While it’s only in Japanese, there’s a YouTube channel called Okinawa History Club (沖縄歴史倶楽部チャンネル) run by historian Maeda Yuuki (links to his Twitter profile). He has videos of Zoom sessions as well as walking tours of Ryukyu history. The 4-part series for the Ryukyu dance “Nubui Kuduchi” is of particular interest as he retraces the path from the Shuri Castle area to Naha Port.
The cast is led by ParanaiSaranai’sChinen 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.
Actress Meisa Kuroki has been chosen to star in the play ‘Onna Nobunaga,’ based on the book of the same name by Naoki Prize-winning author Kenichi Sato. The story, set during the Sengoku period, is based on the premise that Oda Nobunaga was actually female. Kuroki will of course play the role of Nobunaga.
Kuroki will be supported by singer and musical actor Akinori Nakagawa, playing the role of the samurai Akechi Mitsuhide. Nakagawa is a rising talent in the world of stage musicals, having earned multiple awards since starring in ‘Mozart!’ in 2002.
‘Onna Nobunaga’ will be performed at Tokyo’s Aoyama Theatre on June 5-21, followed by shows in Osaka at Theater BRAVA! on June 26-28.
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,
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. 🙂
BREEZES FROM LANDS BELOW THE WINDS IN THE RYUKYUS
Southeast Asian Influences in Okinawan Culture
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
Tokioka Room, Moore Hall 319
Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the Ryukyu Kingdom was the main trade link between East and Southeast Asia, even transporting goods from SouthAsia to China and Japan. The impact of these early contacts with Java, Thailand, Laos and Malaysia still
appear today in various aspects of Okinawan culture, especially textiles, dance, music and language.
This talk will cover the history of Ryukyuan contacts with the “Lands Below the Winds”, the places that the monsoon blew its ships down to. Through a variety of visual and audio examples, it will show how Okinawa absorbed and transformed cultural influences from Southeast Asia.
The presenter is Garrett Kam, who was born in Hawai’i and finished his M.A. Asian Studies at UHM. He has been living in Southeast Asia for over 20 years, especially on Java and Bali.
Sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies (go COS!) and the Asian Studies Program through its Freeman Foundation Artist in Residence project.
Loochoo Nu Kwa: Children of Loochoo
Workshop on Okinawa’s music and dance as connected to its history and culture
When: Saturday, August 25
Registration: 4:30 p.m.
Workshop: 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Where: Jikoen Hongwanji Hall, 1731 N. School Street, Honolulu
Presented by Ukwanshin Kabudan, sponsored in part by Young Okinawans of Hawai‘i
This workshop will help you to understand the importance of music and dance in the history and culture of Okinawa. You will also hear the urgency to preserve and perpetuate the Ryukyuan traditional legacy as presented by Norman Kaneshiro, Eric Wada, and the Ukwanshin Kabudan members who have just returned from an emotional visit to Okinawa. If you have ever wondered about what it is to be Okinawan, or how you can strengthen your identity, this presentation will help you to understand.
University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Center for Japanese Studies will have a special guest next week, Dr. Gregory Smits, Associate Professor of Japanese History from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Smits will be a guest discussant on Wednesday, April 11, 2007, from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM at the Tokioka Room (Moore Hall 319). The theme of the discussion is Okinawa’s Challenges in the 21st Century. (Click here for more info [pdf].) He’ll also be giving a lecture on the “Royal Authority in the Kingdom of Ryukyu” (sponsored by SHAPS and CJS) on Friday, April 13, 2007, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM at the Center for Korean Studies Auditorium. (Click here for more info [pdf].) Both take place on the UH Manoa campus and are free to the public.