Top 5 Enka Songs

Japan Nakama
3 min readApr 27, 2021

We’re big fans of Japanese music as you may have noticed. At Nakama, we’ve promoted Japanese Ongaku Yoru in London and always swap tracks with each other on new finds from contemporary and past artists. One genre of Japanese music has always spoken to me is Enka.

Enka is music from Japan that was created between the ’50s and ’70s. It is usually related to love or perhaps even to drinking and follows a sad theme typically. It’s not a very popular genre of music among the younger generation in Japan, but some aspects of it make it accessible in foreign countries due to its representation in popular movies like Kill Bill or in Anime series’. People also find it somewhat relaxing, and it is often compared with Soul Music. Below you will find 5 Enka songs that I really like, they are in no particular order because they are all great in their own way.

Jero — Umi Yuki

Starting with Jero, an African American with a Japanese grandmother. He merged Rap style dancing with Enka and became very popular in Japan amongst the older women. He has since made his mark singing with some of the best Enka singers and produced many worthy songs. His debut song was Umi Yuki:

Meiko Kaji — Shura No Hana

For those of you are familiar with Kill Bill Vol.1, the fight scene at the end with O-Ren Ishii v The Bride (Cotton Mouth v Black Mamba) is followed by this track. Believe it or not, this is an Enka song. What many people don’t know is that this song was originally from a movie called Lady Snowblood with Meiko Kaji as Shura Yuki Hime; the film that inspired Tarantino to create Kill Bill.

Enjoy the song below, perhaps it will remind you of that nostalgic fight scene:

Kyu Sakamoto — Ue o Muite Arukou

This song is a favourite that and is a frequent number during karaoke, and it is not quite Enka or J-pop, but rather a little bit of a mix of…

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Japan Nakama are a London based online publication that investigates and explores all aspects of Japanese Culture.