ABSTRACT

Enka , a sentimental popular-song genre, has been widely regarded as a traditional and genuinely Japanese musical expression. Such a notion as “ enka-wa nihonjin-no kokoro” ( enka is the soul of Japan) is so prevalent that even a famous religious scholar Tetsuo Yamaori wrote several books and articles to justify this cliché (e.g. Yamaori 1984, 2006). From the 1990s on, the new mainstream Japanese popular music came to be called by the umbrella term “J-pop,” a genre from which enka was excluded. It seems that enka has lost its popularity at least in terms of record sales and mass-media coverage. Nevertheless, some people still regard enka as an authentic musical expression of “traditional national culture” independent of the J-pop fad, which is looked on as frivolous by some enka fans.