About KAWACHI ONDO
Osaka is often compared with Tokyo by stating that the former is famous as a commercial city and the latter is a developed center of the politics and
economics. This comparison is only the base to rivalry between Osaka and Tokyo, which is long-standing and is felt strongly by the people in Osaka.
Originally, the central city in Japan had been Kyoto when Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI(1537-1598) moved the Shogunate (government) there and took leadership of the country from Osaka. However, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA conquered Hideyoshi at the battle of Osaka, and moved the shogunate to Tokyo.
The plains where Osaka is located had very fertile land at the time and great facilities for water transport, and was developed as a logistic center point. The people named the huge area from the east side to the south-east of the Osaka plains "Kawachi." People in this area danced the "Bon Odori" dance for holding a memorial service for the deceased during the Summer season. Many people to this day dance to Bon Odori songs being played in spaces such as temples, parks and school playgrounds from early evening until midnight.
Actually, across Japan each place has its own "Bon Odori," it is not particular to Osaka. However the style of music and dance changed in Osaka from the end of 19th century and they named their own version "Kawachi Ondo." Originally the music was played with a gong and a drum in a slow tempo, however nowadays it has changed through the influence of jazz and other popular to become more danceable. This drastic change was brought by Mitsusaburo TEPPO (1929-2002) after the second World War. As Bill Monroe had created sophisticated bluegrass music from American roots music, Mitsusaburo changed the melody of Kawachi Ondo to make it easy to remember, and also added new instruments such as the guitar and the piano.
The lyrics were constructed by using stories from Buddism from the end of the Edo era and beginning of the Meiji era. One of the most popular lyrics, "Kawachi Jyunin-Giri(Kawachi Blood Bath)" is a true story that happened in 1893. Two men, Kumataro and Yagoro, killed 10 people, including their family members, because of their troubles with money and love affairs.
One song takes approximately 10 to 30 minutes, but sometimes an excited singer can sing and improvise for over 1 hour.