In the prewar Showa period, the invention of the radio and the phonograph had led to a major change in enka. The “father of modern enka” was the composer Koga Masao, whose major influence on the genre was reflected in the codified style known as “Koga merodii” (Koga melody) as commonly noted in the musical and textual patterning of enka in the 1960s.6
In the 1970s, the proliferation of youth-oriented popular music genres had served as the background that helped the emergence of modern enka. It was called new music, a term coined to describe young adult-oriented as opposed to teen-oriented western-influenced popular music.7 Before the mid-1960s, all “popular” music were called kayokyoku. The increasing variety of the kayokyoku meant that the definition of this term had become confusing. People needed new names to identify songs, and one kind of song was thus called enka. Enka became a popular name in the latter half of the 1960s, with a root that could be traced back to the late 19th century political movements. The emergence of enka in the 1960s was probably a reaction to the unmistakable strong presence of the western influence in Japan’s popular culture.8
In the post WWII years some Japanese regarded enka as timelessly old because its sentiment, even many of the songs were written quite recently. Usually enka was about the hometown that was left behind, or about the parted lover, or about remembering the mother for her sacrifices.9 What was new about anka in the post war period was that some audience found it represented the “heart/soul of Japan”. Enka began to earn credibility as a traditional genre because it had a history dating back to the Meiji period. Enka was regarded as a genre that had a progressive evolution that tied to the social and political changes in Japan.10
6. Christine R. Yano. Tears of Longing: Nostalgia and the Nation in Japanese Popular Song. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center: Distributed by Harvard University Press, 2002, p.37
7. Ibid., p. 42
8 Carolyn S. Stevens. Japanese Popular Music: Culture, Authenticity, and Power. London; NY: Routledge, 2008, p.45.
9. Christine R. Yano. Tears of Longing: Nostalgia and the Nation in Japanese Popular Song. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center: Distributed by Harvard University Press, 2002, p.3.
10. Ibid., p. 29.