The Red and The White

ikadori

Every year, I try to watch the NHK Kouhaku, the big New Year’s Eve music show. It’s a tradition in Japan, this is the 65th show so it is officially labeled 第65回NHK紅白歌合戦, literally it means “the 65th Annual NHK Red vs. White Music Battle.”

It’s hard to locate the Kouhaku on the internet, and it can take days before it even appears. I am just watching it now, long after the holidays. Most of the show is J-Pop, but I skip that and go straight to the old timey Enka singers, that’s always a huge spectacle. Where else on the internet can I see a guy in a squid costume, leading a line of men doing the “ika odori,” the squid dance? Yes, this is actually a thing. Enka music makes a lot of nostalgic references to remote village traditions, like the Hakodate Squid Festival. They have a parade and everyone does the ika odori. Even I did the ika odori.

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