice. I believe in writing songs to suit the singer’s voice and abilities, but what would I know?

takeshi kitayama performing

GAM (debut) & Morning Musume (9) “Thanks!, Aruteru, 2006 Ambitious Version” – My usual pee break song, but this time I’m going to listen to it. Great Aya & Miki, a team of Aya Matsuura and Miki… I dunno her name. Fujimoto, the internet tells me. Remember, this is back in 2006 when Morning Musume was still relevant. Not an AKB8 in sight. How things change in 9 years. I spent the time staring at the flat tummies to inspire me to exercise a bit.

Aqua Timez (debut) “Ketsui no Asa ni” – Short lead singer is short! Young-looking Kusanagi is young-looking! I quite like this song, though I don’t find myself humming it or anything. But it’s nice, especially the little “Yes!” in the beginning and the guitar.

aqua timez at kohaku

Fuji Ayako (15) “Yuki Shinshin” – Best song of the night and the best Fuji Ayako performance I’ve seen. The rising from the ground, the spotlight the falling ‘snow’, the stark hairstyle, the lovely purple kimono, the passionate performance of a great song, the mischevious little smile when she sings ‘demo’… Everything about it is just wonderful. I normally rewind it and watch it two or 3 times, but this time I’ll move on.

fuji ayako yuki shinshin

Hosokawa Takashi (32) “Naniwabushi dayo Jinsei wa” – Haha! He forgot his line! He was busy macking on Sakura Yokomine in the audience, of course he would forget his line. Next time focus on your singing. We learned this song in Japanese class, so I like it a lot, though I don’t usually sing along. This time I’ll sing. Onna no, onna noooooo jinsei waaaaaa!

Minna no Uta 45 Years! Kids Show – The usual random Kohaku special corner. Minna no Uta is a children’s program I’ve never watched so I’m not really moved. Around the 51-minute point? Okay I’ll see if there’s anything I can teach my nephews and nieces. Hmm I like the hamehameha song. I like the Computer Obachan song too. The rest is random children running around the stage.

kohaku hamehameha


It must be hard to be a Kohaku guest. Well, this guy actually managed to breakdance effectively… though that simulated snot is hard to look at. Count yourself lucky I’m not taking a screenshot of it. All right, you’ve had your 5 minutes… wait! Get out of the audience! Go home! Haaaha! The audience looks bewildered, but maybe it was a planned interruption? I dunno. Either way Okamura Takeshi is enjoying his 15 minutes in the Kohaku spotlight.

Suga Shikao (debut) “Progress” (along with Kōkua) – How do I act cool, asked Suga Shikao. Another case of “not a bad song” but I wouldn’t listen to it outside of this program. I like the instruments. And his foundation. Where do I buy foundation that makes my face look this smooth? I refuse to believe it’s the magic of youth.

suga shikao performing

Godai Natsuko (13) “Kinmokusei” – Koda Kumi’s kimono is pretty but her overtanned skin and crazy hairstyle just don’t go with it. She should have picked something lighter and simpler. Natsuko Godai never lets me down kimono-wise…. oh my, that’s a particularly lovely one. I want that one! This is a nice song. It has largely same tune as all the other female enka songs we’ve heard today, at least at first, but I like the shift at the end. I hate “I’ll wait for you forever” lyrics though. You have only one life, don’t waste it waiting for someone who doesn’t want you.

natsuko godai kimono

Horiuchi Takao (17) “Itoshii Hibi” – The intermediary convo was just too awkward and unnatural. I had to mute it. Another song I really like from this Kohaku. Sankyuu, Horiuchi Takao! Orokana mono da to waraimasu ka? Itoshiki hibi nooo hakanasa wa. Great lyrics, great song. Sankyuuu!

Hirahara Ayaka (3) “Chikai” – Shizuka Arakawa fresh off her surprise gold medal win in figure skating. This song was used for the Torino Olympics broadcasts. Probably the only Hirahara song I like, maybe because it somehow works with her breathy style of singing. The power ballad style with the theme of striving for something goes well with breathing hard, as if to say “I’m really trying, aren’t I?” So it works. I can really feel the emotion watching the scene of Arakawa skating and showing off the gold medal. Congratulations!

