Tweeting Kohaku 2011

Pretty much since I’ve been in Japan I’ve had the same tradition on New Year’s Eve — we get some nice food from the depachika (department store basement, always Seibu in our case), some booze, and watch the various TV specials, flipping around, and after midnight we go to a local shrine to wish for a good year. The big traditional show airs on NHK — the state network — and it’s called Kohaku Uta Gassen. It’s described as a song battle between a “Red” team (women) and “White” team (men), but the real goal here is to finish off the year with all of Japan’s most popular performers. It’s cheesy as all hell, but it can still be fun to watch for the spectacle of it. A couple of years ago I started drunkenly tweeting while watching it — I was dueling with Patrick Macias, who was in town that year — and it’s now become sort of a tradition.

Below is the entire tweet stream I did this past Saturday — the show runs from 19:15 to 23:45. As silly as it is, I post it here because a few people have told me they had fun reading it even when they watched the show later (either recorded, or when it aired the following day on NHK in the US). You need to start from the bottom, and work yourself up.

  • At the shrine. instagr.am/p/dMc9Q/
  • Happy 2012, everyone! yfrog.com/obt81bqj
  • Damn, now wife has it on the Johnny’s NYE countdown concert. #ipreferredkohaku
  • Shit, got 15 minutes, need to finish up my fucking soba!
  • And Red (women) wins! #kohaku It’s usually White.
  • NHK just guaranteed a million freeze frames by offering up a crotch shot of one of the AKB girls. #kohaku
  • Most. Unnatural. Waving. Ever. #kohaku
  • SMAP knows how to pander to the audience and get their votes. #kohaku
  • This song definitely rests on a Beatles hook. #kohaku
  • Why do they still let Nakai sing… Ouch… #kohaku
  • Now who’s the jokester who made Kusanagi wear that ridiculous fur thing? #kohaku
  • I do believe we have a winner for “hair of the night.” #kohaku
  • Sachiko Kobayashi’s plastic surgeon-ed face freaks me out. #kohaku
  • Nope, no yakuza ties whatsoever. #kohaku
  • Now they have everyone in EXILE doing jazz hands. #kohaku
  • My only wish when watching EXILE perform is that Takashi Okamura somehow pops up. #kohaku
  • Based on the number of replies I’m now getting, it feels like I’m currently the last man standing in the #kohaku marathon. #imnumberone #not
  • It’s not a #kohaku without the inclusion of a bubble machine somewhere in there.
  • 2012 is about an hour away…
  • Going to have to eat the soba soon, but so not hungry. But hey, sometimes, you just gotta eat your fucking soba!
  • Is this what happens when enka goes disco? #kohaku
  • Unbelievable that people actually still scream “Kiyoshi” at the chorus when he sings. #kohaku
  • Mariachi fever, baby! #kohaku
  • Seiko sure has a puffy face. #kohaku
  • @cpalmieri: Kimura Takuya’s hair stylist channeling late 90′s Meg Ryan #NHK??
    Retweeted by Jean Snow
  • Yeah, that’s absolutely Groovisions’ work. Looks cool, would love to have that as motion background. #kohaku
  • Wow, I think the background animation is by Groovisions. #kohaku
  • Junko Koshino kinda… scares me. #kohaku
  • The background decor always has me thinking it’s the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. #kohaku
  • The person who composed this next song is credited as QQ. #kohaku
  • Arashi performance, powered by augmented reality. #kohaku
  • @Johnny_Strategy: Kids extremely confused about akiko wada’s sexuality ?? #kohaku
    Retweeted by Jean Snow
  • @cpalmieri: OK, Setsuden is officially over 😛 #NHK??
    Retweeted by Jean Snow
  • Akiko Wada’s got a voice, that’s for sure. #kohaku
  • Losing it right now watching Haranishi try to eat nabe with his bare hands. #waratteikenai
  • Again, Waratte Ikenai counters #kohaku’s earthquake/tsunami sentimentality with hadaka geinin (naked comedians).
  • Oops, I did my “Sunglasses at Night” joke too soon. #kohaku
  • The camera panned to the Arashi boys watching on the sidelines, and they could barely hold their laughing. #kohaku
  • She’s like the Michael Bay of #kohaku.
  • Told ya! In the mouth of a dragon, yo! #kohaku
  • I just know she’s going to transform into something. I know it. #kohaku
