Last Friday I watched the second half of the two-hour tribute special to Michael Jackson on Fuji TV and after it was over started surfing to see if there were any others. NHK’s BS-2 channel was airing a retrospective of performances by the late singer Hibari Misora, and it occurred to me that June 24, the day before Jackson died, was the 20th anniversary of Misora’s own death at the age of 52. At this time of year, there are always plenty of reminders about her passing, which, even more than Emperor Hirohito’s six months earlier, marked the end of the Showa Era (1926-89) for Japanese of a certain age. This year the memorials for Misora were almost completely overshadowed by Jackson’s death.

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