Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day (戦没将兵追悼記念日) in the US.

Memorial Day (previously, but now seldom, called Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday is observed on the last Monday of May. The holiday was formerly observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day to honor and mourn those who died while serving in the U.S. Military. Many volunteers place an American flag on graves of military personnel in national cemeteries.

Memorial Day is also considered the unofficial start of summer in the United States, while Labor Day, the first Monday of September, marks the unofficial start of autumn.

We have a special memorial day too called Irei no Hi (Okinawa Memorial Day, 慰霊の日) that’s only observed in Okinawa on June 23rd to remember all of the lives lost during the Battle of Okinawa.

5th Elements 10th Anniversary

via 5th Elements

Vocal duo 5 Elements (A-RA and YU) is celebrating their 10th anniversary with the release of a new album THE BEST which features 15 tracks — including the song below (Minami no Shima e Dekakeyou) with sanshin by Maeda Hideyuki.

Minami no Shima e Dekakeyou

The new album also features the song Party which was written by Daizou from the group Ketsumeishi. Unfortunately, their music is currently only available in Japan for Apple Music and iTunes so importing the CD seems like the best bet.

Murasaki Mura Ryukyu Kingdom Theme Park

via Murasaki Mura

From May 23rd to June 30th 2021, Murasaki Mura is offering free admission to its Ryukyu Kingdom theme park while actually being temporarily closed due to the emergency declaration for Okinawa. Sounds like a great opportunity for picture-taking like @Okinawanderer.

Ryukyu Historical Drama Shō En Ou (TV)

via Twitter

In the category of “I really want to watch this!” comes the RBC Ryukyu historical drama Shō En Ou (the king of the second Shō dynasty) which aired in February 2020 and is being streamed on Japan’s Paravi service and sold as a DVD (sadly, no English subtitles for both editions).

The cast is led by ParanaiSaranai’s Chinen Shingo (he’s also the first Kanai/Ryujin Mabuyer!) as King Shō En and features actors and actresses from Okinawa. I found the DVD for sale on Amazon Japan but it’s region code 2 (not playable on US players) so I may have to go the Paravi route which is at least offering 2 weeks for free.

OR’s NAOTO & HIROKI Contributes to 7ORDER’s 1st Major Single Release

via Twitter

ORANGE RANGE‘s guitarist NAOTO and vocalist (mid-range) HIROKI provided the music and lyrics to the 1st major single (double A-side) for J-pop group 7ORDER. The song is titled “SUMMER sama-sama” and is coupled with the single “Ame ga hajimari no aizu” and set to be released on July 7th.

It’s great to see the OR band still active since forming in 2001. On a personal note, I remember seeing OR vocalist RYO at a hotel in Chatan and he was so cool and chill. As this year marks their 20th anniversary, be sure to follow the band’s Twitter for the latest news.

7th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival Logo & Slogan Contest

via WUF

Showcase your creativity and earn fame and money by submitting a logo and/or a slogan for next year’s 7th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival! The application deadline is Friday, July 9, 2021, and the winner(s) will be announced in late August (subject to change). As the slogan can be emailed and multiple entries are being accepted, I’ll definitely be giving this a go.

Learn more about it and download the applications on the WUF2022 webpage. (h/t to @JTBUSA_Honolulu)

Miyazato Rira to Graduate from AKB48

Surprised? Yes, there actually is (soon to be was) an AKB48 (a popular idol group in Japan) member from Okinawa, Miyazato Rira. She is part of Team 8 (there are 5 teams in total named A, K, B, 4, and 8) which was formed in 2014 and was formed to represent one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Miyazato Rira also happens to hold a position in Team 4. On May 12th, it was announced that she will be graduating in July of this year.

In case you’re wondering, the word graduate in the idol world means that the person will be leaving the group and there are various reasons for doing so. For Miyazato Rira, she felt that due to the pandemic she wasn’t able to meet with fans but it did give her an opportunity to think more about her future (i.e. her life after AKB48). Follow her Twitter for the latest updates.

Ganeko Yoriko’s Utahime Livestream on YouTube

It’s crazy times that we’re able to watch a livestream of the amazing Ganeko Yoriko‘s performances at her minyou stage Utahime. I visited there a long time ago with a group and we were invited to do an impromptu live performance on her stage. She’s very gracious and kind so if you’re in Okinawa, be sure to make Utahime one of the top places on your must-visit list. She streams live once a month so be sure to subscribe to her channel.


Speaking of Aragaki Yui’s marriage announcement, she joins a growing list of popular actresses/singers from Okinawa with Uchinaa-muuku (son-in-law of Okinawa) husbands.

2021 Hoshino Gen (actor) to Aragaki Yui

2017 Kamiyama Ryuji (actor) to Chibana Kurara

2016 Inoue Yoshio (actor) to Chinen Rina

2014 Mukai Osamu (actor) to Kuninaka Ryoko

2014 Tanaka Tetsushi (actor) to Nakama Yukie

2012 Oguri Shun (actor) to Yamada Yu

2012 Akanishi Jun (musician) to Kuroki Meisa

2012 Hiro (musician) to Ueto Aya (her mother is from Ishigaki-jima)

1997 Sam (dancer) to Amuro Namie

1979 Shinoyama Kishin (photographer) to Minami Saori

I recall a couple of guys in Okinawa lamenting that all the pretty Okinawan women go to outsiders. For myself, as long as they’re both happy that’s what matters the most.

Freshly Made Spam & Egg Onigiri at Potama

Potama Waikiki

I recently went to check out a restaurant chain from Okinawa that has a location in Waikiki (Honolulu, Hawaii) called Potama (short for Pork Tamago Onigiri). In Okinawa, pork usually refers to pork luncheon meat that’s made by Hormel (Spam) or by Tulip. Hawaii has a similar popular local food called Spam musubi that’s readily available at convenience stores and some restaurants so I was curious to eat at Potama which is made fresh after ordering and includes an egg (tamago) with several topping choices.

The Potama Waikiki is located in the Royal Hawaiian Center’s Waikiki Food Hall which is a couple minute walk from the center’s regular food court. Before heading out to the restaurant, I had already picked out a few choices that were exclusive to Hawaii only to learn that only a limited menu was being served for now (likely due to the pandemic). The Hawaii-exclusive items are: Loco Moco, Garlic Shrimp, Fried Green Tomato Wasabi Tartar, mochiko chicken, and mac salad (the last two items aren’t onigiri). Sadly, none of these were being offered. Outside of the Hawaii-exclusive items, the ones that feature Okinawan food is next on my list and while they do have Abura Miso (andansuu) they don’t have Goya Tempura (we’ve been told it’s coming). So if you do head out there, be sure to check out their current menu on the Waikiki Food Hall page instead of their official website.

I ended up getting the regular Po-tama (yeah, I know it’s basically a Spam musubi with an egg), Andansuu (Abura Miso), Cheese Ketchup, French fries, and iced green tea drink. I’ll definitely be checking the place out again when they have more menu items available. I’m looking to try their Goya Tempura, a couple of the Hawaii-exclusive items, mac salad, Sanpin Tea with Shikwasa drink, and either the iced or hot coffee if it’s from Chatan Coffee. Gori did a review of their Makishi location on his YouTube channel.

Gori (Garage Sale) Visits Potama Makishi

Follow Potama on Twitter. Potama’s website (available in English).