Chihiro Kamiya’s new mini album “Cheeringu”

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A very favorite artist of ours, Chihiro Kamiya, will be releasing a mini album titled “Cheeringu” on 9/30/09. The mini album will have a total of 7 tracks. In a departure to her previous albums which were Okinawan pop focused, the mini album will be a mixture of world, pop and reggae sounds. Whatever she sings, we’ll be buying it. 😀

“Cheeringu” is available for pre-order at cdjapan.co.jp.

okinawaBBtv has an interview with Chihiro announcing her new mini album up on their site.

King Records to release a 6-CD box set of Sadao China’s recordings

I heard about this upcoming release about a month or so ago but haven’t seen any big promotions of it—which is quite sad indeed. So we here at Karakui.com will do our part by promoting the King Records release of a 6-disc box set featuring music by utasaa (Okinawan folk singer) legend Sadao China. Titled “Hyakkei,” the limited release box set of 101 tracks will sell for ¥15,000 with each disc featuring a theme of: Celebration & Dance (Disc 1), Playful & Fun (Disc 2 & 3), Drama & Admiration (Disc 4), and Love (Disc 5 & 6). “Hyakkei” will be released on October 7, 2009, and is available for pre-order at online retailers like (our favorite) cdjapan.co.jp. Click here for a full list of tracks in the box set.

Not interested in the box set? Well, there’s a release for you as well. Coming before the release of “Hyakkei” King Records will release a (single) disc of Sadao China’s recordings titled “Uta Damashii” on September 9, 2009. “Uta Damashii” will have a total of 15 tracks—13 of which are in “Hyakkei” and 2 bonus tracks which aren’t included in the box set—and is priced at ¥2,800. “Uta Damashii” is available for pre-order at cdjapan.co.jp.

Yasukatsu Oshima’s albums available on iTunes!

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I’ve long, long, been a fan of utasaa (minyou singer) Yasukatsu Oshima and although I already own most of the albums in his discography, having his music readily available for other future fans on iTunes is simply awesome. I have to give a lot of props to whoever is in charge of promoting the singer (Miki Nagata?) because in addition to having his albums on iTunes, Yasukatsu’s website has been wonderfully redone with information in English (with an RSS feed), a Twitter acccount, and gems like this translated bit from an interview found in Urma magazine.

If I had to recommend an album of his to start your collection with, I’d say pick-up “Island Journey” which is very easy to listen to and features guest musicians such as J-pop artist UA, pianist Ayano Kinjou of the J-pop duo Kiroro, and wunderkind utasaa Kanako Hatoma.

Unfortunately, missing from the albums available on iTunes as well as the discography listing on the website is his debut album “Nishi Kaji Hai Kaji,” released in 1993 from Polystar. The album featured the song “Irayoi Tsukiyahama” which was co-written with Eishou Higa of BEGIN (who covers the song on their first shimauta collection “Omototakeo 1”).

Among his contemporaries from Yaeyama, if I were to connect a genre to each I would say that Yukito Ara is rock, Eishou Higa (BEGIN) is pop, and Yasukatsu is soul. My wish from now is to see all of their music—especially Yukito’s as well as Parsha’s because they’re on an indie label—available digitally as well. It’s my hope that they’ll follow Yasukatsu’s lead in making their music readily available to the world through online stores like iTunes.

(BTW, the only album of his missing in my collection was his beautiful collaboration with Geoffrey Keezer which, thanks to it being available on iTunes, I now own. 😀 )

Link: Yasukatsu’s albums on iTunes (link opens iTunes)
Link: Official website (in English)

Ayano Uema’s 2nd album will be released on 8/2/09!!!

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We knew she was working on her 2nd album back in January 2009 and now we finally have a release date and a title for it, “Majun,” which will hit local store shelves on August 2, 2009. No other information on the number of tracks or its price but we’ll report it as soon as it’s available. Ayano’s debut album, “Negai Hoshi,” was released in 2006 and the majority of tracks were penned by her. Containing a total of 8 tracks, it sold for ¥2,000.

Ayano Uema’s official website

(Via 上間綾乃の、日々ブログ.)

