Kucho Girl on YouTube

Kucho Girl Explains the Kucho

Allison-sensei started her Kucho Girl YouTube channel about a year ago and has a lot of great content in English for those interested in learning more about classical (koten ongaku) and folk (minyou) music from Uchinaa. If you’re not familiar with the word ‘kucho’, Allison-sensei calls it an Okinawan spike fiddle and it’s one of the instruments that accompanies the uta-sanshin along with kutu (zither), fwanso (flute), and teeku (drums). It’s definitely a channel you’ll want to subscribe to.

National Theatre Okinawa’s Promo Video

English Version of National Theatre Okinawa’s Promo Video

The National Theatre Okinawa recently shared promotional videos on their YouTube channel with versions in English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Korean (the latter three are subtitled only). The videos are narrated in English by Yonashiro Sho of the idol pop group JO1.

National Theatre Okinawa’s building, as seen in the video, was built in a style reminiscient of home architecture dating back to the when Okinawa was still the Ryukyu Kingdom. Its walls bend outward at the top, creating shade from sun and rain, and are styled in the form of woven bamboo “chinibu” walling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_-mimOtT9s

National Theatre Okinawa (website link in English) and they just opened a Twitter account (they also have tweets in English too)!

Harry Seisho Nakasone

Harry Seisho Nakasone, a Honolulu resident who studied in Japan and became a master of classical Okinawan music, died March 19 in Honolulu. He was 99.

Nakasone was a grand master of classical uta-sanshin, in which the artist sings and plays the three-string instrument that is Okinawa’s version of the shamisen. […]

“He is well-respected even in this day for his (sanshin-playing) ability, technical in a lot of ways, but he was able to balance the technicality of the music with the artistry,” said Norman Kaneshiro, director of Nakasone Seifu Kai, the Moiliili sanshin school Nakasone founded.

Nakasone possessed “a really warm vocal style … tied together all in a seamless, fluid way,” Kaneshiro said. […]

(Via Staradvertiser.com.)

RIP.

Toru Yonaha getting back to his Roots

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This upcoming release from Toru Yonaha is the perfect companion to his 2007 album “Utage ~party~” which was heavily influenced by J-pop. The 11 track album titled “Roots ~Ryukyu Iwaiuta~ (Best of Okinawan Traditional Songs)” will be released on 9/24/08 in Okinawa. Dude, I am so buying this. (Via 沖縄三線日和.)

3-4 Day Special: Kajadifuu Bushi

In celebration of Sanshin Day, March 4, I’m featuring a Ryūkyū Koten Ongaku (Ryūkyū classical music) song called “Kajadifū Bushi (かぎやで風節).” It has a bit of history for myself as the first song I learned on uta-sanshin from Katsumi Shinsato-sensei some fifteen years ago and I’ve been playing it ever since. Here’s a little background information on the song from Naganori Komine’s Okinawan Poetry: A Translation of Okinawan Poems from the KUN-KUN-SI (The Textbook of Okinawan song).

There are several different interpretations of the background of this song.

(1) There was a mute prince in the Ryūkyū kingdom. A high ranking clansmen named Ūaragusiku was grieved by this. One day, the prince found out that he was being considered to be the King’s successor. The prince demonstrated that he had just been pretending to be dumb in order to see what was going on among his followers. Watching the scene, the clansmen Ūaragusiku express his joy in this verse.

(2) A blacksmith, or KANJAYA named Okuma, helped Prince Shoen when there was a crisis. After that, when Shoen inherited the kingdom, Okuma became a clansmen. The blacksmith expressed his joy in this verse.

KIYU NU FUKURASHA YA
Today’s joyous occasion,

NAWUNI JANA TATIRU
To what can we compare it?

TSIBUDI WURU HANANU
It’s like a bud waiting to bloom,

TSIYU CHATA GUTU
Touched by the morning dew.

Sample of Kajadifu Bushi.

Okinawan music and dance performance: ‘Loochoo nu Kwa, Children of Loochoo’

Norman Kaneshiro-sensei emailed information on an Okinawan music and dance performance his group has lined up for March 28, 2008, a Saturday. Titled “Loochoo nu Kwa, Children of Loochoo,” the performance featuring the talented members of Ukwanshin Kabudan will be held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (<rant>for those like me who are irritated by websites that resize your browser’s window, this is one of them</rant>). Ukwanshin Kabudan has a blog too! Way to go, guys. 🙂

For more information, download the poster and/or the synopsis (includes the artists’ profiles).

Web: Uta Sanshin Circle

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Found a link to this wonderful website (kept by a fellow Mac user too 😀 ) in my referral log and I thought I’d share it with everyone. The Uta Sanshin Circle is a resource for those who live in (or are visiting) the mainland USA with information on classical and minyou classes. It looks like they’ll have their first meeting on February 10th so check out their website for more info: Uta Sanshin Circle.

Community: Congratulations to Kenton Odo, June Nakama and Calvin Nakama

There’s a nice story by Steve Murray on Midweek.com (‘SHAMISEN’) on the accomplishments of three musicians from Hawaii who are “the first foreigners to earn a master’s certificate in the Okinawan shamisen.” Definitely worth a read. All three musicians will be performing in Hawaii on Tuesday, November 27 as part of the 14th annual TOBE! Uta Sanshin 2007 concert. Read here for more info. Congratulations guys, we’re all very proud of you!