Reiko Akagi is an enka singer (trad. Japanese pop) without much of a reputation. She and her manager, Sugai, are
constantly on tour, doing small time appearances all over Japan and getting by on sales of the accompanying CDs.
One day, they visit Kiryu City in Gunma prefecture where Reiko was born and raised. This time she notices the
atmosphere; of the town is somehow different which she soon learns is because the well-known NHK TV program,
Nodo Jiman, (Amateur singing contest) is about to be staged in Kiryu.
Reiko and her manager had expected to sell quite a few CDs in her home town, but at the end of the day they discover
that business is very bad indeed. As a result, they have run out of money and cannot continue touring. Reiko, by this
time desperate, takes an application card from her father’s barber shop and decides to audition for the Nodo Jiman TV
show. Her manager, Sugai, objects vehemently, but Reiko has made up her mind to end her career if she does not
receive the qualifying bell that marks a performer’s acceptance by the panel of judges on Nodo Jiman.
Keisuke Araki (40), married with four daughters, is unemployed and must feed his family and his mother-in-law.
Keisuke takes a crash course to obtain a license for a yakitori (Japanese barbecued chicken) shop. He believes that
getting the license will mark the end of his financial troubles and the beginning of a prosperous future as a
shopkeeper. Unfortunately the license examination is set to take place on the very day that Keisuke is slated to appear
on-the Nodo Jiman TV show.
Rika Takahashi is a local high school student. She lives with her elder sister and her mother who runs a small
Japanese style pub. Rika feels she is incapable of expressing her emotions, and, one day when her sister and her
mother are quarreling because of an affair with a married man, she tries to give moral support to her sister while at the
same time supporting her mother. Pleading no one, a disaster ensues and the pregnant sister leaves home. But Rika
dreams of becoming a singer and she reaches out boldly to grasp the opportunity presented by Nodo Jiman.
Grandpa Kotaro runs a small mushroom farm in a neighboring town. He lives with his grandson, ‘little Kotaro’ who
has a history as a problem child. Expelled by his school in Tokyo, little Kotaro is put under the care of his
grandfather. Gradually the young boy and the old man begin to open up to each other but just as they have reached a
plateau of happiness, little Kotaro’s father announces he has been transferred to Brazil and he is taking the entire family
with him. Grandpa Kotaro decides to enter the Nodo Jiman contest and sing a song to cheer up little Kotaro.
The fateful day arrives and each of the participants prepares themselves for what will be a long and heart wrenching
shot at stardom.
Nodo Jiman is a well-known amateur singing contest broadcast live on NHK (national broadcasting station) every
Sunday at noon. Starting as a radio show, Nodo Jiman has been on air for 53 years, the world’s longest running
program. Nodo Jiman travels all over Japan and local amateurs participate in the spirit of “with cheer, joy and spirit”.
This long-running program has spawned its own series of pathos, drama and comedy. Many of Japan’s professional
singers made their debut on Nodo Jiman and there is one chap who has auditioned, over 300 times. Some contestants
were later married after meeting on the show and one plucky contestant took the opportunity to propose marriage, on
air, before 25 million viewers!
Color/Vista/19991112 min/Cine Quanon-Toho-Nikkatsu-Ponycanyon
Script:Teruo Abe, Kazuyuki Izutsu
Art Direction:Katsumi Nakazawa
Music Producer:Hikaru Ishikawa
Producers:Lee Bong Ou, Hitomi Ishihara
Reiko Akagi:Shigeru Muroi
Keisuke Araki:Kohei Otomo
Sugai (Reiko’s Manager): Isao Bito
Rika Takahashi:Ayurhi Ito
Miyoko Araki:Miyuki Matsuda
Kondo (Taxi driver):Naoto Takenaka
Reiko’s father:Nenji Kobayashi
Grandpa Kotaro:Kazuo Kitamura