Miyako Folk Singer Kuniyoshi Genji RIP

Far Side Music’s YouTube Channel

It was announced on May 5th Okinawa time that the great Miyako folk singer Kuniyoshi Genji has passed away at the age of 90 on May 4th. Born on June 10, 1930 on Miyako Island, during his childhood he was known for his love of music. At 35 he decided to make his living as a professional Miyako folk singer and he won the Folk Song Division for NHK’s Nodo Jiman (20th annual Okinawa region). If you’re unfamiliar with Nodo Jiman, it’s like the inspiration to shows like America’s Got Talent. His passing is another great sorrow for our community having lost Oshiro Misako in January of this year. May he RIP.

Gori’s (Garage Sale) Comeback

I can say without a doubt that Teruya Toshiyuki aka Gori (from the comedic duo Garage Sale) is the most important person in Ryūkyū pop culture. Known widely as Gori the comedian, if his last name Teruya rings a bell for those that follow Ryūkyū pop culture, yes, it’s that Teruya. His grandfather is the great minyou artist and standup comedian Teruya Rinsuke Terurin, his uncle is the great Uchinaa Pop musician Teruya Rinken (Rinken Band), and his cousin is model and actress Chibana Kurara. Outside of this comedic performances, he’s also known as an actor (NHK’s Churasan), can be found on many a variety show speaking Uchinaa-guchi, and most important (to me) is his work as a film writer-director as showcased in the amazing film Senkotsu (洗骨, the English title is Born Bone Born — fun fact is that in the past films from Okinawa have had directors from Japan with main/supporting actors from Okinawa but this one is a director from Okinawa (Gori) with main actors from Japan and supporting actors from Okinawa). And like every artist during the pandemic, Gori turned to YouTube to showcase not only his numerous talents but to also feature Okinawa’s culture.

Getting back to Gori’s comeback, it was announced on his Twitter on April 20th that he had contracted Covid-19 and was discharged from the hospital. Up to then, he had been very active on his YouTube channel and other engagements (he missed 2-3 weeks due to the illness) so it was strange to see him offline during that time without knowing the reason. Needless to say, it’s so great to see him back on his channel (his most recent video is of his popular character Gorie) and active again. I should add that he can always be seen wearing a mask and social distancing as much as possible but as he’s actively traveling to different places and collaborating with other comedians, it contributed to having a higher risk of contracting Covid-19. The number of Covid-19 cases in Okinawa have been over 100 every day and mostly on the main island. Please everyone stay healthy and if you’re able to get vaccinated, please do so for yourself and for those around you.

Follow Gori on his YouTube channel (sadly, in Japanese only) and on Twitter.

Aragaki Yui to Appear in NHK’s 2022 Taiga Drama

Aragaki Yui “Gakky” will appear in NHK’s 2022 Taiga Drama Kamakura 13. She will play the role of Yae, who is the main character’s first crush. In her 20+ years as an actress, this marks her first appearance in a Taiga Drama.

Speaking of Taiga dramas, there was one called Ryūkyū no Kaze from 1993 that wasn’t directed by, starred by, or had music composed by anyone from Okinawa. The first actor/actress to appear (in this case star) in a Taiga Drama was Nakama Yukie in 2006’s Kōmyō ga Tsuji, followed by Gackt in 2007’s Fūrin Kazan, and Nikaidō Fumi making an appearance in 2018’s Segodon.

Chimudondon – NHK’s 2022 Morning Drama

Image via NHK

NHK announced its 2022 morning drama (asadora) and it’s an Okinawan series called Chimudondon (ちむどんどん)! The 106th edition of the series follows 2001’s “Churasan (ちゅらさん)” (can you believe it’s 20 years ago?!) as the second asadora with an Okinawan theme. Chimudondon stars Okinawan-born actress Kuroshima Yuina (黒島結菜) and will tell the story of chef Higa Nobuko (比嘉暢子) with Okinawa of the 1960s and beyond as the backdrop. Other than Yuina and Jon Kabira (ジョン・カビラ) who is handling the narrating, the rest of the cast hasn’t been announced yet so there’s hope that we’ll see more actresses and actors from Okinawa. We’re also interested to find out who will be handling the theme song — perhaps Miura Daichi? Kuroshima Yuina will follow in the footsteps of asadora alumni from Okinawa Kuninaka Ryoko (2001’s Churasan) and Higa Manami (2007’s Dondo Hare) both who have gone on to have prosperous careers.

