Gackt’s Activities Suspended Indefinitely

Gackt in Uchinaa (Gackt’s YouTube Channel)

His latest video on his YouTube channel was over 4 weeks ago and with his uploads being quite regular, it was strange to not see any new content from him. Reported on 9/8 on Gackt’s website, we finally found out the reason behind his absence:

As far as the information regarding this situation, after returning to Japan on August 6th, we have been contacted by GACKT saying that he is “unwell”. After a while, his condition suddenly worsened. His early onset neurological disease was triggered and at this point it progressed into a life-threatening condition.

As you can see from reading the above announcement, many fans were shocked to find out about his “life-threatening” condition. Fortunately (but not yet out of the woods), Gackt made a statement of his own that sheds more light on his condition leading up to the indefinite suspension of his activities:

This is GACKT.
I made all of you worry.
Thank you for so many messages.
It’s ok, I’m still alive.  Ahaha

We wish Gackt a speedy recovery!

All-Star Musicians Gather for Sanlele’s Day

Sanlele’s Day on YouTube

Sanlele’s Day is the 30th of August and for this year a group of all-star musicians got together to perform the song “Dumifa no Uta”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the sanlele, it was created by Alberto Shiroma (Diamantes) and Machidaya (Yomitan village) to be a combination of the sanshin “san” and the ukulele “lele”. The all-star band (all from Yomitan) features Alberto Shiroma on sanlele, Kinjo Ayano (Kiroro) on piano, Nagamine Yoshiaki (Kyan Marie, Medusa) on guitar, and Kiyosaku (Mongol800) on bass.

Turn All Weapons into Instruments

Kina Shoukichi does enka

A recent web article on Hub Okinawa features a story on Kina Shoukichi and the peculiar release of his enka song “Fujisan Japan” — his first single in 39 years! The article discusses his new single as well as the single that started it all, “Haisai Ojisan” written when he was 13 years old. The article makes an interesting take on the single selling 300,000 copies in Okinawa which it compared to selling 30M in Japan and delves into the tragic background of the song and the uncle who inspired it. The article is a great read and comes in two parts. Perfect reading for Irei no Hi.

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


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

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

(Via Campus Record Staff Blog.)

Veteran Amami utasha Ikue Asazaki

We often focus on the new singers from Amami-Oshima like Rikki Nakano, Chitose Hajime, Kosuke Atari, and Minami Kizuki, leaving out the traditional singers. So, better late than never, no? Ikue Asazaki is a veteran utasha (now in her 70s) who has been singing Amami shimauta since picking it up from her father and regarded as a genius of the music. While Ikue has had indie record releases since 1997, it wasn’t until 2002 that she had her first major label release with the album “Utaba Utayun” on Universal Music. According to her Wikipedia page, “Utaba Utayun” is one of her most famous, notably for the song “Obokuri Eeumi,” which was featured in the anime “Samurai Champloo” (see below video).

With 2005’s “Obokuri” (Toshiba EMI) being her last major label release, Ikue has since returned as an indies musician with her most recent album released on 2007 titled “Hamasaki” from the HIGH CONTRAST RECORDINGS label. Ikue’s official website can be found here.

(Nifee deebitan to Shari Tamashiro for bringing the singer to my attention.)

New year get-together and fellowship dinner

Happy New Year to the Okinawa Minyo Kyokai Derek Ichiro Shiroma Kenkyusho and Jane Kaneshiro Sozan Kai who will have a New Year get-together and fellowship dinner this Friday night at the Jikoen Hongwanji Mission. I’ll be there and I’m hoping to see some of you there too. 🙂

(Nifee deebitan for the invite, Derek-sensei!)

Bassist Yo Yasuda’s BeatMaster iPhone/iPod touch app

Currently based in Okinawa, professional bass player Yo Yasuda has played with a number of artists like Syakari, Siori, and Namiko. Although that should be enough to be of interest to our pop culture blog, he’s gone and done something to really excite us: introducing the BeatMaster app for iPhone and iPod touch. According to his blog entry, Yo created the app as a way to help musicians build a strong sense of rhythm in a fun, and very portable way. The video above showcases the app in a very familiar setting: Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Sounds interesting? Check out the product’s website or at the iTunes App Store (link opens iTunes).

(Via しゃかりデジカメ日記.)

Update: Ukulele Picnic 2009 in Hawaii


I posted an entry a couple of weeks ago about the upcoming Ukulele Picnic 2009 in Hawaii concert and it looks like we have a time slot for Keith Nakaganeku and BEGIN’s Masaru Shimabukuro. The special collaboration between these two amazing musicians is set to take the stage from 3:10 PM for a 15-minute set.

Another act worth checking out (well, they’re all worth watching but this artist crosses over to J-pop too) is Ayano Tsuji who is scheduled to perform at 4:45 PM. A popular song of the artist’s, “Kaze ni naru” from the Studio Ghibli film “The Cat Returns,” can be found below.

(Nifee deebitan for the update, Keith!)

Website: Simple Sanshin Source


Simple Sanshin Source is “an English-based guide to the Okinawan sanshin” that features kunkunshi (sheet music), lyrics, and tips by Kenji, a self-taught sanshin enthusiast. Given that I haven’t been very good at updating Three Strings, Simple Sanshin Source looks to be the online place to learn about the sanshin. There’s also a YouTube channel with sanshin tutorials so check it out!

Mark this date: 2/14/09 Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii


One of my favorite artists of both Okinawan and Hawaiian music is Keith Nakaganeku (with his band Calabash) and I got a tip that he’ll be performing along with his friend Masaru Shimabukuro (BEGIN‘s guitarist) at this year’s Ukulele Picnic 2009 in Hawaii on Saturday, February 14, 2009. He’ll be singing “Nada Sou Sou” and Masaru will be backing him up on the Ichi Go Ichie instrument he and BEGIN designed with luthier K.Yairi.

There’s a pretty impressive lineup of musicians from Hawaii and Japan and best of all, the event is free, and will be held at the Kakaako Waterfront Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.

And if you haven’t purchased Keith’s debut album, “Hawaiian Jazz Done Asian Style,” it’s available on (Image to the left contains a clickable affiliate link that helps out if you purchase the album from it. Nifee in advance! 😀 )

BEGIN’s record label, Teichiku, started up their own YouTube channel where you can find the band’s latest song, “Egao no Manma,” for viewing. I guess it’s a great way to see what Masaru looks like so you can give him a shaka and Aloha when you see him (and Keith too) at the Ukulele Picnic. 😉

(Nifee deebitan for the tip, Derek & Keith!)