Kanako Hatoma’s second album, “Tiida nu Fwaa”

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Yeah, I’m late on this one as it’s been sitting in my To-Do list for several months. So without further ado…

Yaeyama singer Kanako Hatoma (26) released her second album, “Tiida nu Fwaa,” in October of last year. The album follows her debut album “Yoon no Michi” which was released in 2001 on Sadao China’s (who is also her producer) DIG record label. The album (DCA-0007) contains a total of 12 tracks, retails for ¥3,000, and can be purchased online at Amazon.co.jp.

Live performances of Kanako can be found on YouTube by following this link.

(Via Campus Record Staff Blog.)

Web: Ryukyu Minyo Ongaku Kyokai

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Many of you may know about Okinawa minyo, but you may not know that there are many different organizations of the music in Okinawa and one of them is the Ryukyu Minyo Ongaku Kyokai, or RMOK. I’m actually pretty excited about this entry because having a large, traditional, organization like the RMOK build a website (and to have it under their own domain name) is a great plus to folks like me who live on the web. Two veterans of the Okinawa minyo world are presently affiliated with the organization, Tetsuhiro Daiku (who has been pretty active on the web), and Yukichi Yamazato. Looking through their listing of affiliated schools, I also see Mayumi Yamakawa and Mitsuko Nakado. Way to go!

Ryukyu Minyo Ongaku Kyokai

ういずあす – the trio formerly known as ‘wiz-us’

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Waiting for me in my inbox this morning was an email from Mark about a group from Okinawa named ういずあす. At first I didn’t recognize the group but upon further research (ah, googling how I love thee) I found that the trio formerly went by the name “wiz-us” (which is how the current name is pronounced in English—yeah, go figure). Anyhoo, that name was quite familiar to me because I purchased their debut single, “Toori Ame,” a couple of years ago. At the time, they were marketed as a J-pop group with an Okinawan-twist (not unlike what’s being seen in the popularity of artists from Amami-Oshima like Chitose Hajime and Kousuke Atari) by, I presume, their record label at the time SME Records. So, yeah, I was totally thrown off by the change from “wiz-us” to the Japanese “ういずあす” and how they’re now adorned in Ryukyuan costume. Checking out their profile, the change from J-pop to wherever they plan to go (O-pop? Minyou?) from here is not all fluff as all three are accomplished artists of Ryukyuan music and dance:

  • Rina Kinjo (22, Nago City): Uta-Sanshin (Saikoushou) for 13 years.
  • Reika Higa (23, Nanjou City): Uta-Sanshin (Saikoushou) for 14 years.
  • Ayano Oyakawa (23, Urasoe City): Ryukyu Buyou (Saikoushou) for 15 years.

Their discography (from their SME catalog) so far consists of their debut single “Toori Ame” released in March 2007 and a cover album, “Nakayukui,” released in December 2007. Looking at the discography you’ll notice the void between January 2008 to present so I’m assuming they’re going indie.

Links to find out more about ういずあす (I’ve left out the ones that link to wiz-us):
Official Website
Official Blog

Video: おきなわBBtv: They introduce themselves with their new name and also mention an upcoming single that they’re working on.

(Nifee deebitan to Mark for the tip!)

Minami Kizuki’s amazing debut single “Aitsumugi”

We’re always on the lookout for new artists to listen to and we’re happy to announce the debut of 19 year-old Minami Kizuki (城南海—interesting how it’s read, no?) who released her first single, “Aitsumugi,” on January 7, 2009. Upon listening to the single, one will definitely think of Chitose Hajime (oh, forgot to mention that she, like Chitose, is from Amami-Oshima)—who we are big fans of—and it’s no wonder because they were both trained as utasha and they’re, like, female too. One may also be reminded of Rikki Nakano (oh where art thou?) and even Kousuke Atari. One thing is for certain, with her beauty and awesome voice, she definitely has what it takes to become as popular as her sempai and of course, karakui.com will be rooting for her too. 🙂

Be sure to check out the PV of “Aitsumugi” above and click on it to see the video in HQ glory at YouTube.com. Although it’s in Japanese, there’s also a clip on YouTube that profiles the singer.

If the single interests you, please consider purchasing it via this cdjapan.co.jp affiliate link as it’ll help us out—just a little. 😉

Official Website (Pony Canyon)
Official Blog (Oricon)