Mikawa Kenichi (23) “Sasori za no Onna 2006” – I can see the producer signalling the people introducing it to cut things short. This is the start of like 3 or 4 years of Kenichi Mikawa singing the same song in increasingly fancy outfits. This was the first time I’d seen it so I was slightly impressed. If only I’d known the horror to come… Apparently he got some famous guy to do this choreography. Huh.

mikawa kenichi and choreographer

Otsuka Ai (3) “Ren’ai Shashin” – Ahh, I’m really sick of these intermissionary skits. Not a bad song.

Kōzai Kaori (14) “Saihoku Kōro” – Another beautiful kimono. More understated than Sakamoto’s but beautiful in its own way. I like her hairstyle too. But I’ve never thought much of Kozai Kaori’s singing voice and this song is just the same enka tune as all the rest.

kozai kaori

Orange Range (2) “Champione” – Orange Range performing live from Okinawa. Very forgettable song.

Natsukawa Rimi (5) “Hana” – Okay song, nice old song, but I was busy talking to a drop-in guest and couldn’t focus on it. The guy playing the ukelele seemed to be enjoying himself a bit too much.

Fuse Akira (22) “Imagine” – I like Akira Fuse and his voice, but this ‘Imagine’ song is meh. There is a heaven, and the only way we will have peace is when Jesus comes as the Prince of Peace to judge and rule the earth, not when sinful human beings decide to make it happen. Which they can’t and won’t. Imagine there’s no heaven, eh? John Lennon knows there is one by now. He’s not there, though, sadly enough.

Mori Masako (15) “Bara Iro no Mirai” – Ex-wife of Mori Shinichi. She got divorced from him that year though she naturally avoids mentioning it in her little interview. I like this song a lot. It works best together with the rose stage design and the violinists instead of independently as an mp3 though. She sings the wrong lyrics from the one the screen at some point, but I’ll be nice and pretend I didn’t notice.

mori masako barairo

Maekawa Kiyoshi (16) “Nagasaki wa Kyo mo Ame datta” – Lovely song, everyone looks nicely aged. They said that Cool Five was only reforming for tonight-only to honor their late leader Uchiyamada Hiroshi but I guess the performance went down a treat because they performed together again the following year. I like the way Maekawa digs into the ‘kokoro, kokoro midarete’ line.

BONNIE PINK (debut) “A Perfect Sky” – I know her for making a song for Rurouni Kenshi IIRC but I’ve never listened to her other music. This is pretty catchy. She’s looking really cute tonight. Some Google photos of her make her look very euhhhh… I hear Bonnie Pink speaks good English (if nothing, her pronunciation of “I’m looking for a perfect sky” is flawless), which may be why they had a little segment with Eigo de Shaberanaito, an English-learning program before her performance. Amusing, but kind of pointless. I should be used to things like this by now though.

bonnie pink is looking for a perfect sky

Gospellers (6) “Furusato” – Yoshida Miyako, a ballerina comes in to introduce the place and had some forced conversation about how much she missed Japan when she was abroad. Then Gospellers come out and butcher a song even worse than they did last year. Who keeps inviting them?

Ishikawa Sayuri (29) “Meoto Zenzai” – Ahh, another beautiful kimono. I want them all. Plus the hair decorations which probably cost another arm and leg. Sweet song about happy married love, which is lovely and rare. Of course Amagigoe is my favorite Ishikawa song but I like the lyrics of this one better. Not a particularly memorable song though. Uses the same tune as all the other enka songs, for one thing.

ishikawa meoto zenzai

Mori Shinichi (39) “Ofukuro-san” – Aiiiieee! Ofukuro-san again! The first time I watched this I remember thinking, hmm that’s a bit odd. Didn’t he sing this last year? not knowing he would perform it again the following year. I like the song but Mori Shinichi has much better songs out there, which he will sing in other years. Nice fake tears, bro. Nice lip gloss. And nice black hair dye too or is that just kicking puppies at this point?

Btw, I hear the composer of the song was pissed at Mori for adding the little intro he did at the beginning. The intro didn’t add much to the song but at least it was a change from the same old, same old. I’m inclined to side with Mori on this one.

mori shinichi and his okaasan again

That’s the end of the first half of the show. Now people are being invited to vote for 30 seconds, interim voting. I don’t know how it will affect the final results since it won’t be announced immediately. The show resumes with a performance from Ayaka.