We look forward to hearing more news about Chimudondon and to watching it in 2022.

Sanshin no Hi March 4, 2021

The 29th annual Sanshin no Hi (さんしんの日) is taking place on Thursday, 4th March 2021 (“34 Day” Japan time). There will be 3 parts to the celebration with Part 1 featuring artists as China Sadahito 知名定人 (Sadao’s son), Matsuda Kazutoshi 松田一利, Hatoma Kanako 鳩間可奈子, and Miyara Kōsei 宮良康正 (my relative) among others. Part 2 will be a special performance and Part 3 will feature Yamakawa Mayumi 山川まゆみ, Yonaha Tōru よなは徹, Nakasone Hajime 仲宗根創, and Tokuhara Seibun 徳原清文 among others. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the celebration will be broadcast on the radio and will run from 11:45 AM to 9 PM. Hawaii time is March 3rd (Wednesday) from 4:45 PM. It looks like it’ll be streamed on YouTube via RBCi Radio or Music Shower Plus+ account.

Sanshin no Hi official website

50 Years Since Koza Unrest

Sunday marks 50 years since unrest which occurred after a car driven by US military personnel hit a local resident near a US base in Okinawa.

The unrest took place on December 20, 1970, two years before reversion of the southern prefecture from the United States to Japan.

Residents of the area expressed anger by throwing rocks and setting fire to about 80 US military vehicles following the incident in an area called Koza, which is now the city of Okinawa.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201220_06/?cid=wohk-tw-org_wnw

While it’s great to see this make national news in Japan, it’s sad that I had to learn of this outside of Okinawa. It’s definitely something none of my relatives in Okinawa — even those that live in Koza — ever talk about.

Catching up on news from Tokyograph

I’m catching up on articles from the awesome website Tokyograph of mostly film and TV news. Click on the links to read the full articles on Tokyograph’s website.

The original show starred Ueto as rookie detective Sakuragi Izumi, who worked on difficult unsolved cases as part of a Special Investigations Office (based on an actual division established by Japan in 2009). This time takes place half a year later, after Sakuragi has been transferred to a different division that deals with current crimes.
Ueto Aya returns in ‘Zettai Reido’ sequel

The “Shinzanmono” drama series is getting a movie next year. Doi Nobuhiro is directing the film, which is tentatively titled “Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono.” Abe Hiroshi (46) will return in the starring role, along with Mizobata Junpei (21) and Kuroki Meisa (22).
‘Shinzanmono’ movie announced for 2012

“Zenkai Girl” is the first time that Aragaki is playing the main character in a television series, though she has previously had several roles as major secondary characters. In the series, she plays Wakaba, an ambitious international lawyer with dreams of rising to the top.
Aragaki Yui stars in Fuji TV’s next ‘Getsu 9’ with Nishikido Ryo

[…] Taira plays Iwami Saki, an office worker who hates conflict with other people, so she always ends up holding back her own opinions and ingratiating herself with others.
Hamada Gaku, Taira Airi lead suspense drama ‘Piece Vote’

Kuroki Meisa (23) and Tabe Mikako (22) are acting together for the first time, co-starring in a drama series this summer called “Jiu: Keishichou Tokushuhan Sousakei.” The two will play police detectives on the same special investigation team, though their differing personalities lead them to constantly clash with each other.
Kuroki Meisa, Tabe Mikako co-star in suspense series ‘Jiu’