Kōhaku Uta Gassen
|Opening theme||Stein Song|
|Ending theme||Hotaru no hikari|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Location(s)||Tokyo Takarazuka Theater (1959-1972)
NHK Hall (1973-)
|Running time||4 hour 15 minutes|
|Original channel||NHK General TV, NHK Radio 1|
|Picture format||480i (NTSC),
|Audio format||5.1 Surround Sound|
|Original run||1951 (radio), 1953 (TV) – Present|
Kōhaku Uta Gassen (紅白歌合戦?), more commonly known as simply Kōhaku, is an annual music show on New Year's Eve produced by Japanese public broadcaster NHK and broadcast on television and radio, nationally and internationally by NHK's networks and some overseas (mainly cable) broadcasters which bought the program. The show ends shortly before midnight.
Literally "Red and White Song Battle," the program divides the most popular music artists of the year into competing teams of red and white. The "red" team or akagumi (赤組, 紅組?) is composed of all female artists (or groups with female vocals), while the "white" team or shirogumi (白組?) is all male (or groups with male vocals). The honor of performing on Kōhaku is strictly by invitation, so only the most successful singing acts in the Japanese entertainment industry can perform. In addition to the actual music performances, the costumes, hair-styles, makeup, dancing, and lighting are important. Even today, a performance on Kōhaku is said to be a big highlight in a singer's career because of the show's large reach.
Song selection process
The songs and performers are examined by a selection committee put together by NHK. The basis for selection are record sales and adaptability to the edition's theme.
At the same time, a demographic survey is conducted regarding the most popular singers for each and what kind of music people want to hear. This and the song selection explain the amalgamation of the musical genres and its artists.
There are, however, exceptions to the process. Momoe Yamaguchi chose to sing her favorite song "Hito Natsu no Keiken" (ひと夏の経験) with its suggestive lyrics during the 25th edition, despite NHK's pick of a different song.
When the show was first broadcast on radio in 1951, each team had a few performers, all of whom would perform within an hour. Since 1989, the program goes on for at least four hours as both teams, each having at least 25 performers, perform their songs.
At the end of the show, the audience and a panel of judges—notable celebrities who may or may not have a connection to the music industry—vote to select the winning team. In the past, the audience vote has been composed of a head count of the venue audience members, who can vote for either team (NHK Hall, which has been the venue for most Kōhaku editions since 1971, can seat 3,000 people). This counted as one vote.
As of the 54th (2003) and 55th editions (2004), viewers who watch the program through ISDB-S on NHK BS Hi-vision could vote by having their own head count in their respective households. Although it is still sketchy to determine in the 55th, the audience vote is counted as two votes: one for the venue audience and one for ISDB-S viewers.
The audience vote(s) are added to those of the judges who each have to vote for one team. The team with the most votes wins.
The above process was done differently for the 56th edition (2005). Instead, the NHK Hall head count, the vote count from cellphone users and the vote count from ISDB-S viewers each counted as one vote. As stated above, the team that got at least two votes won.
In the 57th edition (2006), aside from cellphone and ISDB-S viewers and the NHK Hall audience, 1seg users voted. Its format had been reverted to the ball voting system—from the audience head count and the judges' votes.
From the 58th edition (2007) to the 63rd edition (2012), the winner was determined through an overall head count, all from cellphone, ISDB-S viewers, 1seg users, and the NHK Hall Audience (including guests). Voting reverted to judges plus audience-unit votes in the 64th edition except that viewing audience votes (from internet, cellphone, digital TV, and 1seg voting) during halftime and end of show would each count as one vote and the NHK Hall head count as another single vote.
Aside from the performances, there are special performances where certain performers do their act together, and the so-called "Ring Show" where performers from both teams take part in a "singing exercise."