Ayaka (debut) “Mikazuki” – Yah… I rather like this song, but again not enough to listen to it on its own. And I dunno what she’s doing with that hand thing… pointing to the moon? Dunno. Btw I watched this with my sis once and that’s where I first learned about the spray-on foundation that the stars use especially on places like armpits and legs to make them all smooth and pretty and stuff. The things you learn from big sisters, eh?

ayaka armpit foundation

The results of the voting… one ball each… this is so stupid…

WaT (2) “5 Centi.” – At least their mic didn’t fall down this time. It’s not a bad song, but very ‘high school boy band’ songish which I guess is the impression WaT wants to give. Why do Wentz’s eyes keep swimming like that? Pick something to look at. They haven’t released anything in 5 years so that must be it for WaT.

Hmm, I don’t know Uzaki Ryudo or his wife so that means nothing to me. He seems like a funny guy. Oya oya? According to Wikipedia he composed Jero’s Umiyuki. I know that song!

Hamasaki Ayumi (8) “Jewel” – Interesting dress. I know someone who would love to wear something like this at least once. Fashion, eh. The song is typical Hamasaki fare but she starts out not screeching plus she has only a piano accompanying her instead of instruments. It actually sounds nice for the first 30 seconds. Until she gets to the chorus. The chorus…

ayumi hamasaki interesting outfit

Sukima Switch (2) “Boku Note” – Haha funny joke about not losing when it comes to big hair. Then an explanation of the name of the duo. This time the introductory conversation went quite smoothly. Are those little kiddies playing the violins? No, regular-sized human beings sitting down. I like the song but I don’t know if this voice works with it. But it would be a boring ordinary song with an ordinary voice. Hmm, I dunno.

Nakashima Mika (5) “Hitoiro” – The funny outfit is from the Nana movie. I think Nakashima makes a great Nana. She has the dark gloomy look down pat in contrast to Reina, plus she can actually sing so it makes sense for her to be the lead singer of a band. I like the song, though it does betray its Glay roots. “Ima kimi no tame ni~” Her weird crouching stance is also part of the Nana thing, I guess? But I’ve seen her stooping at other times, so maybe that’s just her style. I’ve listened to this song several times since, ‘cos I just like it.

mika nakashima as nana

TOKIO (13) “Sorafune” – Ah, another of my favorite songs of the night. I love the kimono, and this was a pretty funny skit at the beginning when they looked at the picture of their leader. I love Fujiyama Naomi’s kimono, did I say that already? Haha, SMAP taking a dig at TOKIO, that’s rich. Thanks to this song I became a big fan of Nakajima Miyuki (composer/writer) and this song is still in my regular playlist even now. So catchy. Sooooono fune wo koide yuke! He sings it like ‘pune’ but whatever. Probably has to sing it that way to get the word out clearly, singing tricks and all that. Yoi yo toshi o!

smap teasing tokio

2006 Super Review -Blaaaaaahhh I hate these thinnngs. Kyaiin is no longer popular I guess? I haven’t seen them for a while. Hoshino Aki! Where did she go? I haven’t seen her in a while either! She looks horrible in her Wikipedia picture. Blah, whatever. Let’s just sit through this. Whoa, the living skipping rope was interesting. I see, so this is when maid cafes started catching on in Akihabara. That’s been a while eh? Wada Akiko in a maid outfit… Aieee. SMAP is lip-synching. I know because they almost sound decent.

wada akiko as a maid

aiko (5) “Hitomi” – She seems like such a nice girl but I just don’t like her music. *sigh* This is making me sleepy.

Porno Graffiti (5) “Haneuma Rider” – This was amusing. A couple who liked Porno Graffiti and the guy supposedly looks like the guitarist… He does looks like him a bit, I guess. The song is catchy. Really catchy. And I like that jacket.

