Haisai and mensore to Karakui! A website covering all things Ryūkyū pop culture.
While writing about Okinawan pop culture over at the now defunct Okinawa.ws and Okinawa.com (when Donna Shiroma was at the helm), I started the Okinawan Music Project which was a discography site (later it was fauta.net) for Okinawan-born artists that covered several genres of music: J-pop (Japanese pop music), O-pop (Okinawan/Uchinaa pop music), minyou (folk music), koten ongaku (classical music), among others. The Okinawan Music Project later evolved into OkinawanMusic.org (previously Okinawan-Music.org) while I still blogged about Okinawan pop culture over at Pop.i-O. I eventually combined the two which turned the pop site into a remixed version of the dot-org site. (By the way, May 13, 2002, is the Okinawan Music Project’s launch date and it’s been a part of Donna’s Internet-Okinawa.com (no longer active) since January 11, 2003.) The combination of the dot-org site and i-O.com (Internet-Okinawa.com) was seen as a way to bring the pop culture of Okinawa to an even larger audience. I’m happy to report that I’ve received many emails of support from fans throughout the globe and keep ’em coming. 🙂
So why Karakui? I guess I’ll begin with the word karakui which is the Okinawan word for the tuning peg(s) on the sanshin — the Okinawan banjo/guitar/lute (take your pick). I think it’s an appropriate name for a site that will be covering more than the music (like my other old site OkinawanMusic.org) of Okinawa and I have plans to branch out with a project called Karakui Press which will bring even more information to English-language fans of Okinawa (e.g., podcasts, romanization of Okinawan music, kunkunshi, interviews, etc.). So yes, I have big plans for Karakui and I’m excited with what the work that I’ll be doing with the Karakui Press project in the future.
About Karakui. This website is a work of love by me (Richie Yamashiroya) and I’ve been a fan of Okinawan pop culture for more than a decade (and a fan of J-pop music for even longer). I have a BA in Asian Studies (Minor in Japanese Language) and attended the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts Faculty of Music (Ryukyuan Performing Arts) as an exchange student. Most of the longtime readers probably know me by my nickname ‘Riccin’ from my Uchinaa pop culture column (the UPzine) over at Okinawa.com. My connection to Okinawa is through my mom (descendants of the Sai family) so throughout my life I’ve had many opportunities to experience the rich culture of the islands from my visits with my family there. Having started with Ryukyu koten ongaku (classical music) lessons from Katsumi Shinsato-sensei, I’ve also been a student of Ryukyu minyou (I was a teacher with the Nidaime Teishinkai Hawaii Shibu) and studied under Kiyoshi Kinjo, Ryosei Oshiro, Derek Ichiro Shiroma, and Grant Sandaa Murata (kūchō). I was also in the Rinken Band cover band Namikaji (2nd generation) and often performed with Eric and Norman’s Ukwanshin Kabudan (uta-sanshin). My interest in Okinawan pop culture spun out of my fascination with the pop culture of mainland Japan (which through my many years of music retail gave me easy access to all types of media) and the coming of such artists as Namie Amuro, The Boom, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Southern All Stars (the last three artists are from mainland Japan and some of their music have been influenced by shimauta [island songs]). My goal for this site is to share my love of Ryukyu’s pop culture and to make friends along the way.
Back in the day we bloggers used to do everything: Coding, graphics, and coffee (I still make my own coffee). So I’m happy to announce that we commissioned Lisa Ledbetter to create our new logo.
Peace, love, and thank you for visiting!