Last night's "Uta Kon" (うたコン) focused on songs of spring as well as theme songs for NHK's long line of morning serial dramas. Well, one of the tunes that was performed didn't quite figure in either category but it was a kayo that I had meant to write about some time ago but plainly forgot.
Titled "Shitamachi no Taiyo" (Sun Over Shitamachi), this was a tune sung sweetly by singer-actress Chieko Baisho（倍賞千恵子）in 1962 (it was her debut single) about no matter the good times or the bad times in the old town area in Tokyo, the sun will always dependably be up there. Written by Hiroshi Yokoi（横井弘）and composed by Koji Eguchi（江口浩司）, the following year had the movie with the same title starring Baisho as a young lady in her twenties working away in a soap factory somewhere in the shitamachi district and then finding love with an up-and-comer in the cosmetics company which owns the factory. Of course, the plot gets more complicated.
I'm not sure whether that was indeed a mandolin playing in the song but it did give that atmosphere of being in a village in Europe. Considering that Mood Kayo often used Latin melodies, perhaps some of the old kayo songwriters also wanted to bring that folky feeling into the straight pop of the time.
Baisho won the Best Newcomer Prize at the 4th Japan Record Awards for "Shitamachi no Taiyo" at the end of 1962 and then earned her first appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen a year later to sing that very song.
"Shitamachi no Taiyo" was venerated Yoji Yamada's（山田洋次）2nd movie as a director and with the success of his project, he found that Baisho was the quintessential actress with the common touch for any of his movies thereafter. Some years later, Yamada would launch the long-running "Tora-san" franchise with the actress taking on the role of Sakura, Tora-san's younger and sensible sister.