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What is Enka?

Enka can be summarized as a genre of song firmly rooted in the landscape of Japan and the emotions of the Japanese people.
The word enka wwas in use from the middle of the Meiji period, but at that time it denoted ideas put in the form of song, and was applied to public speeches.
From the decade of 1910 onwards, however, it came to refer to songs that deal with love between men and women, and mingled feelings of joy and sorrow.
Then in the 1930s, as records grew more popular, enka became a part of the national consciousness.
Numerous singers appeared - of whom Misora Hibari (1937-89) was the most famous - and the 60s and 70s were the golden age of enka.
The majority of enka songs are characterized by sad lyrics that tell of grim destiny or of lovers cruelly separated, and by melodies which make use of grace-notes in order to evoke pathos.
Young people have lost interest in the old world sung about in enka songs, but for older people enka is the most essential form of Japanese music.
Even now there is no shortage of middie-aged men putting their heart and soul into singing enka at karaoke.