Saburō Kitajima (北島 三郎 Kitajima Saburō, born October 4, 1936) is a well known Japanese enka singer, lyricist and composer.
He was born Minoru Ōno (大野 穣), in a little town in Hokkaidō to a fisherman. He was very poor because of the effects of World War II, and he was forced to work while he studied.
When he was about to graduate from high school, he decided to become a singer. His debut single was called "Bungacha-Bushi," which was released in 1962.
He has many famous songs, including "Namida Bune" (1962), "Kyōdai Jingi" (1965), "Yosaku" (1978) and "Kita no Ryōba" (1986). His 1965 song "Kaerokana" was written by lyricist Rokusuke Ei and composer Hachidai Nakamura. He is very popular in Japan partly due to his looks of a physical laborer, and he mostly sings the spirit of Japan's working class and rural laborer. He often appears on Kōhaku Uta Gassen, a TV program at the end of the year where many major Japanese singers gather to perform.
Kitajima released single "Fūfu Isshō" (夫婦一生 lit. "Couple in a Lifetime") on January 1, 2010 at the age of 73. It debuted at No. 10 on the Japanese Oricon weekly single charts. It became the first single to reach Top 10 by a solo artist in his 70s in Oricon charts history.
Although Enka is becoming less popular with the younger generation, he is still Japan's most famous singer. He does a lot of concerts overseas as well, and he is contributing a lot of work to the culture of Japanese music.
In addition to his singing career, Kitajima acted in the role of Tatsugorō on the television series Abarenbō Shōgun. During the quarter-century life of the series, he also sang its theme songs.
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