  • Well, time to find out what kind of crazy contraption will back up Sachiko! #kohaku
  • Wife is upset because she says the Japanese subs at the bottom of the screen are odd. #kohaku
  • So, is she going to find a way to insert “Japan” or “Japanese” in every song? #kohaku
  • The K-pop girls have definitely been out-legged now. #kohaku
  • This is not your parents #kohaku.
  • “Something about my cool, Japanese guy.” #kohaku
  • Is this her idea of a Ray Charles impersonation? #kohaku
  • “I wear my pearl glasses at night, so I can, so I can…” #kohaku
  • OK, Gaga time. #kohaku
  • Jackie Chan! #kohaku
  • Lady Gaga is up after this dude in the glittery purple suit is finished. Can she possibly upstage him? #kohaku
  • And from thoughts of Sendai, we switch to Waratte Ikenai, only to be greeted by Matsumoto’s bare ass, and his dick in a bag. #kohaku
  • One of these girls has so much makeup on that it looks like a mask. #kohaku
  • Props to the Arashi dude who’s actually playing the piano. #kohaku
  • “(why?) why?” #kohaku
  • Dude, wearing a fur collar is not very cool or hip. #kohaku
  • Korean boys join the party too. #kohaku
  • That was one hell of a crazy rotating camera shot around Kumi Koda. #kohaku
  • God do I hate J-pop ballads… (Well, I hate pretty much all ballads, to be fair.) #kohaku
  • clap #kohaku
  • Every time I see Yuzu, I can’t help but think of Kuzu (Miyasako and Gussan), the parody group from the old Wannai TV show. #kohaku
  • For those waiting for Gaga, she’s up in about 7 spots. #kohaku
  • Go, go, Go Hiromi! #kohaku
  • Rather, I should say that I appreciate that they are more womanly, instead of girly (like in J-pop groups). #kohaku
  • I will say that I’m not opposed to the fact that all of these K-pop girl groups show a lot of leg. #kohaku
  • “I’m Genie for your dream.” #kohaku
  • The Korea invasion continues, next up Girls Generation. #kohaku
  • Things you don’t do: Wear a suit jacket with the sleeves ripped off, with a fedora-like hat. #kohaku #tokio
  • Next up, TOKIO, the “uncles” of Johnny’s Jimusho. #kohaku
  • I do like their dancing, goes well with the music. Surprisingly, my wife has gotten into them lately, and does their dance around the house.
  • Perfume time! #kohaku
  • Whenever an earnest singer hits the stage, my wife has me switch the channel. Fair enough. #kohaku
  • Bottom of my TV screen: la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la #kohaku
  • They are pretty sexy, I’ll give ‘em that. #kohaku
  • KARA in da hizzah, ass shake and all. #kohaku
  • Fujiwara in that pink uniform with the skirt and hat really kills me. #waratteikenai
  • The next big decision: Grab another beer, or switch to wine? Call 1-800-DRINKUP and vote now! #kohaku
  • In the news, so many people send New Year messages through mobile that it clogs up the system, so providers asking to not do it.
  • NHK news time now. Will be back shortly with more exciting coverage. #kohaku
  • From 2channel, a new metric measure: 1 Hyde = 156cm. #kohaku
  • I know there’s good intentions behind this montage and song, but the sentimentality is bringing me down. #kohaku
  • For the record, I have been told that the NYC group is named after the names of the 3 boys (Nakayma, Yamada, and Chinen). #kohaku
  • The dress the announcer is wearing now has a certain fish-like quality to it. #kohaku (Jean Snow’s fashion minute.)
  • Love the back dancers too. #kohaku
  • Oh, this is a great song. #kohaku
  • It’s a funky dress, but looks a bit odd while playing an acoustic guitar. #kohaku
  • I was just thinking I’d never seen Shiina Ringo on #kohaku, and it’s indeed her first appearance.
  • Shiina Ringo! #kohaku
  • Just learned that “blues” in Japanese is “buruusu.” And that’s one to grow on. #kohaku
  • How could you not be OUT after that.
  • Oh man, awesome Naomi and Kurosawa collaboration, doing Gaga on Waratte Ikenai.
  • The new women’s soccer team uniform is purple with a pink stripe? Hmmm… #kohaku
  • “Calling the fallen angel. Rolling on cold asphalt.” #kohaku
  • L’Arc En Ciel are still a thing? #kohaku
  • Prepared some chicken rice for my dog, so that he could partake in good food tonight too, but he’s upset because it’s too hot.
  • That’s a big-ass flower arrangement. Big. Ass. #kohaku
