Happy New Year from Barrier Free Japan!

It is New Years Eve in the average family household in Japan, at about a quarter past seven in the evening. This can mean only one thing: it’s time for the Kohaku!

The Kohaku Uta Gassen, often simply referred to as The Kohaku the title of the show means ‘Red and White Song Battle’ is the most watched TV programme at New Year, the Queen’s Speech, or Times Square New York countdown of New Year in Japan.

Ostensibly, it is the end of year music show and countdown to midnight and the new year. There will be a notable celebrity and many famous Japanese singers, oftentimes some international star.

Of course, it isn’t just a sing-a-long and countdown to the new year, it’s also a contest, Kohaku Uta Gassen means ‘The Red and White Singing Contest’. ‘The Red Team’, the women singers compete and against The White Team, the male singers. The viewing public votes and the winning team wins the Kohaku.  This always seemed a bit redundant to me, we can’t just count the new year in with a song?

Apparently not. It is surely not enough that there are handsome men as well as kawaii (cute) , if slightly creepy girls singing in a J-Pop band. No it isn’t enough. In the spirit of almost every a Japanese TV show that isn’t a drama, if there is a way of introducing some suspense, then embrace that way, it can only make it better.  Why have one show, a sing-a-long to bring in the new year when you can have two, a sing-a-long and a contest?

However maybe new year is not the time for such heavy analysis! So I’ll listen to Niphongo-ised Auld Lang Syne and wish you a happy new year! Akemashite omedetou!

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