Saturday, September 05, 2015

"there appeared unto them Elias with Moses" - Episodes about Old Popular Singers in Japan

Around Tokyo

Episodes about Old Popular Singers in Japan

In the evening sky I saw a jet streak colored pink by the setting sun.  Most part of the sky was covered by rainy clouds, but westward the pale sky was open.

I was thinking about a female singer.  Misora Hibari (1937-1989) was the most successful singer in Japan after WWII.  She recorded 1,500 songs till her death at 52 in 1989 since late 1940s while taking part in more than 150 movies.  She was highly praised in her style of singing Japanese popular ballad with strong and sentimental moods.  Though she was not a kind of beauty who would win a beauty contest, her songs aroused romantic and sometimes sentimental emotions in the hearts of a Japanese audience so deeply.  Misora Hibari was the number one female singer in Japan from late 1940s to 1980s.

But it is said that she had a strong connection to one of the heads of the largest gangster syndicates in Japan.  When singers and players performed on a local theater, they were usually requested to pay reasonable respect for a major gangster group that controlled show business in the local area.  Accordingly entertainment personalities reportedly have some sort of connection with gangsters even today.  Decades ago, such association was more frequent.  In this social environment, Misora Hibari reportedly came to be supported by the head of the Yamaguchigumi syndicate called Taoka whose stronghold was Kobe.

Misora Hibari was not friendly to other entertainers.  She seldom associated with other singers and actors/actresses, though she briefly married an actor to soon get divorced.  However, there was one exception, since there was another very popular female singer in Japan after WWII: Shimakura Chiyoko (1938-2013).  Shimakura was one year younger than Hibari, but when Shimakura was a junior high-school student, Misora was a successful singer already.

However, as time went by, Misora came to feel friendship with Shimakura.  And they became good friends for each other.  When Misora got ill to be hospitalized, only Shimakuea was allowed to visit Misora in person among many people in concerned with show business.

Once Shimakura hurt her eye, as a tape a fan threw to her on stage hit the eye.  So, she received medical treatment from an eye doctor.  She was cured of the eye injury well, and she felt indebted to him, so that years later she became a guarantee of this medical doctor for his financial transaction, etc.  Unfortunately, it forced Shimakura to take on the big debt, 400 million yen ($4 million) at the rate in 1970s.

It became big news at the time: a very popular singer terribly indebted due to her position as a guarantee for an acquaintance.  Then a rich woman appeared offering a help.  She said that she would take over Shimakura's debts, since she was very rich and had many friends among influential people.  So, Shimakura entrusted debt management to the woman, even allowing her to manage Shimakura's show activities.  It also became big news that a rich fan helped Shimakura out of the debt hell.

However, it later turned out that the rich woman was a common-law wife of a certain gangster syndicate.  Shimakura's debts were not decreased, but rather the amount of debts increased.  The rich woman took incomes from Shimakura's performance as well as her condominium room.  When Shimakura realized it, she cut the connection with the rich woman to be financially saved eventually.

Indeed, the entertainment industry or show business is contaminated so badly by entertainers' connections with gangsters or the like.  Even such female singers as Misora Hibari and Shimakura Chiyoko who enjoyed high popularity all over Japan, receiving many big awards, were not exceptional.  Singers and actors/actresses of generations younger than Misora and Shimakura must have the same problem.

Maybe the color of the jet streak reminded me of old female singers for some reason.  But the sky was not clear blue, which is expected in the late summer or at the beginning of autumn.

Entertainment business belongs to commercialism.  Commercialism needs idols and icons.  Indeed, the Bible tells us to  exercise caution on idols.  Therefore, we should regard all the performing artists as anti-Christ.  But if we request the general public to follow this teaching, gangsters might come to hurt us.  Yet, Christ Jesus said that it is better to enter Heaven even if we lose one arm or one foot in a fight against evil.

Thinking so, I was watching the sky without any attraction but the pink jet streak on the street without any drama.  But I remembered that I just passed by a young girl, an hour before, who looked like a famous actor as she had been in her junior-high school days.  There are many young people who must learn the Bible.

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Mar 9:4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
Mar 9:5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.