Featured in a Rolling Stones Japan article and already having a song (Kingyo Sukui — her 1st digital single nonetheless) chosen to be an ending theme for a TV drama, is MATSURI set to become the next big breakout from Okinawa? Listen to the song on YouTube or on Apple Music to decide for yourself. Personally, I’m already a fan.
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. Awich” Links
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
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!
Sad news from Okinawa Times reporting that minyou great Oshiro Misako has passed away. RIP.
Enjoy this live concert of the Yonaha Tōru Band from their performance at output in Naha December 30, 2020. Tōru is a musician who’s able to masterfully perform in both koten (classical) and minyou (folk) — add roots pop to that too. He has two channels on YouTube but this is the one that’s being updated: よなは徹 YouTube so be sure to subscribe!
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 [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!
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)
Yes, it was a very different NHK Kouhaku Uta-Gassen (the 71st) with the ongoing pandemic performances were done without an audience. But for those that are fans of Okinawan pop culture, we can celebrate that popular actress Nikaido Fumi (Naha, Okinawa) was one of the announcers for the annual song battle. She currently starts in NHK’s asadora Yell.