The 4-member band (ワトラズ) formed in April 2018 in Okinawa and features female-vocalist Kyon, Yoshinii on guitar, Masshii on bass, and Takkun on drums. Okinawa has a rich history of rock bands and fairly recent bands with female singers are seven oops, FLiP, and Stereopony. To date, What a lazz has only released singles and I’m happy to say that all are available on Apple Music! Here’s a link to their latest single Slashing Symphony. The song (Start Dash) Ui mentioned in her tweet is unreleased and looks to be included in their upcoming album.
It was announced on May 5th Okinawa time that the great Miyako folk singer Kuniyoshi Genji has passed away at the age of 90 on May 4th. Born on June 10, 1930 on Miyako Island, during his childhood he was known for his love of music. At 35 he decided to make his living as a professional Miyako folk singer and he won the Folk Song Division for NHK’s Nodo Jiman (20th annual Okinawa region). If you’re unfamiliar with Nodo Jiman, it’s like the inspiration to shows like America’s Got Talent. His passing is another great sorrow for our community having lost Oshiro Misako in January of this year. May he RIP.
If you’re into cute culture you’ll definitely want to check out the Okinawa VTuber Nema Ui. If you’re not familiar with what a VTuber (Virtual YouTuber) is, here’s an English example from Wikipedia:
… an online entertainer who uses a virtual avatar generated using computer graphics. A growing trend that originated in Japan in the mid-2010s, a majority of VTubers are Japanese-speaking YouTubers or live streamers who use anime-inspired avatar designs.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_YouTuber
Ui is very active on Twitter and you’ll find many of her followers submitting pretty amazing fan art. She’s so popular that her merchandise is sold at the Kokusai-dori Don Quijote store! She usually posts a video once a week and often uses a few Uchinaa-guchi words in her dialogue.
One of my new Twitter follows, KANASA Co-Operative, is one that shares words and stories from Ryūkyū in English. They also have a website with longer form articles about Ryukyuan culture that’s a great resource to deepen your knowledge. One of my favorite articles is about the hidari-gomon that I see everyday when I pick up my sanshin (it’s on the tiiga). From their website:
Established in 2019, KANASA is a modern co-operative committed to the preservation and awareness raising of Ryukyuan stories, histories and cultures, through creative editorials, art and trade.https://www.kanasa.co.uk/about/
Did you know that Okinawa has several professional sports teams? Today we’re highlighting Okinawa’s professional baseball team, Ryukyu Blue Oceans. Formed in 2019 and active from 2020, the team features several players from Okinawa and is headquartered in Ginowan City. They have three home fields: Ginowan, Urasoe, and Miyako-jima. Pro baseball makes a lot of sense in Okinawa as there are many fans of the sport (as most recently evidenced by the large amount of social media support for Gushikawa Commercial High School making it to the spring Koshien) and many NPB teams hold spring training camps in Okinawa. One of the team’s goals is to join the NPB when it expands its cap on new teams (from 12 to 16).
Ryukyu Blue Oceans have currently started a crowdfunding project on Campfire with one of the rewards being the amazing game cap pictured above (unfortunately, it seems to be only available domestically).
Follow Ryukyu Blue Oceans on Twitter.
New singles and albums released in April 2021
2021.04.16 [Single] Agena Mana – Hohoemi wo Tayasazuni (Links)
2021.04.18 [Single] Asato Mina – Shima nu Kokoro (Links)
2021.04.21 [EP] Miura Daichi – Backwards (Links)
2021.04.21 [Album] MONGOL800 – etc.works3 (Indies)
2021.04.28 [Single] JO1 – CHALLENGER (Links)
2021.04.28 [Mini Album] Kiiyama Shouten – Akasatana (Indies)
If you watch one music video on YouTube, this must be it. The MV is an acoustic cover of the very popular J-pop song Hanamizuki by Hitoto Yō (she’s Japanese and Taiwanese) and matches well with Uchinaa-guchi and Ryūkyū instruments, dance and vocals. (Another version to listen to is from Amami Ōshima’s Minami Kizuki.) The music video is a collaboration between guitarist HOMARE of Nanaironote and model/actress/singer Karin Miyagi who recently collaborated with famous Okinawan artist Naka Bokunen for the Chimugasana project. Filming took place at Ryukyu-mura.
An interesting connection that this cover of Hanamizuki makes is that the song inspired a film of the same name (2010 release) that starred the popular Okinawan actress Aragaki Yui and had its international debut at our very own Hawaii International Film Festival!
h/t @sherryberry100 on Twitter.