|Kōhaku #||Date||Red Team Host||White Team Host||Mediator||Winning
|1||3 January 1951||Michiko Katō||Shuuichi Fujikura||Masaharu Tanabe||White||1-0|
|2||3 January 1952||Kiyoko Tange||Shuuichi Fujikura||Masaharu Tanabe||White||2-0|
|3||2 January 1953||Suga Honda||Teru Miyata||Masayori Shimura||White||3-0|
|4||31 December 1953||Takiko Mizunoe||Keizo Takahashi||Seigoro Kitade||Red||3-1|
|5||31 December 1954||Natsue Fukuji||Keizo Takahashi||Shōzaburō Ishii||Red||3-2|
|6||31 December 1955||Teru Miyata||Keizo Takahashi||Shōzaburō Ishii||Red||3-3|
|7||31 December 1956||Teru Miyata||Keizo Takahashi||Shōzaburō Ishii||White||4-3|
|8||31 December 1957||Takiko Mizunoe||Keizo Takahashi||Shōzaburō Ishii||Red||4-4|
|9||31 December 1958||Tetsuko Kuroyanagi||Keizo Takahashi||Shōzaburō Ishii||Red||4-5|
|10||31 December 1959||Meiko Nakamura||Keizo Takahashi||Shōzaburō Ishii||Red||4-6|
|11||31 December 1960||Meiko Nakamura||Keizo Takahashi||Shōzaburō Ishii||White||5-6|
|12||31 December 1961||Meiko Nakamura||Keizo Takahashi||Toshiaki Hosaka||White||6-6|
|13||31 December 1962||Mitsuko Mori||Teru Miyata||Shōzaburō Ishii||White||7-6|
|14||31 December 1963||Eri Chiemi||Teru Miyata||Shōzaburō Ishii||Red||7-7|
|15||31 December 1964||Eri Chiemi||Teru Miyata||Shōzaburō Ishii||White||8-7|
|16||31 December 1965||Michiko Hayashi||Teru Miyata||Shōzaburō Ishii||White||9-7|
|17||31 December 1966||Peggy Hayama||Teru Miyata||Shōzaburō Ishii||Red||9-8|
|18||31 December 1967||Yumiko Kokonoe||Teru Miyata||Shōzaburō Ishii||Red||9-9|
|19||31 December 1968||Kiyoko Suizenji||Kyu Sakamoto||Teru Miyata||White||10-9|
|20||31 December 1969||Yukari Ito||Kyu Sakamoto||Teru Miyata||Red||10-10|
|21||31 December 1970||Hibari Misora||Teru Miyata||Shizuo Yamakawa||Red||10-11|
|22||31 December 1971||Kiyoko Suizenji||Teru Miyata||Shizuo Yamakawa||White||11-11|
|23||31 December 1972||Naomi Sagara||Teru Miyata||Shizuo Yamakawa||Red||11-12|
|24||31 December 1973||Kiyoko Suizenji||Teru Miyata||Shizuo Yamakawa||Red||11-13|
|25||31 December 1974||Naomi Sagara||Shizuo Yamakawa||Masao Domon & Yōzō Nakae||Red||11-14|
|26||31 December 1975||Naomi Sagara||Shizuo Yamakawa||Hiroshi Aikawa||White||12-14|
|27||31 December 1976||Naomi Sagara||Shizuo Yamakawa||Hiroshi Aikawa||Red||12-15|
|28||31 December 1977||Naomi Sagara||Shizuo Yamakawa||Hiroshi Aikawa||White||13-15|
|29||31 December 1978||Mitsuko Mori||Shizuo Yamakawa||Hiroshi Aikawa||White||14-15|
|30||31 December 1979||Kiyoko Suizenji||Shizuo Yamakawa||Yōzō Nakae||Red||14-16|
|31||31 December 1980||Tetsuko Kuroyanagi||Shizuo Yamakawa||Yōzō Nakae||Red||14-17|
|32||31 December 1981||Tetsuko Kuroyanagi||Shizuo Yamakawa||Keiichi Ubukata||White||15-17|
|33||31 December 1982||Tetsuko Kuroyanagi||Shizuo Yamakawa||Keiichi Ubukata||Red||15-18|
|34||31 December 1983||Tetsuko Kuroyanagi||Kenji Suzuki||Tamori||White||16-18|
|35||31 December 1984||Mitsuko Mori||Kenji Suzuki||Keiichi Ubukata||Red||16-19|
|36||31 December 1985||Masako Mori||Kenji Suzuki||Masaho Senda||Red||16-20|
|37||31 December 1986||Yuki Saito & Yoriko Mekata||Yūzō Kayama & Masaho Senda||Seiichi Yoshikawa||White||17-20|
|38||31 December 1987||Akiko Wada||Yūzō Kayama||Seiichi Yoshikawa||Red||17-21|
|39||31 December 1988||Akiko Wada||Yūzō Kayama||Keiko Sugiura||White||18-21|
|40||31 December 1989||Yoshiko Mita||Tetsuya Takeda||Sadatomo Matsudaira||Red||18-22|
|41||31 December 1990||Yoshiko Mita||Toshiyuki Nishida||Sadatomo Matsudaira||White||19-22|
|42||31 December 1991||Yūko Ayano||Masaaki Sakai||Shizuo Yamakawa||Red||19-23|
|43||31 December 1992||Hikari Ishida||Masaaki Sakai||Shizuo Yamakawa||White||20-23|
|44||31 December 1993||Hikari Ishida||Masaaki Sakai||Miyuki Morita||White||21-23|
|45||31 December 1994||Emiko Kaminuma||Ichiro Furutachi||Yasuo Miyakawa||Red||21-24|
|46||31 December 1995||Emiko Kaminuma||Ichiro Furutachi||Ryūji Miyamoto & Mitsuyo Kusano||White||22-24|
|47||31 December 1996||Takako Matsu||Ichiro Furutachi||Ryūji Miyamoto & Mitsuyo Kusano||White||23-24|
|48||31 December 1997||Akiko Wada||Masahiro Nakai||Ryūji Miyamoto||White||24-24|
|49||31 December 1998||Junko Kubo||Masahiro Nakai||Ryūji Miyamoto||Red||24-25|
|50||31 December 1999||Junko Kubo||Nakamura Kankurō V||Ryūji Miyamoto||White||25-25|
