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Japan celebrates Elvis birthday by selecting new "King".

posted 9 Jan 2011, 02:38 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 9 Jan 2011, 03:48 ]

Japanese celebrate Elvis' birthday by choosing the next "King of Rock".

TOKYO, JAPAN (JANUARY 9, 2011) REUTERS - According to the Elvis Presley Society of Japan, there are at least three important criteria impersonators must live up to to be named the next "King of Rock" -- voice, make-up and costume, and the ability to make women scream with delight.

The "Tribute to Elvis 2011" held in Tokyo on Sunday (January 9) is a contest to choose Japan's new king, who would also be given a chance to test his skills against other Elvises from around the world.

The competition is part of a commemoration event to observe the legendary singer's birthday on January 8.

Five Elvis wannabes donned their studded suits and spent a day living as their idol and crooning for hundreds of fans who had gathered to watch.

"Regardless of the results, my goal is to have fun. Our role is to get the Japanese people to know Elvis, and that's what I hope to do," said Elvis impersonator Tatsuro Nagata, who works as a security guard when he's not sporting sideburns.

The 1,100-seat Yomiuri hall was packed with fans, mostly mostly over the age of 40.

"It's a contest, but everybody totally became Elvis. It made me remember Elvis so much I almost cried," said Michiko Nishizawa, a 67-year-old Elvis fan.

"It's not him in person, but I really felt the incredible presence of Elvis of when he was alive," said 42-year-old Yoshiaki Ikegami, who said he became a fan after attending the competition in past years.

This year's winner, Daisuke Kiryu, who performed a medley including "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Hound Dog" dressed in a black leather suit. He melted the heart of judges with his youthful and energetic performance.

At 27, he was by far the youngest of the competitors, several of which were in their 50s.

He will go on to perform at the Memphis Pyramid Arena in the United states in August as the Japanese representative.

"People over there are physically bigger, and everyone's really good at singing. More than worrying about the results, I want to show them the skill of a Japanese Elvis impersonator," said Kiryu, a self-proclaimed singer and fan of the King since the age of 15.

This is the second year the "Tribute to Elvis" competition was held in Japan.

A Japanese representative was sent to Memphis in 2010 but the title of "Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist" and a cash prize of $20,000 USD went to an American impersonator from Oregon.