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Akemashite, etc. . . . Before I do anything else, I’d like to thank NHK for providing me with my yearly dose of enka on the 2001 edition of “Kohaku Utagassen (Red and White Song Contest).”

In fact, there was waaaaaaaay too much enka, with far too many of the same old faces singing the same old songs. I had hoped that enka chanteuse Sayuri Ishikawa — who has a really gutsy singing style — would inject a little bit of soul into the show, but she turned in a fairly pedestrian performance compared to previous years.

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