Hikawa Kiyoshi debuted on 2nd February, 2000 with "Hakone Hachi ri no hanjiro".
This was not even an ordinary enka number, but a mata tabi song,
the genre which tells stories of Edo-period travellers as they wandered the roads of the land gambling and living from hand-to-month,
helping the weak and beating the strong.
These songs are often composed to accompany jidai geki ( samurai drama ) plays.
"Hakone Hachi ri no hanjiro" have a repetitive phrase "Yada ne, tara, yada ne", which roughly translates as "If I say no, I mean no",
and this has become somewhat of a catchphrase, especially with young kids, thus making this song even more well-known.
The song continued in the Oricon Single Top 100 on the charts for a whole year and reached as high as number 11
during the December 2000 - January 2001 period following the announcement of his appearance on NHK TV's "Kohaku Uta Gassen"
programme on the New Year's Eve. The hit has brought him fans of every age from high school students to grannies. In fact, he recalls
having been kissed by an 80-year-old lady soon after his debut.
Now Hikawa Kiyoshi is busier than he had ever imaged, and has on average only one day off every two months.
Even then, he says, he can't do anything exciting because he has to use the time to catch up on dentist's visit and the like.
Like tens of thousands of other young people, the other way he gets rid of stress is to play "Game Boy" computer games.
Recently, he has also started to develop an interest in traditional Japanese arts and crafts, such as pottery.
On TV Hikawa Kiyoshi has great presence. He is one of those performers who loves the cameras.
He is confident and looks straight into the lens, and yet comes as genuine, responsible and well-mannered,
and always uses the most polite forms of deferential Japanese... all of the characteristics that Japanese
feel have been eroded in recent times, when the newspapers are full of stories of rough-mouthed, violent and anti-social youngsters.
Kiyoshi says that he wants to be a much-loved singer who can continue his career for a long time. He also wants to read and learn and broaden his experience.
In other words, he is teachable and eager, surly two qualities that will take him far.
Enka has been needing some new blood for a long time, and the renewed
initerest in enka since Hikawa made his debut indicates that there still is a market for the music
if it is presented in a fresh and interesting way. Hikawa Kiyoshi fits the bill nicely.