The Enka is a Japanese folk song considered an art. The word « Enka » means « Japanese ballad. » Recurring themes in his songs are the same as the origin of the song: the sorrows of love, melancholy, « Furusato » (place where you come from) .
The singing is usually accompanied by traditional instruments like the « shamisen », the « koto » or the « Taiko ». Enka singers (also musicians) traditionally wear a kimono. The first singers appeared during the period « Meiji » (1868-1912). They sung in the street, and were generally accompanied by a « shamisen » because they played for free and could not afford more instruments. After the « Meiji, » Western instruments will appear in the Enka like the violin or guitar.
In the 30-40′s, blues and jazz arrive on the Japanese archipel. The singer « Hibari Misora » released her first single mixing with the new style of Japanese culture. It will be very popular in the 50′s & 60′s, selling over 68 million records. She is the icon of Enka. In addition, she recorded over 1200 songs, and played in as many as 160 films from 1945 to 1971. Besides a museum near Kyoto is dedicated to her: the « Misora Hibari Museum. » One of his songs « Kawa no Nagare no yo ni » is considered the best Japanese song of all time. In the 70s, another Enka singer appeared, her name « Keiko Fuji. » In 1970, she released her first album which will remain 20 weeks in first place in the « Oricon Top », a record she still holds in Japan. Soon after, she released her second album, which will remain 17 weeks in first place in the « Top Oricon ». For the year 1970, it will be 37 weeks remained in first place in this top. In 1989, Enka’s popularity began to decline after the death of « Hibari Misora ». In addition, in 1991, one of the greatest singer of the time, « Hachiro Kasuga, » also died.