But who’s the Ayumi Hamasaki look-alike? Sakurazuka Yakkun? Oh ho! I saw a staff member behind him giving the audience cues! Anyway, Sakurazuka’s 15 minutes of fame must be up by now… whaaa? He’s dead? Oh my. Well, RIP I GUESS.sakurazaka yakkun

Kobayashi Sachiko (28) “Ōedo Kenka Bana” – Saa! Saa! Saa saa saa saa! The outfit is just flashy but not particularly special, but I like the song. The steam? And the thing at the bottom? It’s supposed to be a volcano? I’m confused… And now Nakai is teasing her. Hahaha.

kobayashi sachiko outfit

Za Touch… Uh… Whatever.

DJ Ozma (debut) “Age Age Every Knight” – …those nude body suits were over the top. I was really enjoying the Bounce with me! Bounce with me! song but they went too far… Just too vulgar… I can’t imagine what was going trough the minds of the audience as they watched this. I believe DJ Ozma when he says NHK was in on the whole thing, then disowned him when things went bad. That’s corporations for you. Yeah baby waku waku!

dj ozma bounce with me

Angela Aki (debut) “Home” – Nice song. It works best with the piano-only, doesn’t sound so special with instruments. But again not something I would listen to outside of Kohaku. Take your lips off the mic, it’s unclean. Another artist I haven’t heard anything of in a while. Fame really is fleeting.

Sada Masashi (18) “Kakashi” – I missed what Goro-chan and Nakai were talking about. I like the message of this song – It sounds just like my mom, even when we’re gone for just one day – but it’s so long it puts me to sleep a bit. A bit, heheh.

The weather report? That’s so … I’m not going to bother commenting any more. Like, who CARES about the weather tomorrow at a late-night concert? Besides the whole Japan is going to be sunny so there’s really no point. Ack. Btw I like Nakama Yukie’s curtain-dress. It’s… curtainy.

weather report at kohaku

Mizumori Kaori (4) “Kumanokodō” – Aha! Another long dress to hide the platform shoes eh? This would make a nice wedding dress. The song itself is just like all the other enka songs before it. It doesn’t show off Mizumori’s excellent range but nobody expects range from an enka song.

Hikawa Kiyoshi (7) “Ikken” – I like the stage background for both songs. I had a dream with a huge moon like that in it. It was kind of fun. Uhh the song? It’s okay. My comments are getting a bit shorter partly because I’m sleepy and partly because the second half has been rather dull. Hikawa’s perfectly-coiffured hair doesn’t go very well with this particular kimono. Needs a little more wildness.

hikawa kiyoshi moon

Imai Miki (debut) “PRIDE” – This year the performer who is famous but has never appeared on Kohaku is Imai Miki, supported by her husband Hotei Tomoyasu. I know him because of Ouendan, but this is the first time I’d heard of Imai. I haven’t listened to any of her other songs but this song definitely deserves the title ‘meikyoku’. It’s a real classic, and her voice is as beautiful as on the single. If I’m not mistaken, they also let her sing the whole song instead of a truncated version. Very good choice, NHK.

imai miki with tomoyasu hotei

Tokunaga Hideaki (debut) “Kowarekake no Radio” – Another first, another great discovery for me. I hear he was super nervous coming out there, which is probably why Nakai is being so encouraging. Lovely, lovely song, another one I tend to rewind and watch a few more times. Very unusual voice, well-used. I like so many of his other songs too, but don’t care too much for his covers of female artistes. This performance must have gone over as well with the audience as it did with me, because Tokunaga has appeared on a lot of Kohaku’s since then. I like the slight change he makes with the ending versus in the single version.

tokunaga hideaki belting it out

Aha… an apology for DJ Ozma’s performance. It’s not really an apology, though. More like an explanation: they weren’t naked, they were wearing body suits! Uhh yeah, but they were body suits painted to look like nude bodies soooo… hardly any difference really. The real apologies would come later in the week once NHK realized people wouldn’t let it drop. The issue even got a small article in my local paper thousands of miles away.