  • The 80s-like drama parody on Waratte Ikenai is making it hard to go back to #kohaku.
  • Had to switch channel again because wife hates Pornograffiti. “Kao kirai.” #kohaku
  • I’m trying to find a good insult for the current costume being worn, but I think it speaks for itself. #kohaku
  • The Arashi leader obviously had first pick of pants color. #kohaku
  • Time for another beer.
  • I’ll say this, all these colors look great on HDTV. #kohaku
  • I’m trying to understand the current enka singers hair. There’s something about that hair… #kohaku
  • The AKB 48 girls in the background strategy is being used again. #kohaku
  • Rasera, rasera, rase, rase, rasera… #kohaku
  • Saburo Kitajima is apparently going to appear, which makes no fucking sense. The guy looks like he could in a KItano film. #kohaku.
  • The question is, how many enka singers are going to make it to air this year, following the new “Yakuza ties” law. #kohaku
  • Super famous Japanese actress in her 60s now in an SM suit, bullying the boys on Waratte Ikenai. Priceless.
  • @clairtanaka: @jeansnow my six year-old just ran from the room: “I don’t enjoy this and I hate this!” #kohaku
    Retweeted by Jean Snow
  • Waratte Ikenai channel flip. OUT. Hahahahaha… #kohaku
  • Although having them dance with Papaya Suzuki and his ossan dancers is kinda… weird. #kohaku
  • How do you make enka more palatable to the young uns? By having AKB 48 girls dance in the background. #kohaku
  • They should just stick with the techno beat and skip the chorus. #kohaku
  • OK, so right now there’s a band called AAA. #kohaku
  • Is there anything more boring than the typical J-pop ballad? I don’t think so. #kohaku
  • Oh man, the Matsumoto pic is the best.
  • Switched to Waratte Ikenai for a sec. I’m totally OUT. #kohaku
  • A song about “trying hard” from a band called Funky Monkey Babies feels odd. #kohaku
  • What the hell happened to Kusanagi’s hair? #kohaku
  • Goofy fucked up! #kohaku
  • I can’t say anything too nasty about Arashi, or my wife will get upset. #kohaku
  • It does come off as forced here though, especially with the awkward lip-syncing. #kohaku
  • OK, I will not say anything bad about the little kids. “Maru Maru” has its charm. #kohaku
  • Who says there’s no class system in Japan — it’s even color coordinated. #kohaku
  • Does the medley as a thing still even exist in the West? #kohaku
  • Holy fuck, that’s a lot of girls on one stage. #kohaku
  • I wonder if it’s only in Japan that they put the lyrics on screen, so you can sing along karaoke style. #kohaku
  • They are going to perform as 210 people. #kohaku
  • AKB time. #kohaku
  • Back now for… Flumpool. (No other comment necessary.) #kohaku
  • Wife dislikes Angela Aki so much that we had to change the channel. #kohaku
  • Oh, it’s the Japanese Tina Fey (Angela Aki). #kohaku
  • I love NYC too much to be able to watch this group with a straight face. #kohaku
  • I don’t really get why 3 effeminate boys equals NYC. Maybe I’m not supposed to. #kohaku
  • Oh, next up is the group of 3 Japanese idols called — for no reason whatsoever — NYC! “We are city boys.” No, you’re not. #kohaku
  • I could have done without those close-ups of Ayumi Hamasaki’s face. #kohaku
  • D’oh, thought it was starting at 19:30, but it started 5 minutes ago. #kohaku
  • As to why I suggested you unfollow me, it’s because you should expect a stream of drunken tweets tonight. A lot.
  • You know, everyone has their tradition, I have mine, and it makes me happy — and that’s what counts, no? #adecadeplusandgoing
  • As to why I never go out on NYE, I guess I’d just rather spend it at home with my wife and dog, and I like our shrine visit after midnight.
  • To be clear, the show I really like is Waratte Ikenai (with Downtown), but we tape that, and watch #kohaku live, along with channel flipping
  • And if you don’t know what I mean by #kohaku, here you go: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dha… Kinda looking forward to Gaga, actually.
  • Got my food/booze, gonna wash up, and then don’t you know, it’s gonna be #kohaku time, and you know what that means (time to unfollow me).

Author: Jean Snow

Production Coordinator at Ubisoft Montréal. Before that, half a life spent in Tokyo.