Asato Mina’s 2nd Single Shima nu Kokoro 4/18 Release!

Today is the release day of Asato Mina’s 2nd single Shima nu Kokoro. The song has an Uchinaa Pop feel to it and has modern day Okinawa as its backdrop. Currently available for sale on iTunes and coming soon to music streaming services (outside of Japan). Follow Mina’s accounts on her InstaBio.

New Music Releases

New singles and albums released from January to March 2021

2021.01.06 [Single] Anly – Star Wink (星瞬~Star Wink~) Links (featured in the YouTube clip)

2021.02.10 [Album] i-dushi (いーどぅし) – HOPE Links

2021.02.17 [Album] Cocco – Kuchinashi Links

2021.02.24 [Mini Album] AI’s “Not So Different Remix feat. AwichLinks

2021.02.24 [Album] HY – HANAEMI Links

2021.03.07 [Single] AKINA – Our Time Links

2021.03.12 [Single] Miura Daichi (三浦大知) – Backwards Links

2021.03.17 [Single] DA PUMP – Dream on the street Links

2021 Marks SPEED’s 25th Anniversary

Wow, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since SPEED made their debut. To commemorate this occasion the group released a special box set called SPEED MUSIC BOX -ALL THE MEMORIES- for ¥19,968 ($199 USD) containing several booklets, CDs, and Blu-rays — definitely a must-have item for diehard fans. Of the 4 members, 3 are quite active on social media and Hitoe remains the most private member of the group (links are to their Twitter accounts): Shimabukuro Hiroko, Imai Eriko and Uehara Takako. Link to the group’s official website with Avex. Congratulations!

Miyazawa Kazufumi on J-MELO

If you have the NHK World app (website link) be sure to catch the latest episode (1/10) of J-MELO (it’s on VOD until March 12, 2021) to see Miyazawa Kazufumi perform an acoustic (sanshin-only) version of Shimauta. It’s always interesting to see an artist’s rendition of a song they’ve played 100’s (probably 1000’s in this case) of times to see how its changed and this performance doesn’t disappoint. Don’t miss it!

Rory (アーサー) the Ryukyuan Villager in Animal Crossing

Rory (アーサー [aasaa] in the Japanese-language version) is a lion jock villager in the Animal Crossing video game fr0m Nintendo (above photos are from the New Horizons version of the game — he first appeared in the New Leaf version of the game) who is Ryukyuan. Playing the English-language version of the game doesn’t give you much aside from what can be seen visually (e.g. Rory looks like a shīsā and his home looks like it could be in Okinawa with the red-tile roof, mangrove wallpaper, shīsā, and tropical setting) and perhaps you may catch what sounds like kāchāshī playing from his house radio — more on this in a second.

On the other hand, the Japanese-language version all but spells it out for you starting with his name アーサー aasaa (a play on shiisaa although it’s translated as Arthur), his catchphrase is ナハッ (Naha! and in English it’s capital — as in Naha is the capital of Okinawa), his quote is なんくるないさ (nankurunaisa and in English it’s set ’em up and knock ’em down), and his favorite song (the one playing from his house radio) is ハイサイけけ (haisai keke and in English it’s called K.K. Faire) — more on this below.

K.K. Faire (ハイサイけけ)

Hearing this song (link to a sample of the song on YouTube) for the first time and realizing what it was, I was like: “Wait, is that an Okinawan song?!” I had to quickly DuckDuckGo it to find out more and the first thing was that it was called “K.K. Faire” (like, what?) but looking at the album art and its Japanese title「ハイサイけけ」”Haisai Keke” confirmed that it was indeed an Okinawan song. I feel that the album’s cover art and the song style is a tribute to 登川誠仁 Noborikawa Seijin. Speaking of the album art, if you’re familiar with the 三線 sanshin, you’ll notice that it’s depicted with four karakui instead of the normal three (although four to five strings can be found on the くーちょー kuuchoo and there is a 6-string sanshin called a rokushin) and the bachi (plectrum) K.K. is holding is in the Japanese style. (Image via Nookipedia.)

The Search for Rory

So if you want Rory to live on your island right away (as opposed to hopefully having him at your campsite or going villager hunting), you’re in luck as he has an amiibo card (Series 4, #352). What’s probably luckier for us is that he’s not a popular villager (i.e. he doesn’t rate high on a tier list — yep, there’s a tier list) so his amiibo can be found on eBay for a couple of dollars (popular amiibo cards can be found for close to $100 USD!). If you’re able to have him live on your island, make sure to have K.K. Faire playing on one of your outside music players as it’s super cute to see him singing along to it. (Image via Nintendo.)

Other Okinawa-related things to note for Animal Crossing. A bingata 紅型 dress can be purchased at Able Sisters and the paper kite butterfly オオゴマダラ (can be found all year on both hemispheres) is the official butterfly of Okinawa. If you’re lucky, you may find K.K. Faire for sale at Nook Shopping or better yet, you can get a free copy from K.K. himself by requesting the song. Leave a comment if you’ve found anything else related to Okinawa and be sure to leave your island’s dream address and I’ll definitely pay a visit!

A Look at Apple Music’s Top Songs of 2020: Japan Playlist

So how did music artists from Okinawa (or Okinawan) fair in Apple Music’s Top Songs of 2020: Japan playlist? Let’s take a look…

And, it’s 0 (zero). Yep, pretty sad. Looking at 2019’s playlist, we see Da Pump’s U.S.A. and Mongol800’s Chiisana Koi no Uta (note that this song is originally from their 2001 album MESSAGE). (Link to the 2019 playlist.) Let’s hope we’ll see more artists in 2021!

Link to Top Songs of 2020: Japan (Apple Music Playlist)