Wada Akiko (30) “Mother” – Mazaaaaaa! I like this song too. I don’t know about this Riri Franky guy who introduced the song. Hmm. But I really like this song. Wada works best when she’s letting her voice work with few frills or stage props. Nice simple stage, simple dress just letting the song speak for itself. Good one.

wada akiko

Akikawa Masafumi (debut) “Sen no Kaze ni Natte” – Lovely performance, great graphics. Unfortunately the song is nice but the message is completely wrong. It’s human nature to want to think there’s something better for everyone after death, but in truth this only applies to anyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t turn into ‘wind’ or ‘light’ or anything when we die. We don’t just ‘sleep’ either. We die and go on to eternal reward or eternal punishment, each and every one of us.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18).

I pray for missionaries in Japan all the time. People need to hear the truth.

akikawa masafumi will not become the moon when he dies


Tendō Yoshimi (11) “Inochi no Kagiri” – They seem to be running out of time because there’s no real introduction for this one. Tendo channeling the late Misora Hibari with her outfit. Yet another identical-sounding enka song. I like what the girls with the umbrellas are doing on the round stage, simple but very cool. But I’m a little depressed when I think that everyone on the program is going to hell if they don’t repent. Now I remember why I stopped watching these shows for a while.

Kobukuro (2) “Kaze” – Haa… Not really a Kobukuro fan. This one isn’t bad. And again I like songs with simple accompaniments. No covering up your inability to sing with flashy effects.

Koda Kumi (2) “Yume no Uta” – Koda Kumi! I hear she has a summer-themed album coming out soon. I like this song, and I remember really liking her nails when I first saw this though I don’t remember why now. You wouldn’t be able to open anything with those. The body paint and glitter effects are interesting too, though to be honest it’s more like the whole outfit was painted on. Is that tissue paper wrapped around the microphone? Oh brother.

koda kumi ridiculous nails

Hiroshi Itsuki (36) “Takasebune” – Bad old man. Songs about illicit romance are bad. Not that he’s the only one to have ever sung one. I generally enjoy Itsuki’s songs, but this is the first time I’ve taken the time to listen to the lyrics of this one. The show is almost over so the stars are lining up on the sides for the last spurt.

Dreams Come True (11) “Nandodemo Love Love Love 2006” – Nandodemo nandodemo! I hear the singer Yoshida lost her boyfriend that year, some kind of brain cancer. Oh here’s there their black backup dancer. I remember him from last year… wait… are those just heavily-tanned Japanese… okay, the black guy is there + the Japanese. Sorry, I just enjoy seeing a variety of skin colors on my screen. There he is!

nandodemo black  singer

SMAP (14) “Arigatō” – The only SMAP song I’ve liked enough to listen to a few times in a row. They loook so youuuung!! Well I guess Goro and the young guy haven’t changed much, but Nakai, Kimtaku and Kusanagi look so fresh-faced. I should stop comparing them. None of us look the way we did 9 years ago. Arigatooooooooo! Arigatoooooo~ It’s a good lesson that beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive (Proverbs 31:30). Man, Nakai’s lack of singing skills must be legendary by now. How on earth did he ever get into a boy band? I like the song. I want to listen to it and look at their fresh faces again >:-D

young kusanagi and young kimutaku

Miyuki Kawanaka (19) “Futari Sake” – 30 years since her debut. Is it the dress or is Nakama Yukie a little bow-legged? Oh well.The hair accessory goes with the dress. Final performance for the red team. Taka Takashi strikes again! This doesn’t sound as generic as the other enka songs with the same tune. Maybe the happy lyrics and her bright smile make the difference. Ah! I saw you adjusting the kimono! Don’t cry! What happened to the bright smile? No, she was so cute!

kawanaka miyuki beautiful smile

Kitajima Saburō (43) “Matsuri” – Sabu-chuwaaan! But then I think, he has only a few years to repent before the end, and then I can’t be as happy. Yama no kami, umi no kami, arigatou? I’ll make it a point to pray for all those on the show tonight. I like the song, of course, plus the lively performances. Haha, look at Akko herding the other ladies like sheep. DJ Ozma smiling like he doesn’t know how much trouble he’s in yet.


Aight, I’m going to skip all the voting stuff. The White Team won! It kind of wasn’t fair to have SMAP and Kitajima Saburo go last, was it? But then all the ladies had to do was bring out people with equivalent star power, and they just didn’t have any that year. Welp, that’s it for 2006’s edition. It’ll be a while before I can settle down to watch the next one, but I’ll get round it eventually, God willing.

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