|51||31 December 2000||Junko Kubo||Motoya Izumi||Ryūji Miyamoto||Red||25-26|
|52||31 December 2001||Yumiko Udō||Wataru Abe||Tamio Miyake||White||26-26|
|53||31 December 2002||Yumiko Udō||Wataru Abe||Tamio Miyake||Red||26-27|
|54||31 December 2003||Yumiko Udō & Takako Zenba||Wataru Abe & Tetsuya Takayama||Tōko Takeuchi||White||27-27|
|55||31 December 2004||Fumie Ono||Wataru Abe||Masaaki Horio||Red||27-28|
|56||31 December 2005||Mino Monta, Motoyo Yamane, Yukie Nakama, and Koji Yamamoto*||White||28-28|
|57||31 December 2006||Yukie Nakama||Masahiro Nakai||Tamio Miyake & Megumi Kurosaki||White||29-28|
|58||31 December 2007||Masahiro Nakai**||Tsurube Shōfukutei||Kazuya Matsumoto & Miki Sumiyoshi||White||30-28|
|59||31 December 2008||Yukie Nakama||Masahiro Nakai||Kazuya Matsumoto||White||31-28|
|60||31 December 2009||Yukie Nakama||Masahiro Nakai||Wataru Abe||White||32-28|
|61||31 December 2010||Nao Matsushita||Arashi||Wataru Abe||White||33-28|
|62||31 December 2011||Mao Inoue||Arashi||Wataru Abe||Red||33-29|
|63||31 December 2012||Maki Horikita||Arashi||Yumiko Udō||White||34-29|
|64||31 December 2013||Haruka Ayase||Arashi||Yumiko Udō||White||35-29|
|The white team has won 35 of the 64 contests.|
* In the 56th edition, the roles of mediator and team host were blurred as all four hosts intermingled with both teams.
** Masahiro Nakai is the first male team host of the Red team since Teru Miyata in the 6th and 7th editions. Red team hosts (even in pairs) are usually female.
Kōhaku was once the most-watched show on Japanese television of the year. One major factor was that New Year's Eve in Japan is a holiday traditionally spent at home (see Ōmisoka). Over the years, the annual event's popularity has declined from an all-time high of 81.4 (14th event) to an all-time low of 30.8/39.3 (55th event) in the Kantō region. Despite the drop, Kōhaku is consistently the top-rated musical event each year.
Notable acts in Japanese Entertainment on Kōhaku
The following is a list of acts with notable contributions to the Japanese entertainment industry, and have a minimum of five appearances on Kōhaku to his/her/its credit (appearance numbers in parentheses are as of the 64th edition):
Pop and rock
Enka and other contemporary
1. Saori Yuki and Sachiko Yasuda are counted as a duet. Solo appearances by either of the two would not count towards the duet count.
Notable foreign competitors on Kōhaku
Although Kōhaku is made up of mostly Japanese nationalized geinōjin in the geinōkai, foreign artists (artists who are not Japanese nationals) popular in Japan have competed in the program. Special appearances, supporting musicians or other methods of participation where the artist or group's performance was not accounted for in the overall scoring should not be added to this list. Below is a list of artists or groups who have done so, categorized based on the country of origin (Asian or non-Asian) the person or majority of the members in a group are from, along with the editions:
- Agnes Chan (Hong Kong, 24th through 26th)
- Alan Tam (Hong Kong, 40th)
- Auyeung Fei Fei (Taiwan, 23rd, 24th, 42nd)
- BoA (South Korea, 53rd through 58th)
- Cho Yong-Pil (South Korea, 38th, 39th and 41st)
- Friends of Love the Earth (Amin Wu & Xu Ke, China; Lee Hyung-Joo, South Korea; and Dick Lee, Singapore, 56th)
- Gary Valenciano (Philippines, 41st)
- Girls' Generation (a.k.a. Shōjo Jidai; South Korea, 62nd)
- Judy Ongg (Taiwan, 30th and 31st)
- Kim Yon-ja (South Korea, 40th and 45th)
- Kye Eun-sook (South Korea, 39th through 45th)
- Lee Jung Hyun (South Korea, 55th)
- KARA (South Korea, 62nd)
- Oyunna (Mongolia, 41st)
- Patty Kim (South Korea, 40th)
- RYU (South Korea, 55th)
- Smokey Mountain (Philippines, 42nd)
- Teresa Teng (Taiwan, 36th, 37th and 42nd)
- TVXQ (a. k. a. Tohoshinki; South Korea, 59th, 60th and 62nd)
- Twelve Girls Band (China, 54th)
- Vivian Hsu (Taiwan, 49th, as member of Black Biscuit)
- Alexander Gradsky (Russia, 41st)
- Alfredo Casero (Argentina, 53rd)
- Alyson Williams (USA, 41st)
- Andy Williams (USA, 42nd)
- Cyndi Lauper (USA, 41st)
- Jero (USA, 59th and 60th)
- Laima Vaikule (Latvia, 42nd)
- Leah Dizon (USA, 58th)
- Marcia (Brazil, 41st)
- Paul Simon (USA, 41st)
- Sarah Brightman (United Kingdom, 42nd)