Longest-running annual TV music competition (national)
NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen
65:00 year(s):day(s)
Japan (Tokyo)

Japan’s Kouhaku Uta Gassen (“Red and White Song Battle”) was inaugurated – as a radio show only – in 1951 before moving to television on 31 December 1953. The TV special, produced by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), had been screened annually on New Year’s Eve for 65 consecutive years, as of the 2017 contest. Kouhaku sees invited teams of male (White/”shirogumi”) and female (Red/”akagumi”) singers and bands perform against each other before judges and the audience vote to decide the winner.

The teams are predominantly made up of the most popular Japanese singers and bands of the year, but several notable foreign artists have also participated, including Sarah Brightman, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon and Andy Williams.

Japanese pop artists who have multiple Kouhaku appearances include AKB48, EXILE, Gackt, Ayumi Hamasaki, Koda Kumi, SMAP and TOKIO.

At the end of the show, shortly before midnight, both teams come together to perform “Hotaru no Hikari” (“Glow of a Firefly”), which is based on the Scottish folk song “Auld Lang Syne”.