Chapter 2: Father & Daughter – The Path of Enka
This chapter covers her family background and her life from birth to middle school (a.k.a. Mizuki Nana’s shitty childhood). It’s very long since I think giving more details about her childhood will help understanding the content better.
One thing about Nana that may surprise you: despite her polite nature, Nana is a very stubborn person (but in a good way). She loves challenging and hates to lose. This woman is tougher and more aggressive than we thought. She shows her aggressive side a lot in the following chapters that will make you wonder if this is really the same cute Nana we usually see. 😄
- Kondou family (yes, her real name is Kondou Nana) was a typical lower middle-classed family in Niihama town. Her dad was a dental technician, who once dreamed to become an enka singer.
- She described her parent as a traditional Japanese couple, “hardheaded ruler-of-the-family husband” and “silent & obedient housewife (yamato nadeshiko)”.
- She mentioned briefly about a little sister who was 3 years younger. However, never once Mika’s name was mentioned. Being in different record companies prohibits mentioning even family member’s name? I had no idea.
- Though she was somehow a stubborn person, Nana often cares too much about how others would feel and tries to avoid making them upset. Thus, she often irritated with herself when she couldn’t openly say what was in her mind.
- She admitted she was jealous of her sister’s boldness and carefree nature. Mika could easily speak what she wanted and she didn’t care whether the counterpart was their dad or record company’s executive.
- It was decided before she was born that the baby should be a baseball player if it was a boy or an enka singer if it was a girl.
- Nana was named after Okada Nana, an actress and singer, using the same kanji because dad was her big fan. Though she like her name, she was a little bit upset with dad’s reason 😄
- Dad had bad habit of spending ridiculous amount of money for his hobbies; i.e. bought a fishing boat for his fishing hobby, then had to sell it a short while later because he didn’t have money for maintenance. Building karaoke rooms with very expensive equipments for enka school was also one of them. Those hobbies caused her family to be more in debt.
- The person whom she wants to recognize her singing skill the most is her dad. He was a traditional hardheaded japanese father who refused to show his soft side, so he rarely gave complement to his kids (that’s mom’s role). The time she mentioned about getting one was when she finally won the first prize in a national enka singing contest after 10 years of participation in many contests (she started participating since she was 5).
- After she went to Tokyo, he was hospitalized until he died in 2008, 1 year before he could see her fulfilled his ultimate dream of performing on Kouhaku. She said, even now she still mentally seeks for the deceased dad’s compliment whenever she thought she sang well.
10 years of training and departure for Tokyo
- Her childhood from 5-15 y/o was all about vocal practicing and traveling around Japan almost every weekend for enka singing contests/jobs.
- Her dad was very strict. Everyday after school, she had to come straight back home for practicing. If she was late, even for 5 minutes, here came the beating or being locked in garden storage room.
- She had to sing 10-15 songs nonstop without microphone everyday in dad’s office, which filled with dust and noises from dental mechanics. Stop in the middle or couldn’t sing louder than those noises = punishment.
- Nana thought dad’s lesson was really harsh and ridiculous. However, being a quiet but stubborn person, she never threw a tantrum or cried in front of him. She said she didn’t want to lose 😄
- When she was 13, she was chosen by Niihama Tourism Board to sing a memorial song for Besshi, Niihama’s famous ancient copper mine. The song name is Tsugazakura. It was released in form of cassette only few hundreds copies.
Her first song, Tsugazakura, released under her real name.
- She never got living expense from her parents since she was 5. Her expense came solely from singing jobs’ tips or competitions’ rewards. She learnt budget management from it, hence being able to survive the poverty during her earlier time in Tokyo.
- While attending and receiving awards from many competitions since she was 5, she had never gotten the first prize until she won national enka contest at age 14.
Nana won national enka contest. She sang Kawachi Otoko Bushi and Sennen no Koto (Final) in this clip
- She was scouted by a record company in Tokyo because of that. They offered to be a guarantor for her further study in Horikoshi.
- Didn’t want to show her weakness, she didn’t shed any tear in front of her family when she left Niihama. However, she broke into tears when she was alone in the bus bound for Tokyo.
- Due to her training routine, she had never been allowed to go out with other kids. Being surrounded with elder people most of time made her knew nearly nothing about trendy stuffs that other teenage girls like. Hence, she was alienated and bullied.
- The bullying started when she was in grade 4 and continued until she graduated from middle school. She didn’t dare to tell her parent about it until she decided to write this autobiography.
- Nana herself didn’t want people to call her stupid because she wanted to be a singer, so she studied hard to become a good grade student and often elected as class representative. However, this worsened her situation as there was a rumor that she was an attention seeker.
- It started with spreading bad rumors. Then, the bullies openly insulted her dream or even her looks and alienated her from the rest of classmates. The “more obedient” students couldn’t oppose them.
- No matter how she was picked on, Nana never cried or skipped classes. Of course, she was hurt but she thought running away or showing her weakness meant she lost to them and she was (and is still) a person who hate to lose.
- Before she graduated, the bully girls asked for her autograph, pretending they really wanted it. However, they laughed at her after she handed them the autograph and called her a disgusting singer wannabe. This caused a trauma that she doubted whether the person who asked for her autograph really wanted it at the beginning of her career.
…but I want one T-T (Source)
- Knowing about her further study in Horikoshi, those girls forced her to accept their address and telephone no. on graduation day, saying she should tell them if she become friend with any famous idol because “they are friends”. Feeling bitter about it, she ditched those notes in waste bin.
“This made me discovered the dark part in my heart but I didn’t want to become a weaker, who surrendered herself for others’ selfishness.” “
“ I was afraid I would lose faith in others if I had to stay here any longer.”
“ I really want someone whom I can trust from my heart.”
Enka songs related to this chapter. Sang by original artists.
Minami no Hanayomesan by Takamine Mieko – The first song Nana had learned from her dad
Kawachi Otoko Buchi original version by Nakamura Mitsuko
Sennen no Koto by Miyano Harumi – Nana sang it in the final round of contest. Hmm… I like this song 🙂